We’re back! Last article we went over how to get home phone service for practically free by using Ooma, and this time around we’re tackling the heated Cable/TV part of the telecom trifecta. And just like with our home phone line, I unfortunately screwed myself multiple ways in this department too – one of which out of frugality itself!
(See that big honkin’ TV up there? That’s ours. It’s large, paid off, 10 years old and absolutely beautiful. Except when it’s not and your hacking attempts go to $hit. Sigh…)
Let’s start with why we were messing around with TV in the first place
Plain and simple, we’re tired of paying $170+ for cable/internet/phone every month. We still want all three parts in our lives (notice the “want” there and not “need” – except for the internet), we just know there are cheaper ways to go about it if you harness creativity and newfangled technology. So just like with our cell phones last month, and car insurance and home phone service this month, we set out to tackle the TV portion of this outrageous bill all in the spirit of challenging everything.
And why do we still want cable TV? Well, I’ll let my wife answer that part:
“Do you know what it’s like to grow up as a kid without cable? You can’t take it away from me now that I have it – I love it! And you can tell your blogging friends that too.”
That’s reason #1 :) Obviously outside of my control, unless I fancy myself a divorce. Reason #2 is that I too enjoy a handful of the offerings TV and premium channels serve up. I can live without them no doubt about it, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy my reality shows and HBO/Showtimes to catch some of my favorite series. Shows like Game of Thrones, Homeland, True Detective, The Leftovers, and more recently Ray Donovan. My wife calls him my current man crush, and I wouldn’t totally disagree with her – Liev Schreiber is a bad ass now! Like the complete opposite of Cotton Weary from back in the old Scream days, haha…
Anyways, the point is we’re not ready to get rid of TV’s luxuries all the way yet, but we are wanting to scale back and save some dough in the process.
Here was the plan on how to accomplish this
First, find a way to get Netflix/internet onto our TV like all other modern rock stars. I get the appeal of watching it on your laptop, but after 12 hour days behind a computer it’s the last thing I want do when unwinding. The second step – call up Verizon and simply ask them to cut channels out and lower our bill (Hah! As if it were that easy).
We figured if we could find a way to substitute our shows/movies over time by using the internet instead of Verizon, we’d save a nice stash of cash like many of you are already doing and have the best of both worlds going on. Then, maybe, just maybe, my wife would be singing a new tune with those dollars in her pockets?
How to stream internet to your TV, way #1
So off I went… I looked on Amazon for ways to hook up my TV to the internet, and came across a slew of options. There was Roku, Sungale, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and a ton more which I eventually got inundated with until I noticed that many Blu-ray DVD players now come with built-in wifi? Who knew?!
I had never heard of this as we never watch DVDs, but if you can stream the internet on it at the same time while saving that money I was ’bout it ’bout it. And since I thought you needed a DVD player to watch Netflix, it killed two birds with one stone. (That was mistake #1 – you don’t need a DVD player necessarily – you can STREAM shows/movies through Netflix too! Oops.)
So I looked around and landed on the highly rated Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray that had built in Wi-Fi for $87.03 – on sale from $129.99 which it’s currently at. That was mistake #2. Not because it’s a bad product or anything (the reviews are great!), but because IT DIDN’T WORK WITH OUR TV! I just assumed it would because why wouldn’t it, right?
Here’s our TV again in case you mysteriously missed it the first time:
It’s large as $hit (60-something inches!) and rocks HDTV surprisingly enough, but it never occurred to me that it had long met it’s prime w/ technology. I of course knew it was ancient, but who looks at the ports in the back when buying this stuff? How would I know it didn’t have the much-required HDMI hookup that’s apparently quite important with streaming and internet badassity? I never thought twice, and because so paid a hefty penalty in both time and money w/ this lame hacking attempt of mine.
Then there was mistake #3: waiting two months to open it up and try connecting everything. Meaning, I didn’t realize it wasn’t compatible until it was way too late to return it, thereby losing a cool $87 on the spot, ugh… Of course, I can still hawk it and probably recoup most of that money since it retails for $130 again, but still. Moving in the opposite direction here!
But wait for mistakes #4, #5, #6, and #7 first: I thought I could outwhit myself and find a way to jigger around different cords and contraptions to see if that would save this debacle. So first bought a coaxial cable to see if that would do the trick (the Blu-ray and my TV both had slots for it) but of course that didn’t work – you need HDMI! Then I picked up an HDMI cord (getting closer) and tried plugging that into the DVD player which also connected the cable box, which then connected to the TV. That’s gotta work right? Nope.
I should have stopped there and ate the loss, but unfortunately I went on… I wondered if you could somehow up convert the old stuff into the new stuff, and came across a handful of reviews saying you could by buying a converter doo-hicky for those wanting to use new equipment with old TVS (like DVD players). Exactly what I needed! So I tried my hand at that dropping another $25 to get the well-rated Mini HDMI to 3RCA Composite AV Converter – along with the appropriate cables (another $5), and off I went to convert.
That didn’t work either. Though, I did muster up some resemblance of a conversion as I could at least then program the DVD player into the TV screen, however it was all pretty blurry and I managed to shrink the viewing size of the TV in half too. Damn.
At the end of the
day month, I was out another $50 and chalk full of cords and contraptions. So if anybody needs any…?
And here is what we’ve learned so far:
- Do you research before picking up electronics!
