How to Cut The Cord!

How to Cut The Cord!

Sailing into unknown territory and overcoming the learning curve of cutting the cord can be a daunting task. When a friend contacted me recently about how to cut the cord, I decided to compile my experience into an easy-to-read article for anyone else interested in eliminating the cable company.

First: keep in mind that all of this is going to have an initial cost output, but then you're not paying a monthly fee to the cable company.

How do I get local channels?

You get those with a good OTA (over the air) antenna. We went with the Mohu Leaf Ultimate (Mohu Leaf 50). We found that using it WITHOUT the amplifier gives us more channels. The amplifier is an optional (& separate) part. When we tried it with the amplifier, we could receive 3 or 4 channels, and they came in horribly. We were frustrated because it was the third antenna we had tried! I then read online to try it without the amplifier, and… bingo. We get close to 20 channels. We had to mess with the location (left of TV, right of TV, up, down) because Fox was giving us a fight, but now everything comes in perfectly! I have all of the locals: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS and a bunch of others. 
We purchased it at Walmart. It was $70.

Before purchasing an antenna, you can go here to see what local channels you can get.

Does your antenna get good reception, though?

Um, that's an understatement.  All of the channels are in high def, and we get a better picture than we did from DirectTv.  What's more, we had a HUGE storm shortly after getting the antenna, and every single channel stayed consistent.  We used to lose satellite constantly with DirectTv from the slightest raindrop.  

What about movies and tv shows and stuff?  

There are lots of streaming devices out there.  Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Roku.  We use a Roku.  We have a Roku 3 for our living room, and a Roku1 for our bedroom.  The best thing about this is that you can choose an HDMI setup or the old-fashioned Roku1 for the old televisions.  No tv is too old.  If it has composite cable inputs, you can use it!  

A Roku is used for streaming. This is something that confuses people. They think they are trading cable for another service.  No, it is a one-time fee for a streaming unit. It then allows you to stream things onto your tv that you were only able to see on your laptop, smartphone, PS3 or Xbox before, like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and many, many private channels.  
Each grade of Roku has different features and/or speeds.
A Roku1 is $49.99
A Roku3 is $99.99.

We do see a difference in streaming speed from the Roku1 to the Roku3, and are glad we went with the higher end Roku3 for the living room, where we do most of our viewing.  

I have read many comments online that you have to change your viewing habits. This isn’t necessarily true. We are able to still watch live tv via Sling TV and our local channels. What we watch/use the most are Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, iHeartRadio, YouTube and Sling TV. Netflix, Hulu Plus and SlingTV are monthly subscription services that you can cancel at any time. Pandora, iHeartRadio and YouTube are free.  

 We are saving about $100 a month with these!

I have heard of Netflix and Hulu, but what's Sling TV?
Sling TV is a new streaming service put out by Dish network, with no contract or additional fees for $20 a month. Their current channel lineup for basic is:
ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, Food Network, A&E, History, TNT, HGTV, IFC, Disney, TBS, Travel, Adult Swim, CNN, H2, Cartoon Network, Lifetime and a couple of spanish channels. All for $20 a month. They also have add-on sports, movies and entertainment packages, and they let you try it for 7 days for free.
SlingTV has some on demand features, and all of their channels are live.  

What about the private channels you're talking about?

Keep in mind that you will see channels available on Roku, but it doesn't mean they are *accessible*. For example, you might find the National Geographic channel, but all you can watch are shorts and clips without inputting a cable provider. (this is not the same as your internet service provider… even if you can purchase both services from the same company!) If you know someone who has cable and is willing to give you his sign-in information, you can use that. (but, most people aren't going to let you piggyback on their cable...)

Once you have a Roku, you can go online on your computer or straight from your Roku and add channels.  One of the private channels we use a lot is ChannelPear.  You register for a free account, click on media db on the left sidebar and add channels.  Then, you pair your device.  The 24/7 channels are pretty consistent, but some of the other ones are hit or miss.  They're all private channels within the app Channelpear, so you take what you get for free!

Surf around inside your Roku to find things that might interest you. Or choose from the large list of public and private Roku channels here on mkvXstream.

What about my DVR?  Can you record things?

To be honest, you don't need to record much of anything.  All of your content, with the exception of your local antenna channels and some of the Sling TV stations, is streaming. You can watch it whenever you want, and almost all of your favorite shows are available 24 hours after live airing on Hulu.  

What about sports?  

Ah.  Here is where it might get tricky for you.  ESPN and ESPN2 cover a lot of it for us via Sling TV.  We were able to see almost all of the Syracuse Basketball games.  We will be watching live NFL games via the antenna.  No more NFL Sunday Ticket from Direct TV, but the cost of that proprietary service didn't even outweigh the savings for these diehard Steelers fans.  And, it looks like times are a changin'

If you are an MLB fan, here's a great article:

What about your internet?

Well, yeah.  You need a decent internet service.  We pay for "Lighting 35" internet (35 Mbps download/2 Mbps upload) from Bright House Networks, which does not have a data cap down here in central FL (check your own ISP).  We are one plugged-in and streaming family, and this speed is just fine for us.   

We have been cord-free since January.  Hope this helps others.  Go cut that cord.  You won’t look back.

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