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Thread: I want to get rid of cable

  1. #1
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    Default I want to get rid of cable

    I am looking at alternatives to Time Warner Digital Cable, but we have an HDTV, so we would still like to watch our programs on the TV. Our bill is currently $89 a month for the lowest tier digital package, one DVR, and NO premium channels. I am convinced that we can get our favorite TV shows for free, or, even if we paid by the show, we would still save a lot of $. We only watch about 6 TV shows a week.

    We have an Xbox Live and Netflix account, so there are some things we can get off of that (streaming video). We could also purchase shows from Itunes, but I don't know how you can watch them on TV instead of your computer screen. Can you? Also, CBS has free shows (most of the ones we like are CBS), but I don't know how to watch them on the TV instead of the computer.

    I saw a digital TV antenna/receiver mentioned somewhere. It said you could pick up local HD channels. How does that work? Do you have to put it on your roof? How much does it cost?

    One other thing I found that might help is this: boxee: the open, connected, social media center for mac os x and linux Anyone have any experience with this?

    Advice?

  2. #2
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    i can't remember the name of the antenna, but someone facebooked about it... see if i can find it tonight
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    I don't have cable and watch over the air hdtv. A set of rabbit ears is all you need. I would get a set with an amplifier built into it.

    I have a vista computer with the media center and a tv tuner card and have the functionality of a dvr and can stream shows for free and radio. You can also stream directly from the networks or watch Hulu. There are also many other free streaming sites to watch tv.

    I haven't paid for tv in about 5 years and never will again.

  4. #4
    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIgZHZpiq1U[/YOUTUBE]

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    About the rabbit ears, aren't they obsolete now that all broadcasting is digital in the U.S.? Remember how they went on and on about getting a digital converter for anyone who still has an analog tv set?

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    What about Dish network?
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Not sure, but I think an HD antenna is different from rabbit ears of yore.

    McJag, we don't really want to go the satellite route, for various reasons.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    OK-if you figure out a way to work this out,be sure and share!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member Trixie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    About the rabbit ears, aren't they obsolete now that all broadcasting is digital in the U.S.? Remember how they went on and on about getting a digital converter for anyone who still has an analog tv set?
    They pushed the digital conversion until June because the government ran out of money for the converter program.

    I signed up and got coupons for $40 off two converters. So they cost me $13 apiece. I currently have Directv, but I figured I'd get the converters and see what the programming's like once all the stations are switched. Right now the digital stations are pretty limited, in my area anyway.
    These people don't give a fuck about YOU or us. It's a message board, for Christ's sake. ~ mrs.v ~
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  10. #10
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    No the rabbit ears are not obsolete. Either the box or the tv does the conversion from anolog to digital. The rabbit ears just pick up the signal.




    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    About the rabbit ears, aren't they obsolete now that all broadcasting is digital in the U.S.? Remember how they went on and on about getting a digital converter for anyone who still has an analog tv set?

  11. #11
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Why I hate Comcast and How to Ditch Them.

    A little background....

    When I first had cable television in my first apartment in 1994. My cable bill was 31 bucks, and that included HBO plus 45 channels. When I got Comcast (then MediaOne) here in Boston in 2001, my cable bill was around 100 bucks for internet, tv, and phone. And over the past few years, cable tv rates have just doubled. I currently pay 144/mo for Cable TV and Internet.

    I do admit that I have a cable card for my HD Tivo, and I also have the next tier in internet service from the standard service.

    Here's how my Comcast Bill breaks down:

    Digital Classic
    Basic Service $10.30
    Digital Cable Programming & Music Choice $2.00
    Expanded Basic $47.75
    Cable Box Rental $1.70
    Remote $0.25
    --------
    Total $62.00
    Francise Related Costs $00.13
    Digital Classic $13.95
    Add'l Digital Outlet (Cable Card) $6.95
    --------
    Total Comcast Cable Television $83.03

    Internet Service w/ Blast Tier $52.95
    Leased Cable Modem $3.00
    --------
    Total High-Speed Internet $55.95

    State Sales Tax (Cable TV) $0.01
    Access Fee $4.48
    FCC User Fee $0.07
    Franchise Fee $0.07
    Sales Tax (Internet) $0.15
    -------
    Total Taxes & Fees $4.78
    ---------
    Total Comcast Bill $143.76

    So I noticed a couple of things about my bill. First off, what is that $4.48 Access Fee Charge. I first thought that it was USF (Universal Service Fee), however this only applies to telephone service, not cable TV. So what is this?!? Calls to Comcast were unanswered about this, except one rep told me that it was just "something that we charge for" and could not explain this.

    And of course the TWO franchise related costs. One for city, and one for the state. So I'm paying double fees, along with sales tax to my municipality and state.

