Cable and satellite bills suck, plain and simple. These days though you don’t have to succumb to their evil pricing plans thanks to the ever growing streaming app landscape, which has now become packed full of options to help you ditch your traditional TV show provider. In our video guide for cutting the cable cord we provide two services that have turned out to be amazing replacements, as well as some other recommendations for needed hardware and beefing up your home network.
The two services we recommend are PlayStation Vue for your cable network needs, and the Tablo OTA DVR for your local air channel needs. Be warned though, there are some upfront costs for ditching your cable or satellite bill, so prepare for that, but know that by investing in this solution you will recoup your costs in a few months thanks to not paying a cable bill anymore.
You can watch the video above, or read the script for it below. Links for the services and mentioned products can also be found below. This is not a paid advertisement, these are the solutions we are using and find to be quite excellent.
Helpful Cable Cord Cutting Links
- PlayStation Vue
- Netgear Router
- Roku Devices
- Amazon Fire TV
- OTA HD Antennas
- OTA Signal Tester
- Turn old router into a switch
- How to extend WiFi range
Hey there thrifty spenders Matt Heywood with EntertainmentBuddha.com here to drop some knowledge on you about cutting your cable cord and bills.
These days it’s so damn expensive to pay for cable or satellite subscriptions, which include inflated prices for channel packages, and recurring monthly rental fees for the devices you need to watch TV.
I was spending $155 on just my Directv bill, which when lumped in with Netflix, and Amazon Prime started to add up over the course of the year.
Plus it’s not like Directtv really offered amazing services. The most I could do from my phone is setup a show recording, or maybe watch something on my phone while in my house, which is dumb.
This past August I decided enough was enough and started to put a plan together to cut the cord as they say and start becoming a Streaming only TV watcher.
I didn’t find many helpful guides or recommendations on how to go about getting rid of cable and still being able to watch and record my favorite shows, hence the reason for making this handy video guide.
I’ve done the legwork and have found the best possible combination for me, which consists of a mix of cable channels including sports networks, and OTA channels that I can freely get through a HD antenna.
I must first warn you about a few upfront costs that will make a transition like this seem more expensive than sticking with your cable provider.
If you don’t have a robust home network you may have to upgrade your router, or even your Internet subscription to a higher speed level, which will cost you.
I went with the NetGear Nighthawk 8000 Tri-band Wireless router to give my network a boost, and also repurposed an old time capsule to work as a WiFi extender for the main floor of my house. I also repurposed an old Linksys router and made it a plain switch to give me more ethernet ports to use, because hardwired connections are always faster and more reliable than wireless.
With that being said thanks to the new router, which has three bands to spread devices across and a QoS feature that can dynamically manage bandwidth, I still get around 150-200mbps on my WiFi, so all of my streaming devices work fine on WiFi if they can’t be hardwired.
I also switched to WOW for Internet because they offer upwards of 600mbps down packages in my area, so even their 110mbps package will suffice for streaming all sorts of signals including 4K.
So once you get your network beefed up the next steps are choosing your streaming providers, and I’ve found PlayStation Vue to be the best overall service for cable channels and sports networks, so that’s who I went with.
Now if you live in a city where Vue offers OTA channels as part of its 4 different package tiers you won’t have to worry about the next device I’m going to recommend, because you’re already getting air channels and can record them with Vue’s cloud DVR.
If you don’t live in a market where Vue offers the standard air channels then I recommend going with a Tablo OTA DVR device. This little bad boy will receive OTA HD signals and record them just like a DVR. It can also stream OTA content in HD to various devices over your network, or even on the go.
If you pay for its guide, which is like most channel guides on cable boxes you can easily schedule and record shows, but it will cost you $5 a month, or $50 a year, or $150 for the lifetime of your Tablo device.
I recommend paying for the guide because it is super user friendly and makes the process of finding and recording your favorite network shows a breeze.
Ok so back to PlayStation Vue, which is an excellent service as I previously mentioned. You must choose one of four packages with the lowest one going for around $30, and the highest going for $65 a month.
