12/10/2013: A date which will live in Cord Cutting Infamy

Back in August, I blogged about  my first weekend with Chromecast, in which I shared my feeling that although Chromecast has a very attractive $35 price tag, the actual content left a lot to be desired. Sure – there were the usual suspects: YouTube and Netflix. But that was about it.

Being a lover of pretty much all things Google, I knew that (based on Google’s track record) it would only be a matter of time before this changed. Well that time came yesterday, 12/10/2013.

A date which will live in Cord Cutting Infamy

In fact, there were 10 new apps announced on this day for Chromecast. But keeping in line with my continued support (and often trumpet blowing) of Cord-Cutting, the most significant of these is Plex.

If you would like a recap, or if this is your first time viewing my blog, please feel free to check out The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 3: Suggested Software as well as The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 4: Optimizing Your Experience. These 2 entries will explain what Plex is as well as how to set it up to better optimize your Cord-Cutting experience.

Now back to the matter at hand. Plex and Chromecast. Needless to say, I (like many) have been waiting and hoping for this. I’ve told many people that if Plex made its way to Chromecast, this would be a game changer in my opinion when it comes to endorsing Chromecast for Cord-Cutting.

  For the most part, provided that you follow my setup suggestion, I can most certainly endorse Chromecast with this welcomed addition that adds more choice and more content. As the picture above illustrates, with the Plex app installed on your mobile device, you are able to “cast” all of your Plex content.
   Unfortunately, however, at the moment you have to have a Plex Pass subscription, which costs $3.99 a month, $29.99 a year, or (the option I paid for some time ago) $74.99 for life. So if you’re new to Cord-Cutting and you’re looking into this option, be prepared to spend a little to get this to work.
  One other factor to consider is that the only way to use it with Chromecast, you will have to do so from a separate device. Unlike the Roku, and most other streaming devices, there is no physical remote control. This could present an issue if your household is similar to mine – simply put, I’m the only one in my house interested in the “techy” stuff. My wife and children simply need to be able to turn on the TV and select what they want to watch. My children are too young for mobile devices, and my wife has no interest in installing the Plex app on her phone. As such, when I’m not home, there is no way for them to use Plex via Chromecast.
 Perhaps one of the most awesome factors to consider is travel. If you’re a business traveler, on vacation, or simply travel frequently for other reasons, you can take your Chromecast with you and have access to all of your content on your Plex wherever you go! (provided, of course, there is WiFi available and a TV with an open HDMI port).
 Overall, Chromecast is slowly but surely taking its place in the growing arsenal of Cord-Cutting gear.

