Nearly a year ago, Jill and I cut the cable off! So, when we took the plunge, we did not know if it was going to be a permanent thing or just something to save a little money temporarily. Now, it is definitely going to be permanent!!! Here is my guide to going cable free (yet, still enjoying plenty of programming):
Our bill before we cut our cable was over $160 and since we were a recent customer, after our ‘introductory’ package ran out, they would not lower the bill … even when we threatened to cut our service back dramatically!
Our Current ‘Package’ …
- Roku (paid $80 for it nearly 12 months ago)
- Netflix – $16 per month when it goes up next month
- Hulu Plus – $8 per month
- Vonage – $12 per month
- Internet – $45 per month (premium high-speed service)
- Total – $81 per month
So, we save $80 per month after our one time Roku purchase! Not too shabby … especially when nearly all of our television watching was confined to movies and DVR’d programs. Those are two of the aspects at which internet-based television excels!
I did all of the research and it really came down to a couple of options. They were Roku, AppleTV, or a computer running a Media Center Program, like Boxee or Plex. If we had waited, the Boxee Box was coming out … it is now out but has not received great reviews. There were other issues with Netflix and Hulu on AppleTV (the new version supports Netflix but not Hulu Plus). In short, Roku was the easiest to ease and cheapest option. It does Netflix and Hulu Plus without problems and can access local media with minimal fiddling. In addition, it serves Pandora, CHOW TV, and a number of other content providers without a hiccup. Plus, did I mention that it was cheaper … the most expensive Roku 2 is $99.99 versus $99.00 plus shipping for the Apple TV or $199.99 for the Boxee Box.
Installation of the Roku couldn’t be simpler. Plug it up to an outlet and to your TV, turn on, and follow the on-screen prompts to set it and your services up. Nothing to it … even a Luddite could do it!
One note: We did supplement the Roku with a new digital antenna (adding $20 to our one-time costs) to watch the local news and certain live events (Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament, Presidential Speeches, and the like).
Netflix – Need I say more … the Blockbuster killer … the Cable killer … they have thousands of movies and television shows. I can watch Top Gear, Doctor Who, random ’80s movies, new releases, and even cartoons (I highly recommend Shawn the Sheep.)!
Hulu Plus – If it ain’t on Netflix, then it is likely on Hulu Plus! (And, if it ain’t on either, do I really need to watch it?) Despite the ‘limited’ commercials, Hulu is second only to Netflix in the usefulness to those who want to cut their cable. If you’re a classic movie buff, Hulu’s recent addition of the Criterion Collection is a major coup.
ESPN3.com – Included with our internet package, it enables me to watch tons of college basketball, college football, and other sports (like soccer, if I ever wanted to torture myself). Service is good but it does require that events are watched on my computer.
Amazon Instant Video – Have only occasionally used this service but it is included in the Amazon Prime membership. So, if you are all ready a member, then you can get free access to thousands of movies and television shows.
For a full list of the channels available on the Roku, check out their Channel Store because there are hundreds of options!