By Carlos Scarpero
My Family Saved Over
A little over a year ago, I was one of the thousands of people that decided that enough was enough with outrageous fees to the cable company. Our family was looking for ways to cut our bills and cutting cable seemed like an easy way to save some quick cash. As I've told more and more of my friends about how we did it, I discovered that many people out there don't know how easy this is. This whole strategy I'm going to outline with you is super duper simple and you can do it too.
Step 1: Get your local stations
The first thing that you will need to do is find out how to obtain your local stations. If you have not used "rabbit ears" for a while you will be absolutely SHOCKED how clear the signal is now. Since the digital transition happened last year, ALL the local stations come in crystal clear. Free over the air TV even comes with a channel guide just like cable TV does. A lot of stations also do multicasting, which means that one station actually has several signals broadcasting several things at once. Here in my area (suburban Dayton, Ohio) we get about 15 stations for free.
Our local CBS affiliate, WHIO TV 7 has a 24 hour weather channel simulcast and Channel 16, our PBS station actually simulcasts 5 PBS stations at the same time.
You will need to get a TV antenna. Here's a list of some top rated TV antennas. The best one for you depends on your own individual situation. If you don't have a high definition ready TV, you will also need to get a HD TV converter box. I personally use and recommend the Lasonic LTA-260 converter box, although I've heard that it's been out of stock lately. The picture quality on the Lasonic is great but the remote that comes with it is so-so.
You might be thinking that you will be super limited in your viewing with just your locals. Yes, you're right! The next step is to get the Roku SD Player box. You might be wondering what the heck the Roku SD Player box is. It's a little box about the size of a deck of cards that fits on top of your TV. It runs about $79 and is well worth it. There's also a High Definition version of the Roku SD Player available for $99.
All you need to do is log in to your Netflix account and add movies and shows to your instant queue. Then, go to your TV and turn on your Roku SD Player box and enjoy! Netflix instant won't have all the selection that the Netflix DVD account has but it's still quite a bit. By the way, when you have a Netflix account with the instant queue (any account over $9/mo) you can still get the Netflix DVD's anyway. The DVDs are in a separate queue on Netflix.
If you don't currently have a Netflix account and want to find out if your favorite programming is available in the instant queue, why not get a Netflix free trial account and take a peek around the site. You can always cancel it before the first billing and you won't owe anything.
Step 3: Sign up for Pandora
If you're like me, you may be wondering if you are going to miss the awesome Music Choice thing that comes with most cable packages. The answer is NO! That's because the Roku SD Player also comes with a link to Pandora, an online music network. If you don't have Pandora, what are you waiting for! It's awesome and you can get it on the Roku SD Player for free. Actually Pandora on Roku SD Player is even better than Pandora over the internet since the Roku SD Player version doesn't have commercials. Yea!!
Setting up Pandora is super easy. You enter in your favorite artists and Pandora will not only find them, but it will also find artists that are a similar style of music. They use a very sophisticated algorhythm to figure it out and I must say that it's pretty darn accurate.
Step 4: Link your Roku SD Player box to Flickr
If you have photos on Flickr, you can link it to your Roku SD Player box. It will even make these cool little sideshows.
Step 5: Link Roku SD Player to Facebook
Roku SD Player now links into your Facebook photo album. You can now not only view your personal Facebook photos of your friends. It's very nice.
Step 6: Get a free Hulu account
Did you know that most shows that are on cable TV are posted for free online? Sign up for a free account on Hulu.com and watch them all you want for free.
There you have it! As you can see, you can save a ton on cable TV with a very small up front investment and only a $9 monthly investment for your Netflix account. It's quite a bit better than paying $60+ a month for a bunch of crappy channels that you aren't watching anyway.
Here is a summary of recommended products to cut your cable TV:
Other Options to Stream Netflix Content To Your TV
You do not need to get a Roku SD Player if you have any of the following devices. They can also stream Netflix content.