I will admit that the Hulu-Netflix-Roku-Youtube-Xbox setups that people use in place of cable sound too complicated to me. I could not wrap my mind around flipping on the TV, firing up the Xbox, looking at a Hulu, flipping back to the TV, switching to Youtube input, looking at that, then going back to the Xbox input and looking at that. And so on. Some people don’t mind multiple remote controls and multiple “inputs,” but I am not one of them. So understandably my excitement about the idea of cutting cable was soured.
And Mr. Goodies’ dedication to DVR led us to think for a while that we were definitely stuck with cable. But we found a seamless solution (for me) which also allows recording (for him): an HD antenna with Tivo.
I had not really heard of anyone who ditched cable for a regular old antenna when I asked around on Facebook. And so we did not initially think of Tivo, if there is no live signal from which to record. But ah, well, it occurred to us one day, and the search was on for a worthy antenna.
And this thing is not your granny’s rabbit ears. We went with this number from RCA: an external antenna, powerful enough to collect faraway signal, but able to be installed in your attic instead of stuck treacherously to the side of your house. A sweet deal at $48. Along with some sort of pre-amp for $25, we were able to get 31 channels with no visibly discernible digital flaws. (The quality might not be great for all; our house sits atop a hill with a clear shot to both nearby cities. But it’s worth checking out, and you can return the antenna if the setup won’t work for you.)
And the 31 channels are pretty decent: they include PBS, Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, and I don’t really care which others because that is all I need. There’s even an interesting crafty station which I have never heard of but will have to check out! Who would have thought that outside the wide world of cable you might find a station which is actually useful to you?!
But the real icing on this guilt-free cake is the Tivo. We collected this guy from Amazon for $150. It has built-in wireless, integrates the menagerie of streaming services through its interface along with the recordings, and lets you record 4 things at a time. I’m not that into recording or gadgets but c’mon, that’s better than freaking cable DVR! And while we only have Amazon Prime for streaming (for now), it is nice not to have to go to the Xbox for that. The Tivo menu will let you buy episodes or seasons of shows from the original vendor (Netflix, Amazon), which I found interesting. Tivo does have a $15/month service fee, but it is oh so better than the $83 we have been paying Fios for cable alone each month.
The antenna and preamp installation, and internet coordination was all Mr. Goodies (disclaimer: he is an Electrical Engineer). I can’t speak to the reasonableness of that but it looked easy from my perch on the couch. But the Tivo setup was all menu-based on the screen, with instructions to go to the Tivo website with a code to set up the account. Certified breezy.
I’ll be calling Verizon today to say adios (at least to the cable portion). I like our solution – it is a bit more expensive and luxurious than die-hard cable cutters might go for. But even I, a relative minimalist, prefer my PBS and the ability to record and watch later. And if it comes at the price of $35/month amortized over one year to account for the hardware, and $15/month forever after for the Tivo account, I can live with that. Cheers to $70/month, or $8400 every 10 years, saved forever!