Category Archives: Personal Tech

Cut the Cord – Update

Well its been three months since I have cut the cord so I figured I would give you an update.

First, my cord is still cut!! I am still happy with the choice.  I have made some service changes, equipment changes and modifications which I will outline.

  1. DirecTV came out with their live streaming service, DirecTV Now, at the end of 2016.  They had a intro special to sign up for their “Go Big” package for $35/month and get a free AppleTV with a 3 month commitment.  So basically I got a $150 device for $105 plus the service.  No brainer.  The “Go Big” package has 100+ channels.  The service was very bad to start, but has since become alot more stable.  That being said I just cancelled my $40/month Sling service and will stay with DirecTV Now.
  2. Originally I had purchased two HD over-the-air antennas for the free local service.  They were approx $40 each and I had one connected to two of my TVs.  I was getting 6 channels with those, the three major channels except CBS.  Then I was wondering about my other two TVs.  Buy more antennas??? UGH! No, instead I purchased this external antenna, ViewTV VT-0958A Digital Amplified Outdoor Antenna   I mounted this on my roof and then ran a coax back to the outside cable box on my house.  This then connects to all my internal coax wiring in my house so all I need to do is connect the TV into any coax jack and I will get the signal.  I needed to use the supplied amplifier with the antenna and now I have 26 free over-the-air channels, HD quality and now I have CBS!! Ready for March Craziness!!
  3. I bought these for my AppleTV remotes and I love them. 
  4. I was able to watch the SuperBowl!!  The game was on Fox which I get for free on my antenna AND it was streamed for free with the FOX Sports app on the AppleTV.

So, here’s where I’m at:

  • Outdoor antenna, $32 – Gets me 26 channels, including all the locals and major broadcast stations to any TV in my house.
  • 3 AppleTVs – 1 free with DirecTV Now
  • DirecTV Now – $35/month
  • Hulu – $8/month

My monthly cost for television service now is $43/month.  Right now the only downfall has been DVR capabilities.  DirecTV Now has said they will be adding that feature in the future.

The Cord Has Been Cut!

I called and cancelled DirectTV today and here is what led to it.

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First, I received my AppleTV on Wednesday and my first impression was, THIS. IS. AWESOME!!

Setup of the unit was simple and Apple of course used technology to make it easy.  Just put your iPhone next to the AppleTV and it configures itself.  The voice recognition (Siri) works great, I used it to enter my Apple ID password.  The touch remote needs some getting used to.

I then downloaded the SlingTV app and the Hulu apps and started playing.  I loved it.  The experience was great.  The AppleTV unit controls my Phillips TV.  When you wake the AppleTV it powers on the TV and sets it to the correct input source, you can then control the volume, then when you put the AppleTV to sleep it turns the TV off.

SlingTV is very impressive, i think it’s worth the price to stream 49 live TV channels.  Hulu is great to get the TV shows I want.  I also downloaded the CBS News app to watch live news for free when I need it.

Next, I got my HD antennas in.  I ordered two different ones, The Mohu Leaf 50  and the BAM Cables HDTV Leaf.  I live in a small town in NE Kansas, the nearest big town is about 20 miles away and they have 3 broadcast stations.  Kansas City is at least 50 miles away.  Both performed the same and I got 6 channels, ABC, NBC, and Fox.

I pulled out all my DirectTV equipment, connected my AppleTVs and HD antennas to our two main TVs.

Summary:

  • Cancelled $140/month of DirectTV Service
  • Signed up for SlingTV (49 channels) and Hulu, $48/month of service
  • HD Antenna get me local ABC, NBC and Fox stations, just missing CBS (but there’s and app for that)
  • AppleTV is very impressive piece of equipment, exceeded my expectations.  I think it will only get better.
  • The AppleTV remote is black and I can’t see it when I’m watching TV in bed at night!
  • There is another piece of equipment I will look at later.  HD HomeRun Extend allows you to get to your live local HD antenna stations through AppleTV, but it’s kinda pricey so I will wait a few months to see if I NEED it.
  • Will definitely be satisfied with no service provider and $90+ a month in savings!

Cut The Cord – Preparation

I am getting ready to test “cutting the cord”.  If you don’t know what this means, it is getting rid of my television service provider (DirectTV) and going with internet based streaming services.

The reasons I am doing this are two fold.  First, my kids (13 & 14) don’t watch much TV at all.  They are usually on their phones.  Second and the larger influence is to eliminate my DirectTV bill which is currently at $140 / month.

After talking with a co-worker and doing some research online I will outline my plan.

  1. I will purchase the hardware.  I have ordered a new AppleTV and an HD antenna.  The AppleTV will be used for my streaming apps.  Apple just announced their new TV app, “you have one place to access shows and movies from multiple video apps — in one unified experience.”  The antenna will be used to see how many local broadcast stations I will be able to get for free.
  2. Next decide on my streaming apps.  After talking with my coworker I am going with SlingTV (Orange + Blue).  This service will give me 49 live channels for $40/month.  I will also get a Hulu subscription.  With that subscription I will get my necessary shows (The Goldbergs,  Modern Family, and The Middle plus others).  This service will be $8/month.  I will see how these two services satisfy my television needs.  Most likely I will one off some other services as needed.
  3. Once I get this in place, I plan to test the usability of this system and if I can watch what I want when I want to.

Summary, I will pay $210 up front for hardware and $48/month in streaming services.  So with reducing my current DirectTV bill by $92 I will have a 2 month ROI and then will reap the benefits of that monthly savings.

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References:

  • http://www.apple.com/tvos/
  • http://www.cutcabletoday.com/
  • https://www.sling.com/
  • http://www.hulu.com/