I went with the Core because it gave me the cable channels I wanted like AMC, Disney XD, and ESPN, but also because it provides most other cable sports networks like BTN and Fox Sports 1. With that package you will not miss major sporting events, but if you don’t care about sports you would be fine with the $30 slim package.
Again prices will vary between markets, but the ones I listed will be about the norm unless you live in New York City or LA.
To use Vue all you need is a PSN account with a credit card, and a valid streaming device. These include the PS4 and PS3, Amazon Fire TV, and the Roku family of products. You do not need a PS Plus subscription, nor do you have to have a gaming console to use it.
I recommend a Roku device, especially if you are also going with Tablo, because they also support the tablo app. Although Vue works fine on the other streaming hardware devices I mentioned, so there’s a good chance you won’t even need to buy a new device for it.
Once you are signed up with a Vue package you can start watching on up to 5 devices at the same time in your home network. The service will work through the mobile app outside of your home network, but a few channels may be locked down. You also can’t have more than one PS4 using Vue at a time, or more than one PS3 at a time.
The Vue app itself is very easy to navigate and visually oriented to get where you want to go fast. You can add channels to your favorites list, or add full shows to your My Shows list, which in turn will record new episodes and keep them for up to 28 days in a cloud based DVR.
Streaming speeds and picture quality have also been excellent during my time with PS Vue, so I have zero complaints with the service and love the flexibility it provides for my viewing habits.
What’s even better is that your Vue account works with most other streaming apps such as the AMC or Disney XD app, so even if you missed an episode on Vue you can still watch it in full using one of those apps with your Vue subscription.
Of course you can add standalone subs to your Vue account, so you can get HBO and Showtime through the service, as well as the RedZone NFL channel.
PlayStation Vue is more than capable at providing you with your favorite cable channels, movie channels, and sports channels, but if you don’t live in a major city you won’t get local air channels through it, just the on demand apps for networks like Fox and ABC.
If that’s the case and you need access to these local networks for sporting events, or just local news, you’ll want to go with the Tablo OTA DVR.
It comes in 2-tuner and 4-tuner options that cost $199 and $299 respectively, so you must decided which option you need. If you have a full house of TV watchers you’ll want the 4-tuner, otherwise the 2-tuner will be fine.
You’ll also need a quality OTA HD antenna, which will run you anywhere from $30-$70 depending on brand and its capabilities. Finally, you’ll need some sort of Hard Drive to store recordings on, so you’re looking at another $60-$100 to procure one.
The antenna and hard drive plug into the back of the Tablo unit. The antenna allows it to pull OTA signals, record them, or stream them live to any device with the Tablo app installed. While the connected hard drive allows for recording of shows.
Speaking of the app it is supported on the 4th gen Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Kodi, Plex, and more, so any device that can use the app can stream OTA content. It also works on a browser, as well as on the go through the app, so you can watch your Tablo content anywhere with an Internet connection.
Quality wise the Tablo app is also strong. It suffers from some buffering issues here and there, and if you’re antenna isn’t in an ideal location, or you just live too far from broadcast antennas, some of your recordings or live stream may get chunky looking. Although the cost savings alone from cutting cable are worth these minor annoyances, because the signals you’re pulling are free after all.
So that’s it friends. If you want to cut cable out of your life but still want to be able to watch your favorite shows and/or sports teams, PlayStation Vue and the Tablo are the best options in my opinion. I’m now looking at spending about $55 a month to watch TV versus upwards of $170 with Directv. While the upfront costs to cut cable are quite large, it’s still worth it in the end to get rid of that nasty cable bill that always seems to go up without your services improving.
If you need links to Playstation Vue or Tablo you will find them in the post linked in this video’s description, as well as links for repurposing old network devices.
Thanks for watching, and don’t forget to tune into EntertainmentBuddha.com on a daily basis, because we aim to make you all better geeks, one post at a time.
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