Cord-Cutting May Not Be For Everyone
In case you haven't noticed, there's a good chance that your cable bill may be higher this month due to a recent rate increase by Comcast. As the cost of watching cable or satellite TV becomes an increasingly more significant item in your monthly budget maybe it's time to consider cutting the cord and seeing if you can't get most of want you like to watch for free or for much less than you are currently paying for it. Fortunately there are some reasonable options like using an antenna to receive HD programming absolutely free. Unfortunately, there are still many reasons to keep your cord intact like sports, HBO, and just the convenience of snappy channel surfing. Here's a rundown of things to consider.
Over-The-Air (OTA) Gets You High-Definition Programming For FreeFor much less than $100 (even less than $50) you can get a good quality indoor antenna, that plugs into the RF input jack on your TV, that will receive lots of TV channels at no cost. Of course you'll need to be close enough to the signal with a decent line-of-sight path but in most cases you'll be surprised by how many channels you'll receive; many in high definition and many "supplemental" channels like multiple PBS channels that aren't even available on most cable or satellite services. Installing an antenna on your roof should only cost a do-it-yourselfer a little over $100 and should get even better reception. There are two good web sites you can use to check out your coverage; TVfool.com overs a list of channels overlaid on a compass grid that shows you which channels come from which directions and Antennaweb.org also offers lots of info about the coverage in your area and what you need to receive it.Drawbacks of over-the-air include the lack of a guide that is convenient to use as the one you get with cable, satellite or through a service like Tivo. There are web and app based guides; the one we like best is from TitanTV however, in most cases you won't be able to click on a listing in the guide and go to that station.

Another drawback for OTA TV is the lack of an integrated DVR for recording shows for viewing at a later time. One solution for OTA viewers isn't cheap but most users say it works well enough is the Channel Master CM-7000PAL DVR which costs around $350 and records 30 hours of HD programming. It's not as polished as a Tivo which costs around $20 a month (after an initial cost) but it offers two tuners and an on-air guide. Channel Master also makes other OTA/DVR products like the CM-7400 but recording off a cable or satellite DVR is still going to be easier in most cases.

Using a PC With Your TV is an OptionIf you're willing to keep a PC running around the clock (or at least when you want to watch or record) and can afford a few add-ons like TV tuner cards and a big hard drive, you can get a lot of flexibility and features using Windows Media Center which is built into some versions of Windows 7. Using a PC as your TV "hub" also gives you lots of options for streaming video from places like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and lots more.
Getting Programs OnlineUsing your home Internet connection and network to get TV programs on your computer or a connected TV is another popular option for cable-cutters. Getting streams on your TV is also pretty straightforward these days using connected devices like game consoles, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and lots more. The free Hulu service is one of the most popular sources for TV programs along with the "premium" $7.99 a month Hulu Plus service. You can also buy lots of programs and movies from places like Amazon Instant Video. For more info on program availability, check out this article on Retrevo. There have also been rumors lately that say Hulu may switch models and require a cable or satellite subscription. Two streaming products we recommend you consider are the Roku set-top box and the Playon streaming service. Yes, there are other good set top boxes like the Western Digital TV HD, and Apple TV but one thing we like about the Roku box is the number of "public" channels available. Just check out the variety and number of channels on Roku guides like rokuguide.com and roku channel database. Playon is another service we like that uses your computer to acquire streams which can then be routed to your TV over your home network via set-top boxes like the Roku or other connected devices. Using your computer to stream the programs gets around Hulu's restrictions on programming that can be delivered to set-top boxes. The service is a great value at $4.99 a month, $29.99 a year or even $59.99 for a lifetime subscription. Playon also offers a DVR service called "Playlater," and a mobile version. Another service that could complement Playon is called Plex which is geared more toward moving media on your PC to a TV or mobile device.
The Down-Side of Cord CuttingTwo and a half years ago, our friend David Katzmaier over at CNET made a failed attempt at cutting the cord. Things haven't changed all that much in the intervening time and it turns out like others have discovered, there's a lot to be said for the convenience and programming you get for your $179 a month (or whatever you're paying - including Internet access). Cord cutters also find that by the time they end up paying Amazon for a season's-worth of episodes at $2 an episode or the $7.99 Hulu Plus subscription not to mention the cost of a sports package or two, the difference between that and a cable bill starts to narrow. In the end, many cord-cutters realize that savings just aren't that much to make up for the loss of what they get from cable or satellite.
Frustrating User Interface and Slow Response TimesIn our own experience with cord cutting we too often run into frustrations with the "arrow key" interfaces that can be tedious and time consuming to find and stream programs. Remotes available as apps have helped with the UI but there are often long delays and latency which forces you to wait for programs to load and start playing - not to mention interruptions and artifacts. Again, there's something to be said for the quick response and easier access to programming that cable and satellite services provide.
  Over-The-Air, Over the InternetThere's a new service, called Aereo that's currently only available for New York City TV stations that has been in the news recently because of an attempt by the networks to shut them down. Aereo has developed a method that uses thousands of tiny antennas that receive OTA signals and then "re-transmits" them to you over the Internet. It currently costs $12 a month after a free trial period. Aereo recently prevailed against an initial injunction but there is more legal wrangling to come.  
ConclusionIs cord cutting for you? Unfortunately there is no clear answer to that question. On the one hand you can often get a lot of what you normally watch without cable or satellite but on the other hand there's a lot you can't get. One suggestion is to make a list of shows you watch on a daily basis or the ones you record and then go to work and see which of those shows are available. If you want to share your cord cutting experiences or share some things you've learned along that path, we'd love to hear them.

