Tag Archives: getting rid of cable

Living without Cable.


So we have been living without cable since the beginning of August. We held onto it the first week of August for Shark Week. Unfortunately, RCN reminded us why we were getting rid of cable…the cable was out pretty much the entire week. But not only was the cable out, the internet was also. The problem was somehow our cable line had been cut so our neighbors were also without cable and internet. It took so many phone calls and visits for RCN to get their act together. I think it took about 3 phone calls before they realized this was not only a problem for us but also for our neighbors.

Now we are happily living without cable, though we do still have internet with RCN. It has been a pretty easy adjustment, mostly due to our sweet set up. Our HD antenna was working great, but after a lot of thought and research I really wanted DVR. It’s so nice to be able to come home in the middle of one your shows and to be able to start from the beginning because it was being recorded.

In July I started doing a lot of reading about how to have DVR without cable. Tivo was the first and most popular DVR product that I saw, but with Tivo we would have a monthly bill. After more research I found out you could make your computer into a DVR. Basically you install a TV tuner into your computer and watch live TV through it with the help of an antenna.

We looked into 2 TV tuners with the best reviews: the SiliconDust HD HomeRun Dual HD Digital TV Tuner HDHR3-US and the Hauppauge 1229 HVR 2250 TV tuner. Both were very similar but we decided to go with the Hauppauge. It was about $100.

So here’s how we set up…we moved my PC into the living room so it could be next to the TV. My PC has Windows 7 on it so it has Windows Media Center. This is pretty much a free program that you run with a TV tuner. It allows you to watch live TV on your PC, you can watch whatever channels your HD antenna can pick up. It comes with a guide and even the option to record live TV. To use Windows Media Center though you need a TV tuner and that’s where Hauppauge comes in.
After a lot of trial and error we have a set up that really works for us. We ended up moving the HD antenna into our bedroom window that faces south. It gets the best reception here. We taped it with clear tape onto the window. It’s not really noticeable with the blinds. Then we ran a TV cable from the antenna to the PC. We had to purchase this cable because we didn’t have one long enough; I think it was about $30. From the PC to the TV we have a DVI to HDMI cable adapter. This was $18.99 at Microcenter. We bought a wireless keyboard to use as our remote. It’s the k400 Logitech. I like it because it’s small and light and works great.

Once everything is hooked up correctly and you install the Hauppauge driver you’re ready to scan for channels using Windows Media Center. We opted not to download the Hauppauge TV guide & program software because we read Windows Media Center was good enough. So the PC receives the TV signal from the HD antenna and over the air channels are projected on the TV from the computer in HD. It was really easy to set up.

After we had all the channels coming in crystal clear I started setting up our recording options. It’s just like a regular DVR you get through your cable box, except this one is already paid off. You can put in series recordings so you don’t even have to think about it your Hauppauge TV tuner and recorder will just record whatever shows you tell it to. Like most DVR offered by cable companies the Hauppauge is a dual tuner so you can record 2 shows at once. It is freaking awesome. The only thing you have to remember is your shows will not be recorded if your PC isn’t on.

So after about 6 months of no cable, do we miss it? Not really. Rather than spending hours watching really bad horrible reality shows or lifetime movies, I find myself doing other things, like watching Netflix. But really it does feel kind of refreshing to not have access to cable. We are still able to watch all of the shows we were watching when we had cable. We record Big Brother, Survivor, Amazing Race and Grimm right now. We have found ways to get access to The Walking Dead, and we are up to date. We have been watching every Bears game live on free TV, as well as a few Hawks games that have been on WGN. We still haven’t tried any of the websites for streaming sports live because it really hasn’t been necessary…but watch out for that blog later.

Actually I think getting rid of cable has made me watch more TV, but better shows. For example if we still had cable I wouldn’t have time to finish series like Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and Parks and Recreation. It’s pretty cool and it’s been going very well.

