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Draco1962

Middle-aged White Married Male Seeking...

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...advice and suggestions for cord cutting venture. I thought my topic title might solicit some curiosity so forgive me if any of you are disappointed as I am not available! :P

We currently have the Xfinity Triple Play (internet, cable and phone) and just came out of contract. We do not need the phone and are looking to replace the cable offerings as cheaply as possible.

Following is a list of things we have or will have in the near future to work with:

- HD (2) and UHD (1) TVS

- Firesticks (1 4K and 2 regular)

- Netflix subscription

- Xfinity 300mps service

- xfi Advance modem/router (replacing their older Cisco slab with fewer antennas) and may be adding pods to reach deadzones if new modem still lacking.

- In near future, son will be helping to run CAT6 to Living room, master bedroom, wife's office.

- Found OTA antenna in attic that I need to check to see if it can connect to coax and receive OTA signals and leverage existing coax prewire for local channels for news or internet outage.

We will not be building a home media server as there really isn't a need for us with so many smart appliances, apps, and services. So just looking for honest suggestions of free or inexpensive online services based upon your experiences. 

 

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I cut triple play down to doubleplay a few years ago. I decided to do try Playstation vue and now Hulu with live TV. PSvue got too expensive and now Hulu is doing the same. The ad experiance is horrible. They trick you, carefully placing ads you cant skip in places that force you to watch. I'm tired of it. Crapcasts DVR let me skip through ads after I recorded something (at least they used to). Hulu doesn't. And they make it sound like you can upgrade to adless and it'll be better. But it doesnt remove ads on any of the content added as part of the live tv subscription. Not just live channels, but the on demand content that comes with it (whole seasons of tv shows curiously missing seasons and episodes is another issue). Without live TV Hulu is fairly limited in content.

Netflix is a far better streaming experiance. PSvue was a better live tv experiance than Hulu (though they might have changed). I'm thinking of trying YouTube with live tv. My options are fairly limited by my local basketball teams network tv contracts. Otherwise I might give slingTV a try.

What I'm going to do soon, as I'm coming up on the end of the 2 year double play contract, is drop crimecast for CenturyLink. The home phone I keep as a dummy line for applications that require a phone number. It get all the scammers, never my cell. Anyway, I was thinking of Ooma VOIP, as you can keep your existing phone number. I can buy my own router/modem to avoid the rental fee. And CenturyLink is fast enough for streaming to 3 TVs in HD (25mbps). It's not a fat pipe connection with the mondeo upgrade package. One suitable for uploading 10 exabytes of hacked IOI intranet data to the OASIS servers, but it suits my needs.

 I pay $100/mo. At the moment just for phone/internet. I figure I can get that to $50. Then whatever streaming services add to that is about as affordable as I can make it. Honestly, I just want my basketball. I could get NBA league pass and use a VPN to circumvent the blackout, but that's cheating the captive marketing scheme the billionairs (and their lobbyist bought policies) want me willingly obey...like a good little American citizen.

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I built a home media server because in my future I plan to have my own place and probably won't be able to afford internet.  Being offline severely limits your options when cord cutting.  So my server currently holds a capacity of 84.2TB, of which 12.6TB is free.  I keep TV Shows, Movies, Music, and Photos on it.  Because it's a server, I also use it to store backups of my computer, and it's also a storage solution to hold things like eBooks and roms, etc.  I access the media on it from a Raspberry Pi that I installed LibreElec on (an OS designed to just hold Kodi).  With Kodi, I have access to all the server content.  Also on the server I have a series of TV tuners that I have connected to an OTA antenna which picks up all the major broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, CW/WB) as well as a few locally broadcast channels that aren't major networks.  I have a total of 5 tuners, giving me the ability to record 5 things at once, or watch 1 and record 4 at the same time.  My only problem with this setup is that some of the channels don't come in very well, and signal dropping is a constant problem.  Easily remedied with a better antenna or maybe a relocation of it.  As for the Kodi side of things, the latest Leia+ version finally brought with it the security requirements to allow premium 3rd party services.  I have an Amazon Prime and Netflix subscription, so now I can access those from Kodi.  The Pi is still a little under powered to provide a high resolution stream, but 720p works perfectly.  1080p will work with some stuttering, and 4k is not possible (although I think the Pi4 that just came out does support 4k now).  If you're not streaming, watching media from the server has no problem playing back 1080p, and Kodi has passthrough so I can actually get the full HD Dolby or DTS sound to my receiver for movies.  Kodi is just a glorified media player.  But it can do a lot more too.  Through "unofficial" 3rd party apps, you can gain access to IPTV services to stream internet tv channels.  A lot of cable networks and worldwide channels are available freely.  There are also addons which allow you to access internet storage hubs and stream pretty much any movie or tv show you want, by providing a service which is essentially a search engine to find sources online for what you want to watch.  My dad doesn't like the stuff I have on my server, so he uses these 3rd party apps on his Kodi in the living room to watch shows and movies.  He almost never watches TV on the cable box anymore.  If there's a show he wants to watch, he just uses the app to search for it and watches it streamed.  He also uses the Amazon and Netflix apps.

