questionsspecifically, can i cut the cable/dish?

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Ran out of room.

I know this is kind of a duplicate question.

We never watch 'live tv' We hit record on the DVR and come back later, so we can skip commercials, pause, and abandon the program for a different day.

Think about this when answering: "How would my mom handle this?"
I know this it possible but is it as good or better experience for a non-tecs? I do not want calls all summer long when my kids are home.
Please be specific on recommendations.
Please list the bad, that you have accepted as the norm, I know if you have set this up for yourself it is easier to ignore the bad.

Thank you in advanced for good thoughtful detailed answers.

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@caffeine_dude: You know, I just tried this. I bought all the stuff to get started, and also made a list (similar to yours) of things I wouldn't want to give up. I had an additional piece, which was the converter for a non-HD television. I consider myself to be way above average on technology. I read through all the instructions, on the antenna, and on the converter. I read through them several times, and then remembered that Best Buy (don't hurt me, my options are limited, and that's where I got the stuff) has a policy on how long you can bring stuff back (opened or not).

Whew. Sorry for the run-on sentence. The end result was that I packed the instructions back up, and took it all back. The list of things I want shared some similarities with yours, but included others that weren't on your list, including local news, and both PBS stations available in my area.

In the end, I decided to keep the cable. I'm just that lazy.

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@caffeine_dude: I was astonished at how complex it was going to be to get things working, and concerned that even after i rewired everything to work with the antenna, I still might not be able to pick up stations. It had pictures of how I could hang it on the wall, or position it, to get a better signal. What!?!?! Hang it on the wall? I don't think so.

One of the (many) reasons I don't have satellite is the fugly antenna. The "entertainment" center is already the least attractive thing in the room.

I could go on at great length, but won't.

The major thing that bothered me was that, although the instructions were decent enough, I wondered how someone less sophisticated might fare with them. I also suspect that they glossed over some problems (and online reviews bore that out).

I'm interested to see what others post. I'm sure that there will be some positive suggestions. ::crossing::fingers::

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@shrdlu: I'm really glad you posted this reply. I've periodically decided to cut the Comcast cable and get something cheaper, but each time I review (mostly here) how it might work and what I'd probably have to do to set it up, I shudder and decide I'll think about it later.

I think I'll just give up on the idea for a long while. Life's too short to stress over what works just fine for me right now.

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It's not as hard as people are making it out to be. It might require a little grunt work to get it started, but the end result is easy enough anyone can operate it. I don't know how easy it will be to get all your required shows but I can explain my setup.

I started with a good antenna mounted in my attic so I could get a nice big ugly one in there that nobody would see. I ran the cable to a single room where I use a PC with USB tuners an windows media center to act as my DVR. At the TVs I use xbox 360 consoles as media center extenders which are able to watch live TV, set recording, etc. WMC is incredibly easy to use and I can't recommend it enough. I get a much better HD picture now than I ever did with cable.

(cont)

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For shows that aren't broadcast over the air I sometimes get them from amazon's streaming service, which is a bit expensive but still cheaper than a cable subscription unless you go nuts. You can also use netflix or hulu to pick up extra shows, but I don't have much experience with those. You can get all the streaming stuff on an xbox, or add a roku or similar device (my TV streams from all these services).

I get over 50 over the air channels which gives me a lot of content for free, and generally end up buying TV shows on DVD instead of paying a fortune to cable or itunes/amazon to watch them when they air. My TV budget is around $10/month doing it like this.

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@shrdlu: I should have added this in the beginning: Over the air is at best crap in my area without a high end roof top antenna rated to get the 'Basic Channels'
per http://www.antennaweb.org I need a Large Directional Antenna or at least Medium Directional Antenna with pre-amp.

I really am not interested in a roof top antenna. I do have an attic, but after running CAT5 in my house, really, really do not want to return.

I was thinking pure on demand, is anyone doing this in real life. The idea of picking a program ready to watch sounds good, but I would imagine they would add commercials, if it was legal.
Is there any subscriptions ? Netflix sounds like one to have for movies but I can not wait for The Walking Dead for a season.

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@samstag:
Thanks but now I have questions.
What about brands. How far are your stations? Does the signal ever drop out due to weather? What is your PC's specs? HD size, how many hours can you record? Do you share your recordings with other TVs? Have you ever looked into a 'lighter weight' media manager?
Will I need a PC per TV? Are the recordings DRM so I can not share with other PCs in my house?

