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Life, Tech

New Year’s Resolution: Cut The Cord (Finally)

December 31, 2015 | by Paul

A few of your friends, including those of us at Hacker Casual, have been cable-free for years. It’s 2016 baby, and you’re finally going to make the jump!

Why Are you Doing This?

  1. Save money – There is some startup cost, but you’ll be in the black in the first couple of months.
  2. Save time – No more watching commercials, or trying to time the end of the fast-forward on your DVR
  3. A la carte, all the time – Watch exactly what you want when you want to. No more “there’s nothing on TV, I guess I’ll watch Law & Order reruns all day.”

What Do You Need To Do To Cut the Cord?

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Cancel your cable/satellite TV service

Boom. Done.

If you’re like I used to be, you’re going to have to haul that big, ugly, silver DVR back to the cable store. The store is your best bet because over-the-phone you’ll get the hard-sell on sticking with the cable company, try and entice you with discounted cable offers, and finally tell you that you have to go into the store to return your equipment anyway.

In person you can do two things. One: Hand them the cable box and tell them you only want internet service. Two: Ask them to help you out, bro. “Is there anything that you can do to get you faster internet at a better price?” Making a personal plea to someone from your neighborhood that has to look you in the eye will probably knock another $15 off of your monthly Internet bill and you’ll have to put only one-question worth of effort into it. Worth it. Do it.

Wait, But Now How Do I Get TV Shows & Movies?

Eff it, Just Play Videogames. They’re like movies but interactive.

Seriously, not a bad option. Anyway. Enough of that personal agenda. Back to the personal agenda at-hand.

First off – Local network television

We here at Hacker Casual have had great luck with this over-the-air antenna from Amazon

Amazon Basics Ultra Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna, $25

Living in Chicago I can pick up 60+ channels over the air. It’s a lot of network TV and PBS stations, but it gets me most of the really big sports-ball games as well as Rick Steves. The antenna is thin enough that I still have it “temporarily” taped to my wall behind the TV with painter’s tape. Easily thin enough to hide with a framed picture or art.

TV Shows & Movies

Netflix Amazon Prime

You’re probably all over this one, but the two major providers are still Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. If you care about keeping up with shows as they’re being released, Hulu will be another option. If you’re a big Apple person then iTunes is the other obvious answer for paid content.

How Do I Get Netflix & Stuff On My TV?

Or you can use this as an excuse to buy a fancy new Smart TV. I feel like Smart TVs are the new VCR-TV combos from the 90s (though admittedly  less ugly). You’ll be dependent on your TV manufacturer keeping their Netflix and Hulu apps up to date. Your call, though!

Your other option, if you’re a little more technical and don’t particularly care how clean and pretty your entertainment system looks. That is to put a new or an old computer in your living room. I use an old Alienware 15 laptop that I didn’t have a daily use for anymore. Like most laptops these days it had a DisplayPort out, so with a cheap DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter we got that bad boy hooked up to the receiver. That allows us to browse the internet and consume content directly instead of worrying about what apps our device supports.

Now How Do I Get Other, Totally Legal, Content

plex

Netflix & Amazon Prime don’t have everything. We’ve written about setting up a home media server to facilitate torrenting your favorite shows and movies.

My biggest challenge is that I’m a pretty big fan of a college sports-ball team, so we have to find streams of the games. This is illegal, and dangerous from a malware perspective. Google “Front row sports” and you’ll be on your way to finding all of the live sports you can imagine, though the quality of the streams are suspect. If you’re not that tech savvy, then maybe you should just head to the bar for your sports-ball and avoid infesting your computer with more malware.

 

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