Cutting the Cord 2015 (Happy New Year)

A few years back we had television through cable.   I was frustrated by the fact that the cable company kept raising the rates.  They charged us for every box, they charged us for channels that I wanted to watch in the form of packages.  They charged us with confidence that we were either too lazy or incapable of finding other options.

The alternatives seemed just as bad.   Going to DirectTV or Dish would have cost the same or more.  I thought I wanted FIOS but when I called Verizon the options felt the same.  Additionally, I wouldn’t be able to get FIOS until it becomes available sometime in 2030 or never.

The cable bill was about $130.00 dollars at the time which to most folks that seems pretty inexpensive except it isn’t.   I can think of a lot of other things I can do with a $130.00 dollars.  The reason it wasn’t $200.00+ was because my wife kept calling the cable company negotiating the number.

Today our cable bill is for internet alone.  We do have a bill but it is a lot less than $130.00 and we have more options.  There are a few tradeoffs but for our family none of these impacted us to an extent that were lasting.

While there are many ways to cut the cord, I will give you a short list here of what worked for me.

This was my first post about cutting the cord. RaspberryPizzle.jpg

By the way,  I went online and did a search about cutting the cord.  What I read was mostly garbage that directs people to use services like Netflix or Hulu.

Getting it..

I have 4 televisions.  Two have what I would call full functionality and the other two are limited.  The two that are limited are only limited because I didn’t care to run a wire.   I have less local channels on those two.   At this time I can watch all local channels in my region and I have some augmented abilities to watch on demand content.

I was located in Virginia Beach when I started trying to figure this all out.   I used http://antennaweb.org/address.aspx to enter my zip code.  It tells you what tv stations are in your area and what kind of antenna will work best for you.   I also used https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=potkay.tvantennahelper.free which helped me point the antenna in the right direction.   For me antennaweb worked fine and was enough to get me in the right direction.  Although, I did play with the app.

Since I was within 30-50 miles of the tv stations, it was easy for me to go with small fractal antennas like http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-fractal-antenna-for-HDTV-DTV-plus-/ or http://www.htpc-diy.com/2012/04/diy-flexible-fractal-window-hdtv.html

I bought the flat panel Mohu Leaf but I wouldn’t recommend it as being better than most of the other products I played around with.  As a matter of fact, the best results came from antenna built by my friend Rob.  As shown in the first post about cutting the cord.

I decided to run all my testing on one television until I could get comfortable with the results.  Ironically, the television I chose was the one that was used most often.    After a few adjustments on a clear Sunday morning, I was “dialed in” and  had about 30 local channels.   Where I am today, I have about 50 over the air (OTA).

I wanted to have some on demand capabilities as well and I didn’t want to miss out on our Sunday football games.   Generally in Virginia I couldn’t watch my football team every Sunday unless I had an NFL package which my cable company didn’t offer.  I would have to go somewhere else or watch over another device.

In order to get on demand I did something like this http://lifehacker.com/5929913/build-a-xbmc-media-center-with-a-35-raspberry-pi which turned a little computer into a media center for me.  It was about $50 bucks all said and done but it was sluggish and I had to do a lot of work to make it the way I wanted.  The plugin I use for on demand sports is “SportsDevil”

No doubt I wanted to stay with XBMC which is now called Kodi but I wanted it to respond faster and I didn’t want to have to work hard to watch anything.  Some folks like to just use Netflix, Hulu or Plex (http://www.htpcbeginner.com/plex-vs-kodi-comparison-guide/) from here but I wanted a little more flexibility.

I used the Amazon FireTv and sideloaded the Kodi application on it http://kodi.wiki/view/HOW-TO:Install_Kodi_on_Fire_TV

Here are some other links to devices and options for Kodi http://kodi.wiki/view/Devices

What is Kodi? http://kodi.tv/about/

The easiest way for me to put it is.. an open source operating environment that allows you to have a very custom multimedia experience.  You can stream content or gain access to content on demand.  You can use preconfigured software packages like TVMC or you can customize it yourself.  The only limit on what content you have is the amount of time you want to invest playing around with it.

You can actually purchase preloaded systems too. http://www.amazon.com/LYNEC-M6-Android-Pre-loaded-Streaming/dp/B00PC5XVPO  I am not recommending this one, it is just an example.

For me it was easy to sideload the FireTV but I realize that folks may not have time or desire to load it on there and it isn’t straight forward.

It isn’t perfect 100% of the time and since it is a customized experience some results will vary but I would trade what I had with cable for Kodi any day.  In fact, I probably watch more media than I did in the past because I have access immediately to content I am interested in.   I think my favorite is being able to look at content around the world and get a glimpse of how others live.

Happy cutting.. if you choose to go down this road.  Post questions if you have any.. I am happy to answer.