Ten months, ten topics...
- Feb: CES 2019 should give us some ideas about what Black Friday 2019 will be all about. A review of what they hope we'll buy.
- March: Best Air Fryer recipes/uses. Going to try a blooming onion tomorrow. Jury is still out on this counter top wonder.
- Apr: In 1999, I took a job in a group called Architecture Technology Organization (aka ATO). These were all the geeks and those who managed them. On my first day on the job, I learned about X10. Within a couple weeks, I was living in a smart home. Not a lot of X10 in my house these days, but the house is even smarter thanks to Alexa. Some thoughts on getting started with automation.
- May: In May of 2010 I fired Comcast. A lot has changed over nine years. This is how I would cut the cord in 2019...
- Jun: Cash back for dummies. Best credit cards and loyalty programs for people who do not want miles.
- Jul: Prime Day Primer.
- Aug: Drying food on purpose.
- Sep: Televisions.
- Oct: Laptops.
- Nov: Time to talk about Black Friday 2019!
Nine years. How much have I saved? How much have I suffered?
I grew up with television. I never remember not owning a color television. We had cable for most of my life. I remember looking forward to weekends at my sister's house where they had HBO and we chowed McDonalds to movies featuring nudity and profanity. Good times. When I bought my own home, my first call was to the cable provider. When they told me installation would be $5000 (in 1990), I installed an antenna. At that time, Pats home games were generally blacked out, so everyone [who cared] came to my home on Sundays as I could pull in a Maine station that was outside the blackout area.
When my first born started kindergarten, we decided it would disadvantage him to not know what Sponge Bob Square Pants was all about, so we hired Dish. Dish was fine, but as we started paying separately for phone, local long distance, long distance, 'technology', high speed internet, and cell phones, the cost of communications and entertained topped $300/month at my house. Comcast consolidated everything except my cell service for $99.99/month...for 24 months.
At the end of the 24 months, my bill increased dramatically. I offered them $149.99 for my package if they guaranteed the price for life. They countered with a bare bones package for 6 months for $99.99. I took this as a challenge. I immediately purchased an OOMA Hub and Scout VOIP hub. It cost me $205, but home phone has been free since October of 2009. So, $1.80/month for unlimited local and long distance calling. I called Comcast and told them I wanted to drop phone service (on my bill at $50/month) and they took it off, but the savings was offset by loss of my triple play discount. In January of 2010, I purchased a DB8 antenna from Amazon for $90.22. When we lost power and cable for a week in February, I plugged in my generator and hooked up my new antenna. We watched the winter Olympics via an antenna. Good stuff. When cable came back, I left my television on the antenna. At the same time, Comcast began their transition to digital. We had digital televisions, but they started moving the 'good stuff' to channels that required a box. Local broadcast television was SD without a box. Within a few weeks, both of my kids asked to have their televisions put on the antenna. The wife was a holdout -- we had a DVR in the living room and food network was the background music of her life. By April, she had warmed up to the PBS Create channel and we decided to fire Comcast.
Fairpoint offered me unlimited internet for $49.99/month guaranteed for life. So, we were saving $100/month off the bare bones post-promotion Comcast price. In the first year, I spent $1000 on five DTVPal DVRs. I broke even in the first year, but had DVRs in all three bedrooms, the living room, and the kitchen. DVRs would be my biggest expense going forward. I've spent about $3000 on DVRs over nine years -- $333/yr, $28/mo, $5,56/mo/set.
When we fired Comcast, we did not think we needed a DVR. The one DVR in the house was loaded with unwatched episodes of Bonnie Hunt and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It did not take long for us to fully appreciate the DVR -- pausing for dinner or a phone call, rewinding after a snooze or to re-see something that could not be unseen. Putting a DVR on each television dramatically enhanced the television viewing experience. I am very happy with my DVR+ DVRs and TiVos, but I just bought a Recast and a Tablo TV DVR.
Right now, I have DirecTV at a steeply discounted price as a consequence of having an obscenely expensive cell phone plan. I'm halfway through the promotion and will not likely have the expensive phone plan after that, but, for now, I have a lot of channels including HBO. I still mostly watch broadcast television and my kids mostly watch Netflix.
If you want to know what I have spent or played with over the nine years, take a look at this page...
So, I saved $11,400 and spent $6,000 on infrastructure and toys netting about $50 per month in savings. Not much savings really, but I would not trade what I have for what I had. In fact, once when I was researching Comcast prices for a blog post, my wife walked in and let me know she was not willing to give up the antenna for Comcast.
So, what exactly do you get with an antenna? That depends on your location and your antenna. I recommend people interested in broadcast television start at http://tvfool.com/. A report for you address or coordinates will help you understand how easy or difficult antenna reception will be at your home. Google the wikipedia page for each station you are likely to receive to see if there are sub-channels. Pick and point an antenna and you are good to go.
If you want help analyzing a TVFool report, selecting an antenna, or cutting the cord, PM me or respond to this post.
Most people want to know what I would buy if I were cutting the cord right at this moment. For me, right now, I think I would get an Amazon Recast and a bunch of Fire TV Sticks. In fact, I have done that. It's not for everyone, but it works for me. I have had Amazon Prime for some time. Mostly for shipping, but I enjoy the streaming media and use a photo library as the background for my Amazon Shows. I have a Recast, so I am able to watch television on my Shows (I have seven) or any device that is attached to a Fire TV Stick. The Recast only supports two concurrent streams, but that is plenty as my kids tend to watch Netflix. Some things I like about the Prime solution...
- Integrate Philo TV for 'cable' channels like A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, AXS TV, BBC America, BBC World News, BET, Discovery, DIY, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, Nick Jr., Nick, Lifetime, MTV, History, TVLand, and more
- Integrate Amazon Channels like Cinemax ($9.99/mo), HBO ($14.99/mo), Showtime ($8.99/mo), and Starz ($8.99/mo)
- Integrate Pluto channels
- Integrate Vue channels
Let's say your family enjoys some of the cable channels, network programming, and HBO for Game of Thrones. You get a Recast for $200, get a pair of 4k Fire TV Sticks for $100, pay $50/month for an ISP, $119/year for Prime, and $15/month for HBO. $300 up front and $75/month. Add Philo TV for $16/month for a $91 'skinny' cable killer.
Most of the cord cutters I know simply run a cable from an antenna to a digital television. That is FREE TV. Respect! If you are thinking along those lines, consider a TCL Roku television. These are the best televisions for cord cutters. They get guide data from the broadcast stream (PSIP) so there is no need for an ISP or phone line to get updated guide data. If you plug a USB stick into one of these, you can pause, rewind, and fast forward through four hours of programming. If the USB stick is loaded with pictures, music, or videos, you can play those. If you have come to rely on a smart phone for online activity and are thinking you need to keep your high speed internet for streaming entertainment, think again.
I'm also a fan of the Tablo TV DVR. No Prime integration and no OTT integration, but it's a great whole house DVR. You can get one for $100 at Best Buy right now. You will need to add a usb disk.
I own five TiVo Roamio OTAs. Awesome set top box. I paid $300 for my first three with Lifetime and $200 for the last two. Great set top box. The Mini is the best implementation of remote access I have seen. I wish I could recommend a TiVo, but the only OTA TiVo is out of stock and $500 with 'All In' service plan. Add a Mini for a second set and you are in almost $700! As much as I paid for my last three TiVos combined. Keep an eye on Woot for deals on the Roamio/OTA and previous gen Minis.
Edited by len_mullen, Apr 30, 2019 - 8:07 pm.