March will be a year since I got Armstong cable’s EXP service (love it) which gives you TiVo DVR service (LOVE IT)  and multi-room service (really didn’t use it). Thinking it was a one year special price I started looking at dropping cable TV and just watching stuff online. As pretty much anyone knows this is not easy but here is a quick review of what I figured out.
I watch wayyyyyyy toooo much TV. From 8-11pm most nights of the week there are often 2 shows being watched / recorded. Then add what you see just surfing the channel guide, movie you see advertised, or you catch a whole day marathon of something on the History or Discovery channel… Then there is Netflix and Amazon shows (new and old)…….
P.S. BBC America has Planet Earth 2 debuting this Saturday Feb. 18th and their other shows have been airing a lot leading up to it.  The new show was shot in 4k. It will be very hard to watch in 4k unless you have Dish network in the U. S.  It looks like Amazon may offer it in 4k streaming when the series is over at the end or March?
I have cut back the past month or so, removing some shows from my record list that I don’t completely love anymore. Shows like The Black List and Blindspot that aren’t as good after the first season or 2.  I have been trying to do other things like take some online classes (and I’ll say read more).
THE GUIDE
I am not counting Netflix or Amazon video because they get very little new stuff and I already have them.I am looking for  network tv/ cable tv replacement like CBS, NBC,ABC, USA, TNT…..
First off if you want Pittsburgh or Youngstown local news or channels your are out of luck unless you live close enough to pick up the signals over the air – which I can not.
If you can get local network channels over the air or don’t care, the best options are going to be Sony’s Vue (You don’t need a PS4, it is available on several devices or as an app) or a Roku. the Roku will also access Sony’s Vue app so you can pay for both if you want……
I found Sony’s Vue to offer the most channels for the best price. It has 3 levels and starts at $29. Roku service starts at $25 but has less channels than Vue.
Vue will also let you “record” shows online and keep 30 min. of what you are watching on the PS4 to let you back up or pause live watching!  (NICE)
CBS is the hardest network to get on any other service other than their own All Access app.  Hulu has CBS or some CBS shows available the next day. So if you are a big CBS watcher – like me – you may need to add Hulu to your roku, TV, PS4, for $7.99 a month more or pay for their app.
Of course the Roku or however you access Sony’s Vue, will also let you sign in or up for other services like Netflix, amazon, Hulu, sling, or CBS all access.  So If you need to buy a new device the Roku is probably the best way to go (cheapest starting at $50). If you have A PS4 you are all set with pretty much any streaming you want. The PS4 is also at gaming device and Bluray player  so there is a lot of value in it if you would use those.
Look at your TV’s available apps to see what you can already sign in / up for and compare to Roku or other box.
PRICE
In figuring out the cost, you have to add up your Internet service + new hardware? + service fee (possible multi services if you NEED certain channels).    For me it was going to be $49 for internet + $29 for Sony Vue + $7.99 for Hulu?. I have a Ps4, Xbox 360, and TV that can all access other apps like hulu, netflix, amazon.  I was not sure if i was going to get Hulu or not.  So lets say $88 just to be safe.  Compared to the $153 I was paying for Armstrong cable + internet + EXP + phone bundle and introductory price.  That is a pretty good savings!
(-30 for the phone makes it $123 just for tv stuff). Still a good savings.

 

In the long run, having access to all the channels I want, having a nice DVR box with remote and guide, I am sticking with Armstrong – but I am changing my plans to include less channels and a basic DVR instead of the TiVo. Two of the packages I had did not have any HD channels – so I deleted them on my channel guide anyway. I did not use the multi room watching after the first few days. I am going to port the home phone ( a number that has been in the family since current phone numbers where invented – like seriously!) to a tracfone just to keep the number.  My new bill will be $107.  So it’s still a big savings and not much more than the very restrictive internet only options.

Sony Vue or Roku box are right now the best options if you can get over the air local channels or don’t care about CBS, ABC, NBC live TV.

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Posted by Ken Barker

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