For years I lived in the relative comfort of a Comcastic house. I had channels upon channels for info-edu-tainment. I could sit comfortably with one of the favorite channels like History, BBC, AE and watch the hour by hour play of some show. Perhaps I took it for granted until Comcast would lose the signal in the house and then things would get rather boring because I had gotten used to my Comcast. I never did figure out how to break myself until February of this year. I determined in February to cut that cable.
There are some steps to doing this. You don’t have to get a divorce and move out of the house first like I did but having kids around will make it more difficult to implement the remaining steps. Kids want all the channels even if nothing is on. I’m gathering its not the reality but the choice. So, after moving out, I made a conscious effort to break the vicious cycle of cable and its cost for a service which I felt I did not really need.
What I did need were a few things to get going. I needed a decent Television that would take HDMI input easily. I needed a Chromecast to plug in to the TV. I needed some applications that would cast from my Android tablet to the TV. I settled for a Samsung TV which may have cost under $200.00 when I got it. I bought the Chromecast for $35.00 from Amazon. The application of the Chromecast to this particular TV is dead simple. Samsung pretty much designed this cheap little TV for Chromecast. The device requires a HDMI port and a USB power port for it. For whatever reason, Samsung places the two ports right next to each other so plugging in the dongle to its USB power supply took no additional cables, adapters, or frustration.
I then installed the Chromecast app on my Nexus 7 2013 wifi tablet and did the setup thing. I may have gotten an update to the Chromecast immediately. But after associating the device with my wifi in my room, it all worked. About 10 minutes of setup.
Now the applications part. Lots of choices depending on what you want but I settled on two subscription services given what I wanted:
Netflix – I think Netflix is king for many of us cable cutters. It offers a wide variety of TV and movie shows but not everything so this led me to the next subscription service.
HuluPlus – I bought this to watch shows that are not on Netflix. The Hulu implementation for casting leaves a bit to be desired at times and there seems some buffering or waiting at different times. But for the price and the value I get, its okay.
Watch ESPN – I can watch pre-season football games after logging in to a friendly comcast account and cast it. Very nice!
Casting the screen – I just tried this with the NFL preseason app which does not have chromecast support now. On my Nexus 7 you can start the Chromecast app and hit the cast the screen button and then start some application and it casts it to your TV. I tried this last night again and for applications like TV Go from Comcast and the NFL Presason app it all works well.
So how much have I saved and how much do I spend? I spend about $15.00 per month for both Netflix and HuluPlus. I spend nothing for Watch ESPN but use a comcast account because the application will not stream without some cable participation. Perhaps its cheating a bit since I don’t pay for the service but it does work and its free (for me).
Casting the screen is free and I can cast whatever I want that’s on the Nexus 7. So this represents a final way to get content that is not Chromecast supported onto my cheap Samsung TV.
If I get to the point of wanting to watch an Amazon prime video and there is no Amazon Prime Video app (not a good play, Amazon), I start the movie on my chromebook, attach a HDMI cable from it to the second HDMI output on the TV and off I go. Not exactly casting but I get to watch the shows on Prime Video like Downton Abbey or others which are on Prime. Amazon may release the Prime Video app but will probably never give it casting support since it would then compete with their set-top box called Fire TV.
As a note, I did try Fire TV and its not my cup of tea. I prefer the disruptive nature of the Chromecast. Ability to cast applications like Google+ or Youtube or my photos. I still have the Fire TV but it sits quietly in a drawer and has only been used about three times.
Well, there you got it; my recipe for going without cable and thriving. You can find the way to cut the cable and pay less. Be sure you have decent internet though. I do use comcast broadband internet because the room I have is coax equipped so getting cable internet at 50 down and 10 up was a piece of cake. I just ignore all the email on special deals for TV or phone service.
Cutting the cable can go further as well to phone service. Perhaps I will write up some time how I have a phone in my room which also did away with the Comcast Voice service at the house where I once lived.
Give it a try and see if you can get by.