I am currently in the process of moving. We actually just signed our new lease last night for the apartment that we chose after a rapid fire weekend of showings. The apartment is pretty nice actually, almost twice the size of our current apartment, a ton of amenities, and a much more professional upkeep than we’ve had. But in this process, I’ve wanted to make some lifestyle changes; I guess that’s what you could call them. In particular I want to get rid of cable television.
The basis of this subtraction from my life is really just that while I like having cable TV because it offers me a little larger choice in having something to watch, I feel like TV programming is getting worse and worse as time goes on, and I am just sick of dealing with Charter as a cable company.
I’ve dealt with Charter all my life, even as a child I remember my mom dealing with them. While many companies realize you want to hook people while they are children to get lifelong loyalty, Charter seems to be in the business of disgusting children to get lifelong hatred. I am tired of Charter, they never do anything customer service wise to help you, and this has gotten worse not better now that I have also had to deal with them for internet as well.
Alternatives to Cable
Fortunately for me, AT&T is starting to offer high-speed DSL without the need to have a phone line installed. This is a huge boon. One of my bigger complaints about DSL previously is that I had to get a landline for an additional $20 to $30 which really placed the DSL service at a premium, and usually, this service was actually slower than broadband anyway. Now for about the same price (maybe even a little less) I will be able to get a higher speed of service. Plus, I never fully believed I got the same speed that Charter said they gave me. I mean I started with them when the fastest service was 1.5m, then they upped me to 3 I think which was faster a bit, certainly not twice as fast though. Now I am at 5 and it doesn’t feel any different than 3. So either charter isn’t giving me the 5 (which I don’t think they do because they give people shared access in the area, so if a bunch of people in your area are using internet at the same time, none of them are getting very fast), or there isn’t a noticeable difference at this speed (which doesn’t seem true because I download a lot).
The other part of ditching Charter is obviously the television side of things. I like television quite a bit, I watch it a lot. But obviously it is getting worse. I will surely miss some programs like Battlestar Gallactica (a little at least), Psych, and John and Kate plus Eight (I know, but the show is actually quite good). However, can I justify these shows at the cost of an additional $50 a month? Not really, in fact I can get a season of Psych for $30, same for BSG, so I can buy a new season of a television show on DVD every month and still be spending less than what I get out of cable, plus I have a much better re-watchability to it.
Plus, I will actually be still getting a decent number of shows from network television, though apparently now I will be doomed to buy that idiotic digital box just to receive them which is dumb, the reception better be really damn good with it. I mean a good portion of shows that I watch are still on the big 4, and plus now we get the CW thrown in there, which isn’t huge but will offer a little variety at least.
But I do want to supplement these shows, because like I’ve said previously, the networks continually get worse programming and thus there are many times when there is nothing on.
TV via the Internet a solution?
One way I might do this is by getting myself a subscription to Netflix again. This solution is good, I can rent movies and television shows for those slow times of network television, plus I will now be able to watch streaming movies which is great. Though I would prefer to be able to watch these on my television which I won’t be able to do short of buying a $300 X-Box or the $100 Netflix box (which may be cheaper but is expensive for something that only does one thing that I already need to pay to do). Still, even if I can’t figure a way to get this on my TV affordably, I still am able to watch movies on my PC (assuming I ever can get THAT fixed) which is a plus.
I do have a Wii however, and this gives me access to a lot of services that are already out there as I do in fact have the Internet Channel. For instance, I could watch YouTube, Video Podcasts, Hulu, video provided by various networks, as well as Joost when that program goes web-based. It is a shame I can’t use Netflix on the Wii but whatever.
Another option I have considered is getting a TiVo, which I have wanted for sometime but never really gotten it largely because it costs $12 a month to get, and for something that essentially just does what a VCR did I couldn’t justify it. Especially since I still have to pay for the same upfront cost. I still think this is generally a rip-off, but they have grown their service over the years to include some fairly nifty features. Even though, almost all these features I can get just from my Wii anyway just for having a browser on board. However they do provide Youtube, podcasts, some of the Joost Programs, and movie rental/downloads. Too bad that Amazon doesn’t have a netflix-like streaming rental service (not where I pay per movie but where I pay a flat fee as per movie sucks) that works with the TiVo. The other issue is that there only seems to be two TiVo models, One model is only for standard TV but doesn’t work with antenna, the other only for HD that does work with antenna. Me with a standard TV and antenna is not supported which is dumb, I would actually think that it would work the reverse way.
Lastly, there is the Apple TV or again the 360 which both allow you to stream stuff onto your television from your computer which I think is the ultimate thing I’m trying to do here. Both of which really are quite costly solutions for this type of an idea so I’m not sure if I want to go that route. The other issue at hand is really that both solutions have High Def in mind and thus I wonder at how well they deal with standard def (though I know both work with standard I’m not sure the quality, I’ve heard 360 games look horrid on standard def).