best way to avoid TV cable fees?
I am currently on a promotional deal with my local cable company, so my TV service is reasonable. The deal ends in a couple of months, and I'm thinking ahead. What's the best & cost effective way to leverage my existing internet connection, without resort to watching TV or movies on my desktop computer monitor?0
Laptop or desktop with HDMI output to your TV. Done.
What Jan said. BAM! More specifically: get any pc with vga or hdmi out and HD video (ATI radeon HD onboard video is super cheap, HD addon cards at this level are like $10 see e.g. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102882 among many others.) Use this site http://showrss.karmorra.info/ or something like it which makes an RSS feed out of your fave shows then use tormon.py (if you can't Google this then this is not a good solution for you) or a drop-in Windows equivalent to auto-download torrents from this RSS feed to your torrent client (utorrent on Windows or transmission on Ubuntu)'s auto-download folder. BAM HD commercial-free TIVOing of all your shows on cable or network, to your media PC which displays to any LCD TV just like it was a monitor. BONUS you only need one of these http://www.logitech.com/en-us/speakers-audio/home-pc-speakers/speaker-system-Z906 which can be had way below the MSRP shown there to get pretty solid surround sound. No receiver, no BS. if you already have something more oxygen free copper level voodoo-y, you can use it no prob. Get one of these http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823176018 to use as your universal remote and you're golden.
Depending on where you live I'd Investigate installing OTA HD antennas for local broadcasts (legal, free, and better quality than cable) and couple that with a devise like ROKU for streaming Internet content like Netflix
A combination of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video will get you just about everything you can watch on cable (except premium channels like Showtime or HBO) at a significant savings in cost.
For most network programming (including lots of basic cable), Hulu Plus provides current and past seasons for $8/month.
Amazon Instant Video (or iTunes) will give you most everything else for $2-$3 an episode, which sounds like a lot, but when you do the math, you're paying a lot less over the year than you would for a cable subscription. Plus there's the bonus of having a much cheaper bill during the summer months when most shows are off the air.
Add a Netflix subscription for another $8/month if you're interested in movies and a larger library of past seasons of TV shows.
For my household, we managed to shave about $90/month off our "entertainment" cost by going this route. YMMV.
Roku is the cheapest, simplest, and most user-friendly hardware on the market, although you can run all of these services from an Xbox 360, PS3, or modern TiVo. If you're already significantly invested in the Apple ecosystem, an AppleTV would be another good hardware option.
Torrenting is a much more cost-effective option, although it requires a lot of hardware/software setup and maintenance, may not be user-friendly for everyone in your household, and is mostly illegal.
We use Aereo to access live over-the-air TV through our internet connection. Great service, but limited to the major networks and some other basic channels (and currently only available in a few metro markets). This -- combined with the Netfllx/Apple TV services described above -- has addressed the bulk of our TV viewing needs for half the cost of a cable TV/phone/internet bundle.
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