Monday, January 30

Cutting the cable: mission accomplished

After thinking about it for a couple years, after having had my options multiplied significantly between netflix, Roku, redbox, Amazon, Kindle Fire, Hulu Plus and Vudu, and probably more that I am managing to overlook, I disconnected cable and my beloved DVR about two weeks ago. $80 a month for a time suck with mostly crap, commercial-filled content, erased.

It has not been as rough as I had feared. I miss CNN, but that's about it. I wish CBS shows like Big Bang Theory and CSI were on Hulu Plus -- the non-HD versions available from the CBS website are not adequate, and buying TV seasons via Amazon is pricey.

I'm considering Amazon Instant Video TV Passes for the few TV shows I really like and cannot get for $8/month through Hulu Plus, like The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels. It's a hard sell though: $2.99 for HD per episode, ~5% off if you buy the TV Pass. Yikes, that adds up! I find it pretty nuts that some "half-hour" (read: 21-23 minutes) shows are also $2.99 through Amazon -- looking at YOU, Big Bang Theory. No way am I paying $3 for 20 minutes of entertainment.

A lot of Fox stuff is available on Hulu Plus, but not everything, which is a bit of a disappointment. Almost everything on Fox seems to be available on Hulu basic, but that's not HD, and you can't stream it through your Roku or direct to TV with capabilities. Stupid licensing deals and other such BS.

Hulu Plus seems to occasionally bug out my later model first generation Roku. Wish that did not happen. Netflix and Amazon Instant Video have always behaved pretty flawlessly, why can Hulu not get it right?

I'm utilizing my netflix DVD subscription more efficiently now, rather than letting discs sit around. I'm hitting the redbox kiosks at the grocery store and office which is a great, affordable option, as long as I remember to return the discs a night or two later. If I keep them out any longer it is roughly the same cost, but more convenient, to rent via Amazon Instant Video or Vudu.

Finding some watchable stuff in netflix and Amazon Prime all-you-can-eat streaming options, but frankly, not a lot of great content. Old TV. Older movies. Direct to DVD movies. Some diamonds in the rough, but neither of these options' libraries really appeals to me greatly.

What I really miss is a 24x7 newschannel. I find myself watching Fox News and Al-Jazeera thanks to their part-time or partially-available livestreaming. CNN Radio news is available via Roku Newscaster, which is great, but not long enough to serve as ongoing background noise one occasionally dips in to throughout the day as one works. You do not want to stop every two minutes to browse to new news content -- just feed me! Roku Newscaster's design could be improved, but the content just doesn't seem to be there to provide a continuous stream.

I may pick up an HD antenna for local news, but so far, not really feeling the need.

All in all, pretty happy having cut the cable, and wish I had done it sooner.