My First Weekend With Chromecast

The dust has settled. The fan fare has subsided. The ticker tape has been cleaned off the streets. The reviews are in. Chromecast has (sort of) settled into its spot on the couch amongst the other streaming devices in the market.
When it was first released, everything I saw about it left me filled with a bunch of “but, what about?” questions. Sadly it seemed I couldn’t get any concrete answers to those questions, so my only logical choice for answers was to get one for myself. Off to Amazing Prime I went to order one!
But alas, none available until August 15, 2013. That’s OK… I can wait. Then came a couple of interesting emails from Amazon –
We have no estimated delivery date
         followed a few days later by
We now have an estimated delivery date of October 19th thru the 29th
Oh well. No big deal. I mentioned this on Google Plus, and a fellow Geek by the name of Tim Martin came to the rescue. Seems Tim purchased about 4 of them, using at least 2 to integrate at the office, and had one extra. Awesome – just give him the one from Amazon whenever it comes in. A quick H.I.R.L. (that’s Google Plus talk for Hangout In Real Life for those of you who don’t do Plus) with Tim to pick it up, and to talk all things Geek, then back home I went to see what this little powerhouse can do!
OK. Into the HDMI port, download the app, add to my network. Simple – in about 3 minutes flat the Chromecast was ready to go. But ready to go do what? Well, there in lies the disappointment in my opinion. Fact is, as of yet, it only does 2 things that can’t be done on any other streaming  device. And one of those two things isn’t really extraordinary.
The Netflix app is simply that. No real surprises there. Unless you are of the relatively small percentage of the population who’ve yet to experience Netflix, it is exactly what’s to be expected.
The two things that are unique to Chromecast are Play Movies/TV and desktop casting. Yes it’s cool that Google even has Play Movies/TV, but for me it begs the question – “if it already has Netflix, what’s the point?” Maybe it’s just me, but I have yet to find anything in Play Movies that I can’t also find in Netflix. TV shows, maybe – Netflix is usually a bit behind when it comes to television shows.
To me, the not-so-extraordinary feature is desktop casting. Many people seemed pretty excited about this, but I personally see no “wow factor” in it. The fact is, if you have your PC (but more than likely laptop) with you in front of the TV, and cast your Google Chrome browser content to it, you’re still sitting in front of the TV using your computer system. Only now, you’re essentially looking at 2 monitors showing the same thing. You still have to look at your computer to point/click for the most part. I guess this is awesome if you want to share what’s on your browser with the rest of the family in the living room. But, how often does that happen?
My afore mentioned friend Tim showed me what IS awesome about desktop casting though – using it in the office for presentations. Especially if you have multiple parties who have individual content to share at the same presentation. Each party can add their content to the Chromecast queue, and it will broadcast in that order. Now THAT is pretty awesome! But if Chromecast is to be your media streaming entertainment device at home, what good is this?
Look, I get it – this little $35 nugget is poised for the future of online streaming. And there is no argument that the price point is unparalleled. My problem is that it simply seems unfinished. Maybe that was Google’s plan all along – release it now, bring developed apps later to keep the price down. I don’t know. I don’t work for Google. I just think that maybe they could have waited until there was more to it. After all, Ford didn’t release his first car with no wheels with the promise that it was only going to get better as each wheel was added.
Would I recommend the Chromecast to someone looking to Cut The Cord? Probably not, especially if they are looking for a more robust experience. But again, the $35 price point is its saving grace.
As for my first weekend with Chromecast, I can’t lie – it was more like a couple of hours. My wife asked, “so what’s so special about this thing?” Sadly, I had no answer for her. But I did say the same thing many others have said in other reviews – Hopefully new content will get added soon

Yes – your Roku CAN do that

As I mentioned in the series “The Truth About Cutting The Cord”, your Roku device can stream or “cast” content from your device(s). I mentioned an app called PlayTo in Part 4. However, to clear up some questions that arose about how to use it, I’d like to present a similar app called Twonky Beam.

Twonky Beam works essentially the same as PlayTo, but I find it to be a bit more stable. Please note that I’m not one to normally do video reviews and demonstrations, so this video is a bit clunky! But I wanted to offer a real-time demonstration, so please forgive my noob-ness!

Download Twonky Beam from Google Play

The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 4: Optimizing Your Experience

Now we come to the final chapter in the Cord Cutting saga. In part 1, I hope I cleared up any confusion you may have had about why you or anyone else would want to abandon a cable or satellite subscription. As mentioned, although we all will have different reasons for doing so, I believe the greatest of all reasons is simply content. Specifically, the ability to choose what to watch, when you want to watch it and (in most cases) free of commercials.

In part 2, I provided some insight into the type of equipment you will want to purchase to make it all work. As I mentioned in that chapter, you may find better, more robust, and faster equipment. I just wanted to present what I chose, especially from a cost-conscious perspective. The way I see it, at the pace of technological growth these days in the gadget-sphere, there really is no need to dip into your kid’s college fund to have an awesome, Cord-Cut set up.

Finally, in part 3, I gave you what I feel are the key apps to bring it all together. Once again – you may come across others that blow the ones I mentioned out of the water. If so, please feel free to share! As with all things tech-related, I’m always on the lookout for ways to do things better!

In this final chapter, I’d like to offer some suggestions for getting the best out of your cord free lifestyle, specifically using the apps/services I suggested. I’m basically going to walk you through the setup steps I took to achieve the best television viewing experience for my family. Of course your family will have different viewing habits and tastes, but I think these tips will be helpful for you to get started – you’ll just need to tweak them a bit to fit your and yours.