I will check amazon for shows. Amazon has the Walking Dead Season 3 for $45. If anyone knows. Season 4 will cost the same, how soon from original air date are the shows populated?

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@caffeine_dude: Everyone I know (and I know a lot of seriously geeky people) has either gone to such an enormous amount of work to accomplish anything interesting, or ended up making the same decision I just did. In addition, that on demand thing seems to work for a lot of people I don't know (and can't verify what they say), but for no one I do know. Yeah, there's a ton of commercials, even on services you've theoretically paid for.

It's why the cable companies, with their crappy customer service, are still in business. Basically, for me, it's worth the money to not have to think about it.

My time is the most precious thing I have. When I was younger, the idea of sitting in the middle of a bunch of hardware and cables was fun, but now, I'd just rather choose my projects. I'm not saying I don't find tech challenges interesting, but (to me, at least), this one's a solved problem.

::waves::hello:: @magic cave

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We got our tech months before we cut the cord. ROKU boxes cover a lot of the stuff on our list (PLEX for daily show and others) However, unless you want to pirate - most shows are not made available through legal means online the same day or even the day after they air.
We got very lucky in that our cable internet and the cable television signal is sent over the same line - and most of the local channels are not encrypted. So, we get the major networks and pbs without any issues whatsoever. If you currently have satellite, you may be able to check using the cable hookup at your house.

My better half (@thurmanite) will have better answers regarding the "how" we did it. I don't miss cable. I do miss DVR. I got very used to not having to be in a certain place at a certain time to watch a show. :)

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@shrdlu: How many geeks do you know that do not own a cell phones? It is the principle for me. Cells should be cheap with all the people on it, and texting should be free, it takes less data to have a text conversation vs a voice but I get to pay more for text? All my families members do have phones, but I refuse. My unified communications number rings my PC, Tablet, Work phone, and pending on the time of day my house phone. I have added my kids/wife's phone when needed (surprisingly very little). My VM comes in email. I prefer to receive and send text from my PC/tablet.

Why I am looking to leave DTV: I just checked my DirectTV and I have $2 charged for regional sports. I called and told them I do not watch sports, they told me I need that charge with my package. I said why did DirectTV make that part of the package, why is it a separate item on my bill if it is required. I waited, and apologized the question was above the person I asked. Why do I always have to subsidize sports?

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@thumperchick: Funny one of the reasons I left cable is because the local cable company would run ads suggesting the weather did not diminish the incoming signal unlike the competitors. The problem is the humidity would wipe out the HD channels I was paying extra to get. We have far more humid days then stormy days. The would not fix it. A few months later I talked to a cable installer who left them because he was tired of the humidity issue. Nothing he could do to fix it.

To make things worse.
I looked into our cable company and they added caps on data. I know I am picky but no way for data caps.

edit Thanks for Plex, it seems like a piece of the puzzle.
Anyone using Google TV to make everything work together?

The reason I am being so picky is if I buy their services I endorse what they have. (voting with dollars) I want to vote NO!

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@caffeine_dude: Briefly. I have an iPhone. I've had a Blackberry, and an Android. I have two aps on my phone (not counting the ones the phone came preloaded with, that I do not use). I have Flickr and Kindle. I tried Instagram, but hated it. I send the rare text message, and almost all incoming calls are wrong numbers.

Most geeks I know have the same approach as you, or as me. Very few of them like or use phones. Interesting datapoint, that I don't think I'd thought much about, before. I should point out that this is a range of people from 14-15 years old to 70+ (yes, there are geeks out there that age, and don't make me trot out their names). I hate satellite more than I hate cable, but in my area, humidity of 25% will cause people to complain about the humidity...

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@caffeine_dude: Station transmitters are from 20 to 45 miles from me. Last time I checked I had 58 channels/subchannels with a nice clear picture on every one. I've never lost signal during bad weather.

Practically any PC will do the job, but you'll need to plan on hard drive space for about 6 gig storage per hour if you want the best HD picture. I just use this one central PC because it's my primary, then use an xbox 360 at each TV. You can also view the recordings on any other PC in your network with no DRM. For couch surfing I definitely recommend the xboxes because setup takes 30 seconds and then they're simple to use. I don't know what you mean by a lighter weight media manager. It's hard to imagine something simpler than windows media center.

Don't forget to check the individual show's website. Some, like the daily show and Colbert report are available for free within a day after broadcast. I think on amazon they're posted within a day or two after original airing.

