Cutting the perverbial "Cable"

2/23/2011
Saving Money by "Cutting the Cable" and using streaming media devices
Recently I've received a number of requests from clients about canceling their cable or satellite TV service to save money and how to best go about watching content over the web/internet.

So here's what I've found:

First and foremost I do not recommend "Cutting the Cable" at this time.

Experience has taught me that controlling multiple devices and paying for the additional services (as well as equipment) required can add up quickly, none of which offer an inclusive experience and most degrade the quality and convience you're accustomed too.

What I recommend:

1) Call your Cable or Satellite provider to discuss your bill (be polite over the phone as this will generally get you further with their customer service reps then yelling or whining) and generally you will be able to save between $12-70/month by changing/upgrading/downgrading to a plan that best fits your viewing habits.

2) Call or email us to discuss what you're hoping to accomplish; such as: saving money on your bill, having access to more content, increasing your ability to search for programs to watch or ...?

3) Allow us to analyze what you currently have and how we can maximize your experience. My recommendations for accessing streaming/online media content include Netflix streaming for movies and Hulu plus for broadcast and syndicated programming. To have access to these sources I generally recommend using a network connected Blu-ray player (with the applicable apps/widgets) or a TiVo Premiere DVR box. If you are VERY tech savvy, a Gaming System like a nintendo Wii XBOX360 or PS3 or a Home Theater PC (HTPC) would be additional options (see 4 for more information on HTPC's as an online streaming media souce).

*Please note that both Netflix and Hulu plus require a monthly fee and can add a significant drag on your available highspeed/broadband network bandwidth. In some cases causing you to exceed your households alloted amount leading to additional charges being levied by your broadband internet provider.

4) Home Theater PC's for tech savvy clients. Just as I don't recommend cutting the cord, I also do NOT recommend utlizing a Home Theater PC as the primary source for a household's TV watching experience. The biggest drawbacks to using a PC in an audio/video application are lower quality audio/video reproduction, having to search/go online to a multitude of content provider's websites (FOX, WB, ESPN, etc.) and a lack of ability to easily control your content/media without using a secondary controller (keyboard/mouse/additional remote/etc.); additionally most HTPC systems stutter with streaming video content and require constant maintence, troubleshooting, resetting of one's home network, and staying up to date with software/firmware updates and hardware upgrades.

Even with all the negatives of using a HTPC, there are a few positives for those that want to explore and maintain this method of content delivery. The biggest positives to using a HTPC in this environment are that you can fairly easily access any/all content on the internet or your computer (or stored on your network with appropriate equipment and setup), you can have the ability to pause/rewind/record/etc. content (with the addition of Digital Video recorder software and TV Tuner/Cable Card Hardware) AND with a powerful enough computer running Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate you can fairly easily stream to other TV's/systems in your house with "media extenders" (such as an XBOX 360) or access your content anywhere with broadband internet and a remote access program running on a seperate device.

If you have additional questions, found this helpful or have other tips or tricks you'd like me to add; please don't hesitate to contact us. Got idea's for another blog post I'd love to hear from you as well.

Thanks

Bryan Levy