We cut the cord after our local cable provider, Time-Warner, raised our rates to over $90 a month for our cable television service alone. We have one HDTV and were subscribed to the basic cable service, with a digital box. We also subscribed to what they called their “Variety” tier, which included A & E, BBC America, Discovery Channel and the other basic cable channels. We did not get HBO or any premium channels and there were many other basic channels not even included in their Variety tier. In addition, we were charged $10 a month for the rental of the DVR unit and another $10 a month for the ten or so HD channels they offered. The package was originally offered at about $50 a month, but promotional discounts were eliminated or expired and the rate climbed to over $90 for that same service level.
After cutting the cord, stopping the service and returning the devices, we needed to initially connect our computer to the TV. We use a PC and bought a converter box called PCtoTV from a company called Kworld as well as a VGA signal splitter. Now we take the VGA signal from the PC into the splitter, with one feed going to our desktop monitor, and the other VGA feed going to the converter. The device converts the signal to S-VIDEO, which we then connect to an input on our TV. Audio comes from the computer speakers, but can also be fed to the TV. Everything looks and sounds great, but we cannot watch in true HD.
Newer TVs have web connections built in, allowing direct hook up of your Ethernet or even wireless connection. Many other devices will also connect the Internet to your TV, such as some blu-ray DVD players and video game systems like Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3 and Microsoft XBox. We just received a Logitech Revue with Google TV set top box as a gift from our son. This allows us to watch Netflix streaming video and any other web content on our TV. The device is more open than other set-top boxes, as it allows you to view any website on your HDTV. NOw we don’t need to use our computer, we use this wonderful device.
To get the local channels, we bought a $15. digital TV antenna, as our TV already has a digital converter built in. This allows us to watch the local Los Angeles channels, in HD. These look even better than cable or satellite, as those companies compress the signal for transmission, the HD over the air is not compressed. This is great for sports games, which look amazing. There are also multiple feeds for the new digital TV channels, for example our NBC affiliate has a the regular NBC feed, a second channel carrying only local content and a third channel with static news, weather and traffic graphics.
We watch Hulu.com for many current, network shows, also fox.com and nbc.com stream full episodes. Hulu.com also has a great selection of feature films and documentaries from National Geographic and PBS too. We like pbs.org for their great documentaries and shows like “Antiques Roadshow” and “American Experience”.
Hulu.com has a Hulu Plus upgraded plan for $7.99 a month, giving access to even more archived shows and the ability to watch shows in HD. Hulu Plus also grants access to mobile and set-top devices, like ours. They offer a one week free trial, so we may check it out.
All of these methods rely on a good high speed Internet connection as the backbone. We are lucky that AT & T is offering a promotion in our area in Los Angeles for $19.99 a month for their “pro” level U-Verse DSL service rated at 6 megs download speed, the minimum speed you need to really watch video content.
So instead of paying $90 a month to Time-Warner, we are paying $7.99 a month just for Netflix, and all the other programming we watch is free. We also pay for the Internet access, but use that for other things beyond just watching video, and save a lot each and every month.