Cutting the cord - tell your story

To be honest, I thought I would be the last person in the country to “cut the cord”.  I have had cable or satellite TV since my parents signed up for cable around 1979.  I do like saving money, so I have switched between providers quite a bit when contracts are up.  I went from Comcast to Dish to Comcast to Dish to DirecTv to Uverse and finally back to DirecTv.  

My wife was really the one that made me think about cutting the cord.  She watches almost no tv except for a limited amount of shows each week.  My kids also watch just a few shows as well.  I was the problem, and it was mainly because of sports.  So at the beginning of this year, I investigated the best ways to free myself of a satellite bill of over $100 a month.

I had three main questions:
1. What equipment will I need?
2. How can I still see my favorite shows anytime I want?
3. How can I still watch a good amount of sports?

For #1, I needed something to pick up OTA broadcasts, and I needed streaming devices.   I replaced my bedroom tv with one that was a little bigger that also had an ATSC tuner (the old one didn’t).   I bought a Mohu Leaf antenna for my main living room tv, and I was able to use an older antenna in the bedroom.  For streaming devices, I couldn’t decide between the Roku and the Chromecast, so I bought one of each.  The Roku 3 is on my main tv, and the Chromecast is on the bedroom tv.

For #2, I had a few choices.  I already am a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriber, so watching older episodes of shows or movies isn’t a issue.  For watching new shows, I needed to either watch everything live (difficult with my family’s schedule), use Hulu+, or get a DVR.  I tried Hulu+ for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t like all the commercials, plus it doesn’t have every show.   So I settled on getting a DVR.

I chose Tablo really based on the CES reviews that were coming out at the time.  It seemed like a good solution, though I had never heard of this product or company before.  But I decided to take a chance and preordered it rather than going ahead with an existing solution like Tivo Premeire or SimpleTv. (And so far I am very pleased that I did)

For shows on cable, like Walking Dead, Steven Universe, or Archer, I had a family member share their service provider’s credentials with me.  So for all those shows, I just watch online.  

For #3, I think I am good.  When the Titans play, I will always see them on broadcast TV.  I am also a big Braves fan.  I bought the radio-only service from them (only $20 a year), and I just listen to the games.  Whenever a big play happens, the highlight usually shows up on for free within 15 min, and all the highlights are available after the game ends.

For all the ESPN content, I just use the WatchESPN app on my Roku or EPSN3 on my PC.  Using the same credentials as above, I can watch live content on the ESPN channels.

The toughest thing to give up will be college football and basketball for Vanderbilt.  With the SEC Network arriving this year, I don’t think there will be any games on network TV anymore.  But I can always go to a sports bar if I really want to see the game, or use the money I have saved to go to more games.

So this is my story.  I am still a newbie cord-cutter, who cancelled DirecTv on 4/6/14, the day after my Tablo arrived.  But so far everything is working out great.  Please share your stories.

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Been a long time Windows Media Center cord-cutter with multiple tuners and Linksys Media Extenders in all rooms… a great DVR solution for over the air channels… but as is with all great MS solutions, it must come to an end because of their own folly. With Windows 8, connectivity to the old Media Extenders is intentionally broke and Media Center is no longer bundled, becoming a rather costly OS upgrade. 

I learned long ago the individual movies rentals are cheaper/more covenant than subscriptions. Google Play and VUDU nail it and play perfectly with Chromecast.
Now running a PC 24/7 at 120 watts also adds up.

So, Tablo with its promise of an over-the-air DVR for the 10 foot experience (via Chromecast) as well as the 2 foot tablet/web browser experience (plus remote access!) seems spot on for the years ahead.

I have been a long time MythTV user (10 years this August).  When Comcast decided to encrypt everything and charge for cable boxes I dropped the cableTV portion.  That was 5 years ago.  But its time to move to newer and greener hardware, so I an shutting my MythTV DVR down.  I tried the second generation SimpleTV last January and it just did not work.  But on their forum I heard about TabloTV.   

As a companion cord cutter product look into  playon and playlater software.  It also plays back through a Roku and you can record some of the shows you might not get OTA.

