Friday, August 23, 2013

Why You Should Cut Your Cable Bill

I'll admit it: I haven't had a cable TV bill in about five years now. 

That statement normally raises a few questions from most people, so I'll summarize them for you:
  • Yes, I still watch television. Just not on cable.
  • Yes, I'm still current on the shows I watch.
  • No, I don't get most sports unless I can pick up the over-the-air stations. That's the one downside
You'd be surprised how easy a decision this was for me. The average cable bill in the United States has skyrocketed over the past decade. What's worse is that it is only expected to increase over the next few years. 


So how did I stop this madness?

There are two easy ways to get your TV content and not pay an arm and a leg for it.For the record, these solutions aren't free, but as you can see from the chart above, it wouldn't take long to pay for itself with the money you'd save.

Connect your PC to your TV

An easy way to get your TV programming on your TV is to hook up your PC to it. I have my primary desktop computer permanently connected to my living room TV using an HDMI cable. It gives me true HD quality and also allows me to use my TV screen as a second monitor. 

As for the content, I can use Netflix, Hulu, HBO-Go and get most of the shows I want to watch. A lot of programming is also available on the official websites of the TV stations. Sure, you may be a day late in seeing the latest episode of Castle, but it's free and in HD. 

And, for those who wish to live on the grey-edge of the law, you can always look into torrents. But, for the record, that's not going to be legal and can carry some stiff penalties when they catch up with you. 

Streaming Media Players

There are a whole host of streaming media players out there like Roku and Apple TV. These will allow you to access your Netflix or Hulu account without your computer needing to be sitting next to your TV. Both of these players can get pricey though, and with limited functionality. But, they are well supported by major companies, so there is a certain "peace-of-mind" that comes with them. 

Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 game systems also offer similar features, although I wouldn't recommend running out and buying one if all you're looking for is a way to cut your cable bill. 

There's a relatively new device that is becoming more and more popular in the US, although they've been available in China and Japan for years: Android mini-PCs. These devices which are the size of flash drives run the Android OS and will have the same functionality as a tablet or smartphone. They require a bit more to configure, but once you've got them set up, they will be able to do a lot more than any of the other options I've discussed. 

The economy being what it is, none of us can afford to waste money. Look at the options for cutting your cable bill and think of all the better ways to spend $100 a month!