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alternatives to cable TV providers

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by yobigd20, Jun 5, 2015.

  1. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    Skaneateles, NY
    kind of odd, me asking a tech question to others instead of googling it, but i'm trying to see if various internet TV and content providers have matured enough where I can never pay for cable TV again. Some sort of combination of digital HDTV Antenna + netflix + amazon prime + there are many other products that I know NOTHING about, such as Roku 3, Apple TV, Sling TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, etc. I know Sling is still monthly and cheap but can still get me like Disney/Cartoons for the kids... does anyone here use any of these or any other providers? any specific devices to use DVR type things etc with the digital HDTV antennas? etc etc (and yes I already know the "other high tech ways" of getting content, so no need to suggest any of those, lol) any suggestions to help me "disconnect" from expensive cable TV?
  2. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    We have an antenna (Mohu Leaf), plus a Roku 3 with Amazon Prime/Netflix/Hulu Plus as our primary content sources. We use a Tivo for our DVR (had it around from when we had cable and it's got lifetime service, so no monthly fee). The biggest gaps for us are ESPN and HBO, although HBO is about to launch HBO Now outside of the Apple ecosystem.

    I have a Roku 2, 3, Chromecast, and Fire TV Stick. The Roku 3 is far and away the best overall experience. Roku isn't tied to a particular brand (eg Apple, Amazon), and tends to have every available streaming service on its platform. I like the Chromecast and Fire TV Stick and use them mostly for secondary TVs and travel. Check out if you're unsure how well your location will receive OTA broadcasts.

    With our setup, we can get essentially any content we want, with cable sports being the big exception.
  3. Kandiru

    Kandiru Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    Under the roof of my rural home there is an array of 8 antennas in front of a parabolic reflector, on a rotator with dual passive and active amplifiers, feeding 3 Channel Master CM7500TB1 in different rooms.
    After 9PM I get HD stations from 100 miles away, and get to watch the horrors of overpopulated life in Cleveland and Columbus.

    Recently got basic cable, I have Roku 2s at every system. Netlfix for every day, VUDU 1080p DD+ for the special night. Amazon sporadic, because they still think 720p stereo is HD.
    Also got Oooma free VOIP ($120 free USA, never a fee again) dual line setup on 2 units. I pay Google Voice 2c per minute to talk to my family in Europe.

    Never a commercial ever again, life is good.

    Cable TV is banned at my home, unless NOAA declares a disaster, then we can still watch the local channels which come free with basic cable, but the PQ IS HORRID.

    GLDYLX Member

    Dec 22, 2012
    Hey, a thread I can actually contribute to!

    I have a Channel Master DVR+ that I got bundled with USB wireless Internet adapter, 12' HDMI and DVR+ remote (plus an IR extender that isn't in the bundle currently on Amazon- it isn't really needed unless you hide the DVR behind something).

    Erm, let me just C&P my shopping list below:

    Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STBX1000101)- if you get the bundled DVR w/16 GB internal, you can do time-shifting, but you need the external HD to record multiple programs (2 tuners) and store many hours of programming. Apparently HDs are the weak spot in DVRs anyway, so having the easily swappable external HD makes the pricey part of the DVR more bulletproof.

    CHANNEL PLUS 2512 DC + IR Passing 2-Way Splitter/Combiner- I use this to split the signal from my antenna to my TV and DVR+, so if there is a third program I want to watch while I record two others, I can.

    AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna - 50 Mile Range- I'm using this one with my DVR+, because I live in an area with good signal reception. This was the test antenna to see if I even got a signal, so if/when this dies, I will replace it with another Mohu... maybe. Unlike Mohu, the cabling is permanently affixed.

    Mohu Leaf 50 Indoor HDTV Antenna (formerly Leaf Ultimate)- I like this at my office (no DVR), because reception is spotty, so I upgraded the cabling to RG6/U Quad Shield, to thwart Industrial Park interference. It's kinda awesome.

    Channel Master DVR+ Bundle - subscription free digital video recorder with web features and channel guide (CM7500BDL2)- One of the reasons I chose this is that, like Tesla, the company sends out updates/upgrades over the internet, and even though I'm perfectly happy with what I got, apparently they are going to push out OTT Linear programming (Sling TV was demo'ed at CES, but they claim to be doing a bunch of free streaming channels, too) that will be integrated with the existing program guide (Rovi). Rumor has it that it will happen in the next few weeks. DVR+ already supports YouTube, Vudu and Pandora. I THINK that this is meant to eventually render other gadgets superfluous. Also, they have been talking about doing a "whole home solution", whatever THAT means.

    I'm a bit of a Luddite, so this is my first experience with entertainment gadgetry, and I LIKE it! That said, I have nothing to compare it to... When the upgrade is released, I'll come back with an update.

    No more Dish for me!

    Happy Friday!