 A. Television Shows

**WARNING** – this section details the use of torrent downloads. Be sure  you fully understand any laws that may impact your individual downloading and use of torrents, as well as any impact on data usage these downloads may have on your specific internet plan with your ISP. If you are any way in doubt, the safest thing to do is to simply skip this section. I take no responsibility for any negative impact that may occur from following this procedure.

First, start by downloading/installing BitTorrent. Of course, there are other torrent tools out there, but I personally choose to use BitTorrent.

If you are hesitant about Cutting The Cord because there are television shows you simply don’t want to miss, remember that I mentioned the website showRSS. Granted, showRSS does not have EVERY show available, but the list is pretty impressive.

The UI is pretty straight forward – simply select the show you want from the drop down, then select “Get the public feed address”. You will then need to place this feed address into BitTorrent by selecting Add Torrent. The cool thing about BitTorrent is that you won’t need to copy/paste the address from showRSS – it already recognizes that link once you select “Get the public feed address”.
 It’s a good idea to Add Alias to the feed that you add to BitTorrent to make it easier to recognize in your feed list. Once you have your feed entered into BitTorrent, you will also want to right-click on either the main “Feeds” header, or on one of the feeds in the list and select “RSS Downloader”. From that screen, you will tell BitTorrent where to save your shows (as you see in my example, it’s my external E:TV drive), as well as select the alias you entered from the “Label for new torrents” drop-down. This helps keep things nice and simple to find, in case you need to go into that drive to look for something specific.
Also, I found that it’s a good idea for organizational purposes to go into the “Preferences” menu and tell BitTorrent to save all torrents in my external media drive as well. Otherwise, you will find that it saves the torrents in your “My Documents” folder, and the actual shows in your media drive. This may not be a big deal to you, but I’m a bit picky about keeping things together! Once you have all of your shows set, you’re done! As each show becomes available, BitTorrent will download them and place them into your specified location.
Next, simply launch your Plex Server, right click on the tray icon, and select Media Manager. Under “My Library”, select the “Add Section” + sign. Select the type as TV Shows, then select “Add Folder”. From the “Add Folder” drop-down, select your media drive and navigate to the folder you told BitTorrent to save all of your shows in (as mentioned above, mine are saved in E:|TV), then save.
Restart your Plex server, and that’s it! From your Roku, launch the Plex channel, and enjoy! Of course, you may have also noticed the Movies section in Plex – you will follow the same procedure as you did to TV Shows to tell Plex where to stream your movie collection from. Plex has a beautiful UI which includes show art, complete descriptions, as well as show theme music.
B. Steaming From Tablet / Phone
 With the recent launch of Google’s Chromecast, one of the most talked about features is the ability to “cast” video content from your tablet and / or phone. This is an awesome feature, but don’t worry Roku faithful – you can do this too! There are several apps in the Google Play store to use to make this happen – I test drove a few and finally settled on PlayTo.
As you may also notice, this app also works for GTV as well as Apple TV. For Roku, simply install the PlayTo channel from the Channel Store. Then, download the app on the devices you want to stream (or “cast”) from, and you’re all set. So, how does it work? Simple!
 First, you will want to tell PlayTo where to stream (or “cast”) to. Simply select the small, TV icon in the upper right corner. PlayTo will recognize your Roku (or, each on if you have more than one) on your network. Check the box to remember the device selection, then tap the actual device to save and close the menu.

As you can see, you can also customize the name of the device you want to stream to in case you have more than one – just to keep things simple!

 Let’s say you’re watching a YouTube video on you’re Nexus 7 and you want to watch on your Roku. As in any other situation in which you want to share a YouTube video (i.e. – to Google Plus), simply select the Share icon on your device.
From the share options presented, select PlayTo –
 Your video will stat to play through your Roku! And, without selecting the actual PlayTo Roku channel – it merely serves as the network connection between your device and the Roku. PlayTo also allows you to play any audio, video, or photos stored on your device through your Roku. It also includes an extensive online selection of content that you can stream from your device to your Roku. Have DLNA or any other devices containing media on your network? Select “Home Media” and PlayTo will recognize that device and the media that is able to be streamed to your Roku!
 Finally, don’t forget about the Roku app itself. It serves as a remote, and offers a Play To Roku feature, but it only streams music and photos stored on your device.
 Don’t forget to explore the Roku Channel Store. The usual suspects are there – Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon – but there are many more awesome channels as well.
 And, that’s it! I hope that the steps I’ve provided from Part 1 thru Part 4 will help in your decision as to whether or not you will “Cut The Cord”. Or, if you already have, I hope I’ve provided some information that may help better your experience. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to let me know!
 Happy Streaming!