First, i feel like a chump for paying for cable all these years.  I never knew how easy it was to capture OTA signals.  The biggest obstacle was finding a solution that passed the wife test, and worked over my network, not over the existing coax.  I’ve been a cord cutter since 2010.

At the time, windows Media Center with xbox 360 was the only option as the other extenders were already discontinued. Furthermore, i liked the idea of all the other apps and windows media center were all on the same environment.  Its probably the closest thing to a paid consumer experience you can get with a guide, DVR and pretty quick channel tuning.  As Thumbs mentioned above, it doesn’t come without its issue.  The biggest to me is that you have a computer running at all times.  In my case, its a powerful desktop that guzzles power.  Not to mention, its running vista and occasionally needs restarting.

When Simple TV came around, i was an early adopter.  If any of you follow this market, you probably know how that went.

When Tablo came out, i was all about it.  I was nervous about a simple tv like experience all over again, so i waited for review. When i felt it was a good experience, i pulled the trigger.  Its also without its issues, but i think they’ve demonstrated that any remaining issues will be fixed in weeks, not days.

I’ve been trying to get as many people to cut the cord as possible.  I did a time study in my own home when i still had cable. I noticed that 90% of what we watched were local channels.  the remaining 10% wasn’t worth the money i was paying.

Welcome to the club. Second happiest day was giving Time Warner cable the finger.

I have been a cord cutter since 2010. I just got tired of the never ending price hikes and less and less service from DirecTV. I went from the “Gold” package at 85.00 a month when I signed up down to the basic plus package and HBO in 2010 and that was running 110.00 a month for a whole lot of channels I never watch. I put an antenna up, subscribed to Netflix and Hulu and bought a few Rokus and called it done.

Today, I have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Sling, HBO, Showtime, as well as 50 local channels and I am still paying less than I was to DirecTV.

I just recently added Tablo to the mix for a whole house DVR solution.

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Same here. Got tired of paying major bucks for a cable package when all I really wanted was basic OTA broadcasting and the ability to record and FF past all the mindless commercials. Since half my TV viewing is PBS and the rest local and network channels I’m good. I can still see most major sports on the networks and lots of cable stuff on You Tube albeit a few weeks later. I round things out with NETFLIX from time to time and have more than enough TV entertainment to transform me into a well baked couch potato. Saving $50 a month is icing on the cake. Good luck.

I installed an antenna not to cut the cord (though eventually I did cut cable off). Many, many years ago (about 14 years ago), BEFORE HD was broadcast by cable TV, I had wandered into a Sears store and saw a basketball game in HD on one of their demo sets. I was floored.

I asked the store clerk what cable TV system were they using to get such a great picture. He told me that there was no cable TV broadcasting in HD and that the store had put up an antenna on the roof to get HD being broadcast OTA to demo their “HD ready” TV sets.

Bang! That did it for me and I drove to the nearest Radio Shack store to pick up an antenna. Since HD TVs were very expensive in those days ($7,000 to $15,000) I decided to test out HD at my house using inexpensive equipment. I saw that I could get a PC tuner card that did HD for $100.

Once I had the antenna set up and the card installed, I was able to get a few local channels. I did not know anything about antennas so my reception was limited to what the Radio Shack guy had sold me. In any case I was able to watch the NFL in HD on my PC that fall.

During that time I started teaching myself more about OTA reception and antennas through a variety of forums that had sprung up. OTA, presumed dead after the spread of cable, came back to life as HD was not being broadcast by cable TV for several years (they did not have the facilities or bandwidth for several years). One had to have OTA to get HD.

By the time I had my OTA system finalized after several years and we were getting 50 channels, my wife and I agreed that paying for cable TV to the tune of $130 a month (and rising at 3% a year) was senseless.

BTW the Radio Shack guy was amazed that somebody had come into his store asking for an antenna in those days.


My wife and I just love PBS Create (subchannel 8.2 in Atlanta). America’s Test Kitchen (Cook’s Country) is wonderful!

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I like Frontline, Great Performances, Nova, and the many nature programs. Nobody does documentary better than PBS. The Civil War series was a milestone in TV.

We didn’t cut the cord. My wife couldn’t do without Directv. Happy wife… yada yada. I have an antenna for the subchannels. Living between 2 major cities very few of the subs are duplicated.