  5. agileone

    agileone CDN P#40

    Dec 6, 2011
    Montréal, Québec
  6. palmer_md

    palmer_md Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Hermosa Beach, CA
    The biggest problem is still getting high speed internet that won't get throttled down when you exceed a certain threshold of useage. For me, I keep looking to dump Comcast, but there is not any ISP that can service my area without limits that are too low for streaming TV shows. So we still have cable with the smallest package that they offer, because high speed internet by itself is actually more expensive than bundling it with the smallest cable package...go figure.
  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Well-Known Member

    Jul 12, 2012
    If you like sports but don't want cable, my suygestion is to move out of the market of your favorite team and then you'll be able to watch games over the Internet. In market, a cable channel will have a TV deal and thus you will have to resort to going to a bar or something.

    (We have cable and I'd love to ditch it, but there's anhousehold member who watches lots of sports and would really miss it. I love sports, but would rather ditch cable anyway and pay to watch the few non-network stuff my wife would insist on.)
  8. swaltner

    swaltner Member

    Oct 13, 2012
    Kansas, USA
    Cox recently raised my basic cable (analog, no premium channels, no HD) connection fee from 70 to $78. They refused to "work with me" even trying a stall tactic of putting me on hold for 20 minutes without coming back to talk to me, so I just cancelled the TV feed. Still have internet through them.

    I tried Sling TV for a month. It's $20/mo and includes ESPN. It worked great, but didn't have Comedy Central, TLC, or Discovery, so I dropped that also.

    Going without cable service for now and enjoying the extra free time I have by not plopping down in front of the TV all the time. :) I'll also enjoy the extra $750/year in my pocket to spend on other items.
  9. jbcarioca

    jbcarioca Active Member

    Feb 3, 2015
    I have zero cable, but I use Amazon Prime, other free options on my TV and will probably do Apple TV+HBO when that becomes available with local stations. I have not yet used an antenna but i have tested a couple. In my urban location I get excellent reception of local channels with an antenna so I will go that way in a few months if Apple does not succeed in their local station initiative. I'd prefer to avoid a physical antenna just because of clutter, no other reason. In the meantime I have zero cable bills. I do not count the Amazon Prime cost because I have it anyway for shipping. In Brazil i do use a Roku 3 and subscribe to Netflix.

    IMHO, there is no longer a reason to suffer through nasty cable service with vast overpricing and tons of channels in which i have zero interest but must pay anyway. It is great to not have to disprogram porn, sports i do not follow, fashion and pop 'culture' in which I have no interest and still be forced to pay for that garbage. I fully accept that many people want what I do not want and vice versa which is why the internet choice model serves me quite perfectly. BTW, that model also allows me to stream my local Brazil stations online while in the US.

    Internet also provides more ultra high definition options than cable, or so it seems to me now with my new Ultra HD 4K TV. I imagine that will equalize over time. I do have a 200 Mbps connection, which helps.

    Finally, when dealing with international options there are two large caveats. One is the need for VPN, while the other is the download speed using VPN. In my case the available bandwidth in Global Crossing from Brazil-US is inadequate so streaming works perfectly through VPN much of the time and fails totally at peak demand times. Keep in mind that international internet traffic is most definitely NOT net neutral, so higher priority traffic can easily crowd out personal VPN. That is the only downside I have in using only internet TV. Of course, using cable will not have much advantage either because the options I most want are generally not cable options anyway.
  10. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

    Jun 27, 2013
    Kansas City, MO
    With some time and luck, maybe Google Fiber will force other Cable TV providers to improve their prices and services. I'm lucky enough to be in an area that has Google Fiber coming to it, and for the first time ever, I am excited about getting cable (and internet, of course).

    We also have a Roku, and it's a pretty nice option. We are currently set up for Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus on the Roku, and those are the primary services we use.
  11. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    Skaneateles, NY
    Thanks! All great info! Keep it coming lol I'll research all of these.
  12. Max*

    Max* Charging

    Apr 8, 2015
    #12 Max*, Jun 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
    I've been cable free for almost a year now.

    We have a Tablo Official Tablo TV Site | Over The Air (OTA) DVR | Tablo (think of them... like Tesla. They're a startup. They listen to customer feedback and incorporate it. And yet, they're missing a few basic features which other companies have...).

    They have 2-tuner and 4-tuner models ($219 and $299, respectively. Though they have sales occasionally). You can either buy a lifetime guide for $150, or pay $5/month. You can also use it sans TV-guide, but it's pretty useless.

    You can stream to multiple devices at the same time, including outside your house. I watch live-tv or recorded movies on my TV (through Roku), my PC and my smartphone.

    The other option I considered is the Channel Master DVR+, but [at the time I was looking to purchase, last year] you can't set "new recordings" on it, and that was a deal breaker for me (you want to record show X? Sure, no problem. But it'll record ALL episodes of it, new or old). This seems to have changed now.

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