The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 3: Suggested Software

  So, you’ve got your broadband internet access, your new cable modem, your gigabit router, your HD antenna, a dedicated PC with extra storage, and your Roku(s). Your network is up and humming along.      You’ve gone through the Roku and have experienced its awesomeness – you’ve plowed through the Roku channel store and have added the ones that you like to your lineup.
  But it still seems like something’s missing, right? Although there’s Hulu Plus, Netflix and Crackle, you still can’t seem to find your favorite shows you’ve been watching. And when you do find them, it’s usually long after they’ve aired. Simply put, you don’t want to be almost an entire season behind while everyone else is talking about the latest episode of “Justified”.

 

 Or, what about your collection of movies you have gathered over time and have saved on your massive external hard drive? Sure – with the Netgear R6200 router I suggested, you could simply connect the drive to the router and access it via the My Media interface. But how about having your favorite NEW TV episodes and your movie collection in one place, accessible via one interface? Well, I’m glad you’ve asked! That brings me to the first (and perhaps most crucial) suggested piece of software – Plex
At first glance, one can’t help but note that Plex also offers its own channel store. There are many of the same channels that can be found in the Roku channel store. However, I have noted that over time as each of the official license owners of these channels launch their own official Rocku channels, the ones on Plex will stop working. Case in point – when PBS launched its official Rocku channels (PBS and PBS Kids), both of those stopped working in Plex. But alas – these channels aren’t the beauty of Plex, and not why I’ve suggested it. The 2 key sections of Plex are the My TV and My Movies “channels”.
 Plex is a media server that allows you to view your locally stored movies and TV shows via Roku. I won’t go into complete detail on its setup – simple step by step instructions are on the website: http://www.plexapp.com/. As the old saying goes, it really isn’t “rocket science”!
 Remember the dedicated PC I mentioned in Part 2? Now it comes into play! Download and install Plex onto that dedicated PC, and connect your external hard drive with your movie collection. On your external hard drive, create a folder called “TV” or “My TV” and if you don’t have one already, create a folder called “Movies”. If you’ve always simply downloaded movies onto that drive, move them all into the “Movies” folder. Following the simple directions on the Plex website, have it feed your movies for the My Movies channel, and your TV shows for the My TV channel. I suggest using a dedicated PC to get the most optimum experience. You can of course choose to install it on your main home-use PC. However, if you have other people at home actively using that PC you may experience some performance issues while viewing shows via Plex as that PC handles the streaming duties as well as whatever else the person using the PC is doing.
 As for your TV shows, there are a couple other pieces to the puzzle you will need. The first may be all-too-familiar: BitTorrent.
 Once again – download and quick and easy setup can be found via their website: http://www.bittorrent.com/bittorrent-free
Download / install it onto your dedicated PC.
 But BitTorrent by itself won’t get you your TV shows. You will need to “feed” it. That is where the final, awesome piece to the puzzle comes into play: the website showRss: http://showrss.karmorra.info/?cs=feeds

 

 I would suggest bookmarking this site in the browser of your dedicated PC. It does not automatically “feed” BitTorrent. Rather, you select the “Feed for a show” dropdown to obtain the RSS feed for the show of your liking to add to BitTorrent. You will want to add the feed link to each of your shows to BitTorrent and be sure to tell BitTorrent to save them in your “TV” or “My TV” folder on your hard drive. What I have found is that new episodes for shows are usually available on your Plex server for watching in about 15 – 30 minutes after airing. The great thing about Plex is that as all of your shows begin feeding into it, it will organize them into their own folders with show art, episode descriptions, AND theme music! No fumbling though cryptically named file types. Simply select My TV and find your shows!
One final server I will mention that you may want to download onto your dedicated PC to access via your Roku is called PlayOn. But, I only want to MENTION it and not necessarily SUGGEST it. http://www.playon.tv/playon
 The reason being is that as of date, I have not found PlayOn to be living up to the claims found on their website. Many of the “live” channels they claim to have simply don’t work, or are in fact NOT “live” at all. In fact, the only “live” channel I can get to work on it is HBO Comedy This in itself may be worth it to you (I paid the $24.99 per year fee – may drop it at the end of the term). But hey – that’s YOUR call!
  Now you should have all the pieces in place! I know I’ve glazed over some steps to get this all up and running, but I will address that in the 4th and final installment – Optimizing Your Experience. Of course, you may have gotten all you need to know in this installment. If so, HAPPY STREAMING and I hope I’ve helped with your decision to Cut The Cord!
Up Next – Part 4: Optimizing Your Experience

