Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cutting the cable!

If you've had Cable TV since the 80's, when I first got it, you've seen a lot of changes over the years -- improved boxes, HDTV, internet Service, and more. But in 30 or so years that I've been involved with Cable, one thing has not changed for the better -- service and price. Many people have decided that they are done playing games with the cable companies to get lower rates, done with crappy customer service, done with monthly costs that are over $100, when just a few short years ago, most people were paying about $60. If the cable companies cared, there would not be a movement of people cutting the cable.

You shouldn't be afraid of cutting the cable. You may be surprised what's available to you. You may actually like no cable better than cable.

Over-the-air digital broadcasts are available to you if you have an HDTV. You should have one by now, because older tube-TVs are rapidly becoming obsolete. HDTV sets have come down quite a lot in price, and if you do not need a huge screen, or fancy features, you can get a new HDTV for about the same $200-$500 price range that you probably got an old TV set for.

Once you decide the cut your cable, you just need to get a good powered antenna for your HDTV. For $10 you can get a fairly reliable cheap one. For more money, you can increase the range of your set, and pick up broadcasts from 20, 50, or 100 miles away. You simply need to know how to configure your television set, using the remote.

HDTV over the air is much clearer than cable HDTV. This is because the signal coming in from the cable has to pass through many different sources before it gets to you, and there is interference along the way. Some TV sets compensate for this, but once you see an over-the-air HDTV broadcast, you will instantly notice how sharp and clear the picture is. This is something that most people do not expect. We were all programmed to remember over-the-air TV as fuzzy and not focused well. If you had cable TV for more than a decade, this is what most of us just took for granted. But it's not true anymore. Over the air broadcasts are clear and sharp.

If you get a $100 antenna, or an outdoor roof-mounted antenna, you will have so many channels that it will be just like cable-TV. All the local stations have multiple tracks on each channel, especially the Public TV networks. PBS usually broadcasts about 4 or 5 channels, making the TV channels you get over the air almost as numerous as cable. But you still do not have movie channels, 24-hour news, sports, etc. You may still need cable for that -- but not cable TV, just cable for the internet!

If you cut all of your Cable TV services, and just get the cheapest Internet service from your cable company (or get it from your phone company), you may be able to go back to paying just $60/month for it. Most people don't mind that for internet service. Using your Internet connection, you can fill in for some things that cable TV used to provide. Some cable stations have free web casts of some programming for people who have computers. Most computers today can be hooked up to an HDTV with a single cable, or with a combination of a video and audio cable. Using this combination, you can prepare yourself for the next step in TV evolution -- Using your computer to watch video and TV broadcasts on your home TV. Using various software packages, you can easily set your computer up to get all of the programming that you used to get over cable, and more -- but you will not pay for cable any more. You will simply be using your computer and software.

If you want more -- there are lots of devices that can be hooked up to your TV, to provide programming so that you can use your computer at the same time. Amazon FireTV, Roku boxes, Google Chromecast, and AppleTV all plug int your TV and are essentially small computers with media center software that allow you to stream programs from the internet directly to your TV.

Cutting the cable has never been better or easier.

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