    Now let's talk about the Digital Cable scam Comcast has going on.

    First off, this is one of few things I dislike about TivoHD. Because in order for the TivoHD to work properly with cable TV, you have to rent the CableCard and have digital cable service. It will not work with "Standard Cable" (meaning Cable TV, sans box). So this alone adds 20 bucks to the bill. (there's a really long explanation why it doesn't work, but if you want more info check out TiVo Community)

    I also was told since I have HDTV, in order for me to HDTV service (with or without the Tivo), I needed to rent a box and have digital cable if I wanted to receive HD stations above local channels (as by law, Comcast is required to send out unencrypted QAM signals of local channels, so your built in QAM Tuner (DTV Tuner) can receive them without them). If you do not have digital cable and have "Standard Cable" (Channels 2-99) you would only get the Standard Definition stations and not the HD versions.

    Box rental.. ugh

    Comcast told me that I could not have JUST a CableCard with Digital Service. Yeah its 7 bucks more, but if one digital cable box is "included" with Digital Cable, why can't I just use the cable card? This is fine anyways, since I use the box in my bedroom with my Humax Tivo. And I love that I am charged for a REMOTE. Yeah a quarter, but sheesh. Can I refuse the remote? No, Comcast says I must have a remote to access the menus. Even though I can access 95% of the functions from the front of the box.

    On a side note, digital cable box rental is a scam. Cable operators have pretty much gotten the FCC to require these boxes again, and the FCC stamps out any manufacturer that wishes to sell these boxes to end user. This is because, prior to cable tv being deregulated in the early 1990s, you had to rent the box. In 1994 when cable tv was deregulated, you could go to your favorite electronics store and buy any cable box you wish. Funny, 2 years later, Digital Cable appeared, and once again, you were required to rent the box to have service. And of course the old law regarding box rental, ONLY applies to analog cable, not digital cable.

    Packages.. ugh

    As I have said before, I have Tivo. However, Comcast will not un-bundle their digital cable packages to reduce the cost. Why do I pay for Music Choice, On-Demand, and Interactive Guide, when I can't access these features from the Tivo? I'm getting ripped off, paying for something I don't use.

    With Digital Starter package, you basically get Basic + Extended Service, Music Choice, On-Demand, Interactive Guide, A Box, and a remote rental. With this package, you get 10 channels above Basic + Extended Service. Just TEN. (and of course all the crap they won't unbundle for you.)

    Now I'm a sucker. I wanted Logo. Just LOGO. But Comcast says I need to subscribe to Digital Classic to get these channels. Of course now I get more damn channels I'd ever watch. Waste of money. Particularly now that it appears that Sordid Lives isn't coming back to to Logo.

    Internet.. ugh

    Their internet packages suck. Comcast has several packages to chose from, it isn't like "one size fits all" anymore. Comcast Packages go as follows

    Economy Packages - 1MB down/128k up $24.95
    Standard Internet - 4MB down/768k up $42.95
    Pro Internet - 8MB down/3MB up $52.95
    Pro Plus Internet - 16MB down/5MB up $62.95
    Extreme Internet - 20MB down/5MB up $79.95
    Business Service - 50MB down/10MB up $139.99

    These packages and prices are based in my area, and if you already have Comcast Service. And we have special pricing and packages here because our local phone company is Verizon and is rolling out FiOS like mad, so Comcast needs to compete.

    Modem Rental. This is the only thing I see that is a value. If you buy a cable modem, its about 70 bucks. In about 2 years time, you would have paid for that modem in lease fees. HOWEVER. I've had my cable modem replaced 4 times since I've lived in this apartment due to various things and Comcast has come and replaced it free of charge. If I owned the modem, I'd be out yet another 70 bucks.

    Now on to the big thing.. why I am dumping Comcast and how to do it.

    I'm going to keep the internet. Its a given. Verizon doesn't offer FiOS in my area, and their DSL packages suck (not as fast as Comcast). And any other DSL provider is just way too expensive to get a comparable package. So I'm sticking with Comcast for that. Of course since I will not be a Comcast Cable TV Customer, I can add about 10 bucks to the bill.

    If I dump the Cable TV, my price for Comcast bill would be: $72.73 verses the $143.76 . I'd save $71.03

    I've just come to realize that I watch very little on Cable TV, and most of the stuff I watch is on the major networks. The main reason I got cable tv back in the day was to avoid reception problems. But with Digital TV, its either you get the signal or you don't. There's no static, no double-vision channels, no interference. No nothing. If you do get the signal its crystal clear, and in some respects a better picture than Comcast.

    I had a set of rabbit ears I used for a very long time as a backup. They work OK. A few stations have digital feedback (pixelation and freezing of the screen). But I could not get all the stations I wanted. So I opted to buy a better antenna.