The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 2: Equipment and Cost

In Part 1, I gave a brief rundown of the core reasons as to why I finally decided to Cut The Cord. Again, your reasons may be different or the same, or you may decide that sticking with cable (or satellite) is actually better for you. In either case, now I would like to explain some of the costs involved and detail the equipment I chose. Keep in mind that I’m not trying to say the hardware listed hereafter is the best or top of the line (in fact, I tried to keep equipment costs down as much as I could), but I feel it’s at least a good starting point for most. Also, though I will list some pricing here, the good thing about technology is that it’s always moving forward so the prices of already released equipment continues to drop as new things come out. Simply put – this is the stuff I bought, and it works great for me and my family and I think it will for you as well.

So, let’s get started!

  1. Digital Antenna

As many of you may remember, since June 13, 2009, all full-power U.S. Television stations have broadcast digital-only signals. Many mark this date as the dawn of the Cut The Cord revolution. I would also agree with some who say (I call them Cord Cutting Purists) that the only true Cord Cutting comes from getting rid of all ties to any cable or satellite provider. This would include losing internet access as well which, as you will see later on, will not work for the Cord Cutting I’m outlining.

If you want to get rid of the television service and still want to at least be able to view your local stations, you will want to purchase a digital antenna. I personally like to keep up with local news, so this was a no-drainer for me. The picture quality is amazing, as there is no signal compression from a service provider. And, as you will discover, I found there were channels floating around out there that I never even heard of that I now pick up!

There are many models out there – some indoor, some outdoor. I went with the RCA ANT1650R which I picked up 2 for about 25 bucks each on Amazon. I’ve seen the same model at Walmart priced at $30-$40.

  1. Internet Access

As I’ve mentioned, the Cord Cutting I’m outlining is going to require internet access. It should go without saying that you’re going to want broadband. When I first starting experimenting with this idea, I was paying my ISP for 20Mbps down, 2Mbps up. What I found over time was that this simply wasn’t cutting it – especially considering we’re running 2 Rokus (more on those shortly), a couple Android tablets, my phone and my wife’s phone and 2 PCs. Not that all of these devices are always connected simultaneously at all times, but there are periods when that’s the case. Also, with this speed, it seemed we would run into the dreaded Netflix “Loading” screen far too often while watching something.

So, I knew I had to beef that up a bit. Unfortunately, the ISP I had at the time could not offer more than that for my area, so I switched to Time Warner (whom I actually had before). I moved up to 30Mbps down and 5Mbps up, which has proven to be the perfect minimum speed. Time Warner offers higher speeds, but this level of connectivity works smoothly.

That being said, now would be the perfect time to explain what I mentioned in Part 1 –

“Surprisingly, even to me, cost actually wasn’t a factor as one might expect and as many people will blog or post about when they talk about cutting the cord. “

 

The fact is, the cable and satellite service providers want you to buy ALL of their services, not just one. As such, you will have to take into consideration when deciding whether or not this is right for you the fact that the connection speeds I’ve mentioned are going to run you somewhere around $70 – $75 dollars per month, or maybe even more depending on what market you’re in. And, that’s the catch.

