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article imageReview: Freeing myself from Cable TV Special

By Jacki Viles     Sep 15, 2013 in Entertainment
Atlanta - Each time I click through my monthly bill pays online, I always get slightly annoyed when I click ‘Send’ for the monthly cable bill. All the other bills zoom right by me. But this one makes me hit ‘Pause’ momentarily.
I try to think back over the month to remember what television program or movies I may have watched that are worth the $150 I pay for ‘ Home Entertainment’ via Cable TV. Like many people, I just don’t feel that entertained.
I’m reminded that about 16 years ago, I cancelled the land line in my home in favor of my cell phone. Back then, if you really needed to speak to me and knew me personally; you would call my cell. If you were a telemarketer, you would call my land line and interrupt dinner. True, I was a very early adopter. And here I am again.
An abundance of Wi-Fi enabled devices combined with cloud storage and streaming media has given consumers a wonderful variety of television and movie viewing options.
Young people watch television shows, You Tube videos, movies and a variety of content when they want and on whichever device suit them. My generation is a bit more stationary and living room television centric in their watching habits. I’m a comfort creature. Watching a theatrical movie on my smartphone isn't something I would do. I like my big screen TV.
I came from the era of network television where you needed to be home at a certain day of the week at a certain time to see your favorite show. If you missed it, you had nothing to add to the morning office chatter the next day. You needed to see the last episode of M*A*S*H when it ended. You need to know who shot J.R. and see it for yourself.
But times change and now there are ample opportunities to see your favorites anytime and anywhere. There are many streaming content providers out there that offer excellent choices for many tastes. But cutting the cable off for good might be scary to my generation of viewers who have always been attached to their home theatre by means of a coax connector in their living room. How will I watch my local news? What about the weather? How will I live?
In this age of new media content, one thing that’s old really is new again. I’m talking about the antenna. Not the rabbit ears of the past. Not the clunky ugly metal roof sculptures from back in the day. There are several good digital antennas that work extremely well and give you all the local digital broadcast channels you've probably been paying for all along for free.
For as little as $30 per TV set, you can attach an HD antenna that is fairly unobtrusive and reliable. Or you can splurge for the larger attic mount that controls multiple televisions. There is an HD antenna solution for every pocketbook and every skill set.
Before we dive into the details, I should direct you to a site which will tell you just how good or bad your reception will be once you cut the cable cord and go to an antenna. This site will be able to tell you what local channels are available in your area.
The final and most important consideration before doing this would be your Internet speed from your ISP. If you live in a large metropolitan area as I do, these two points will pan out well for you. If you are in a more rural location, one if not both of these considerations can turn out to be showstoppers for you.
In my home, I have a few flat screen LED sets ranging in size and a 30 year old Sony Trinitron. The old Trinitron beast is still with us. It plays great. It also weighs more than two adults. Therefore, where it sits is where it shall be buried. The good news is all of these sets will support my new HD configuration but the old Sony.
If you have a Wi Fi enabled TV that offers Netflix, Hulu and what not- it may help you to decide your choices of streaming content providers. If not, all the content providers offer free trials and you should try them all. Keep in mind the family members who rely on children’s content and your in house sports enthusiast when making your decisions.
Purchasing several plans to suit the whole family is an option but keep in mind how much you are saving when you cut the cable bill. Coming out financially ahead and giving your home viewing audience better options is still the goal.
I have a few game consoles at home and I will use a PS3 to connect my main television to the Internet. It’s already there connected via HDMI. I already use the Blu Ray player to watch movies occasionally. It is from there which I will install the applications needed to give me my streaming media content subscription.
In the end, I chose Amazon. Amazon Prime accounts offer free shipping on Amazon.com purchases and access to their ample digital media selections. If I had a Kindle, I would be able to borrow free from their library selections. The yearly subscription is almost half my monthly cable bill cost! I already had an account with them because I shop frequently on their site and enjoy free shipping.
All of the streaming content providers offer rental and purchase of movies and TV series. On occasion you may buy DVD / BLU Ray movies with digital copy redemption codes in them. There are several types of digital copy redemption offers that movie studios offer to control their digital content. One of these is Ultraviolet. It is a personal storage ‘locker’ of your movie purchases. It is not cloud based storage of your movies. It is merely the digital license or proof of purchase of that particular title. If you have digital redemption codes inside the movies that you purchase, you should sign up for an Ultraviolet account and store your redemption codes in your account “locker”. Link your Ultraviolet locker account to your content provider of choice (Amazon, Vudu, etc.). This makes your movies available to watch (without the actual DVD) via streaming to your TV set or any Internet enabled device of your choosing.
So far, it looks like it is working well for me. I have no breaks in signal strength and no lag in my Internet connection. Has anyone else moved away from the traditional cable TV providers?
More about Hulu online video, Ultraviolet locker, cable TV, Netflix streaming service, Vudu
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