Tech

My Cordcutting Experience: Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Transition


Cutting the cord has a constant conversation since the emergence of streaming services. If you’re anything like I was, I’m sure you’re hesitant to give up good ol’ cable.

You think you need 150+ channels but you really don’t

You think streaming services may be unreliable but they’ve proven otherwise so far.

Taking that first step is scary but I have tried it for myself and I’m here to share my experiences.

Step One: Find the Plan that Meets Your Needs.

There are many streaming services out there but I’ll only focus on the three I’ve had experience with. Others include Hulu TV, YouTube TV, and FuboTV. I can’t give an opinion on either of these, but give them a shot as well.

Sling

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To my knowledge, Sling was the first giant of the cord cutting game. They drew in customers by offering affordable packages and even Roku Players at a discount.

Pros:

  • Affordable pricing
  • Good channel selection
  • A la carte package personalization. No matter if you want to watch new or sports 24/7, there’s a package for you

Cons:

  • Streams at a poor resolution. May need to “Fit to screen” which isn’t the best way to watch TV
  • Has DVR, but as an add-on.
  • Can’t stream on multiple devices at once, this is also an add-on.
  • Those a la carte packages? Also add-ons.
  • Not a seamless transition when switching channels. Buffers often.
  • This is a personal pet peeve and I know it doesn’ t matter the most but I didn’t like the interface.

Conclusion: While $20/mo. is enticing, by the time you include all the add-ons you’re paying the same price you would be paying for a better streaming service. However, if you don’t care about any of this, Sling is the way to go.


 

DirectTV Now

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I’m not quite sure when DirectTV Now emerged. I didn’t even know it was available to everyone either because when I hear “DirectTV Now” I think this is a mobile plan for already existing satellite subscribers. Anyway, I gave it a shot and here’s what I think:

Pros:

  • Great channel selection
  • Easy to navigate
  • Has most local channels. This is a big deal for SEC Saturdays
  • If you prepay, you can get an Apple TV for free

Cons:

  • Reports of outages. Never good.
  • I don’t know if there’s DVR. Maybe there is. I just couldn’t find it.
  • Has On Demand, but it’s horrible. Although their main menu is easy to navigate, it takes a few extra steps to catch up on that show you missed earlier in the week.
  • The plans are kinda pricey to me. The get a good variance of channels the more you go up, sure, but it almost doesn’t justify cutting the cord.

Conclusion: DirectTV Now is a good service that’s even great at times. The ugly On Demand feature was a deal breaker for me because that’s a feature I really need. Also, cutting the cord for this service might only be beneficial to large familiars who are already paying a ton for premium cable service. Dropping from $200-250 to $70/mo is good. Dropping from $90 to $70? Not so much.


PS Vue

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PS Vue, I’ll give you this one for free. You have a branding problem. Whenever I recommend this service to someone they always respond with “But I don’t have a PlayStation”. Well, you don’t need one. There is a PS Vue app on any streaming device you will use.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous interface. Incredibly easy to navigate the menu.
  • DVR/On Demand is great. Also easy to use.
  • Miss a few minute of your favorite show? You can rewind it to the beginning. You can also pause live TV.
  • If you do have a Playstation, the Vue app has a multi-screen mode. This will come in handy for March Madness.

Con:

  • No Viacom channels (BET, VH1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon). I know off the bat this might be a dealbreaker for most.
  • Recently had a price increase. Which means their competitor to Direct TV Now’s “Gotta Have It” plan is now $74. I won’t even insult you by posting it.
  • No local channels. Fret not, I’ll give you a solution to this later.

Conclusion: Despite its flaws, Vue is still a pretty good service. If you can live without Viacom, there are still some good bang-for-your-buck packages available through Vue.

Step Two: Dropping Cable, Keeping the Internet

If you’re with Comcast, U-Verse, etc chances are you have a cable/internet bundle. So which plan is right for you?

For streaming purposes, it’s good to have your internet speed be at least 75 Mbps. 50 is fine if you’re not streaming on multiple TVs at once.

When I made the switch, I kept a basic channel package alone with my internet. To keep me as a customer, an HBO/Cinemax/Starz package was even thrown in. These promos are usually always available, so ask about them. This softened the blow of Vue not having local channels in my area.

Step Three: Get Your Own Modem & Router

Cutting the cord is supposed to be about shaving costs, right? Well, first you’re going to have to spend a little money to save it in the long-run. I’m 90% sure if you’re reading this, you’re probably using the modem and router provided to you by your internet service provider. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t even look into the fine details of your bill, you just pay it. So chances are, you’re unaware you paying to rent this equipment. It could be anywhere from $10-30 extra dollars a month. So go to the store, buy your own and return this equipment. Just make sure you check the compatibility list given by your internet service provider.

I recommend doing your own research to find the best modem/router combo (hint: stay away from the all-in-one modem-router. Trust me).

I’m currently using an Arris Surfboard modem. You can find these really cheap on Amazon but I’d warn you to stay away from used modems on eBay. A used or refurbished modem may have passed all basic diagnostic tests but might be a pain to install for a new user. Just avoid this headache altogether.

Router: There are a lot of good routers out there. If you want to go big, get a Nighthawk. They’re a bit pricey but they’re totally worth it.

Optional: Depending on the layout of your home, you may want to invest in range extenders if you have dead zones. Once again, this all depends on the layout and your equipment.

Step Four: Get a Streaming Device

If you have a Smart TV that has built-in Roku, ignore this.

Roku

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If you want to go simple, get the Roku Streaming Stick. The remote has buttons that take you directly to Netflix, Hulu, Sling or Direct TV Now. They’re also pretty cheap starting around $29.99.

If you have a UHD/4K TV, it would be in your best interest to get the ultra.


Amazon Fire

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If you’re a Prime member, this is another great device. Gives you another streaming service to view. Even if you’re not, there are still a lot of bonuses to having Fire devices. Unlike Roku, I love the interface. Also, the Fire TV also has an ethernet port which definitely helps with streaming.


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Still looking for a solution to the local channel problem? Well, an HD antenna is the way to go. They typically have a 50-mile radius which should allow you to pick up all the local channels in your are. They’re incredibly cheap as well. You’ll see them priced differently but honestly, never spend more than $15 for one.

 

 

I know this all seems like information overload but cutting the cord really is easy to get used to. You realize you had tons of channels you never even watched and learn to live with what you like the most. It’s not perfect and there were a few hiccups along the way but the savings are worth it.

 

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