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@caffeine_dude: Just a head's up: If you leave DTV, be very sure you return all their equipment into someone's hand, get a signed, itemized receipt, and if possible get a copy of the person's driver's license or a photo of his license tag or some such. If you must ship it, insure it and spring for a signature-required delivery.

When I worked for my credit union, I regularly handled disputes in which a member's credit/check card had been charged as much as $500 for failure to return equipment. I'm sure a few of those folks really hadn't returned the stuff, but in most of the cases I handled it was a DTV issue, not the member's problem.

It's particularly tricky because so many of DTV's tech/installation people are on contract and may [cough] not always turn equipment back into the company promptly or at all. It can very well come down to your having to prove with paperwork that DTV received all their stuff back.

And Dish Network was about the same.

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@caffeine_dude: OOPS! I left out an important point: the thing about returning equipment into someone's hand and getting good ID from them isn't an issue if you actually have a DTV office where you can drop the stuff off. If it were me, however, I'd make personal notes of the name of the rep and the date/time of the drop off.

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@shrdlu: My email service has apparently tightened up their spam filters lately. I obviously need to check the spambox more frequently than I used to have to do.

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Wait, are you talking OTA or moving to satellite?

If OTA, i can offer a little advice:

for OTA, i recently went through this exact process. I bought an antenna for the roof, and if you have municipal water and sewage, you can ground to either. If you use well water or septic, i would run a separate grounding stake.

I've crimped my own RJ6 cable, but you can buy decent lengths inexpensively if you don't want to invest in the stripper and crimping tools. For distribution, you want good, 1ghz or better splitters. No need to amplify if you're doing 4 runs, and none of them are more than 100 ft. If the difference between the shortest and longest run from the distribution block is more than 2:1 (ie: you have one 25ft run, and another several 55ft runs) - the shortest run should get a resistor in-line. They sell splitters that do this for you - where 1 of the leads will be a -3.5db drop (shows as either "-3.5" or with 3 of them showing "7db" and one "3.5"

For my setup, i used a

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(continued) - either way, the concept is, when splitting, you want to make sure the signals get to the longest runs without seeking the path of least resistance (the shortest) - so 3.5db drops are the standard increment to make the shortest runs "seem" longer, where signal is concerned. For very long runs (>100ft) you might need to step up to 7db drops on the shortest run if it falls under that 2:1 rule

For my setup, i needed to amplify. I used a signal amplifier designed for pre-splitting, and then used the appropriate splitters, needing to add resistance to my shortest run, since it was only 20 feet or so. My total investment was about 120.00. Add to that if you won't be crimping your own.

A great resource is: http://dennysantennaservice.com/ - he'll also answer your questions and suggest parts for your specific needs and locale ( I happen to be in a great OTA market, so for me, basic stuff was all i needed. You'll need to get bigger for longer distances.)

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(continued) - once you get signal in, what you do with it is up to you. There are many off the shelf DVR's which will work, and home built PC dvr;s add to the complexity, but are also well known formulas.

Sidenote.... and this might make a few of you laugh. My only internet option at my new place is cable.. no FIOS yet ( i got spoiled in my old location lol) - so I ordered cable internet at a pretty good price..

On a lark, about a month later i decided to throw the coax onto my tuner to see if it picked anything up. I'm guessing the cable guy forgot to install the filter at the box (on a neighbors building about a block away) because i'm getting about 70 channels (some dupes) of free basic cable, lol. no premium, but not just 2-13 either.

Doesn't matter enough to me to un-do my current OTA setup, because i hardly ever watch tv... but just found it funny.

Additional info: The link above also gives info on aiming, and station strength for your zip code

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@caffeine_dude: I think you may have misunderstood me - we aren't paying for cable, in any form. Our lines have most local/major channels active - for free, because they aren't encrypted. I advise checking to see if yours is active too - before investing in an antenna.
Also - if you do go for an antenna - make sure you get good reception where you are, we don't.
FYI - we're Prime members, Netflixers, and again - the ROKU is awesome. we get 90% of what we watch through the ROKU.

But, we're both tech savvy and really aren't all that serious about when we see the shows we want to see. So, we're stoked we left DTV and aren't spending that cash at all anymore. We were already Prime and Netflix members, so we really did just cut the cord and save a ton - I'd recommend it to anyone. The only thing I miss is HBO and am impatiently waiting for HBO GO to launch an independent subscription option.
Whatever you choose- hope it works out for you.