Consider this –

The speeds I’ve described are what Time Warner refers to as Extreme internet. If you were to bundle and go with their Basic TV and Extreme package, you could get –

  • Over 20 Channels
  • Extreme Speed
  • HBO® with HBO GO®
  • Cinemax® FREE for 3 Months
  • Home WiFi, TWC WiFi Hotspots
  • Switch and get up to $50 Visa® Reward Card
$7999per Month for 12 Months

But remember, the devil is always in the details. Note the “Free for 3 months” and “$79.99 per month for 12 months”. And, not to mention as I explained in Part 1, you get what channels and content they tell you to get – you don’t get to choose.

  1. High Speed Cable Modem
If you’re still reading this, that means I didn’t scare you off with the ISP cost situation. Or, you’re just curious. Either way, if you’re still considering Cutting The Cable, and have decided to go with Time Warner’s Extreme Internet or something equivalent, you’re going to need a modem to handle the extra bandwidth bulk. You have a couple of choices here – buy your own or pay the ISP at least $4.99 per month to rent one from them. Well since we’re trying to Cut The Cord the only logical decision would be to buy your own ISP-compatible modem. Be sure to check with your ISP about compatible models (they should list them somewhere on their website) and purchase accordingly.

 

I’m not going to go too deep into tech mumbo-jumbo here, but simply state that I decided on the Motorola SUFboard eXtreme SB6141 (DOCSIS 3.0). I had originally purchased a Netgear equivalent to this model, the CMD31T, but it kept periodically dropping the connection. Upon exchange, it was only logical to me to go with a Motorola model – all of the years I’ve been paying for internet and renting modems from the service providers, I would always have a Motorola modem and had almost no issues.

 

The SB6141 will run you about $100 at Best Buy.
  1. Dual Band Gigabit Router
Just as you’ll need a modem to handle the connection speeds coming in from your ISP of choice, you’re going to need a router that can handle providing all the devices attached to your home network said speed. And frankly, that Wireless N router the kid next door told you to buy simply won’t do. Even if you’re not in the market to Cut The Cord, a Dual Band Gigabit Router should still be on your radar for a multitude of reasons, including: stability, network scalability, and speed.

 

Once again, I’m not going to go into too many technical details here (my fellow Cisco Academy friends can appreciate how lengthy detailing routers can be), but only mention that I personally chose the Netgear R6200 WiFi Router (802.11ac Dual Band Gigabit). True – it’s not Netgear’s ultimate offering, but it certainly gets the job done efficiently and smoothly at about $150 from the likes of Amazon or Best Buy.
  1. Video Streaming Device (or, “How in the heck do I watch TV?”)

 

Finally, we come to the device that brings it all together. There are of course many devices out there. If you are an IOS faithful then you may already be familiar with the likes of Apple TV. As for me, I went with and recommend Roku.

 

Roku is that hockey puck sized powerhouse that can be found literally at any major retail chain worldwide, and works with pretty much every TV. When I first started looking into Cord Cutting, I began with a first generation Roku. Once I grasped the potential and learned some of the tricks of online content streaming (yes – this is my clever segway into Part 3: Suggested Software), I quickly moved up to the Roku 2 XS and Roku 3.

 

The Roku 2 XS resides in our bedroom because we still have an “ancient” TV there – no HDMI ports. The Roku 2 XS offers the option of both HDMI and A/V output, with included cable for A/V, so it works perfectly.

 

The Roku 3 comes with HDMI only, so it lives in the family room of our home. Each comes with the option to connect to the internet either via wireless or ethernet connection. I suggest, if at all possible, that you connect via ethernet. Although it rarely presents a problem, even with beefed-up speeds from your ISP, and a top of the line gigabit router, a direct connection will tend to be more reliable than a wireless one.

 

I could go on and on singing my praises of Roku. Personally I believe streaming content is the future television entertainment, and I have for some time. But instead I will just encourage you to check out Roku’s website for yourself –

 

The Roku 3 currently retails for $99.99, while the 2 XS will run you about $74.99 – $79.99
  1. Miscellaneous Hardware

 

Lastly, there were a few other things I had to pick up to bring this all together. You may need to do so as well so I think they are worth mentioning.

 

First off – remember the TV in our bedroom I mentioned that had no HDMI port? Well, that also means it’s not an HD TV. So, in order to use the digital antenna for local channels, I had to also purchase a Digital TV Converter box. Retailing for about $40, I went with the RCA DTA 800BT. It has a pretty cool UI – looks much like a DVR box display, and comes with a fully programmable remote.