Set-Up Costs:
$70-HD antenna
$120 Hauppauge TV Tuner
$50 extra cables
$40 Wireless keyboard
—Total: $280

Old RCN cable and internet monthly bill $130
New RCN internet bill $28
Netflix $8/month
Amazon Prime-$8/month
Approx.-$45/month for internet and TV services
About $1000 saved a year!

Our HD antenna.
Our HD antenna.


Our new remote the Logitech wireless keyboard.
Our new remote the Logitech wireless keyboard.




Getting Rid of Cable-Part 3-Purchasing an HD antenna

Today (July 13th) we decided to get an HD antenna. I have done a little research on them but I have just been anxious to get one. So needless to say we probably could have gotten one for cheaper but we just went down the street to Best Buy to pick one up.

Best Buy had a few different types of HD antennas ranging from $15-$150. I knew that we should get an indoor antenna because we live in an apartment building and we didn’t have permission to put an outdoor antenna up. We decided to go with one in the medium priced range. We purchased the ClearStream™ Micron Indoor Long-Range DTV Antenna made by Antennas Direct. It has a 25 mile range. It was $70 at Best Buy. If we would have bought it online we could have saved some money, maybe $10.

Set up for this antenna was pretty easy. All we had to do was plug it into the cable in port on our TV and then run a channel scan. The TV found about 50 channels. Some don’t come in, but the important ones do. We get CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, WGN, and PBS along with about 30 other channels that we probably won’t watch much. The channel that gave us the most problems was CBS. It was the hardest one for us to tune. Eventually we were able to get it to come in well. Now we have basic local channels for free in HD.

The cable cord is very short for this antenna so positioning it was tricky. We eventually hooked an longer cable cord to it so we could get the antenna to reach the window. We get the most channels with the antenna facing West out the window.


Getting Rid of Cable-Part 2-Netflix vs Hulu Plus vs Amazon Instant Video

Cutting the Cord Cable Dumpster!
Cutting the Cord Cable Dumpster!

When I thought about getting rid of cable I thought it would be a good idea to subscribe to a movie/TV streaming application. So the question was between the top 3 streaming companies which was best? Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video.

After looking into all of these options I found the subscription fee for each one to be about $8 a month so not too bad, but the content included can be tricky. Let’s start with Netflix. We have been using Netflix for years now, but we have been using the DVD in the mail version of it. I know it’s kind of old school but we like it. It’s nice to have a list of movies just sent to us and most of them are not available on Netflix Streaming. After reading up on Netflix Instant Streaming and looking at what was available (through a friend’s account) I realize the content was pretty limited when it came to new TV episodes and new movie releases. If you can wait until your favorite show’s season was over Netflix Streaming was a good option. I don’t want to wait, however. I want to watch new shows soon after they have aired. This was my main deference from Netflix, the content just wasn’t up to par. If I’m going to pay for something I want it to have the shows I want. So with Netflix looking out of the running do we keep our DVD subscription?

Before that though, let’s talk about Hulu Plus. I have never been a fan of Hulu so subscribing to Hulu Plus did not seem like an option to me. There are plenty of things on Hulu I can watch without logging in. With Hulu being so spotty with rights to the material it has never been a place I go to watch TV. I would much rather get to the point and go straight to the network’s website. That being said it was not a hard decision to not pay a monthly fee for Hulu Plus. Honestly I don’t know why anyone would pay for Hulu Plus. Am I missing something here?

The real decision came between Netflix Streaming and Amazon Instant Video. One of the things that sold me on Amazon Instant Video was that it had TV shows one day after they aired. This did not seem possible on Netflix. Amazon’s content seemed to be constantly updated. So after looking at Amazon Instant Video a lot and then seeing we could stream it using our Playstation 3 I decided to get a free month of Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is a membership Amazon offers that allows you to watch newer movies and TV on Amazon Instant Video at a discounted price or for free. If you wanted you could just watch content on Amazon Instant Video without getting Prime but there seemed to be too many perks to Amazon Prime to pass it up. Signing up with Amazon Prime got me access to Amazon’s Kindle Library where you can rent books for free. It also gives us free standard shipping on our Amazon purchases (and we seem to make a lot of those). It is $8 a month. Amazon seemed like the way to go for us because of all the perks. Kindle Loaning Library, free shipping, newer updated content and being able to stream it from our PS3 made Amazon Instant Video the most appealing.

