getting rid of cable TV

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Luke, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Real Name:
    My wife and I are moving next month and when I went to contact the cable company about the move, they said that there was now a charge for set-top boxes when there wasn't when I signed up with them (in 2007 I might add). So for the same service, they expect me to pay an additional $16 per month (on top of the $120 a month for combined internet and cable). I am fed up. I've looked into alternatives and they all have some drawbacks, but I think I'm willing to live with some of them.

    I signed up today for "PlayOn" which charged me $65 (this is a lifetime subscription.....that's all they're ever gonna get). It seems like a service that basically aggregates all the free programming that various outlets provide and gives you a fairly simple to use interface to find what you want. I will use my Playstation 3 to stream the "PlayOn" material from my laptop to my TV. My first experience with it is a bit like watching video on the internet. It's not high def...that's fer sure... and there are occasional hiccups, quality glitches and pauses/hang-ups.

    Now I'm quite far from tech savvy, but that's why I'm here.....some of you are. My internet speed is technically a "high speed" connection, but I have the bottom level of service (which has always been more than enough for email and light youtube kind of video stuff. I just did a speedtest and my downstream is 3.65Mbps. For $10 more per month, I can get 12Mbs or $25 per month, I can get 24Mbps. As we're chopping $70 per month off our cable bill, I have no problem with either, though obviously, I'd like to get away with only the extra $10 (otherwise it'll cut into the camera buying budget:wink:). Is this enough speed to cure what ails my quality issues? Or is part of the problem of going from the router/gateway wirelessly to the laptop and streamed through the PlayStation? In the new house, I could have my PC hardwired to the router (and the PS3 as well) if any of that would help?

    Is this even my best solution?

    What other options should I consider?

    Also, anyone here get HD local programming via an antennae? My wife remembers antennae reception from the 80s, but I think it's a bit different now. Am I wrong in that?

    I appreciate any of your opinions on the matter. Thanks for your time.
  2. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    Hi Luke... I would advise going for the next level of Internet speed. I have both cable TV and Internet from my cable provider and I noticed a definite improvement not only in Internet performance but also in avoidance of lockups while streaming Netflix programs via my Blu-ray player when I opted for the next level of Internet speed. But remember, the 12Mbs downstream figure doesn't mean you'll always get that - it's more of an "up to 12Mbs" situation. Still, you should notice the difference.

    Now... I can't speak for your modem, wireless router and computer... but my cable company did recently provide me with an upgraded modem that would take better advantage of the improved broadband. Ask your cable/Internet provider if you've got the best modem for the job. Still, I would think that, as long as your router, laptop and PS3 are 802.11n compatible, you should be in good shape. But what about a hard HDMI connection from your laptop to your TV? A cable and, potentially, an adapter and you're done.

    Finally, if you decide you need more than what PlayOn can give you... Netflix is $8 a month and features not only a lot of movies but also a number of original TV series.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention over-the-air reception of HDTV. How far are you from your local station's towers? You need a good, solid signal and a good antenna for over-the-air reception to work well. Unlike analog signals, digital transmissions don't get weaker and snowier as the signal degrades. You get 100% good reception until the signal strength falls below a certain level - and then it locks up and/or you lose everything. This is known as the "cliff effect." Potentially, over-the-air reception is a great solution (or partial solution). But if you don't have access to a solid signal, it's a non-starter. Maybe these links will help:
    • Like Like x 1
  3. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Real Name:
    I knew I liked you, Luke. I just didn't know why yet. :)

    We got rid of cable about 6 years ago, maybe 7. I've never invested much into tech-heavy solutions that are meant to be more or less seamless with someone used to traditional cable / dish. Here are two things I'd recommend:

    1. Watch less overall, period. I don't know about you guys but when we still had cable, the tv was basically always on, and it became a task to try to find ways to have it display something we either enjoyed, or at least were not openly annoyed by. Now we watch perhaps 2 hours an evening, occasionally none. Either way it's a good bit less than before, net. Some TV is awesome. Lots of TV is not awesome.

    2. Get netflix streaming. It's not "everything" but between streaming and dvd's, you've got MOST good TV series (past and present... go back and watch things you heard were good but never saw) and tons of movie content. Your internet level will be fine as long as you don't have teenagers in the house or mooching neighbors.