- Don’t wait for forever to see if it works
- Hold onto your patient pants and don’t go dumping more money into something with a tiny % of working. Similar to gambling when you keep waiting for that next big chance to recoup your losses!
This brings us to (the cheapest) way to stream stuff to your TV :)
The kind folks at Republic Wireless mentioned they were having a deal going on where all new purchasers of their phones/service would be getting a free Google Chromecast thingamajig, and they asked if I wanted to try one out and then do a giveaway (Unfortunately the offer is now over BUT they say it’ll probably happen again – so watch for it :)).
At first I didn’t know what the hell it was, so I Googled it and found this:
“Chromecast is a thumb-sized media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV. Simply use an Android phone, tablet, iPhone®, iPad®, Mac or Windows laptop, or Chromebook to cast your favorite entertainment and apps right to the big screen.”
“Hell yeah!” I said. “I’ve been looking for a new way to stream internet on my TV cuz my dang Blu-ray sucks balls. Send me one to test and then I’ll give one away too!”
But I quickly notice the “plugs into the HDMI port” part again, ugh… Yet another time my awesome TV screws me! Why can’t I just be like everyone else and splurge on a huge (new) flat screen?? It would solve all my problems!!! :)
I once again tried attaching it to my frankenstein concoction of cords I’ve since built in the hopes of capturing that miracle all gamblers hold on to, but yet again no dice (see what I did there?). It then occurred to me that – crap! I actually HAD a newer TV I picked up while pimping out my blogger lair a few years back! Maybe I could try that?? It’s 1/10th of the size, but hell – I might actually be able to pull something off for once!
I ran upstairs to our master bedroom where it sits all alone waiting for action (we never use it), plugged it in to that sexy HDMI port that I’d never had the pleasure of seeing before, downloaded the app onto my smartphone (Android Moto X) And BAM! I was watching episode after episode of Elmo’s World with my baby boy in no time. Best feeling EVER.
I had the internet in the palm of my hand/TV, baby! Literally! ;)
And guess what? It only costs $35.00. A one-time purchase for forever streaming of internet/tv/media etc on your TV w/out any monthly fees – huzzah! And you can pick it up in all sorts of stores including directly from Google, and of course The Amazon. Where it’s been reviewed over 20,000 times and has a total of 4 out of 5 stars.
Here’s more about Google Chromecast:
- Supports Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Plex, MLB.TV, ESPN, Crunchyroll, MLS, Crackle, Rdio, Vevo, Flixster and Google Play Movies and Music mobile apps as well as select content through Chrome browser, works with recommended modem
- Box includes Chromecast, HDMI extender, USB power cable, and power adapter. No remote needed. Chromecast works with devices you already own, including Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Chrome for Mac, and Chrome for Windows.
- Easy setup: Plug into any HDTV and connect to your home WiFi network
- Works with Android, iOS, Chrome for Mac, and Chrome for Windows
- Stream online video, music to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop; Available for Windows computers running Windows 7 or higher
That was my favorite part: Using your cell phone as a remote :)
So, where does this leave us within the TV money saving world?
Well, for you guys tons of options if you don’t rock an old-ass TV like we do ;) You can go the Blu-ray route if that’s your bag, the Roku route (didn’t look into much but I know some of you readers use and love them), or the cheaper – and more effective route, in my opinion – the Chromecast way. For a whopping $35 bucks. Then you work yourself away from cable and instant savings!
As for us, we’re still up a creek without a paddle. We could move our smaller TV down into our main room if we wanted to have access to everything, but that kinda sucks (first world problems, right?). Orrrrr we can cave in and pick up a new sexy TV to then stream everything to and slowly de-tach ourselves from Cable, but pending a change in the Mrs’ seas, that’s pretty out of the equation right now too. Though, I must admit it would be nice to free up some space up in here and replace that honkin’ thing right up on the wall a la Cribs style! I totally get why normal people do that now – they don’t want to be the next Jay-Z, they just like room to walk around their family room! ;)
So what’s the deal in the end? Well, you’ll have to wait for the last part of our series to drop next week and find out (sorry!). This post has gotten out of control long, haha… Almost as worse as our Ask J$ Anything Day, which was actually pretty fun! You should check it out when you get a chance – over 50 questions asked and answered – some really good ones too (like how much I made in 2013).
Now onto the Chromecast giveaway!!!
For all of you who made it this far and haven’t died of boredom yet, your chance at a reward is close. Answer this question below and one of you’ll win a Google Chromecast courtesy of Republic Wireless:
What’s one way you’re currently saving money with TV? Or on your phone/cable/internet bills?
Drop your answer in the comments and we’ll randomly select a winner next Friday, Sep 5th.
GOOD LUCK! And thanks for reading all of this – and my blog for that matter :) I wouldn’t be here without you guys. Have a save (and non-expensive) Labor Day weekend out there – we’ll see ya when you’re back on Monday…. Or is it Tuesday? My boss never gives me any day offs anymore…
UPDATE: Giveaway Over. Thanks for participating everyone! I wish I could give y’all a free Chromecast but unfortunately I only have one :( At least they only cost $35! So don’t let it stop you from testing it out if you think it’ll save you money in the end :) And now, the winner of this super cool and sleek Chromecast is…. bum bum bum… Nicole A! Congrats! Hope you have some fun with it!
UPDATE 2: You can find the last part of our 3 part series here.
Big thanks again to Republic Wireless for hooking us up today. Apparently I learn all my money saving and technology tips directly from you now!