Giving Up Cable and Satellite TV

LiveBrianD surveyed the HDTV & Home Theater forum to find out who gave up cable TV, preferring to stream content off the Internet.

Whether you're using cable, satellite, or FIOS, you can save a bundle by discontinuing that service. So long as you keep your broadband Internet connection, you'll find plenty of entertainment.

To easily watch Internet content, you'll need either an Internet-capable HDTV, or an Internet-capable device that connects to your television. Either way, it should offer plenty of streaming options. You can buy a good, Internet-capable Blu-ray player for about $100.

Last spring, my family cancelled our Dish Network account, and no one has asked for it back. We subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus; our Blu-ray player supports both of them and combined they cost about $16 a month. I bought an antenna so we can get over-the-air broadcasting, and set up an old laptop as a DVR, allowing us to record broadcasts. Since that laptop is connected to the Internet, we can also use it to stream services that our Blu-ray player doesn't support.

We only missed satellite when the new season of Mad Men started. But we soon discovered that we can buy the new episodes off Vudu (a pay-per-view service supported by our Blu-ray player) for $2 each; that's a lot cheaper than cable.

Sports fans may miss more; if a game isn't conventionally broadcast, you probably won't be able to watch it live.

The solution isn't perfect. Image quality varies with Internet traffic, and sometimes a show just stops. (This happened to us in the last minutes of the recent Mad Men season finale.)

But for the most part, it works well. We have far more programs to watch than we have time to watch them.

For more details, see Cutting the Cord: How to Ditch Your Cable Company (which also offers some sports suggestions).

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on thePCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

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