Kicking the Cable Habit

Cable is expensive.  It may lure you with special deals and  the promise of HD wonderfulness, but it’s a huge racket.  You can enjoy hundreds of channels without paying more than $9.00 a month.  And it’s all legal.

Here’s how our family kicked the cable habit and ended up saving ourselves more than $1300 a year.  Here’s what you’ll need:

1.  Netflix.
For the lowest price of just $8.95, you get 1 DVD to watch at a time, plus unlimited streaming of everything available from Netflix.  You can watch this over your computer, via your iPod Touch or iPhone, and via every major game console.  In addition, streaming over your Xbox 360, if your speed is good enough, is frequently available in HD.

2. Xbox 360
We have had an Xbox 360 since it was introduced.  Besides being the best gaming console out there, it’s also a powerhouse of a media center.  Whether you use a PC (via Media Center) or a Mac (via programs like Connect360), you can stream all your digital media directly through your Xbox over your home network.  Music, videos, pictures, etc.  Also, with an Xbox Live subscription, you can stream Netflix directly through your Xbox 360 as well.

3. Mac (or PC)
We connect the Mac Mini to our HDTV via the digital output connection to an HDMI cable.  With resolutions up to the highest available, the picture is perfect.  The Mac connects to our home network (nothing fancy, just Qwest High Speed DSL, bundled with our home phone), so anything we can watch on the net is available to watch directly on our TV.

4. Local Antenna
You don’t need the big wire monstrosities of yesteryear, but you will need an antenna of some sort to pick up your local stations, all of which broadcast in HD, and most of which have multiple channels available.  Our local stations have at least two (network, plus classic tv, sports, etc.) and there are several stations that have four or five additional channels.

That’s the big stuff.  You’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate cables.  I’m going to assume that you have internet service.  (Again, you don’t need Comcast.  We use Qwest DSL high speed and it works great with all the streaming, gaming, etc., we can possibly use.)

You can kick the cable habit.  Save yourselves thousands of dollars a year, and have on demand television from practically every network. (Even the pay networks have select shows on demand.)  And that doesn’t even include what’s available on sites like Hulu.  You may give up a few things, but even those are available to purchase or rent via iTunes or Zune.

It takes a little work, but it’s definitely worth it, and we honestly haven’t missed out on much.

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