CUTTING THE CHORD… I MEAN CORD: My Weekend Without Cable TV

This entry is a step away from my usual articles on music education and marching bands however I believe saving money is worth the deviation so bear with me. 🙂

Though I currently reside in TX, I’m actually a born and raised South Carolinian. Because of this, some may say cutting my cable usage on the very weekend that my home state is being pummeled by Hurricane Florence is probably a bad idea. I mean how am I going to get the live storm updates and track the hurricane as it effects the lives of my mother, father, sisters, and extended family and friends? Well this article is going to share with you exactly how I did that and the cost savings I am looking forward to as I take this step away from the norm, much like I did when I did not activate a home phone line upon moving into our current residence. But first, the problem…

THE PROBLEM – The Bill

Bill
RIDICULOUS!!!!!

This is my current cable bill. I pay a $50 charge for internet services so if you subtract that charge, I pay a total of $139.90 for Cable services that includes no premium channels, just two cable boxes (one in the den and one in a bed room). These prices are ridiculous in my opinion. I mean I only watch one news station and “Law And Order” on actual TV. Everything else is on Netflix so why must I pay these abhorrent prices? Don’t get me wrong, I have no gripes with the Xfinity experience. Talking to the remote to change channels and look up movies on Netflix is dope… But not $130 dope.

In a recent conversation with my brother, somehow this bill came up and he mentioned that he hasn’t used cable in over two years. So of course I was like… uhh… what? He explained how he had “cut the chord” years ago and has actually experienced better service than what he was getting with a cable or satellite dish company.

franklin
Brother man with the master plan…

He now gets ALL the premium channels, the NFL football package, over 1,000 channels, and access to thousands of movies. All that for as low as $15.99 per month.

This all peeked my interest of course. How is that possible, I asked, when I pay way more and only get basic cable. He talked me through all of the technology jargon on how he did it. I was there for it all because  I’m such a tech head, but I’m not going to bore you with the details. What he basically said was all I needed was just three things to make the switch…

THE 3 PART SOLUTION – Hardware, VPN Service, & Software

shield
Though there are cheaper options for Android TV, the Nvidia Shield is the most advanced (and most expensive) option selling for $179.99 at best buy but a few dollars cheaper on Amazon.

Acquiring an Android TV Box is the first step toward cutting the cord. There are many manufacturers of these boxes and the primary difference in them is processing speed, onboard memory, and resolution (high end units produce content as high as 4k). They range in price from $30 bucks to as high as $180. Just remember, a mid range to high end device is recommended to reduce buffering and to ensure a great experience. Start here for the best description of hardware choices.

The second thing he recommended was a good VPN service so your browsing and streaming is protected. Really, whether you are cutting the cord or not, everyone should be using a VPN these days. If you have a banking app on your phone, you ever send private information via email or text, you bank online on your PC, tablet, or laptop… then you need a VPN. It protects information that is sent from up to 5 of your devices (PC, Laptop,TV, tablet, phone) so that no one can see what you send and receive without your permission. This article is a good place to start to get a good one for a great price. I use Private Internet Access for just $6.95 per month (Paying month to month). Its even cheaper at $3.33 per month if you pay for the entire year upfront.

The last step in having a great experience with Android TV is getting the right software downloaded and there are many you tubers and vloggers out there that have done complete walk-throughs on setting up your Android TV Box. I subscribe to a number of them. Start here for a step by step walk-through of setting up a device.

MY RESULTS – Thursday to Sunday Without Cable

20180916_160824.jpg
Actual image on Nvidia user interface on my TV.

So, Thursday of last week I decided to give it a go. I had purchased the Nvidia Shield box the weekend before, but was skeptical of going without cable. However my next month’s bill arriving in the mail gave me that extra push I needed. I unplugged my cable box from my TV and plugged in the Nvidia… and surprisingly I haven’t hooked the cable back up since.

The first thing I did was turn on my VPN service. Afterwards I went through the steps recommended by a You-tuber in his Setting up the Nvidia Box Walk Through. After about 45 mins I was up and running. My brother suggested a couple of apps he uses to stream live TV with a $15 per month subscription (There are many) and before I knew it, I was watching live TV in beautiful 1080p quality. I was following the hurricane events live and checking in on my family in SC. The Weather Channel, CNN… every channel was at my disposal. Even premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, TMC, etc… I also had access to Video On Demand Services. My wife was able to pull up entire seasons and choose episodes from premium and basic channel shows. All this for $15 per month and $6.99 for the VPN which totals to $22 per month compared to $139.90 that I am currently paying for cable. I am sold.

20180916_155919.jpg
Actual image from my television interface showing the different countries available and my “favorites” list as I flip through channels. CNN Hurricane coverage in the background.

So tomorrow I will be taking my cable box back to Xfinity and dropping my cable TV service. The services offered with cable do not measure up to the services of Android TV when comparing pricing. The cable company pricing system is archaic and is not representative of today’s programming and options. So until they do better, I’m officially a cord cutter.

Ok, back to the bands!…

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