    I opted to buy a Terk Indoor antenna (as seen below). Its 74 bucks from your local BestBuy. And considering how much I'd be saving in one month from canceling Comcast Cable TV, It pays for itself. And the Terk antenna verses rabbit ears, it made ALL the difference in reception. I get 5 bars on most stations (except PBS) and virtually NO freezes or pixalation.

    The one goal I had with this project was to use ONE antenna to run both TVs (Living Room and Bedroom), and not have to mess with it to get stations to come in. So I put the Antenna up on my bookcase (as seen below) so it is away from electrical interference, and used AntennaWeb.Org to help me decide on what antenna to buy and what position the antenna should be in to get most of the stations I want to receive.

    I purchased an amplifier and splitter to help amplify the signal to the bedroom using the existing cable TV coax wire that runs into the bedroom. This will help me accomplish in using my new, nice HDTV Antenna with my bedroom TV. I also had to purchase a DTV Converter box for the TV in the bedroom. But thanks to the US Government, the box cost me 10 bucks (with their coupon program). And thanks to Tivo for pushing down updates that support these new boxes.

    After everything was all said and done, this how much everything costs:

    DTV Converter Box $9.99 (after coupon)
    Coax Amplifier/Splitter $39.99
    New Antenna $73.99
    Sales Tax (5%) $6.20
    ---------
    Total $130.17

    If I factor in what Comcast Cable TV costs for a year, which is: $872.76 . I can save $742.59 a year in Cable TV Costs.

    Now you might asking, what DO you get for free DTV stations?

    First off, I told my TVs/Tivo to remove any analog stations as there is no real point in having staticy channels when I can watch the crystal clear DTV signal. This also removes any of the low powered stations too (until they go digital in late 2011), but most of these are useless home shopping or channels I wouldn't watch anyways (such as Univision or Telemundo).

    Here's what I get:

    2.1 - PBS - WGBH - Main PBS Programming
    2.2 - PBS - WGBH - Main PBS Programming in SD format (letter boxed)
    2.101 - PBS - WGBH - (see below)
    2.102 - PBS - WGBH - (see below)
    4.1 - CBS - WBZ - Main CBS Programming
    5.1 - ABC - WCVB - Main ABC Programming
    5.2 - ABC - WCVB - Storm Team 5 Live Doppler Radar (see below)
    7.1 - NBC - WHDH - Main NBC Programming
    7.2 - Ind. - WHDH - Main ThisTV Network
    26.1 - Ind. - WHDN - Rebroadcast of WHDT (of Miami) (see below)
    25.1 - Fox - WFXT - Main Fox Programming (see below)
    38.1 - Ind. - WSBK - Main WSBK Programming
    44.1 - PBS - WGBX - Secondary PBS Programming
    44.2 - PBS - WGBX - PBS World Programming
    44.3 - PBS - WGBX - PBS "Create" Digital Network
    44.4 - PBS - WGBX - PBS Kids Programming
    56.1 - CW - WLVI - Main CW Network Programming
    56.2 - CW - WLVI - (See Below)
    62.1 - Ind. - WMFP - Independent Station (primarily showing infomercials)
    68.1 - ION - WPBX - ION Network Programming
    68.2 - ION - WPBX - Qubo on ION Programming
    68.3 - ION - WPBX - ION Life Programming
    68.4 - ION - WPBX - ION Religion Programming

    Note: Many of these channels are the PSIP channels and are virtually mapped from their "real" channel assignments.

    As you can tell I get 23 channels. Of course the two infomercial/shopping channels are garbage. I'm amazed that 26.1 shows nothing but jewelry shopping in HD. Of course its a very good looking station. Everything is in HD.

    As far as regarding 2.101, 2.102, and 56.2 are stations that my TV tunes in, but there is no video or audio. Not sure what these are for but maybe an up and coming network or additional programming.

    5.1 is listed in TV Guide as Storm Team 5 Live Doppler Radar, however, no video or audio come through. (and the signal strength is full)

    25.1 was the worst station to get, and of course its the WFXT's Fox Programming in HD. According to WFXT's website, this is because they are not operating at full strength due to their DTV tower not being built yet. I'd wish they get their act in gear. However, this was the main reason I purchased a better antenna was because Fox just would not come in. The Terk antenna has fixed that.

    Overall I'm pretty happy with what I get. I get the big 5 networks in. Plus a few bonus stations I would not have gotten on analog TV. (most of these stations appeared on Comcast). ThisTV is pretty neat since it shows off-run sitcoms and just general entertainment. Sadly it shows more stuff than WSBK does, which is Boston's original Independent station, which seems to be infomercials most of the time.

