We cut a lot of cords in knitting [I'm pushing the metaphor here a little...], but this post isn’t about knitting. It’s about what some of us do while we knit.
I don’t know about where you live, but where I live [Toronto, Canada], cable TV is expensive. I’m embarrassed to say that I was paying the ghastly sum of $130/month for cable — for all the basic channels, tons of stuff I never watched, but was packaged in with the movies + the actual HBO and movies. And that’s about average up here. Until a week ago. We cancelled the whole shebang, and aren’t looking back.
I have been talking to a lot of people about this lately, and some have already made the switch, some are thinking about it, and some don’t even know where to begin. I’m not going to make this a long post with all the details, but instead will make this full of pithy links to get you on the right track, if you’d rather spend your money on yarn and needles instead of cable tv.
Some good articles and forums to get you started:
- Digital Home’s Over The Air forum [for Canadian residents]
- TVFool’s forum [US & Canada]
- check your own home’s address to see what channels you might receive over the air [US & Canada]
- interesting threadÂ for Canadians who want Netflix, Hulu, etc
Here’s what we’re watching:
- free HD [digital] programming, pulled from the air with an antenna [see the links above for more information about how this works]
- many things on the network and cable channel websites
Here’s the equipment we chose:
- Apple TV [this provides access to Netflix, some sports networks, You Tube and any video, audio and pictures you have on your home computer]
- alternatives to Apple TV includeÂ Boxee, Roku, Blu-Ray disc players with advanced features incorporated, many of the gaming consoles like Xbox, and lots of other devices. More are being introduced all the time. The key is what services they offer access to, and if they have a web browser built in or not. [With a web browser in your device, you can watch the stuff the networks make available on the web, but without having to sit at your computer.] We initially wanted the Boxee, but the reviews everywhere said the hardware wasn’t stable and needed rebooting daily, at least. We hear there’s a new Boxee being released…worth watching for.
- our trusty 7-year-old Tivo Series 2
[the last Tivo model to work with antenna input, luckily!]. When I called to cancel the service [since we were cancelling cable, I didn't think we'd use it anymore], they offered us a $99/lifetime deal since our Tivo will work just fine with the antenna. Â We do love our Tivo, so we were happy they had an option for us. Several commenters tell me that current-model Tivos doÂ work with antenna input so that’s good news!
- a Zinwell digital converter box [necessary if Tivo is to control the incoming channels in order to record it. Without the Tivo in the loop, we wouldn't have needed this.]
What we’re missing:
- stuff on Food Network, Showtime, HBO…
and nothing else! We get all major networks, some weird channels that are antenna only [!] and more than enough to knit by. Much of the stuff we’re missing will eventually be available on Netflix, or can be watched online. There are tons of series on Netflix that I am dying to watch, and it’s all there for me to absorb at my own rate. I could probably spend a year alone in the Anime section!
Was the switch easy?
Nope. But it wasn’t hard, either. It’s just time consuming, researching your options and narrowing down choices. We’ve experimented with different converter boxes and antennas [though the rooftop antenna is a non-returnable item, so that one is gonna stay] until we got the best possible results.
The thing we miss most? The digital clock in our cable box…we have no other clock in the living room. Yeah, we can fix that.
I have barely covered the highlights here. I’d recommend you read the first two links and see if this sounds like it’s for you, and then dive into the forums and do your research. Don’t forget to check your postal or zip code for channel availability…no point in doing all this if you’ll only get a channel or two. Good luck!