So lately I have been checking out some of the shows and movies that are offered on Amazon Prime. It’s exciting. There’s some really good stuff on there. Sometimes you might have to pay for a movie or a show here and there but so far it’s been great.

Also, for the time being we have decided to keep our subscription to Netflix DVDs just because it is nice to have the DVDs available and it isn’t too expensive especially if we are getting rid of cable.

Next up in Part 3 of Getting Rid of Cable I’m going to talk about HD Antennas!

Hulu vs netflix vs amazon
Hulu vs netflix vs amazon

Getting Rid of Cable-Part 1-The Thought Process.

July 2, 2013

Three years ago when we moved to Chicago I thought it would be impossible to live without cable TV. Our cable and internet package price made it an easy choice to just keep it simple and keep cable. It was around $80. Within 3 years our cable and internet bill reached $130 (roughly $1500 a year!). Our cable company kept taking away channels and changing the line up and the price kept going up!

We then had a couple stints of weeks at a time with no access to cable or DVR and little help from our cable company. It didn’t make sense to be paying so much for a service that kept going off. It was really getting to me. Half of the time our DVR would freeze and not record a show and we would end up watching shows online anyway.

At the end of June we helped our friends move and they were talking about how they would not be getting cable. Instead they would be using an HD antenna to get their local channels and things like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to get other shows. This really interested me because up until now I had not heard of HD antennas.

Pretty much immediately when we got home I started researching HD antennas and thinking about which channels we watched the most. First I had to see if I could live without cable. I made this list:

CBS (can pick up with HD antenna or watch shows on CBS.com)
-Big Brother
-Amazing Race
-Under the Dome

NBC (HD antenna, watch online)

AMC (online)
-The Walking Dead

Sci-Fi (we pretty much watched a whole season online so no problem)
-Being Human

History Channel (can watch on history channel website)
-American Pickers
-Top Shot

Those were our main shows, but then just to embarrass myself….

MTV (mtv.com)
-True Life
-Teen Moms, other reality shows

-Impratical Jokers

Lifetime (lifetime website maybe)
-Preacher’s Daughters

-My Strange Addiction
-My Crazy Obsession
-Breaking Amish

Channels I will miss but can hopefully find a lot of stuff online…
-Natural Geographic

So those were the shows/channels we (I) were most concerned about. I found out most of our shows were on CBS and NBC and a lot of them were offered on the network’s website. I’ve also learned over time (through my husband) that you can get just about any show online somehow.

The next thing I thought about was Live Sports. The sports we watch the most in our household are College Basketball, NFL and NHL. Most of the Big Ten important games are on basic cable so that won’t be too bad, although with the Big Ten Network this might not be true anymore. It seems like more and more games have been on there.

I found that all the NFL playoff games are streamed online on NFL.com and they are also on basic cable. As far as I remember this holds true because most Bears games were on basic cable.

Recently in the last few years we have started watching more hockey. Thanks to my dad who is obsessed with the Blackhawks and with us living in Chicago, it’s exciting. Unfortunately most of these games will not be on basic cable. I found some websites where you can stream live sports and hopefully this works for us or we might be hitting up some sports bars once in awhile. So look out for my future blog on live streaming sports.

So once I figured out we were barely using our cable I decided we should go through with this. It’s not that we can’t afford cable, it’s just that the bill is outrageous and hard to justify. That’s money we could be putting into our savings.

So then it was onto researching which HD antenna to get and if we should purchase a streaming application like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant Video. Check back for all of this in Part 2!