Help me cut the Cable

What’s different is this whole idea of remembering which shows are on which day, and having to actually go seek them out. I had expected that if I just list shows as my favorites, Hulu Plus would find some way of showing me that there was a new episode out. Nope. I have to go seek it out and keep track of which day is which show, etc. Plus they were advertising a new South Park last week when I cut cable, but a new South Park never showed up on Hulu Plus this week. Maybe it goes up a week late?

It should be adding new episodes to your Hulu queue which you can browse at your leisure. Each show should have an “Add to queue” button or something next to it. Or maybe favorites is the same thing, I can’t remember.

Anyway, you can also configure it to email you when your queue gets updated so you don’t even have to remember when stuff comes on.

The only real difference is having to watch a few commercials and the fact that some shows have expiry dates on them.

The largest problem I found that that some shows are “Web Only” which enrages me. That is So fucking annoying. “Hey, they have that show! Oh, web only. FUCK!”

$70 will get you a USB tuner and antenna for the big 4 channels in HD, plus whatever else your local system broadcasts. I watched and recorded The Masters that way, it looked phenomenal.

Are you guys radically against getting media via “other” far easier methods? I’ve never seen such a mess of cable TV options none of which seem to give you any sort of convenience or value for money.

Coming from a country where our cable and commercial TV networks regularly treat us with contempt hundreds of thousands of viewers here have sought far better methods for getting our US TV show fixes in a timely fashion. We don’t really have any other choice. Plus I will still buy my Bluray sets of my favorite series so the companies still get their cut.

For my part, yeah, I’d like to stay on the legal side of the fence on this.

I grab all the network stations via antenna. They look fabulous.

Thought about huluplus, and realized I don’t care enough about tv to pay even $8 a month for it.

Only hard/bad thing about not having cable is if you are big into sports.

Main reason why this isn’t that appealing to me is that just getting live TV isn’t very convenient for me, especially with my current work schedule, which is sometimes a day shift, sometimes a night shift. Whatever option I use, it has to be one where I can watch the events/news/sports I want at my own convenience, not just when it’s shown on live TV. I would like to see the local channels in HD, but recordable on a DVR.

I think Denny or someone mentioned upthread that I can buy a tuner for my wife’s laptop maybe? Is that what you’re talking about? And then record the shows on the hard drive, and then watch them on my TV through the Xbox using the Windows Media thingie?

If anyone has links to a device like that which would work nicely with a laptop and their Xbox, it’d be nice. I’ll definitely want to look into it.

@SeanTudor: Yeah, I want to stay on the legal side of things. It’s 2012, and there’s enough legal options available nowadays. For example, one alternative I could have gone with is dish network, which would cost me $30 a month for the first year, $50 a month for the next year, with a 2 year commitment. So much cheaper than cable, but with a long commitment, and any time you change any programming or add or subtract any service, they sign you on for another two year contract, just like phone companies do.

Yes to all. A DVR program (a basic one came with my USB tuner) will save the video in some standard format, which I assume the XBox can play.

I’ve been almost cable free for a year or more now. I’ve been using an old ATI USB Tuner and an old set of rabbit ears and/or the antenna that came with the tuner to record stuff in Windows Media Center/Win7. I say almost cable free because we held on to the “broadcast only” package which is only like $10/month and lets us watch sports and kids stuff live if we need to.

My only issue with my current setup is that we always have one of the big 4 network stations that comes in almost perfectly and breaks up a occasionally during playback. I’ve played around with positioning while looking at the WMC signal strength meters and can never get all 4 in without getting low enough for problems on one of them.

The two options I’m looking at to fix it are either a) getting a better antenna or b) getting a tuner that supports ClearQAM. The current tuner I have only supports ATSC, which means no HD signals on the networks.

If I go the antenna route, I want it to be somewhat similar to what I’ve got now, an antenna that sits behind my desk…nothing outside or in the attic. I’ve checked TVFool and I should be able to pick up the major networks no problem. I think our issue is that the signals are coming from two or three different directions so it’s tough to setup a single or two-pole antenna for all of them.

So any recommendations for an inexpensive tuner or antenna that would help?

