Cutting the Cord

We are going finally do it. We are going to finally get rid of cable TV, completely. I think.

When Hulu Plus came to the Xbox, all my excuses went away. Between that and Roku, I can see it in the living room and the bedroom. No need to pull out a computer, just grab a remote.

That seems to be the trigger for acceptance in my home. If we have to pull the laptop out and watch it there, we won’t. We never got Netflix until we had devices that could stream it. Just never thought it was worth it. But when we tried it with streaming, we loved it.

With Netflix and Hulu Plus we can see just about every show or movie we want. We have been hanging on to cable for access to local news and sports. I know will stream most games, but I cannot stand to watch the quality. I pulled out a set of powered rabbit ears and hooked them up. We don’t get a lot of over the air channels.

My big question is what happens when football season comes around. My little set of rabbit ears still picks up a few channels, including Fox. But CBS is not strong enough for viewing. At least I can watch some games. If we choose to leave cable internet for DSL I may look at an exterior antenna. I could insert that signal into the existing cable network in my home.

Either way, missing out on a few channels isn’t that big of a deal for us, since we routinely load episodes of our favorite shows into our queues. But for some families, missing out on channel surfing is a problem.

I read an article a while back about some families who were in an experiment. They got various Internet TV boxes/services and cut cable. Then reported their experiences. Their main complaint was that watching TV became active. They could not just flip channels and watch something. This is a huge change from normal TV viewing.

My Netflix queue has dozens of titles in it. When I am bored on the computer, or remember a show, I’ll surf to the site and add things to the queue. Right now it would take us weeks to watch everything that is loaded without ever loading another show.

Still, having a lot of shows you want to watch isn’t the same as flipping channels, though. I was talking about this with some people at lunch the other day. One said that we needed Pandora for TV. That’s not a bad idea. Some sort of Netflix “Suggestions for You” on overkill. Just select a show, and then get a list shows like that one to try. Sort of like Apple’s Genius playlists generated from ratings you submit. Still won’t be quite the same as flipping, but would provide some of that random stumble upon a show experience.

The biggest annoyance of Hulu Plus is that even though you pay a monthly fee, not every show is available for viewing everywhere. Some are web only. Scanning through available networks I was so happy to see shows from the speed network. I promptly added a few. Only to realize that they were available to view only through the website. Epic fail.

It’s bad enough that I still have to sit through commercials (although if you have cable TV you pay more for the privilege of sitting through more ads.) but any show available on should be valuable to your premium subscribers. Some of the web only shows were not current season, first-run, they were older episodes from older show. It is just a matter of what rights Hulu had been granted.

But Netflix doesn’t have that problem. And some shows that are web only in Hulu are available on any screen through Netflix. Looks like Hulu needs to get better at negotiating.

Still, paired together, Hulu Plus and Netflix should take care of most people’s needs for video entertainment. The easier it is for people to watch this content, the more people will adopt it. The cable companies have a small window to figure out how to stay in the video content delivery business. Some providers have been trying, but there is a lot of mush out there right now.

Netflix and Hulu Plus provide an alternative to cable/satellite providers that is available right now.

I’ll keep you updated.


The Ups and Downs of ESPN3 for a Brighthouse Xbox Live Subscriber

I was excited to hear that I might soon be able to view ESPN3 content through my Xbox Live account. It would be yet another step toward an existence without cable TV. I want to move toward a streaming only entertainment package.

Then I was disappointed to learn that Time Warner, and by extension Brighthouse, had issues with ESPN3, and did not allow the content to be viewed by their subscribers.

I was pleased to learn that they worked out their differences last month.

I was disappointed when I installed ESPN3 on my Xbox and had limited access because my ISP is Brighthouse. Especially since Time Warner is listed as an affiliated ISP.

I was glad to learn that ESPN3 is working on bringing that content to Time Warner/Brighthouse by the end of the year. It is disappointing that the NFL season will be pretty much over by then.

Netflix and Streaming

I was a skeptic about a Netflix account. I was sure that it could not be as described. You just get movies that are at the bottom of the queue. The movies available for streaming must be ones you have never heard of. there is no way that $9 bucks a month get’s you more than a couple movies a month you actually want to see.

I own two blu ray players that can stream Netflix, and an Xbox 360, and have access to an iPad. A friend emailed me a link to sign up for a free month, so I decided to see what it was all about. At least I would watch a couple of movies for free.

I was unprepared for the selection; not just hundreds of movies, but hundreds of pages of movies to select from. Quite a few are available for streaming with pretty good video quality. I was able to link in my devices very easily. The iPad can both manage the queue and stream movies.

I started watching the Voltron series with my son. He loves it. (He did ask why the picture didn’t fill the whole screen of my HDTV.) We have also enjoyed several cartoon classics, as well as more recent movies. The selection of documentaries is pretty good, too. I loved “Lord, Save Us from Your Followers“, which I had heard about when they were filming it.

The dvds that are shipped have come quickly, a by product of having a Netflix shipping center in Orlando. And every movie they have sent has been the one on the top of the queue. I know that won’t always be the case, but so far it has been great.

Even the rating/recommendation settings have been pretty accurate. I got a couple of movies they said I would not really like, and they were right. I didn’t like them. I provided Netflix with answers to a quiz on my movie preferences, and rated a few films I had seen. Now, when I browse movies, they rate them according to what I said I liked or disliked.

So far, I have been very pleased.


rrodblogThe April after the Xbox 360 came out, I got one. Right after that all of my friends Xboxes began getting the Red Rings of Death. The RROD became the bane of Microsoft’s existence. They finally had to extend warranties all around because of manufacturing defects.

Through it all I kept playing. I didn’t play as much as some, but I did play. I counted myself lucky.

Today. The RROD caught up with me. Ordinarily I would just chalk it up and go on. But, I may still be under extended warranty. So, here’s hoping this can be fixed, and fast.

Checked. Nope, I’ve had the console 3 years and 6 weeks, which puts me a month and a half out of warranty. Now I have to weigh the amount of playing time I have with the amount of money it costs to fix or replace.