In our last installment, I told you a little bit about my family’s personal setup for cord-cutting. However, while this plan fit our viewing needs and worked with our existing entertainment system, it won’t work for everyone. If you are considering cancelling your cable or never signed up and are looking for some new options, here are some different scenarios:
I don’t play videogames and need a set-top box for streaming:
XBox, Playstation 3, and Wii all provide great options for gamers who are looking for ways to stream media to their television. However, for folks that aren’t interested in gaming or maybe never upgraded from your Dreamcast, you will need to look at some different set-top boxes to fill those gaps.
While you do have the option of a home-brew system (which I will discuss further below), in recent years, several different great options have emerged to help you still get your television fix without the monthly bill.
One of the most popular of options is the Roku which starts at 49.99 and runs up to 99.99 for the ability to stream most popular options (such as Netflix and HuluPlus) and also some Roku-only channels. It is extremely easy to hook-up, wifi ready, and growing regularly with new content.
An alternative to Roku is Boxee, that similarly provides streaming content from all of the usual suspects but can also serve as a media library for your personal content. Two other great features for Boxee are IPad integration as well as an antenna addon to allow you to view live tv. This is a great mid-point between the simple setup of the Roku and the customization of a home-brew media library via your own computer setup.
Lastly, Google TV might be a great option, coming standard in some televisions and also as a set-top box from Vizio and Sony. Google TV is a similar option to Roku providing streaming content from a variety of distributors. One added bonus to the Google TV is the ability to surf the web via Chrome and access Google apps for the product.
If you want to hear more from users of all of these options, I again suggest checking out r/cordcutters for personal opinions and customized setups.
I love sports and I’m not ready to give them up:
Sports are one of the hardest things to continue watching after giving up on cable. While using an antenna can still give you access to local teams, if you are a relocated fan or an excited alumni, you might be out of luck on local channels.
However, you still do have great options available via most of the set-top boxes and streaming systems I’ve discussed so far. Many major sports league like the NHL and NFL offer season-long streaming content, and will support players over several different platforms. While these can be expensive, for a sports fan, they are a great season-long option and may offer the access to games they wouldn’t have via cable.
I’m not a Mac-user but you seem all about AppleTV:
While I would love to write a full love letter to my Mac and explain why I continue buying Apple products, I understand that not everyone has the interest or the need to purchase a brand new computer. But you can still accomplish a lot of different viewing options with your PC or through creating your media center.
One of our personal future plans is to use an old desktop computer to create our own personal media library. This will allow us to store digital media and increase our own possibilities in the future such as a personal DVR.
XBMC and Plex are currently the two most popular programs out there for setting up your own system and they work well with most PCs.
The most important thing to remember when first taking the plunge to cancel your cable is to consider what your personal viewing needs are. Cord-cutting does require some planning and more effort than depending on your DVR to record your favorite shows. But this process so far has expanded my technical knowledge, freed up my personal time from channel surfing, and forced me to really take a look at how I interact with media.
I’ll be revisiting this topic in upcoming months and providing an update on how things are going in our house. Share in the comments your own personal experience with cord-cutting or any questions you still might have about the process.