Supplementary Sidebar - The Cord Cutting Chronicles, Pt 3. The long kiss get lost.

When we last left our hero, I (Hey, it's possible.) had just been disappointed with stuttering issues trying to use Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant through my Samsung "smart" TV, and a call to Comcast didn't reveal any clues. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both have apps for Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant, so I powered up the PS3 for the first time in months to give it a whirl.

Success! Video playback was buttery smooth and the toast of my eyes welcomed the melty playback goodness into their every nook and cranny. The reviews I had read about my TV had said how useless the internet connectivity was, but I had thought "How bad could it be?" Really bad. My 2012 model Samsung's smart TV functionality is so bad as to be unusable. Buy it for the picture. Not the internet feature. It's weird that Samsung, a company that makes smartphones, could get it so wrong in scaling up the exact same functionality to their TVs. My guess is that TVs and smartphones are handled by two different arms of the company, and they don't share their secrets.

Anyhoo, with this victory fresh in my experience, I ordered a top-of-the-line Roku for 90-whatever dollars. It's smaller than a sandwich and can be connected via WiFi or cat 5 cable. Both types of connection flow smoothly, which surprised me a little. I tried going three days of no cable TV, using only the streaming services. It was fine. There's lots of stuff available in the streamers, and Hulu is even creating their own original programming. Better still, the production values are good. It's not ghetto-hillbilly reality TV stuff. Roku seems to have a handful of free "channels" that don't require a Hulu or Amazon membership. After all, the thing has to be able to do something on it's own, right? Good news, troops! The Thunderbirds series is available on Crackle, Roku's free movie channel. They are GO!

It was time to call Comcast for the cable TV break-up. Their phone maze questions led me to the "remove services" option, which in turn led to a recording reciting their regular business hours. Guess what? You can get ahold of a Comcast worker bee 24 hours a day for anything EXCEPT cancelling a service. You have to call them during their business hours to do that. The people who handle your cancellations don't want to hear from you that badly. Shocking!

Following day, I called in the afternoon to catch the "customer retention" or "too little, too late" department while they were still on the clock. I talked to a very nice lady, oddly enough, who asked why I was cancelling. I explained that I was tired of their channel packages and paying for things I don't want. She said she could understand that. When she asked me what Comcast could do to keep me, I said "a la carte pricing", and we both had a good long laugh. I told her that I would happily pay $5 per channel for each of the six or so channels I used. She then explained that my current deal was a better value, because I was getting over six hundred channels, and in my fantasy world, that would cost over $3000 per month. I then explained to her that I am a fire engine named Sylvia and my house is made of cabbage, because she clearly hadn't listened to the last five sentences I had said to her.

So now my Comcast bill should be about $54 per month, down from over $150. With their five megabit per second speed, I can watch a show while using a web browser on my phone without any problems. Amazon Instant Video comes as part of my Amazon Prime membership, and Hulu Plus costs $10 per month. This is better.

Next thing I plan to do is buy a digital TV antenna to see what's HD programming is flying through the air in my town. It's free. I might as well get some local traffic reports and weather (which Hulu and Amazon don't do, sadly.)

It's a little weird and scary, but it can be done. You can survive without cable. I suggest trying a streaming service for a few days before making the final cut. I guess I could have saved us both some time by just saying that to start with. Ah well.


Monday, we will return to our usual snarky-jokes-about-old-pictures program.


Steve Miller said...

Trouble with OTA (over-the air) digital HD TV isn't that it's limited to line-of-sight, it's that you've retreated 30 years into the past. In terms of both program content and choice, that's where you are. Since you're in one of the largest TV markets you will have more signals than those of us in the hinterlands (OK, so I'm in the 12th- or 17th-largest market depending on whether your reference is TV or radio), but the HD1s and 2s and (a couple) 3s either show Leave it to Beaver, local news (out of 24 hours daily, maybe two are fresh reporting*), local weather**, or local sports.

See? It's just cable was, when cable was Community Antenna TV. And when was the last time you heard the acronym, CATV? Yeah, 30 years ago.

*Reporting is NOT broadcasting the latest tweet and Facebook posting from viewers.
**The most puzzling feature of CATV was the local weather channel, where a camera scanned, left-to-right and back, three or four gauges showing temperature, wind speed and direction, and probably an analog clock.

MrsBug said...

So we got rid of Dish about a year ago to save some dough and since cable and DSL weren't available at the time, we just bought a Leaf Antenna. I have to say it works pretty darn good. I will ALSO say that there is a LOT of religious broadcasting on the air these days.

Glory be that AT&T finally bought DSL out our way so we can now stream Netflix with impunity and ignore those long nights of watching reruns of Bonanza, since it was the only thing on.

MrsBug said...

So one more question, since you mentioned you have it: do you like your Amazon Prime? Is it worth the $79/year? Now that we have fast connection, it might be worth it to be able to stream their stuff they have.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Actually, I signed up for Amazon Prime for the free shipping perks. Not every item on Amazon is eligible for the free 2-day shipping, but whatever you're looking for, you can probably find a Prime-eligible listing for it. Amazon added the streaming video content a while after I joined up, so that was a benefit I ignored for a while before I checked it out. Mostly, the stuff I want to watch isn't free on Amazon instant Video. They're pretty bad about dinging you left and right for episodes. Hulu is much more of an all-you-can-eat buffet, with a handful of pay-to-watch options. I think you should be able to browse Amazon's video content and see for yourself. Mostly Hulu is more plausible. I'll only buy seasons of Top gear and Game of Thrones from Amazon. Everything else they want to charge me for can screw off.

As for the Prime free shipping thing, I love it. The stuff I want is usually obscure or hard to find, and basically can't be found in physical stores. Plus I hate driving around to fight crowds only to learn a store doesn't have what I want. So, Amazon Prime pays for itself monetarily and mentally as far as I'm concerned.

MrsBug said...

I was thinking about the shipping part too. I should probably go back through my year's purchases from Amazon and see how much I bought and what my shipping costs were - I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out the same.

Thanks for the info!

Post a Comment