So we have been living without cable since the beginning of August. We held onto it the first week of August for Shark Week. Unfortunately, RCN reminded us why we were getting rid of cable…the cable was out pretty much the entire week. But not only was the cable out, the internet was also. The problem was somehow our cable line had been cut so our neighbors were also without cable and internet. It took so many phone calls and visits for RCN to get their act together. I think it took about 3 phone calls before they realized this was not only a problem for us but also for our neighbors.
Now we are happily living without cable, though we do still have internet with RCN. It has been a pretty easy adjustment, mostly due to our sweet set up. Our HD antenna was working great, but after a lot of thought and research I really wanted DVR. It’s so nice to be able to come home in the middle of one your shows and to be able to start from the beginning because it was being recorded.
In July I started doing a lot of reading about how to have DVR without cable. Tivo was the first and most popular DVR product that I saw, but with Tivo we would have a monthly bill. After more research I found out you could make your computer into a DVR. Basically you install a TV tuner into your computer and watch live TV through it with the help of an antenna.
We looked into 2 TV tuners with the best reviews: the SiliconDust HD HomeRun Dual HD Digital TV Tuner HDHR3-US and the Hauppauge 1229 HVR 2250 TV tuner. Both were very similar but we decided to go with the Hauppauge. It was about $100.
So here’s how we set up…we moved my PC into the living room so it could be next to the TV. My PC has Windows 7 on it so it has Windows Media Center. This is pretty much a free program that you run with a TV tuner. It allows you to watch live TV on your PC, you can watch whatever channels your HD antenna can pick up. It comes with a guide and even the option to record live TV. To use Windows Media Center though you need a TV tuner and that’s where Hauppauge comes in.
After a lot of trial and error we have a set up that really works for us. We ended up moving the HD antenna into our bedroom window that faces south. It gets the best reception here. We taped it with clear tape onto the window. It’s not really noticeable with the blinds. Then we ran a TV cable from the antenna to the PC. We had to purchase this cable because we didn’t have one long enough; I think it was about $30. From the PC to the TV we have a DVI to HDMI cable adapter. This was $18.99 at Microcenter. We bought a wireless keyboard to use as our remote. It’s the k400 Logitech. I like it because it’s small and light and works great.
Once everything is hooked up correctly and you install the Hauppauge driver you’re ready to scan for channels using Windows Media Center. We opted not to download the Hauppauge TV guide & program software because we read Windows Media Center was good enough. So the PC receives the TV signal from the HD antenna and over the air channels are projected on the TV from the computer in HD. It was really easy to set up.
After we had all the channels coming in crystal clear I started setting up our recording options. It’s just like a regular DVR you get through your cable box, except this one is already paid off. You can put in series recordings so you don’t even have to think about it your Hauppauge TV tuner and recorder will just record whatever shows you tell it to. Like most DVR offered by cable companies the Hauppauge is a dual tuner so you can record 2 shows at once. It is freaking awesome. The only thing you have to remember is your shows will not be recorded if your PC isn’t on.
So after about 6 months of no cable, do we miss it? Not really. Rather than spending hours watching really bad horrible reality shows or lifetime movies, I find myself doing other things, like watching Netflix. But really it does feel kind of refreshing to not have access to cable. We are still able to watch all of the shows we were watching when we had cable. We record Big Brother, Survivor, Amazing Race and Grimm right now. We have found ways to get access to The Walking Dead, and we are up to date. We have been watching every Bears game live on free TV, as well as a few Hawks games that have been on WGN. We still haven’t tried any of the websites for streaming sports live because it really hasn’t been necessary…but watch out for that blog later.
Actually I think getting rid of cable has made me watch more TV, but better shows. For example if we still had cable I wouldn’t have time to finish series like Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and Parks and Recreation. It’s pretty cool and it’s been going very well.
$120 Hauppauge TV Tuner
$50 extra cables
$40 Wireless keyboard
Old RCN cable and internet monthly bill $130
New RCN internet bill $28
Approx.-$45/month for internet and TV services
About $1000 saved a year!