A Pi costs roughly $35.  With a power supply, SD card, case, remote, and HDMI cable, you can get a fully working system for about $50. 

Firesticks, Roku, etc are other ways to get access to online streaming content.  You can also use other devices like BluRay players, game consoles, and even your computer if you hook it up to the tv.  These all have varying costs.  What you need to decide is what content you plan access.  I don't own any Amazon devices so I don't know what their cost is and what they access.  They might be able to only access Amazon Prime.  Netflix is everywhere, but not all devices access Amazon too.  Then you have other services you can subscribe to too, like Hulu, HBOGO, or any of the new services like CBS All Access and the new Disney+.  These all cost subscriptions on top of the hardware to access them.  For me, it just makes more sense to have everything I want to watch stored locally.  Streaming is great if you have the bandwidth and the subscription.  Or the 3rd party apps that search is a great option, only not EVERYTHING is available, and you have to rely on a good quality host.  But there certainly are options out there.

So in closing, it's really up to you.  But in my own situation, and through future planning, my setup is this.  A home server housing all the media I want to watch, listen to, or view.  If there's something I don't have, I'll download it.  I watch everything through Kodi, installed on a Raspberry Pi.  If it's something I just want to watch, I'll look for it on Amazon or Netflix.  If I don't know what I want to watch, I'll use a 3rd party addon to access 24/7 IPTV stations like all-day Action Movies, Sci-Fi Movies, Disney Movies, M*A*S*H, Spongebob, etc.  If I want to watch something else, there's the 3rd party addon to search for it online and stream it for me.  The system works, and doesn't cost anything more than the hardware and subscriptions to Amazon and Netflix.  When I move out and have no internet, I still have my server with all my downloaded content to keep me entertained until I get internet.

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I disconnected the cable channels and phone today. I upgraded to the 600 mbps xtreme package and swapped to their Xfi  Advantage modem. Total per month with auto-payments enabled will be about $105 per month. We have Prime and Netflix so good there. I picked up a pair of Mohu Leaf 30s for the OTA news and local content.

With physical media (DVD, BD, 4K  and VHS) titles well over 400 to 500 I think entertainment is covered. If anything, we'll be going through that collection and downsizing to a few collections and series or movies that are must keeps for nostalgia.

I will have to start going through some of the apps to see what looks good. Have either of you tried PlutoTV?

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I've used plutoTV. It's kida like Sony crackle in that they have programming to watch and are interrupted with ads like live TV. Honestly, it's a better than I get OTA in my smallish city. The bigger cities have more TV stations and attenas blasting out microwaves, so my Dad who lives in a big city gets way more channels (not that there's much to watch). Even with just free services, there is much more than I had as a kid before cable. We had like 4 channels that came in clear enough to watch. Alluminum foil helped to get another one or 2, or to clear up the signal from an important channel. So we are really better off than 30 years ago. Add a couple of paid steaming services and the only thing I find myself lacking is my local sports teams. They have the big cable TV contracts and play the blackout game. So it's either pay serious cash monthly, go to a sports bar, or find something else to do...Or circumvent the blackouts.

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This is our first 24 hours and, even if we just had the TV on for background noise, it is taking getting used to. Certain local programs are on at the same time and that set the clock for activities. 

The local live apps are lacking, but again will have to get used to occasional pixelated live TV reception. 

As you noted, still better than 30 years ago!

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