Before I get to the main theme of this post, I just want to thank everyone for their well wishes and positive thoughts last week. Hubby found another job already, thank heavens for small blessings. He finishes out this week with his current company and next Monday starts with the new one. There are going to be some changes, but I think they are good ones. He is still in the same field and I think the new job will offer him lots of opportunities as it is with a much larger company. Plus we get to stay put where we are!
Back to the main idea--have you ever thought about getting rid of cable/satellite television? More and more is being written about the way television is changing and how cable and satellite companies are going to have to step up and become more competitive. I started researching this last summer, I was sick to death of paying the ridiculous price just to watch the telly, especially now that there are so many other options. I just have to say that the powers that be in the television industry had better start paying attention, or they are going to find themselves way behind.
Growing up where I did, cable was not an option. We had rabbit ears or a big antenna on the roof. We were out in the country, miles from town, so lots of static. A couple of years ago when I met one of the big-wigs with the local cable company for something work related, I asked what the chances were that they would ever put cable television out that way, his response literally was "not a snowball's chance in hell". The houses are too far apart once you get to a certain point. So I was stuck with satellite television. Not a bad way to watch TV, but not cheap either. When we moved, we took the satellite TV with us to our new home. The price still bugged me though, and I set out on a mission to come up with something else. The last straw was a couple of months ago when they sent a notification that they were raising the price yet again--$90 a month to watch the "boob tube" (as my dad referred to it) was really starting to bug me. Time to up the ante!
I knew I could stream a lot of things via the internet, and due to the fact that I upload a lot of very large photography files I had already spent the money on a faster internet connection through Verizon, no problem there. I also didn't want to be stuck in a contract with anyone. I just wasn't sure what to do about local programming and the big 5 networks. Thanks to a post on a bulletin board I frequent, I found out about a wonderful invention--the Mohu Leaf antenna. Highly rated, I decided to order one. The box arrived and when I got it out, I was kind of stunned--it looked like a mouse pad! I thought "how in the world is this going to work?!?!?!" Well let me just say that it works very well! $38 and I was able to get the local television channels clearly as well as a PBS channel just out of the range. The best part is this antenna stays inside the house, no mounting something on the roof, and it's non-directional for the most part, so none of that having to adjust it constantly. I was impressed.
On to ways to stream other programming--we purchased an HDMI cable so that we could connect one of the laptops to the television, and it worked well enough, but no remote control. Not the worst problem in the world, but I knew there had to be a better way. Then I remembered that the Wii (and several other game systems as well) had the ability to stream certain things--so I set it up to download Hulu, YouTube and Netflix. Worked like a charm! The game controllers can be used as remotes too, so another hurdle cleared. The last issue--getting the TV in the bedroom connected to something. Unfortunately where it sits has very little extra space, so connecting the laptop wasn't a viable option. And the location of the room prevented the Mohu Leaf from working very well. Hmmmmm.........
Enter the Roku--a streaming box that gets a large number of different streaming channels. Some are free, some involve a nominal monthly fee, and some are pay-per view--perfect! It's small too, so it won't be hard to find someplace to set it in the bedroom. Because it is small, it will also be convenient to move it to the basement television when we have reason to watch something down there. Eventually I may spring for the cost of another, but in the meantime I'm content to move it to where it needs to be. I will note here that all of the TV's in our house are digital ready HDTV's.
Here's the cost breakdown--satellite, $90 per month--works out to $1080 per year. Eeek! Mohu Leaf Antenna--$38 (one time cost), Roku--$58 (one time cost), Netflix-$8 per month, HuluPlus $8 per month--total cost for one year (initially) $288, $192 for each year thereafter with the current set up. I can think of a lot of things I can use that $792/$888 saved per year for instead of television! PLUS--I can watch what I want, WHEN I want, I am not at the mercy of a programming schedule. No contracts either, so if I find that Netflix or HuluPlus aren't working for our needs, easy to cancel (and I have done that with Netflix twice in the past, it really does work as easily as it sounds). We already had the Wii, so I'm not figuring that in my amounts since there are better/cheaper options for streaming. These changes also eliminate the need for the television to be tethered to only one place, making room arranging much easier!
The Directv receivers are boxed up and ready to go back in tomorrow's mail--to quote Helen Chappel from one of my favorite TV shows, "Wings"--BITE ME! I'm the one laughing all the way to the bank now :) (and now you know why my husband calls me "The cheapest woman in America"--a nickname I wear with honor.) Clark Howard would be so proud.