Late last summer, after returning from the mini-retirement in france, we cut the cord on Cable TV. I thought I’d provide a quick update on how the change has felt for all of us.
Cutting the cord is not just about saving money for the next mini-retirement (remember, they don’t cost that much. France wasn’t crazy expensive for 10 weeks). It’s about disconnecting from all sorts of crap that we just don’t need.
Anyway, we cut Rogers Cable. In its place we got:
1) A subscription to Netflix
2) Two Apple TV boxes
3) Switched from Rogers to TekSavvy for Internet (300 Gig cap versus 60 Gigs)
4) Plex server, which is free and runs on my iMac (also available for PC).
5) Plex for iPad app.
So the upfront investment was $200 in Apple hardware and $5 for the Plex iPad app. I have to say that app is outstanding! Best $5 I’ve ever spent on an app.
Our cost to watch TV and Movies has now dropped to about $20 per month instead of whatever we were paying for a pretty basic Rogers package ($50 or so).
I had to Jailbreak the Apple TV boxes so they’d run Plex (free app to install on Apple TV). This was pretty easy. I’d never done it before. I just found a tutorial and followed the steps. It’s no harder than setting up a Wi-Fi router.
We can watch whatever we want. We can watch it on the HDTV in the basement, or upstairs on the bedroom TV, or on the iPad .. and on the Macs if we want to.
Yesterday my daughter was home sick. She watched something on the iPad while I was in the basement (my office during the day). I figured she’d want some company so I relocated her to the basement couch. We paused the iPad, and seamlessly resumed her movie on the Apple TV. Sweet!
I almost never watch news. Sure, I can watch it if I want. We’ve always got OTA HD TV coming in strong from the CN Tower or Buffalo transmitters. But I just don’t care to watch.
I get my news from the web. Most news is so negative anyway, I like to control what I read versus mindlessly watch whatever someone else deems important.
I don’t watch sports. I suppose I could, again, using OTA. I just don’t. It’s never been my thing. Personal choice. I’d rather go DO sports.
My kids never got into regular TV anyway. This is where Netflix comes in so strong. They used to watch Treehouse On Demand via Rogers Cable. We actually have tons more choice on Netflix, even in Canada. Plus I have all sorts of kids DVDs ripped and stored in my Apple Time Capsule, which is where we store all our content for use via Plex.
My wife is into multiple TV shows. I thought this experiment would bother her after a while. But I was wrong. She loves being completely in control of what she watches, no commercials, etc. We watched an episode of The Walking Dead while on spring break in Florida at the in laws’ rental. It was cable TV. Commercials. So annoying.
There are also some cool side benefits of making a habit of using the Apple TV box. They play Podcasts! No downloading required. So whatever I mark as a favourite podcast shows up on my list. I can workout, clean, or whatever while I have a podcast coming right through my basement entertainment system (loud and clear).
My latest favourite podcast is Mixery. Andrew Warner is an awesome interviewer, and he does several great episodes per week. He interviews startup founders and other entrepreneurial / successful people. I highly recommend it.
What’s missing: Plex is my media player of choice, and they don’t support RIM devices. Judging by their April Fool’s joke I don’t think they have a whole lot of respect for RIM either. It seems highly unlikely they’ll be launching a Playbook client. This quite frankly, pisses me off. I wish they would. But now that they’ve gone out of their way to make fun of RIM, they probably won’t.
What’s not perfect: The only other minor annoyance is that the Plex app crashes on the Apple TV box regularly. Usually NOT during a show / movie, but when you’re navigating or hitting play. It happens probably once every 2 days. Quick unplug, plug back in … and waiting one minute for a reboot. All set. Not a huge deal. Certainly not a deal breaker.
So that’s where I’m at with cutting the cord!
Final suggestion: If you havne’t yet tried Netflix, they do offer a 30 day free trial. And unlike pretty much every cable and phone company on the planet, they make it super EASY to pause, cancel, etc. We paused our subscription while in France. Literally 30 seconds. Give it a try if you haven’t already.