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@goatcrapp: Getting cable TV when all you ordered seems like a standard. Our cable company Required a cable subscription with the cable internet. (This was predigital)

Like I mentioned before I would rather stay away from cable, it would seem I am endorsing the new data caps they have put in. My mean average is far away from the cap (less then half), but during December I passed the cap. My phone runs over the internet..

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@caffeine_dude: Pretty sure most those shows can be watched on Hulu or Hulu+ the day after it's on. Both have commercials.

Exceptions: Walking Dead and Jeopardy.
Walking Dead, for season 2 (I do not have cable) I signed up for a season pass on Amazon and paid less than $2 an episode (it might be more for HD). For season 3 I just stopped watching.

Jeopardy might be your biggest obstacle. I don't know anywhere to (legally) stream episodes.

New Disney Channel episodes are available on Disney Channel's website but I'm not sure how quickly they get them.

It sounds like you're better off with a cable or satellite package. I'm not a techie, but as someone who dropped cable, I know what's out there that isn't complicated/illegal. What I wound up doing was cutting myself off from a bunch of shows and weaning myself from DVR dependence. (I know, it's crazy I survived.) Now I have AEREO (available in limited areas) which allows me to DVR network stuff.

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There used to be a site that you could stream from for free. It had about every current show uploaded daily.

yourtvseri.es

They moved the site recently and it lost a lot of the streaming service options. The bit rate was hit or miss but it might be worth looking into. It would be a onestop solution.

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@caffeine_dude: that was just an aside, since i do have the OTA setup anyways... but i'm only paying for internet. the "double play" or basic cable plus internet is a separate package with additional cost. My neighbors for instance, also with no cable subscription, but with cable internet, do not get any channels :)

The way it works is - internet is actually just a "channel" (in my area, it occupies the space between 75 and 80 for local carriers/ repeaters) - a data stream occupying a very specific frequency range. On a typical install, the technician is supposed to place a filter on the line which blocks all frequencies but the ones data traffic passes through.

If you have other choices for internet, that would be ideal. In my old place, i had the option of fios, clearwire (a wifi and multistream 4g only provider), DSL and cable.

In my new place, i have no intention of getting a landline, so DSL is out. Fios isn't in the area yet. Buildings are too tall for clearwire.

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(continued) - Neighbors and I have entertained getting a dedicated oc3 (scalable pipe, such as a t1, or t3) under my tech LLC, but then i'm on the hook for line maintenance, as well as their browsing habits which, with the current atmosphere of shoot first ask questions later with the mpaa/riaa - is a level of micromanagement i'm not in the mood to take on. Unfortunately, cable "owns" the area - and it's frustrating because, as a token ring network in a densely populated area, i'll often slow to a crawl, - 100kb/s or less, during peak times, even though i'm paying for much faster service (but with no guarantees of course)

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My suggestion is to start the process and see how far you get before frustration sets in. Roku has a straight forward and reasonably quick interface but any Blu-ray player or smart tv will get you started. Buying a season pass for most cable series will be around $40 for HD versions That is half what I was paying for one month of satellite or cable, and I've only bought Dr. Who so far. It is on Amazon the day after broadcast. A lot of the broadcast shows are available a day or two after air and pulled after a few weeks. These are on the network sites which some devices can get to with their web browsers. I don't know if they come in HD,

I've been reading the last couple days that ABC is not going to have recent shows available for streaming soon. They may continue on Hulu+ but looks like I'll need to get an OTA tuner for the server PC. The antenna on the wall

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So no one has google TV... My understanding was it was a content manager. You told it what you had and it figured out how to give you what you wanted. Example I want to watch Jeopardy, it would record it to a DVR from OTA for later viewing as it is not found any where else. It would use Roku when needed.
It sounded to good to be true.

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Sports is the biggest thing keeping me from being a cord cutter, although once my promotional pricing runs out and the cost of cable goes up I will definitely be looking into other options including cord cutting.

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I'm not sure if this was brought up, but where I last lived we considered cable to be a service we couldn't cut because it was the only option we had for high-speed internet. And if we dumped cable TV, they would charge us more for the same internet connection, which would mean we would be saving less money. By the time you factor in that another PC would need to be running close to 24x7 to make it useful - and the costs associated with that - we found that financially it was a wash at best.

That said, if you want to drop your cable / dish company because you don't like them or the way they do business (not saying you specifically but I've known plenty of others who meet that description) then by all means, do so. I'm just not sold on there being any real cost savings in doing so.