Ok, need to cut the cord ! I am laboring over this for some time now.

I barely get my $ worth not watching tv that much, have favorite times and shows.

Tried OTA antenna and got a few channels, archaic ones and a few local channels but not the favorite one, NBC as I would miss it, as well as SNL, late night show and a few more. HBO I got via my daughter’s subscription, meaning I would have to watch the few shows I like later as recording.

Speaking of which: With the Tablo I need the Hard drive because it is recorded (DVR) for later viewing, right ?
Since it is WIFI dependent I need less then a Spotty connection, right ?

It is quite an investment, however, willing to go for it to get rid of uverse/cable and such expenses in the long run.

Please advise, thanks.

Tablo won’t fix any OTA reception issues you have. You’ll want to get those addressed before investing in Tablo.

Q1. Yes, you’ll need a hard drive for recording programs.
Q2. Tablo can connect with WiFi or hard-wired. Many of us have had better luck with hard-wired.

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If you live some distance away from your local broadcast towers and/or have terrain or other obstructions you might want to consider having a professional select and install the proper OTA antenna for your area/location/situation … I would say its probably THE most vital aspect of cord cutting and one that if you dont get right can ruin the whole experience… Having spent months trying to find the right combination of antennas, preamps and location/orientation I can say I would probably spend the money on the one time fee it costs to have someone do this with the proper tools ( I am 45+ miles away from the broadcast tower cluster with hills and such so I have a slightly tricky location ) … Sure it might cost a bit to have a professional do it but in the end you are going to save because you wont be paying monthly …

NBC channel 11 in SF bay area is VHF. You need an antenna that does both UHF and VHF.

Winegard FL5500A is one antenna designed for both UHF and VHF. Just because it is 11 on tv that is the virtual channel and should be 11-1, 11-2, etc depending on station. I just checked Google v and it is broadcast on a VHF RF frequently.

Thanks Dave.
Great input as I am still mulling all the cord cutting issues over.

So far I understand :smile: I might need a sure deal appropriate OTA, UVH vs VHS antenna or both for the SF hilly terrain. I need a professionial antenna installer.

I do have a hard wired ATT max turbo internet connection, just want and need to get rid of their bundled uverse tv deal which is a total waste for sure.

Then if all is successful, I will have to get used to recorded tv action, shows, news or otherwise , correct ? No more live anything, right, or can I watch while the recording is going on ?

Can I choose what is recorded as I only need certain news, shows. ???

Do I keep the PC on all the the time ?
I currently have an HP laptop with a decent power processor, an IPad, an IPhone, Chromecast, one large screen tv, so I choose the 2 tuner Tablo for one person, more or less one room apartment living, right ?

I appreciate all inputs from all , thanks so much.


You can watch live either thru the DVR or by splitting the antenna or getting a separate antenna for each TV. My best antenna is on Tablo, other antennas connected directly to TV but get fewer channels. The Tablo has a 4 way splitter, so I didn’t want to split and then be split four way.

You can watch live or record. Advice re adequate antenna system is spot on. You can view on PC, IOS and Android devices and TV. If you proceed I strongly recommend using Nexus player Android instead of Chromecast for best TV viewing experience. Check out resources for recommended hard drives. Good luck.

I’ve been looking at cord cutting for more than a year. I hate paying for 300 channels to get the 15 or so that I actually watch. I have three TVs; one in a family room, another in a bedroom and one more in the basement. I have to Apple TV4s and a “smart” Blueray Player connected to the basement TV. I’ve not taken the plunge to purchase a Tablo and HD yet but intend to do so once a native Apple TV app is released. We live in a western suburb of Milwaukee, WI and have no problem pulling in about 33 digital channels, not all of which are HD. This is was able to do using a very old pair of rabbit ear antennae what I found in the basement. I plan to connect the antenna to the the Tablo (when I purchase it) in the family room, connect to the Tablo to our network via wifi and stream to the three TVs. I have two questions: a) does this set up make sense? (Addressed to all “senior” users.) and b) would I be better off purchasing one of the newer “designed for HD signal” antennae?