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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cancel Cable and still watching TV

Where I live internet (roadrunner) costs about $50 and HD/Digital combo pack costs another $50.  Together the monthly bill comes out to about $120 / month.  One way to save money is by cutting cable and find other forms of entertainment.  Another way is to cut cable and still watch it... legally of course.  Total savings would be up to $50 / month or $600 / year.  I said legally watch TV, so, below are ways you can get it after paying a little.

Free HD TV
Did you know if you have a HD TV, you can get free HD channels?  Similar to old fashion over-the-air TV our grandparents used to get, HD channels are also broadcasted through the air.  Network channels such as NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS should be available in most areas.  You'll just need an indoor antenna strong enough to catch the signals.  It also helps if you are closer to your local stations or away from mountains and buildings.  If you get a decent signal, the quality is just as good as through the box.  You can go to and find out the signal strengths in your area.

MediaMall created a Media Player for the Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3 called Playon.  I was so intrigued, I bought it for $30.  It allows you to stream content from your PC to your gaming system so you could play videos from the internet on your TV.  Basically what it does is it browses certain webpages as if you were browsing from your PC and then passes it on to the device of your choice.  Websites like Hulu, CBS, YouTube, Netflix, etc are available.  They had Netflix available on the PS3/360/Wii at a time when you needed a disc to stream videos.  It was a one time fee about a year or two ago.  They don't offer it anymore, but for $20 / year you can get more channels.  Now that they are charging more, they offer CNN, Food Network, ESPN, and Comedy Central.  The list keeps growing.  Independent developers also contribute "plugins" so that you can add on even more channels.  It isn't live TV, but if you can view it on a website, it's likely that PlayOn can show it on your gaming system.

Hulu offers new TV episodes online for free.  Not all episodes from all shows are available, but the most popular ones are.  If you can get Hulu streaming to your TV, either through PlayOn, Boxee, straight from the PC, you will not miss TV at all.  If you can't find a way to stream Hulu to your TV for free, Hulu offers it's service for $5 / month on various devices including PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Boxee, and Apple TV.

Apple TV
Apple TV is a device you can buy for $99, no monthly fees.  It's just another way to get your favorite TV episodes by renting/buying it through iTunes.  At $.99 - $2.99 per rental, you can watch up to 50 episodes a month to equal what cable costs.  That's about 12 TV episodes a week.  For me, that's a lot.  If you watch more than this try to get Hulu streaming to your TV and only rent episodes from Apple TV when you can't find it on Hulu.

At $9.99 a month you can get as many movies through mail and streaming as you want.  Netflix also has many seasons of many different TV shows.  Granted, the shows aren't new like on Hulu, but they are complete seasons.  Netflix can be viewed on the TV through a gaming device, Apple TV, Boxee, or straight from your PC.  Or if you are into iPads/iPods, you can stream Netflix to those devices and have your own personal "tv" in bed, at the beach (with a data plan), at your friends house, etc.

I personally have yet to try Boxee, but it is similar to Playon.  It is a program (or device if you purchase it) that lets you view videos on various websites on your TV.  You can buy it for $199 or use your own computer and get it for free.  You can find out more at

Depending on what you get, you can save up to $50 a month or end up paying more.  For me, I have Netflix ($9.99 / month), Playon ($30 one-time), Hulu (free), Free HD TV (up to $130 for antenna, one-time).   So my total monthly bill would be $10 / month and total setup would be $160 one time fee.  After about 5 months I've made my money back from saving on cable and save $40 / month.

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