I got a ton of great feedback on my last post regarding my family’s choice to get rid of cable tv. Some people even said my post pushed them over the edge to finally pull the plug! However, some others had great follow-up questions that I want to answer here:
What broadband service do you use? How much is it? Details!
Time Warner Cable. We moved to Buffalo last year and got the introductory offer of $38/month for 20 Mbps download / 2 Mbps upload. This is their Turbo package and is twice as fast as their Standard package. After that offer expired, the bill jumped up to $54 but I was able to negotiate them down to $45.
What kind of router do you have?
Linksys E3200. Knowing how much I’d be saving on cable and how much I’d be relying on the router, I invested in a new one with some serious horsepower. It really wasn’t that expensive when compared to a month of cable. It’s been great – very easy setup and nearly flawless performance.
What is your setup like? Is your Roku wireless?
We have the Time Warner modem hooked up to our wireless router in our office so our computer can be hard-wired to it. This makes both of our Roku’s wireless and we’ve had practically no issues with this setup. Our main TV has our Roku 2 and it’s about 15 feet away from the router (through 3 interior walls). The kids playroom has our original Roku and is about 20 feet from the router and goes through 2 walls. Before upgrading to our current router, we’d have issues with the Roku freezing up, but since switching to the E3200 router 8 months ago, we’ve had zero issues.
I’m thinking about buying ‘brand x’ expensive antenna.
Don’t do it yet! Try out the cheap option first. Or at least research how good the over the air (OTA) signal is from your house: http://antennaweb.org/default.aspx I had a lot of luck with this website because it accurately stated our rental house would have bad reception while our new house would have great reception. Lucky for us!
Lastly, here’s a nice channel guide for OTA programming: http://titantv.com/.
What about shows for kids?
It’s really surprised me how much content for the kids is out there. Netflix online ($8/month) has tv shows like Dora, Diego, Curious George, Sesame Street, Super Why, Wonder Pets, Barney, and more. Of course they’re always adding more.
Also, we made a one-time payment of $15 for a full season (26 episodes) of Olivia on Amazon Video. Between those two video services and Hulu Plus (my favorite, but practically no kids shows), there are tons of entertainment options.
Don’t forget the Roku 2 has a fancy remote that lets you play Angry Birds! I would have thought my 2- and 4-year olds were too young for it, but both of them love it. It comes free with the Roku and has hundreds of levels. Plus, it shows great future potential for the Roku and it’s fancy remote.
How can you live without cable sports?
As a lifelong sports fan, this was the toughest decision by far. But, consider what sports are on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox: multiple NFL games on Sunday, all day Saturday of NCAA football, over half of the NCAA basketball tournament games, all of the championships for NHL / MLB / soccer, golf tournaments practically every weekend, Olympics, World Cup – I think you get the point.
Keep in mind, though, that for a small fee Roku offers packages for NBA, NHL, MLS, UFC, MLB and more. Yes, you’ll still miss SportsCenter and NFL Network and specialized channels like that. But, it’s up to you what those are worth when considering money and free time with family / friends. Personally, I’m happy with my choice!
Lastly, here’s a good article from Wired magazine that discusses this same topic.
Here’s an article I recently wrote on how my family cut the cord with Time Warner Cable last year and how great it’s been going!
How We Saved $100s in 2011
Do you find yourself wishing you had more money? What about more free time? If so, I’ve got an option for you to explore which can do a bit of both. My option: DITCH CABLE TV.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” you say. Or maybe it’s more like, “Noooooooo!”
I’m not telling you to throw out your tv. Instead of cable, get your shows and entertainment through a device referred to as an “internet tv device” (aka “set top box” or “streaming player”). The most popular of these devices are made by Roku, Apple, Google, Boxee, Sony, or Logitech. They are small, electronic devices that connect to your tv and pick up shows from your home internet connection (many of them do so wirelessly).
“But where do you get your shows?” Well, that depends on the set top box you choose. The most common sources are websites like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, and so on. Plus you can listen to streaming music (Pandora), check the weather, and play games.
“Okay, but how does that save me money?” What does cable cost you per month? $40? $60? More? Here’s the breakdown of what my family currently has:
- Roku 2 XS set top box = $99
- Over-the-air antenna from Wal-Mart = $15
- Amazon On-Demand = We bought 1 season (25 episodes) of a show for $15
Ongoing Monthly Expenses
- Hulu Plus = $8/month – 100s of popular tv shows to watch whenever you want via Roku, PC, smartphone, or tablet. Many shows have every past episode available too.
- Netflix streaming = $8/month – 1000s of movies and tv shows (including kids shows) also available on any internet device.
Total for the first year = $321
Total for every year thereafter = $192
What do you pay for cable again??
We love the Roku too because it’s got a simple-to-use remote with motion control so you can play the Angry Birds game that’s included!
“What about sports!?” Ah, the one negative: no SportsCenter. However, so many big sporting events are on CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC. The $15 antenna flawlessly picks up HD TV over-the-air. Plus, there are services available on the internet tv devices like NHL Game Center, MLB.tv, NBA, and UFC.
“What did you say about free time?” I used to LOVE cable, but since I ditched it, I don’t have the ability to sit and veg out and flip through channels like I used to. Eliminating that time suck has allowed me to be more productive and spend more time with my family!
Adds an enhanced remote for playing games, plus extra connectivity options.
Helped me painlessly cut the cable cord!
Pros: Great value, High quality picture, Easy to use, Compact, Reliability, Easy to set up, Built in Wi-Fi
Cons: Best to have great router, Need fast internet service
Best Uses: Secondary TV, Primary TV, Kids Play Room, Living room, Bedroom
Describe Yourself: Early adopter, Home entertainment enthusiast, Technophile, Power User, Family man
The viewing options on the Roku are fantastic! So many shows and movies, plus now they’re adding games so it’s becoming even more addicting! I know they’ll continue to add channels and content, so it’s going to continue to grow. Hopefully someday they get YouTube and some kind of NFL or NCAA football, then the device may be nearly perfect!