So you want to cut the cord? It’s getting easier all the time, and there’s never been a better opportunity to break free of skyrocketing cable TV bills. You’ll be able to build your own TV experience, but in doing so you’ll have a few decisions to make. Fortunately, this guide will give you a quick rundown of everything you’ll need to create the perfect cord-free TV experience in your home.
#1 Get a Receipt!
Most people love that feeling they get when they call up their cable company and cancel their service. But while you may think that it’s over and done with after that call, you can never be too sure. The cable companies are notorious for poor customer service and billing discrepancies. If you’re returning any equipment such as a cable box, make sure you get a receipt from the company that your device was received and is no longer in your possession. Some customers have continued to be charged equipment rental fees for months on devices they swear they’ve returned. And if the device simply disappears after you’ve returned it, without any proof that it was returned, you could be stuck footing the bill for the lost box. Generally, you shouldn’t have to worry about your bill, but if your cable company has a particularly poor track record on record-keeping, or you’ve had billing disputes in the past, it would also be wise to get a zero balance letter or receipt showing that your final bill was settled. Then you can officially be free of that cable company for good.
#2 An HDTV Antenna
Stat with a visit to AntennaWeb.org. They will have a tool on their website that allows you to put in your address and see which broadcast stations you’re within range of, and what type of antenna you’ll need to reach them. If you live in or around a major city, a basic HDTV antenna will allow you to receive as many as a dozen local channels. One can be purchased from a local retailer, or online, for as little as $10, from flat wall-mounted antennas, to a set-top pair of rabbit ears. If you’re finding yourself just out of range of your area’s TV stations, an amplified antenna can remedy that. They’ll cost a bit more and generally need to be plugged into a power source as well, but they’ll allow you to receive broadcasts from considerably farther away. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, chances are an amplified antenna will pull in a few extra channels. For residents of rural areas, a larger antenna mounted on your home may be the best option. Just remember, AntennaWeb.org can tell you exactly what you’ll need to receive which stations.
#3 Something to Connect to Your TV
If you have an older PC lying around, connecting it to your television via an HDMI cable, and using it as a set top box can be an easy fix. If you’re looking for full functionality and want to invest, there are even small form-factor PCs designed specifically for this purpose, allowing you to play high end games on your TV as well. But all you really need is a machine with a web-browser and internet connection to get to all your content. If you go this route, a wireless keyboard and mouse are also a great investment. If you plan to use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to stream content, I’d recommend a wireless streaming stick. Google’s Chromecast, which costs just $35, is a great choice. It’s simple and does what you need. Other sticks from Roku, Amazon, and others offer more features, so if you’re fans of those services, you should check them out as well. A third option is a set top box, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. These devices put popular media apps and online storefronts right on your TV. While their simple interfaces have plenty of fans, these boxes are essentially just app managers, so beware of getting locked into a single ‘Ecosystem’. If you prefer to get your content from Google Play, an Apple TV box won’t be the way to go.
#4 An Aggregated Streaming Service
There are so many different streaming services out there, having one unified service to bring them all together makes cutting the cord a heck of a lot easier. That’s where aggregators come in. Rather than having to log in to search or browse each of these sites and services separately, it’s better to have everything in one place where you can search them all at once. A great example is Rabbit TV Plus, which also gives you pay-per-view options, so if a show or movie you really want to watch isn’t available on any of the services you subscribe to, you can still find all your options for watching it.
#5 Pay-Per-View Content
If you’re accustomed to paying one bill every month, and watching everything, as is the case with cable TV, having to pay-per-view can present some major sticker shock. But doing so allows you to get quite literally anything that you’d watch with cable TV, unlike subscription libraries that have a finite and rotating stock of content. Just think of it this way. By cutting the cord, you could be saving over $100 a month versus cable TV. With shows and movies costing as little as $1.99 to rent, you can watch dozens of pay-per-view items and still not come close to your old TV bill. So think about it and give it a shot! So there you have it, five things to get if you plan to cut the cord that could save you money, and a lot of headaches.