Monday, June 2, 2014

Say goodbye to satellite or cable TV and save a bundle!

Say goodbye to satellite or cable TV and save a bundle!

I've been a loyal Dish Network customer for years.  I love their service and have had almost no problems with it.  But one day I looked at my bill and thought, "We're spending over $100 a month to watch TV."  And most of the time we don't really even "watch" what's on.  I'm on my Kindle, hubby's on his iPad, and the TV is just on in the background.  That's more than $1200/year that we're throwing way!

So I did a ton of research on streaming with a Roku-type device, polled all my Facebook friends, and called my brother.  He gave me the 30 Minute Nutshell version of how to get rid of satellite.  So I took the plunge.

It's been trial and error but I think we finally have a winner.  Here's what I've learned.

You need:  a modern (or old fashioned) TV antenna, just like the rabbit ears on your grandma's old TV but probably much cooler looking.  Mine is a totally flat, flexible square that sticks on your wall or window.  If you live more than 30 miles away from the nearest station that's broadcasting a local station like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. you may need something stronger.  I bought this one first and if we didn't live so far away, it would have worked just fine:

AmazonBasics High Performance Ultra Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna -Made in USA

An outdoor antenna or one that goes in your attic might be a better choice for you.  But a typical antenna will set you back somewhere between $25-100.  After I returned the first one I exchanged it for this one instead.  It's about $57.00.
AmazonBasics Extreme Performance Ultra Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna - Designed and Assembled in USA

You also need a way for your TV to access the internet (more on this later.)

Last, you'll probably want a few subscription-based channels like HuluPlus and Netflix.  Each is approximately $8/month.  I find that Netflix has more movies and kids shows and Hulu has more TV shows.  We subscribe to both.

So we were ready to begin!  Luckily we have an internet enabled TV in our family room.  Meaning it already can access Netflix and some other sites on its own without needing a media streaming device of some sort. 

The pros:  It's free.
The cons:  There are only a few stations to choose from, like Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube, plus a few others I've never heard of before.  The interface is terrible too.  Trying to find a show to watch takes 10 minutes using their search feature.  Trying to type a movie or TV show title on my TV remote takes forever.

But then again, it's free!  So we did not buy a streaming device, such as Apple TV or Roku.  Why bother, right?

Here's what the interface looks like.  Not much to choose from.  (I am absolutely, hands down, the world's WORST cell phone photographer.  Sorry!)



If you want to watch Scandal from last night's episode, you have to find it first.  You go search on Netflix, can't find it.  Then you search on Hulu.  Not there either.  Ok, how about if we go to www.Abc.com and click on "Full Episodes".  Yes, that worked.  That took about 10 minutes.  Hmm, kind of a pain.

We used this method for about a week but hubby was not happy that he couldn't find any of his favorite outdoor shows to watch (hunting and fishing), car shows like Chasing Classic Cars, or live sporting events.  So then we bought an Apple TV.

Since we are an Apple household with two Macbook Pros, two iPads, and two iPhones, we thought this would be great.  And the ability for the mobile devices to sync with the TV is pretty awesome.  If I were watching a movie on my iPad I could just display it on the TV screen instead.  Which is very cool!



Unfortunately they still don't have that many channels to watch and the search capability still sucks.  And the remote is the size of a big, pink pencil eraser that my 9 year old uses in school.  I mean seriously, what full grown adult could possibly press those tiny little buttons?  It's ridiculous.  I get the whole minimalist concept but come on!  The picture below is of the regular TV remote and the Apple TV remote.  It's truly about 5" long.



So after a week of this and still no outdoor channel type programs, I hit the internet to do some research on which unit is the best for streaming.  And the one that kept showing up over and over again?  The Roku 3.

Roku 3 Streaming Media Player

The Roku 3 was by far my favorite!  More channels to choose from but you can search by title and it will look through ALL their channels for that show/movie.  This is so much easier!

In review, here's the cost for our setup:

$59.99 for the antenna  

$89 for the Roku 3  (It seems like the price has gone up a bit since I bought it a few weeks ago.) 
**These are both one time costs.**

$7.99/month - HuluPlus
$7.99/month - Netflix

**These are our only monthly costs.**

Former DishNetwork monthly cost - $112.00
Total savings the first year alone - $993.00
Total savings the second year - $1153.00

So seeing those numbers on paper, is it worth giving up cable or sat TV?

Sadly, to my husband, the answer is no.  I was totally willing to go this route but he couldn't watch his favorite shows on Velocity or a few of the other "guy" shows he likes - car shows, gun shows, shows where the build something and then take it out and blow it up.  So he insisted that we continue to pay for cable.

I'm bummed but after listening to him bitch and moan about it for a week I gave up trying to convince him.  I wish you all much more luck than I had, my friends!

Comment below and let me know if you have tried this and whether you think it's doable.  I'm hoping I can wear hubby down after another year or two of getting that stupid Dish bill each month.



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