Cord Cutters Survival Stories: Middle of the Road
By Beau Bredow Mar. 26, 2011
What’s it like to cut the cord from pay TV? What’s working, what’s missing, and what kind of equipment does the best job of replacing the cable box? In our weekly Survival Story series, we’re asking cord cutters to tell us about their experiences. This week’s featured cord cutter is Beau Bredow, who will save close to $1000 this year thanks to ditching cable.
About six months ago, I started messing around with what it would take for my family to cut the cord on cable and save about $80 a month.
I started researching what channels come through clear via DTV and how to watch shows we normally would DVR or watch on cable. At first, it didn’t look good. I couldn’t figure out what antenna would work, and [there was] no ESPN or sports in general, which was a big letdown.
Just before Christmas, we took the plunge. Here are the devices and the process we took to make it happen:
1. Cut the cable. Our cable lines worked perfectly to provide all the over-the-air digital channels for us. We have two LCD televisions with digital tuners built in.
2. Kept Internet service. Went middle-of-the-road, at about $50 a month.
3. Use Clicker.com to queue up all shows online for easy access. Not all the shows we watch are on Clicker, so we still have to go to some of the websites to watch some shows. We bookmarked them for easy access.
4. Bought 35 ft. VGA 3.5mm cable to play Internet TV shows on my TV. I tried other servers and wireless options, but nothing beat the hard wire as far as keeping picture quality.
5. Bought WD TV Media Player Live Plus. We use this to play movies from our DVDs we’ve ripped, and for quick access to home videos and pictures.
6. Bought a 2 TB hard drive and placed all movies on it, as well as pictures, home videos and music.
7. Bought a wireless router with USB port to network hard drive for easy access and playing through WD TV.
8. Installed apps on my Android phone to use it as a remote and control my laptop and WD TV.
All in all, [it's] well worth the $80 [a month] we’re saving. It would be nice to do some other things, but I haven’t found the right solutions for it yet:
* Instead of using Clicker, I’d like to queue TV shows from network websites to the WD TV and play them. (Flingo might be going in this direction.)
* RSS feed to see when new shows are available from TV network websites.
* ESPN could be nice, as well as an option to replay Sports Center.
* Wii could use some upgrades to act as a media player.
I bought all my hardware for the cost of two months of cable, and so far, [it] works great. I don’t like the idea of renting movies, so I typically buy used ones on eBay, Half.com or yard sales. I want the rights to what I pay for.
Beau Bredow works as a minister in Lakeland, Fla. The views expressed in this guest column are entirely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of GigaOM. His story should not be understood as a how-to.