In our household, we have the TV on as background noise most of the time. I'll admit, I use to be addicted to Hardcore Pawn, American Pickers, the Doomsday Preppers, etc. Most of the time, I would watch a movie on Cable that I have either seen multiple times before or already own because it was familiar.
Then it dawned on me. Cable TV is stressing me out. How ? Ever notice the bottom third of your TV, also known as TV real estate:
We are bombarded by advertising throughout the TV show/movie, commercials, etc. Even the streaming news stories constantly alerting us of terrorist threats, mass shootings, political tit for tat fighting, etc. This begs the question, why is Cable not paying me to watch this crap ?
My cable/internet bill started at $90/month, crept up to $160 - $200/month and now I was told I would have to commit to a 2 year contract to have my bill reduced for the first 6 months after which the price would increase in months 6-12 and then again from months 12-24. Oh yeah, I would also be forced to sign up for their "triple play" or bundled package forcing me to sign up for their VOIP phone service (which you would need to rent their special router).
So I researched an OTA (over the air) antenna option. What I got was mass confusion. UHF/VHF ? Indoor antenna vs. outdoor antenna. Where to mount. Where to point.
Luckily, we live in the Bay Area close to the San Francisco, San Jose and San Mateo broadcast towers. Since we rent, an outdoor antenna was out of the question and we decided to purchase an indoor antenna.
After some research, we decided on the Mohu Leaf Plus
. This was about $60 - $70 on amazon.com
Next, we had to find out how many channels we would be able to pick up. These websites give you an idea of how powerful an antenna you need, indoor vs. outdoor and where you should point your antenna: Antennaweb
or TV Fool
Living in the Bay Area, we were able to pick up most of the major networks, PBS, and the local stations. We get about 27 channels, 5-10 Latino stations and about 5 various Asian networks.
Next, we decided that we would "stream" our movies and network TV shows. The two major players out there are: Hulu Plus and Netflix. Each cost about $7.99/month. Since we already have a huge collection of movies, we decided to go with Hulu Plus. In general, Hulu Plus has newer network TV episodes and older movies. Netflix generally has newer movies and older seasons of network TV shows.
Now, you need to be able to "stream" these from a device. Most Bluray players, PlayStation or Wii devices allow you to do this. Smart TV's do as well. We purchased a WD Live which is similar to a Roku as our streaming device. We opted for the WD Live since it could play ALL out the codecs (mp4, avi, mkv, etc.) that our movies are stored as.
Of course, we had to keep Comcast internet, which is costing us $49.99/month and adding Hulu Plus is an additional $7.99/month.
We have literally thousands of DVD's, movies and TV shows purchased from iTunes. What do we do with these ? We bought a Network Attached Storage (NAS). Think of it as a mini home server. We can store up to 8 TB of media. So by using a program called Handbrake
, we were able to convert all of our DVD's (that we purchased) to a digital format to store on our NAS.
Using our NAS to stream our movies, WD Live to stream Hulu Plus and our Mohu Leaf antenna for our local stations and major networks, we found that not only do we NOT miss Cable TV, we watch quality TV and movies. Also, I attributed a lot of stress to the advertising and the constant "doom and gloom" that our news stations put out. Our bill came down from $200/month to about $57/month.
So, we're taking the money that we are saving and putting it into mutual funds for our son's college fund, using the time to watch quality TV/movies and maybe even doing something constructive with our time like writing this blog article.