Practical ways to cut the cord (or how much I hate Comcast my cable company)

There are plenty of ways to cut the cord and drop your cable company (well at least the TV portion of it) but I have yet to see a post that is geared towards the average (i.e. lazy) user. I consider myself a frugal person and if I can save myself $70 a month and only lose a few channels of TV, then I'm a very interested listener. But once if its too inconvenient, I'll probably go back to my old ways because who wants to spend 5 minutes setting up TV when you just want to put something on.

I stopped paying for cable TV over a year ago. I looked into all of the options, and I made a decision on what I thought was best, but after a short while using them I found the best combination for me, but first I will go over some of the most common options.


First things first, I am going under the assumption that you already pay for your internet, or you have access to the internet, if you don't please let me know how you are reading this blog because I want free internet.

Media

Here are your main options: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Apple Store (Apple TV), and regular antenna broadcasts (free!)

If you don't know what those are then you should just quickly google them because I don't want to rehash them here. But that's most of your options. I bet YouTube will come up with something soon where you will be watching TV or movies more regularly there (yes I know they have some stuff but at this point it's not a big player in this contest)

How will we watch it??

There are many ways to watch TV and movies without having a TV package from your cable company. There's always the first way that I grew up watching TV...

TV Antenna

You can watch TV for free by hooking up an antenna to your TV, I bought an HD antenna and it works great for most of the major networks. You can get the older looking ones like rabbit ears, but there are subtle and sleek looking ones that can be much more powerful if you care about looks.

Pros: Free once you purchase the antenna.

Cons: You need other things to record your TV if you want a DVR. After years of having a DVR I'm hooked, it's hard to go back to not being able to pause TV, you need to have supplemental stuff to have a DVR, but overall I think this is one of the best/cheapest investments for TV.

Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC)

I personally have the Acer Revo it's not too expensive of a computer (about $400) that you basically just plug into your TV and then you can watch Netflix and Hulu on your TV. You can also get a TV Tuner for your HTPC which will cost another $30-$70 or so and then you can use that computer the exact same way you would use a DVR for your TV.

Pros: If you have an HDTV and you plug this baby in, you can really use your computer as a TV and it's made to be displayed on an HDTV so it looks great. Also, if you can do something on a computer, you can do it on this, so there's always sites to stream bootlegged shows not that I am promoting that (I'm actually not because they are terrible quality)

Cons: When I get home and want to watch something I find it a little inconvenient to pull out the keyboard and mouse to get this playing what I want. I don't want to send 5 minutes setting up watching TV. (like I said, I'm lazy) It's also not the fastest computer so sometimes it doesn't always have the best recordings. I'm sure if you like this option you can get a better HTPC than the one I have. Not necessarily the cheapest option.

Roku Player


cord cutting

This little device plugs into your TV and gives you an easy way to stream Netflix/Hulu/Amazon to your TV. This device is cheaper than an HTPC and probably more convenient to use.

Pros: easy setup, fairly cheap at around $60-$100 depending on the model.

Cons: You are limited to the services available to the Roku player. (probably not a big deal for most people)

Apple TV

This is very similar to the Roku player, but a little more expensive. I'm sure that if you are an Apple user you will love it over all of the other options out there, but I have seen it and used it and I really find it no better or worse then the applications on my smart TV.

Pros: I don't have one but I assume it's easy to setup. fairly cheap at around $100.

Cons: I found that shows are actually a little more expensive to purchase at the apple store than at Amazon.

Chromecast


Cutting cable

I don't know much about this one. I don't have a smartphone and I had a solution before this came out but this seems like it's a great option. It's only $35 and you are set to go.

Pros: very cheap, plug it in and it goes.

Cons: I wonder about the streaming speed that it has.

Getting a Smart TV

All of the other options involve buying something to plug into your TV, this option is simply buying a TV that has these things already built in. I have a smart TV by LG and it's very simple to use (I think they know that complicated remotes will turn people off) and I just press a button and I'm already in Netflix/Hulu/ or Amazon

Pros: by far the easiest way to get to your programs such as Netflix etc. Also, you have a nice new TV.

Cons: Can be expensive to buy a new TV ($350+).

The Breakdown

After using this for a few years now, I would highly recommend just getting a smart TV. For me, I needed to get a new TV no matter what. All of these options required a more high tech input than was available on my TV so that kind of wasn't an option. But even if I already had an HDTV, I would prefer the smart TV over all of the other options available to me.

Why?

It's EASY. That's the simplest reason why. Instead of setting your TV to the correct input then futzing around with multiple remotes to get the sound correct and the other device to pick what you want, it's just 1 simple remote to do everything, and since it's built into the TV it's made to work smoothly with the TV. Sure a new smart TV could cost you $700 but almost all of these other options will cost you about $100 it's a little cheaper, and at $70 a month for cable TV you will pay off your smart TV in 10 months!

I have an HTPC and I find that I check all of the easiest ways to watch TV first before I switch over to the computer to try to see what I have saved on it. The idea of TV to me is to be as lazy as possible. If I wanted to be more active I would find something other than TV.

The cheapest way to cut the cord would be to truly watch everything on your computer. Since you probably already have one of those you don't need anything. Or you could just buy a cable to watch it on your TV if you have one (hopefully it's a semi-modern TV)

Cutting out my cable TV company was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I've never looked back and thought, oh, I wish I had regular TV again. If there's a show I really want to watch (like Breaking Bad) I will just purchase it on amazon. A full season of the show is only $20 at most. That's less than a month of cable split between 3 people.

But what about live sports??

Okay okay, you got me there. This is the one thing that's a dealbreaker for some. You can't watch ESPN (or for NBA TNT)  That's when you go to a bar to watch the game if you really need to see your sports. or you could buy the online package to stream sports online, those are typically over $100 for the season. The drawback to those is that you can't see the local teams on those usually. You can still get a lot of football that's on regular over the air broadcasts though.


In conclusion, ALL of these options will save you a decent amount in a year. Basically after a year using any of these options you will pay back whatever money you spent on a new TV or gadget to get this working. If I were to set this up today for myself I would go the smart TV route with an HD antenna. I would skip the HTPC this time since I don't use it very often because of the inconvenience it is to get it setup to watch it.

If you read this much you must be considering it. Feel free to ask a question and I can give you an honest answer from a regular lazy person that hates his cable company.

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