Questions about giving up cable

line2 on FlickrWell, looks like we’re going to pull the plug on cable TV. Real bummer.

It’s actually not the cable that I’ll miss, it’s the DVR. That thing has changed the way we watch TV. We go to the DVR play list before the TV guide. We watch what we want when we want. We catch all the shows we like but at the time we want to see them.

So I’ve been looking at my options and have questions. That’s why I’m turning to you, my internets connections, instead of the google.

Keep in mind that the motivation here is to save money, not spend more.

We can go down to basic cable (networks + a few extras = 20 channels) for about $20/mth. But if we go to those channels, there’s not much more we’d watch so I’m wondering why even pay the $20 and not go all free? But then where does that digital box come in? Do I have to get that? If so, where and how much? 

I guess my ultimate question is: if I want to save the most money and watch network TV, what is my best option? My guess is it’s between paying for basic cable or getting a digital box.

Appreciate your help.

And yes, we’ll be turning to online TV like,, and (unless someone can suggest something better that is streaming, not downloading).

UPDATE: We’re on the wait list for gov’t coupon so we’re not buying the converter yet. We’re looking at the Zenith DTT901 Digital TV Tuner Converter Box and the Antennas Direct DB2 Multi Directional HDTV Antenna.  Thoughts?

photo source: Flickr photo Line2 by marekkosmal

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  • I’m firing in the dark here, because it’s been a while since I’ve had cable, but… the people in the office here are saying that digital cable is really not that big of an “upgrade” given the cost. They suggest basic cable.

    If you want to save the most, why not look at a good OTA antenna with a digital converter box. You can pull all of the networks from where you live, so you’re looking at 10 channels or so without the monthly fee.

  • WIth our antenna & converter box (just down the road from you) we get 34 channels…granted, that’s about 11 variations of PBS and several religious channels, but it’s totally enough for us. All of our favorite network shows can be watched online, so while a DVR would be nice, we still don’t worry about missing our shows. The quality is good, too.

  • PaulF

    I haven’t had cable for at least 10 years.
    I have an antenna in my attic that I have connected to my old cable lines so I can get reception wherever there’s a cable connection in the house.
    I have two digital converters for the two TVs that are analog (My LCD is digital).
    If you want to record, you have to put the recorder past the converter. I can’t record on my LCD because IT is the converter/receiver.
    I don’t know if the Govt. is still passing out vouchers for converters or not. You’re allowed to get two vouchers. I got mine at Radio Shack, but that was months ago, I don’t know who’s got the best deals. The important thing to remember is – a converter is a converter is a converter. Maybe some have more features than others, but they all convert fine.

    Hope that helps.

    PS – I used to have rabbit ears, but I had to get the attic antenna, because if the signal is too low, you don’t get static – you get nothing.

  • We haven’t had cable for years. We did get the voucher thru the gov’t and, with the voucher, I think paid like $20 for our converter box thru Dish Network. I don’t know about the whole recording thing. I have wanted to look into it myself, but haven’t had the time to figure it out. I tell you who is a great resource for stuff like this is Steve Pierce. He is brilliant. Jason has asked him a few times about the recording thing, but again, like I said, we haven’t had the time to get it set up. One thing I love now days, is the fact that most network shows are on-line on the network website. I have watched several shows like that when I miss them. So, I say go for no cable.

  • rob

    so it’s sounding like the formula is converter box + antenna = networks and a few others. Right? So where do I get the box and how much?

  • Bob Williams

    Get Thee to a Radio Shack for both. Don’t go cheap on the antenna – about $35 is right. The box was $20 with the $40 off coupon.

  • rob

    I’m on the wait-list for a coupon, but it looks like I’ll be looking here for cupon-ready boxes. Guess I have to buy the box after I get the coupon since it’s not a rebate.

  • @rob – check out this site for coupon exchange ( from people who have vouchers but didn’t use/need them. Might be faster. We ended up getting a Zenith DTT901 Digital TV Tuner Converter from Amazon for the one TV we have that isn’t on DirecTV.