Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Surviving Without Cable When Charter Communications is Your Only Option

 

I hate Charter Communications and a quick internet search tells me I am not alone. They are overpriced (as is the rest of the cable/internet industry) and their service is horrible. I was dismayed when the City of Covington sold their cable system to Charter because that meant that they became the only cable provider for residents of certain parts of Newton County. After cancelling Directv (which I love, it just got too expensive) I reluctantly signed up for Charter internet only service.

Two years later, my monthly rate has doubled for service that remains unchanged. Their sales people call me almost daily trying to get me to sign up for cable and phone too. If I am not happy with their internet, why would I sign up for more services? There is always AT&T but I no longer give any of my business to AT&T. That leaves Charter as my only viable option in this area. Here is how I have been surviving without cable because I refuse to give Charter Communications any more of my money.

HD Digital Antenna - If your TV has a built in tuner (most modern TVs do), all you need to get the local channels is a good HD Digital Antenna. We use the RCA ANT1400 model and have had no issues with it. There are some channels that we can never seem to get but that is because we are a good distance away from Atlanta. The closer you are to Atlanta, the more channels you can pick up. If you are the handy type, my husband also made this homemade antenna in a few hours.

Smart Blu-Ray Player - Blu-Ray players are fairly inexpensive and are a great way to stream TV shows and movies directly onto your television. I do not like to watch videos on my computer so this is a must have for me. Pair this with a Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, or similar subscription-type streaming service and you can watch many of your favorite shows right on your TV. Some TV channels are moving away from streaming their shows for free on their web sites and have started charging for the content through subscription-type sites. More frustratingly, some, like the A&E channel, require you to log in through your cable provider to view their shows. Subscriptions are currently around $8 a month which is a lot cheaper than cable.

Gaming Systems - You can stream subscription-based movies and TV shows through most gaming systems. We use our Nintendo Wii to stream Amazon Instant Video, many of which we get free with our Amazon Prime membership.

Streaming Devices - Devices like the Roku, NeoTv, and AppleTV rival the cost of a Blu-ray player with streaming capabilities. They can stream many of the same subscription services but don't have the added capabilities of playing Blu-ray discs. Hence, the reason I just decided to get a smart Blu-ray player.

Redbox - Redbox is a great place to get the latest movies when they are released on DVD. I get many of my movies free because there are usually free rental codes floating around on the internet. I also get promotional offers directly from them through their email list. Redbox has also introduced a streaming service for $8 a month that includes 4 free DVD rentals per month.

Except for the digital antenna and traditional Redbox, the other options require existing internet service and a wireless internet setup to work properly. We are seriously considering cutting the cord completely and going to a wireless internet provider but we have not found one with service that can support streaming without constant buffering interruptions. Until then, we survive without cable by using our digital antenna for local channels, renting Redbox movies, and streaming Amazon Video through our Wii and Blu-ray player.

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