    I've played with Apple TV and Roku, and they're fine, I guess, but not so enticing that I wanted more than I have. We have an ANCIENT little Mac Mini right next to the tv, and a PC monitor input going into the TV. Then a wireless keyboard and mouse, so I can steer from the couch.

    EDIT: Forgot about your antenna question. Yes, we get all the basic channels through rabbit ears. Depending on where you live, you'll probably be fine. Cheap ones work ok, but you sometimes have to fiddle for this channel vs that one. Powered antennae are a little better and require little or no futzing.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    if only there was another way for me to get live sports, i woulda done this years ago. but by gosh i need my yankees, my football and my college and pro hoops!

    theres also hulu, another streaming service, from which you can get most tv shows, usually a week after they air. theres also amazon prime, they have a boatload more streaming movies than netflix.

    i have a PS 4 and that streams directly into my tv through hdmi, great sound great picture. not sure if PS3 does that, but if so, it cuts out the computer middleman. also, you could get a cheap used mac mini and hook that up directly to your tv and access the internet that way, or i guess thru apple tv hardware.

    if you find a way to watch live sports please send me an email! good luck.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Usually these providers have special promotions.. particularly as you will be a new user in your new home. Check that area to see what other service providers are there. You can balance promotions with paying a little more in options to tweak part of the service if you want. Say they offer you similar service but for 100$ less a month.. and you want to add HD tv for 15.. you are still coming out ahead. Now if you are a basic tv watcher then you don't need the special channels or movie channels. You should know by now what you guys really watch. If you are savvy with hooking things up-- Hulu or Netflix-- you can get your movies there inexpensively if and when you want them. Internet.. you get what you pay for there. I have 50mbps for powergaming boys and for large graphic uploads. If you don't do any of that, you don't need superfast internet. I guess weigh what you really want, then research the local companies and see what they can offer. Ask them pointedly for promotions.. and what the price will be when the promotion ends, etc. Also ask about early cancellation fees. I just did this dance over xmas. If you can get what you want all inclusive then go for it otherwise I know a lot of people that piecemeal.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Real Name:
    Stephen Noel
    We've got Comcast, Xfinity, TV, land line and 10-12 gig internet, with second level number of channels. Usually enough speed for two computers streaming movies at 360, sometimes 450, except late evening, when number of people online is highest. It's about the best that I've found in our little rural town. Not totally satisfactory, but usable.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. HappyPuppy

    HappyPuppy SC Rookie

    Dec 19, 2013
    I too ditched it. The service level I had 6 years ago was up to $250 USD. That's insane IMO. I dumped it to the basic internet added Apple TV , netxflix and Huluu. I already have Amazon Prime and that includes video as well.

    I only pay around $40.00 for all of it.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
  8. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    I got rid of Comcast TV 2 years ago, though I kept the internet and phone. I was paying $150 a month for a half million channels of crap I didn't want to watch. I catch the few things I did occasionally watch on Hulu, and I avoid the damned talking heads political shows that used to have me yelling at the TV set. I suspect the move has added years to my life.
    • Like Like x 4
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I respect this move but I'm afraid to try it. If I stop yelling at the talking heads every now and then, I'm afraid I might start yelling at REAL people and that would not be a good thing...

    No tech suggestions Luke. We pay for the whole damn package and it ain't cheap. But it seems like it's getting less expensive rather than more and for better service. We were paying for our set-top HD boxes (all pulling content from one main DVR) but now up to three additional are included. They also gave us some more channels to get to the complete package and the price came down from $250 per month to $200 for all of the TV stuff, the fastest internet they've got (which seems pretty blazing fast to me - handles everything I've ever thrown at it), and our home phone. I only watch a small percentage of the channels we get, but I wouldn't want to lose any of what I do watch, and I love the original shows on HBO, Showtime, AMC, etc - most of the best stuff on TV these days. And I like my news and sports real time... So I pay. We used to pay more for hard goods - now between our cable/internet/phone and mobile phone packages, we don't spend a lot on hard goods (essentially no books or CDs or videos/DVDs anymore) but we make up for it on all of this communication technology... I'm ok with the tradeoffs...

    • Like Like x 4
  10. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    I understand, but decided to take the risk. In my case, I find yelling at the TV has been replaced by muttered swearing at the internet news. Seems the only way around is through.
    • Like Like x 2