 

Secondly – as I also mentioned, I feel direct ethernet connections work better than wifi connections for your streaming device (Roku in my case). As such, I wanted to also connect the bedroom Roku directly via ethernet. Unfortunately, it’s on the second floor of our house, facing the outside wall. I considered climbing in the attic and fighting with dropping a CAT5 cable, but decided instead to go with Powerline Adapters. These little gems allow you to plug them into your power outlets and use your home’s electrical wiring as network lines from one point to another. Please keep in mind however that these work best in newer homes, as wiring standards have changed throughout the years, so they don’t tend to work so well in homes built in the early ’80s and older. I have run speed tests on the one connected in our bedroom and average speeds of about 19.5Mbps down, 3.5Mbps up through it.

 

Lastly – a PC to run dedicated servers. Specifically, Plex and PlayOn servers, and a bit torrent client. But, more on those in Part 3: Suggested Software.

 

 

Whew!! Trust me – all of that was the hard part! Once you get it all together (as overwhelming as it may sound), it will all be worth it and you’ll never want to go back to cable again!

 

Up next – Part 3: Suggested Software

The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 1: Why Should I?

 For many years, my wife would suggest (sometimes STRONGLY suggest) that we simply “get rid of cable”. Truth be told, I agreed with her for the most part. Even some of the best deals offered by Cable Operators (Time Warner and Cincinnati Bell in our case) can get costly in the long run for the simple pleasure of watching television. But for the longest time I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it. At first, I was always hesitant to get rid of the Premium Channels such as HBO or Showtime. Sure at one time I had 6 HBO channels – each showing pretty much the same things only at different times. And for the most part, most of the movies that were being shown on these channels were already available for rent at video stores (hey – remember those!?). Fact is, the only thing that kept me from getting rid of these channels was the exclusive programming they would produce – from The Sopranos to Weeds, we just HAD to see these shows. But even those shows were made available by other means, even if that meant seeing the latest episodes later on.
 Finally, I decided that the Premium channels simply had to go. I could no longer validate paying extra simply to see made for HBO or Showtime series. But, I still HAD to hold on to my good-old basic cable service with my DVR boxes. There were shows I just HAD to see, right?
 One other thing to mention is viewing habits. You see, I’ve always been the type of person who simply has to have background noise – whether it’s the TV being on or music playing. To me, a completely silent house is somewhat creepy, although we now have 2 sons, so that’s not an issue any more! And oddly enough, I’ve never been able to concentrate in the full silence. While in school, I had to have SOMETHING on while studying or else I couldn’t concentrate. My wife on the other hand loves to have things completely quiet. She would always ask “why is the TV on if you’re not even watching it?”.
 But back to the matter at hand – why should I cut the cord? Everyone will have different answers to the question of course, but for me it simply boiled down to 2 things –
         1.   Choice
         2.    Quality of programming
 Surprisingly, even to me, cost actually wasn’t a factor as one might expect and as many people will blog or post about when they talk about cutting the cord. I’ll talk about that more in Part 2: Equipment and Cost.
As for choice – in all honesty, my number one complaint about all cable services is the actual lack of choice. Cable operators offer bundles of channels and usually we are forced to choose the bundle that ALMOST matches what we really want. I’ve always wanted to be able to pick and choose each channel I want and pay accordingly. But, such a-la-carte service simply isn’t feasible in the real world of cable.
While researching and experimenting with cutting the cable, someone mentioned to me a fact that I hadn’t actually considered before – the quality of programming I actually watch. This person mentioned to me that what he had noticed is that not only had the quantity of television he was watching fall, but the quality of the television he was actually watching rose as there is less garbage to come in contact with in the streaming world. This has been especially important to me with regards to my afore mentioned children. Not to mention, as more and more networks continue to center a large majority of their programming around affordable “reality” television which I don’t particularly care for, I began to find it harder and harder to justify paying for even basic cable service for such programming.
So, though your reasons may more than likely be completely different from mine or possibly the same, I have found that these 2 factors alone are justification enough to Cut The Cord.

 

Up next – Part 2: Equipment and Cost.