Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cutting the Cord on Cable

img from via shutterstock

For a while now we have been seriously toying with the idea of canceling our cable TV. I know, crazy right?

Off and on my husband would mention canceling cable when things got tight and I would go into freak out mode. You know ladies, when you and your husband have the dreaded "budget meeting." Gawd I hate budget meetings.

Eventually my tears and whining would win out and we would drop the subject.

About a year ago though when Netflix started getting better and better about their streaming library, I started to give it some more serious thought.

Still though I thought I couldn't live life without a DVR, and also CBS shows were not on Netflix or Hulu.

So, we started toying with the idea of how we could cut the cord, and started working in that direction.

Our first step was to get an old tower and hooked it up to our upstairs TV. We have been streaming up there for more than six months. We tried out Boxee, which comes with an app for the iPhone which gave us a remote (which was nice not having to get up and click the mouse for each new episode or to search Netflix). However we noticed some glitches. Boxee doesn't show EVERYTHING in our Netflix queue. We didn't like that. Also it doesn't list the episodes in order.

Seriously folks my OCD was kicking into overdrive without the episodes in chronological order. I thought I'd pull my hair out.

Boxee did allow us to subscribe to shows like BBT through CBS, however it was really slow streaming, and we were not thrilled with the quality of it. Much better to exit the Boxee system and just go to the actual site through the browser.

We kind of gave up on cutting the cord for a bit, the Holidays came around and life just got too busy to work on the TV stuff.

However each month when that Cox bill would come in the mail, I would ask myself WHY? Why do I keep paying them $80 a month for something that we could easily get for next to nothing?

So, two weeks ago we got serious about this.

I ordered a free trial of Hulu plus and would you know the VERY day I did this Hulu Plus got an app for the Wii?  Our timing couldn't have been better.

I don't like their interface as much as the Netflix interface for the Wii, but they JUST came out with it.  I'm sure it will take some time to get the glitches out of it.

Next, I called Cox and found out how low our bill would go and they talked about "data caps".  A word I had not yet heard.

Data caps?  Are you FREAKING serious?  We have a 200GB a month data limit on our internet.  My heart sank.  We could increase that limit by upping to premier or ultimate package, but what was the point?  We were trying to SAVE money, not spend more.

I thought at that point again our journey to cancel cable was over, however after some research it seems that 200GB will give you about 32 HD movies a month or 500 SD shows.  That's like a LOT of TV people, about 5 or more hours a day if not more, and yes, that is how long the TV blares in our house at times on our bad days.

So, I started looking at our data usage and we stopped using cable over the weekend.  We streamed LITERALLY all day yesterday on both TV's and ended up using under 5GB.  That keeps us well under our allowance monthly.

This past weekend my husband made an HD antenna this weekend. It is very similar to THIS antenna. It's up in our attic and you can't even see it. Our picture quality is just as good if not better than cable.  We are getting all our local channels on both TV's just fine.

There are still some more issues to work out but we will do that along the way.

1.  I don't like having a huge tower in my bedroom hooked to my TV, so eventually what I think we will do is move it to a closet one day. My husband plans to get a video capture card (I think that's what it is...he is the techie on this). With that we can record our HD shows like HIMYM, BBT and CSI etc...all off the air in HD.

Our next step is to get a ROKU box.  It will be much better looking than the tower in our room, and it will give us a remote that we can use.

Img from

Roku seems to perform better than Boxee does as far as an interface according to reviews.  It will take a bit of money to sink into getting our system where we want it, but it the long run it should pay off.

2.  We can't watch CBS through Hulu Plus or Netflix.  ALL my favorite shows seem to be on that channel, so for now I have to watch them on the iMac or else up in our bedroom with the tower (because I can do that through the browser).  They stream a bit slower through CBS than they do on Hulu or Netflix.  Seriously CBS, get with the program!  However I think when we get the capture card, hopefully we can just record these to the hard drive and Roku will let us pull them up.  Again, we are still working on it.

Still, when i made that call to Cox today I was a little paniced and scared.  Cable has been our crutch for YEARS now.  In fact funny thing was my job BEFORE I was a stay at home mom was working in retention for Cox.  Yeah, I was the gal who would try to convince you to KEEP your cable and I got paid WELL to do it.

However the deed is done.  The cable is GONE.

I mean, what will I do if I can't watch mindless hours of House Hunters International on HGTV when I'm sick in bed?  Or what about that evening on the sofa watching VH1's top 100 one hit wonders of the nineties?  And yes, I'll miss my hours upon hours of Nick at Night reruns of Friends.  Who knows, maybe I'll read a book or something or actually GET SOME SLEEP?  Go figure.

Anyhow, if you are thinking about cutting the cord ask me any questions and I'll be happy to fill you in on what we do.  Also I'll keep you posted on our updates to our system!

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