    I'd also like to say, if you live in the Boston Metro area, you may not get all of these stations or could possibly recieve more. I have several skyscrapers in the way of the transmitters. AntennaWeb.ORG is a great resource on what stations you might get (or not get). My only wish that that we'd get a MyTV station closer to the city (WMZY is just too far way to get with an indoor antenna), but I am not losing much though.

    Overall, I am pretty happy with my setup here, and if I can go 1 week without Cable TV using this setup. Bye bye Comcast!

    So there you have it. Digital TV is great. and a good alternative to Comcast if you can survive without cable stations. And I am sure in the near future you'll see more and more stations along with digital sub-stations appear on the DTV spectrum with more programming to watch.

    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  12. #12
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    Congrats for getting over your cable tv addiction. I have pretty much the same channels you do with over the air. Instead of tivo I run my antenna through a Vista computer that has Windows media center built into it. The media center is great. It has lots of content built into it and streaming content. I can stream music from it, watch concerts and video that they provide free of charge. It all runs through my existing Internet connection.

    I have two tuner cards in my computer so I can record two shows at once and watch a third. Best buy has tuner cards either usb or internal for around $69.00 if I remember correctly.

    I have been cable free for years and love it. I go to my friends houses and look at all the crap they have and pay for. As you stated most people only watch a couple of channels and pay for a bunch of stuff they don't watch.

    I miss my History channel but can watch clips of it through the windows media center. I also have solutions like Hulu to supplement what I don't get over the air. I can also download tv shows legally (for now). off of the Internet and watch a season at a time or as they come out.

    The media center is one worthwhile feature in Vista.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. Some glitches/additional issues:

    1) Found out our HDTV that we purchased in 2004 does not have a digital tuner on it. Back in the day we didn't envision getting OTA HDTV signals, I guess the TV manufacturers didn't either. Paid over $4000 for this damn TV so we don't want to get another one until we damn sure get our money's worth out of this one. So basically we have to buy some sort of tuner/receiver to get TV without cable or satellite. NOT the same as the digital converter boxes they are selling. It seems that since current TV's come with the tuners included, there are not a lot of options out there for buying one separately.

    2) DH says he doesn't want to use the computer to record shows on or stream from. If one person is watching a show recorded on our hard drive linked to the TV somehow, and we've also got someone browsing the internet at the same time, then the internet drops or is slow. We have roadrunner high speed but DH doesn't think it can support both at the same time.

    3) I can't figure out a one-stop solution to download our favorite TV shows. I can get Lost on Itunes, but the other shows I like (CSI, Criminal Minds, SNL) I can't find current episodes to d/l. I would want to get the episodes next day. Also, a HD d/l from Itunes would require an Apple player to play on your HDTV. If you d/l from amazon video on demand you need a Tivo player.

    4) In the absence of being able to d/l current episodes or stream them adequately, it seems our only option is to use an antenna to receive HD broadcasts, but I can't always be sitting there at 9:00 on Wednesday night to watch Lost...so I need a way to record it. We have an early 90's hard disk recorder with a hard drive, but I don't know if the playback would be in HD. The other options are Tivo, which requires a subscription, and I think you still have to have cable to use it, right?

    All I want to do is either

    A) Purchase/download or stream HD video and watch it on my HDTV monitor (without buying a separate computer to support).

    or

    B) Receive HDTV signals over the air on my HDTV monitor, preferably being able to record shows for future playback.

    Why is this so complicated?

    BTW, we have a regular HP PC and we also have a HP netbook. I don't think the netbook can do much except browse the internet (at least that's what we bought it for).

  14. #14
    Gold Member mamaste's Avatar
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    We've had a computer/HDTV setup for years. We never have problems with speed. Surfing the net isn't all that bandwidth intensive. What can cause problems is too little memory or a slow processor. My son is watching a movie on Netflix right now while I'm on GR. We use the Media Center plugin for Netflix.

    I won't give away much about my movie and TV collection, but I can watch just about anything I want. New TV shows I can get usually the same day. Media Center had DVR capabilities, so you can record your shows. Past basic channels, you need a cable card. Unfortunately, there is only one in existance. There is Usenet, but that can cost money to be most effective. The providers are cheap and using say Newzbin and SABnzb makes it easy. That option is pretty popular around the net. There are plugins you ca download to stream CBS shows or Hulu or whatever.

    Look around, there are lots of sites and forums where you can find advice on creating an ideal setup.

    BTW, it could be easier, but they make it complicated so you'll keep buying cable. When we first started this in 2005, it was much more difficult. Only geeks would do this. But more and more people have begun to use digital content. It'll get easier over time, but for now DIY is your best bet. Good luck.

    Forgot: Boxee sucks. It also leaks memory.

  15. #15
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    How do you get your recorded shows on the computer to play on your HDTV? What's the interface like? Our computer is upstairs and the HDTV is downstairs.

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