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Thanks man

Thanks man

Cord Cutting

We cut the cord 2 years ago and haven't missed DirecTV at all. We have an outdoor OTA and use EyeTV on our Mac Mini. For $20 a year, we get TV Guide integrated with EyeTV and can record programs like we used to do with TiVo. We have NetFlix and a Roku, so we get unlimited streaming and we can also stream some shows from the websites of networks. Our only ongoing expense is NetFlix ($18/mo for streaming and 1 Blu-Ray disc at-a-time), Pandora ($3/mo), TV Guide ($2/mo). Even if we count half of our internet access, because we would have that anyway, we are only spending about $38 a month for as much entertainment as we want. That's a lot less than the approx $100 a month for Satellite. We stay away from the pay-per-episode plans. We used the Antennaweb.org website to help us choose an appropriate antenna. hope someone finds this useful.K8

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Re: Cord Cutting

Although the program offerings via antenna are fewer than cable - in SoCal, it seems that almost half of the over the air programming is in languages other than English - the signal is much better with fewer technical issues. I know I give up many of the conveniences of cable programming like the DVR and being able to rewind and review but I am saving almost $100 a month when I elminated my bundle and kept only the internet connection. In these days of furloughs and job cuts, every bit of savings helps!

Helping parents cut the cable

Because of increasing cost my parents decided to cut the cable with the help of us kids. They use ota digital receiver for local channels. The pay only for internet. They purchased a Roku for one tv and a blu-ray with apps on the other. They use my Netflix on both devices, my sisters Hulu Plus and my brothers HBO go account. For phone they have the MagicJack that doesn't require a PC. Montly internet 50.00. Total monthly savings 125.00 per month. They are happy.

You and your siblings are

You and your siblings are "excellent kids".

I wish more parents had the same !

I agree with your opinion

I agree with your opinion

Helping parents cut the cable

Because of increasing cost my parents decided to cut the cable with the help of us kids. They use ota digital receiver for local channels. The pay only for internet. They purchased a Roku for one tv and a blu-ray with apps on the other. They use my Netflix on both devices, my sisters Hulu Plus and my brothers HBO go account. For phone they have the MagicJack that doesn't require a PC. Montly internet 50.00. Total monthly savings 125.00 per month. They are happy.

Booting Cablevision !

Made arrangements to stop TV the day after the Olympics are over.

A Terk HDTVa antenna mounted on a tripod will provide all the OTA available in my area. 18 channels,mostly HD perfection.

Ooma is already replacing the phone at a cost of $4.26mo.
Great system,no complaints at all.

Only keeping "net at $49.95mo.

Saving $104.+mo.

Roku XD/s picking up the slack, with a VIZIO Co-Star as soon as it is available again.

I cut the cord 25 years ago

I cut the cord 25 years ago when there wasn't much to look at after working the late shift. Why pay to watch infomercials? Of course I still have a corded phone which also provides internet, but it's still a lot cheaper.


Cutting the cord

I am cutting the cord... I am currently paying $169/ month for internet and cable. Most, not all, of what I watch on cable I can find between netflix, hulu, and amazon prime. With my roku there are free news channels like msnbc and fox and I found that taking out the cable and keeping the high speed internet, even with the minor costs of the paid roku apps, i will save almost $100 per month in my costs. Cutting the cable is definately for me!

cutting the cord

I cut the cord .. but had to bite the bullet and go back .. directional antennas were needed .. thunderstorms messed up the signals .. no nascar for second half of season .. grandkids needed cartoons LOL grandpa needed sanity. price of just internet on fios was most of the tv package .. so saw savings dwindling and frustrations rising .. so back to fios service

Cutting The Cord

Cut the cord five years ago. Fios, Netflix and Rhapsody = $85/month. Was not looking for savings, simply don't watch that much television. Prefer to read the news over watching the talking heads with short sound bites and video(s) for their support.


Cut the cord - lost my job two years ago and simply cannot afford it. Unemployment benefits ran out - thank God I am 63 and can get at least limited Social Security benefits.