Cutting the Cord **TCP Family Edition**

Cutting the cord is an emotional decision — Rob Liles 

Simply put, people are looking to save money and have better control of their broadcast and content choices.   The cable companies are responding by increasing the content, your channel choices and of course the price.  It is frustrating no matter where you live and what cable provider you have.  It is currently estimated that 1% of cable subscribers are “cutting the cord.”

That is a small number but it represents a population that will grow leaps and bounds as cable becomes more expensive and money becomes tighter.

What do you do?

My friend Lloyd has collected some excellent material on “cutting the cord” that represents a lot of different areas of thought on what you can do.    For the sake of this blog entry, I am going to keep it simple.

Where do you live?

The first thing you should look to figure out is to determine what kind of reception you will get in your area and what kind of antenna you will need to maximize your channel options.  You can go to http://www.antennaweb.org/ to get an idea of your situation.   You can start to think about whether or not you will need to put an antenna on the house or near the television.

Here are some examples of antenna’s built by Rob Liles. 
IMG_20111105_162336 IMG_20111105_162354 FracAntYou have indoor and outdoor fractal antenna that you can build.  http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/index.htm (Rob is handy but he works hard to keep things simple, practical and inexpensive).

I have a signal! Now what?

I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, that gives me between 36-45 channels over the air that I can receive!  Due to geographic, terrain and environmental conditions and of course other factors reception will vary.   It is important to understand what you can receive up front because it will influence what you will set up for streaming.  For example, if I can receive NBC, CBS and ABC then I may want to think about a Roku because we can stream (USTV http://www.ustvnow.com/roku/) live streams from the http://www.ustvnow.com/ can provide free streams from a lot of the major channels including, USA, Bravo, Scifi, TBS, and others.

What if I DON’T have a signal?

If you don’t have a signal over the air, you will need to go with a Roku.  http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/roku-3-best-streaming-box/

I am not affiliated with Roku in any way.  I have been researching and testing lots of options including most recently the Raspberry Pi, which you essentially configure and set up yourself.

Configuration Requirements

Video for Setup but that may not be enough.

Call the cable company and tell them that you are done with them!  Take your box and &*@#!!.. (just kidding).

  1. What you can do is order a Roku from (http://www.amazon.com/Roku-4200R-3-Streaming-Player/dp/B00BGGDVOO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1372607388&sr=8-4&keywords=Roku)
  2. If for some reason you don’t have an HDMI port on your television you can get a converter here (http://sewelldirect.com/HDMI-to-VGA-RGB-and-Component-YPbPr-Converter-Audio.asp)
  3. Hook up the device to your television and play with it for a little while!  Get comfortable with using it and start to ween yourself from cable.  Remember what Rob said?  It is an emotional decision to cut the cable for some reason and it may take you a month to just go ahead and cut the cord.   If you feel that the cost savings are “worth any risk” to you, then call the cable company and have them keep your internet services but cancel cable.
  4. Using a wifi is ok, but if you can actually use a wired connection from your router / switch to the Roku, that would be my recommendation.

There you have it!

You need a

  • TV -HDMI capable
  • Internet Connection
  • Roku
  • A technically oriented AARP member!
  • A desire to save a few bucks or some dislike of the cable company.

You are ready to go!  If you want other complicated configurations like (HTPC, or XBMC on a device) we can address that too!  I think the best configuration of all is an HTPC with a dual channel tv tuner, running windows 7 media edition and XBMC.  That being said, that configuration could set you back over $400.oo as opposed to the Roku which will set you back about $100.00 +/- the cost of video cables.

Phone

If you have a phone at home and you want to take the costs from $35.00+ dollars a month to $3.00 for taxes, you can get an OOMA and hook it up to your router and your phone base!    If you do that and you use this link

 

 

I have since built a RaspberryPi with XBMC (see this tutorial) http://mymediaexperience.com/raspberry-pi-xbmc-with-raspbmc/