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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Leaving Cable TV. . .

This year Sandy and I decided to leave Cable TV and rely solely on antennas and the Internet for our TV watching. My friend Alex Marquis bought an antenna, pre-amp and rotator so he could get reception w/o cable, and his setup gets him reception from the Twin Cities, La Crosse, and Austin. As we live on a hill, I felt that we could be at least as successful. So we decided to dump cable.

Because we have 2 TVs, and the antenna I decided on is directional, the first step in this was deciding how to support two TVs with one directional antenna. The problem is that because we would only have one rotator, the channels available to the TVs would restricted to the direction the antenna was pointing. Someone downstairs would only be able to see channels that the upstairs TV controlling the rotator could see.

Because the TV downstairs is the one the kds watch, I decided to buy a Netflix Player from Roku. The way it works is that we go online, choose shows that we want the kids to be able to see, and then those are the shows that are available for playing on the Roku. The shows come through the Internet connection and we have unlimited downloads because we have an unlimited Netflix subscription.

The setup instructions are available here for anyone interested. The player was about $115 after shipping charges. A very good deal considering:

  • The Netflix subscription is about $14 a month.
  • It's unlimited.
  • With a fast enough (3MB) connection it shows DVD quality video.
  • You don't need a computer connected to the TV.
  • Built-in parental controls: the only shows available are the ones that you add online.
  • No ads!
Here's the pricing breakdown:

The first year I pay $283 for a 12 month Netflix subscription and a $115 Roku box. A $50 per month cable bill would be $600 a year. The second year, the price of the Netflix/Roku combo drops to $168, because the Roku is a one time purchase.

Because we had Netflix anyway, the Roku box will pay for itself in less than three months, and after that I pay nothing.