I’ve found the best combo is a Windows PC with an over-the-air tuner and an Xbox 360. Just throw a $99 HDHomeRun on your network and you can record two HD channels at once to any PC in your house. Windows 7 has the DVR stuff built in, and the OTA HD looks way better than what you get off cable or Satellite.

In the Seattle area, the OTA antenna picks up about three dozen channels! Most of the broadcast channels have subchannels with additional programming. The network channels, for instance, have subchannels that do 24/7 weather, broadcast old TV series and movies (last night my DVR recorded the “Turkey” episode of WKRP! :), etc. and don’t show up on cable. Of course, there are also broadcast home shopping channels and a variety of different religious offerings making up a chunk of the 30+ channels, but there’s still quite a selection for free.

But most of all, I can pick up all the major networks in HD and record them on the PC. The PC also does duty for those occasional shows that Hulu Plus will only stream to browsers and not devices, or other web-streamed video.

You don’t need a very powerful PC to do this… I usually repurpose whatever PC I’m retiring, but this time I threw together a low-power-usage Core i3 system with a couple huge hard drives. It also serves as the household music server, and can be used for the occasional PC game on the big screen.

So the PC does the network stuff, and records lots of old shows like The Outer Limits and Cosby to watch with the kid. The Xbox 360 with Hulu Plus and Netflix takes care of most of the rest. We also have season passes to a few kids’ shows and Discovery Channel shows on Zune Video Marketplace on the 360; even buying those series individually, the cost is about the same as one month of DirecTV for the whole lot of them.

I’m using the Leaf, it gives me HD on all of the local channels and is well reviewed. That said I’m a newbie at this, so take that big grain of salt.

Yep. The HDHomeRun dual tuner will let you record two shows simultaneously on any PC that has the Windows Media Center software. (So realistically, a PC with Vista or Win 7; for XP, you needed the special MCE version of the OS.) Just throw it on your network and any compatible PC in the house can record shows or watch them live.

You can then stream those shows, or even watch them live, over your Xbox 360’s Meda Center interface.

Just be warned that it records HD with very little compression, so a big hard drive is a good accessory. We’re talking about 4 to 6 GB for a show. (You can always use Handbrake to compress shows you want to keep long-term to a much smaller size. I use it to make iPhone/iPad-watchable versions for trips and the gym.)

The antenna is going depend on where you live relative to the broadcast stations. I’m 15 miles outside of Seattle in the hills, and out here in the sticks I had to put a small external antenna on the side of the house. People in more metro areas can get by with something like the Leaf that Houngan links. AVSForum has an antenna subforum where you can find info on how to see what you need for your particular location.

Very nice. Thanks Denny and Houngan. I’ll look into that some more. The HDHomeRun sounds really good. I’ll probably need something better than the Leaf antenna for my area though.

Exposure matters more than cost. If you’re far away then you need to get into the attic or on the roof, but don’t blow money on “special” antennas. Just a reasonable piece of metal with a decent cable will do.

Recently I’ve been thinking about ditching cable and getting on Netflix. My concern with Netflix is that not enough of their content is available on demand via streaming. Can someone tell me if that’s true or not. I’d really like to catch up on some older TV shows that I missed back in the day like Lost, Dr. Who, Babylon 5, Wings and so on. I assume most of the TV stuff is streamed, but then again, I’m not certain.

That site should help you wade through what’s available for the on demand stuff for both netflix and amazon.

There’s a free trial for Netflix, so you can see for yourself…

That’s a useful website. I hadn’t realized that Amazon prime had so much stuff that Netflix streaming didn’t have. Plus it costs less. Netflix streaming is $8.99 a month, while Amazon prime is a little over $6.58 a month. Unfortunately, I already gave up my PS3 again (for a while), and that’s the only device I own that can stream from Amazon.

I’ll have to give Amazon prime a hard look once they come to the Xbox.

You should absolutely get it if those are the shows you’re interested in. Anything more than three years old is very likely streaming, you’ll get several months of content before you watch everything.

Thanks for the info. Guess I’ll check out the free month and see how I like it.

I so wanna ditch cable. I’m paying 80 bucks monthly and barely watch anything. I’ll miss CNN and The Daily Show and a few other things, but I can let them go.

You just get used to having TDS a day later on Hulu. There’s so much great TV now I can’t watch it all anyway, just pick your battles and wait for box sets of things you miss.