How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Cut The Cable (And You Can Too)
How many times have you been sitting in front of the television and flipping through your 200+ channels only to remark “there’s nothing on?” I hate that. There’s nothing worse than having all of those channels and not being able to find anything to watch. It’s a waste of time and money.
So I cut the cord. Not literally, but I did have a friend once who was so perturbed at his cable service that he actually ripped the coaxial cable out of the wall and cut it. That’s a little extreme in my book, but I did find a way to stop paying for cable and switch over to a digital alternative for just $7.99 a month. You can too.
One caveat: don’t go in to this thinking that you will get service exactly like you had with cable or satellite. It doesn’t work that way (yet). These are digital on-demand subscription services and there isn’t really a way to replicate live TV. While some services allow you to watch current television programs, it always premiers days or a week after it aired on live TV.
That said, I feel that this is a decent alternative and a lot cheaper than cable. My family doesn’t watch a lot of network television anyway.
What you’ll need:
- A TV – The bigger the better (that’s a given)
- Internet Connection – The faster the better
- A computer to act as your media center
- A Roku or AppleTV
Here’s the easy part – hook your computer, Roku, or AppleTV to your TV. You’re done.
I highly recommend you have a Netflix account to start. It’s only $7.99 a month for the digital only portion of the service, and you don’t need DVDs anymore anyway. The selection of movies and television programs is pretty decent, but you’re not going to find the latest episode of ‘House’ or ‘The Walking Dead’ on here.
For that you need a Hulu+ account. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Hulu. Sometimes it’s great, while other times it’s the most frustratingly bare service on the planet. It’s only $7.99 a month and lets you watch a lot of premium television.Right now you can try it for a week before you buy it.
I used a laptop with a combination of Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes for about a year as my media center. It was nice, and if I wanted to show the family a YouTube video I could play it on the big TV, or we could check out websites in the browser.We added a 1 TB hard drive for movie and TV storage and we were set.
Last weekend I upgraded to a Roku XS and I’ll never look back. The device, which is the size of a hockey puck, wirelessly connects to my network and pushes Netflix, movies, and Hulu to my TV in full 1080p HDMI. Plus it has Angry Birds on it, and a slick remote. This is most definitely the way I would recommend going. And at $49 for the basic Roku it’s way cheaper than an additional computer.
(As an Apple zealot I have to explain why I didn’t purchase the AppleTV. While it’s nearly identical to the Roku XS, the AppleTV doesn’t allow you to add an external hard drive directly to the device [you can stream from other iOS devices on AppleTV, but I've had bad luck with Apple Home Sharing]. The Roku does via a USB port on the side. That was the winning factor for me.)
So there you go. You can stop worrying about your over inflated cable or satellite bill and watch good, premium content for less than $20 a month. And heck, they even streamed the Super Bowl on-line this year.