So we canceled cable and went streaming. Cold turkey.
Four decades: Independent, honest, reliable Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online since 1983
Getting rid of cable, Part 1, or what happened when I dropped the TV
May 17, 2015
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2015, Al Fasoldt
We cut the cord last fall. Not because we suddenly got smart and decided we could save a great deal of money by canceling our cable TV service. Instead, we did it because I dropped the TV.
First, let me explain. I realize many of you won't believe what I'm about to tell you, so I'll be as clear and simple as possible.
For years, we have been paying as little as possible for cable TV. That might sound, to all of you, I suppose, like I'm telling you we were saving money by subscribing to Basic Cable.
No, not at all. "Basic" costs a lot of money. Really. Cable companies call it "Basic" because you'll assume it's the, um, basic package. The cheapest one.
Not on your life. "Basic" is just one of the packages. We skipped Basic and got the cheapest service. (Yup, you have to say it like that, just like that, when you talk to the person who's handling your account. You have to ask for the cheapest service. Don't use the word "Basic.")
So for years we paid $6 a month or so. By last fall the rate had gone up to about $10. (Stop crying. I didn't tell you to bundle everything and get your phone, TV, Internet and home security in one package at a cost of $250 a month. You did it on your own. Now get back on the couch and grab some tissues.)
We were already streaming TV fans last fall. We had an Apple TV box and a Roku box. A quick explanation: Both of them connect to the Internet and show videos (TV shows, movies and so on) that are streamed from a service. The most popular streaming service is Netflix, but there are many others.
You can watch Netflix and the other streaming services lots of ways -- on a Smart TV, for example, or through an Apple TV box, a Roku box or any of the smaller thumbdrive-sized streaming adaptors. (Google sells a good one.)
You pay once for the adaptor or set-top box and then pony up monthly for the pay streaming services. Many streaming channels are free, however, so you can actually do this on the cheap.
Back to our TV. I was playing around with the connections on the back, holding up the set with one hand and trying to plug things in with the other, when I dropped the set about two inches onto its stand. Ordinarily that wouldn't have caused a problem, but I wasn't so lucky: The cable TV connection got pulled right out of the cable jack on the TV, busting the wires inside the set.
It was the same connection that any antenna would use. I mention this because not only did we lose what Time Warner was sending us, we also lost any possibility of connecting an antenna and getting local stations.
So we canceled the $10 cable fee and went streaming. Cold turkey. All our programming would come across the Internet.
We were already paying for Netflix -- $7 a month then, but $10 a month now for new customers -- so we had a great source of movies and TV shows. Our initial streaming was done through the Apple TV box, but we soon found that the Roku box made Apple's little offering look terribly wimpy. Apple had maybe 20 channels. Roku had 250 to 300.
We didn't miss our cable feed except for local news.
You can't get local channels. Period.
That will change.
Right now you can't.
Is that a big weewee? We thought so at first, but now it's just something we sorta miss. I'll tell you how we've compensated for this next week.
Al Fasoldt is a retired technology writer for The Post Standard newspaper in Syracuse, New York. His landmark column, Technofile, is the world's longest running online column. Read any of the thousands of current and previous columns at technofileonline.com.