A little off my normal topic here but this shows how things are changing with regard to television and digital content delivery. This last month I finally rid myself of $180 or so a month by canceling my Comcast service and going digital over the internet. Since many people are trying to save money during the economic recovery I thought you folks might like to know how I did it.
Step 1 – Purchase a Roku Video Player
Buy a HD capable Roku Device with the wireless option. The first time I heard about the Roku, I thought it was pronounced “Rock You” but apparently I was just thinking of a song. The pronunciation is more like “Row Coo”. Anyhow, I really like the Roku device. It comes with a simple and easy to use remote control and it has lots of digital content available. Content carriers such as Netflix, MBA, Amazon Video, and many other optional channels. I discovered that the Roku unit even has some un-disclosed channels that you can add when your in their website. The channel list is located here.
Step 2 – Get a Netflix subscription
Next, for only 9.99 a month, Netflix is a great option to get the latest content and movies directly to your Roku. All the Netflix instant movies and shows can be delivered right down to the Roku device. We use this extensively as it provides the HD content that we like to watch and at only $9.99 a month it’s CHEAP in comparison to full digital cable TV. The only thing I do miss is the live content such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox, but there’s always their websites and I’m sure they’ll jump onto the digital delivery as this technology picks up even more steam. The cool thing about Netflix is that you can build lists of things you want to watch on their website and it shows up immediately available to watch on your Roku or other Netflix enabled devices. We put our Roku unit in our living room since that TV is already HD capable and we like to entertain our guests with the quality it provides.
Step 3 – Playon.tv content service
Once we started using the Roku, I started itching for more content so I did some research and found a service called Playon.tv which provides content and they have an available channel on the Roku device. I bought their lifetime subscription for only $79 bucks, a pretty good deal in my opinion. The Playon.tv service is also expandable using their integrated Plugins and content scripts. The Roku device also supports the Hulu service which I promptly added to the Roku. The playon.tv service does require you to use your computer to be able to obtain the content on your TV devices, so you’ll need to account for the monthly electricity cost (usually around $20 a month) but since my computer was already on 24/7 I didn’t see anything different on my electric bill.
Step 4 – Bring it into the bedroom
Well, at this point I was really happy with my television service in my living room, but we lacked much in the way of TV in the bedroom. We had a Wii Game console that I hardly used in the last year and we received a CD from Netflix that added a channel to the Wii to get Netflix content. Apparently the Netflix channel is now available from the Nintendo Wii Store which we later converted to freeing up our CD slot on the Wii and improving the Netflix Wii Channel interface with search and browsing capabilities. I also found out that using the Playon.Tv service was possible on the Wii game console using the Wii internet channel which was cool since then I could watch Hulu on the Wii.
Optional Step 5 – What about local channels?
Now I know I said I got rid of comcast my cable provider, but since the cable is still present in my home, I did a little research and apparently many local cable providers add the local channels which they provide for free and not scrambled requiring the cable boxes. So I hooked up both of my TV’s to the cable and used the auto-progamming feature to have the TV scan for channels and whalla, 12 local channels added to my TV giving us all the local news that we missed after we went totally digital over the Internet.
Optional Step 6 – Local HD Channels
For the larger metro areas, there are quite a few HD channels available for free over the airwaves. You could easily pick up a digital HD receiver and hook up an HD antenna to get even more channels for free. I’ve yet to do this step but intend to soon. The HD receiver I’m looking to possibly purchase is the Samsung brand.
Cost of Hardware/Services:
$99 – Roku HD Video Player
$160 – Nintendo Wii Game Console
$40 – Miscellaneous cables
$79 (now $54.99) – Lifetime Playon.tv subscription
Total Cost of my Implementation: $378
Monthly Recurring Costs:
$9.99 – Netflix Service