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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter Potpourri I: Changing How You Think About TV

Roku is by far one of the best investments we ever made! If you like TV, but don't like fooling around with the HMDI cable between your laptop or tablet and the TV for family viewing, get a Roku box. The fanciest model costs about $100. You will need one for each TV in the house. Get a Netflix and HuluPlus subscription. Netflix is $8 a month or so and HuluPlus is $9. Get really fancy and get an Amazon Prime membership for $79 a year, and you also get the opportunity to see even more stuff with your free shipping on Amazon-delivered goods. Amazon also has some of the better shows on sale for $1.99 an episode, more for HD (we have a "Justified Season 4" season pass- no kids allowed). Then make a trip to PlayOn and PlayLater, where you can get about 40 of the top cable networks. It's a $59.99 one-time fee for both of them, and that takes care of the DVR if yours comes from your cable company.That should give you better opportunities than most cable companies offer- and they won't yank the Hallmark Channel in favor of (ugh) the Barbie Channel.

Part of the problem is the outmoded way of thinking of TV. Everybody over 45 remembers a time when you HAD to watch the show at that very moment, or you wouldn't see that particular episode until rerun season. Now, with DVR, DVD and related software, watching a TV show comes at your time, your pace. If you work and TV is a topic of conversation, you will find a lot of people don't watch shows at the time they first run. 

There is also the brave new world of Internet TV. Not only is TV available through the Internet and TCP/IP protocols, daring actors, directors and producers are making their own TV, and it's pretty good. I am personally a big fan of Chow.com, and the Supertaster (and his cat).

The average cable bill cost about $80 a month, and that includes U-Verse, Comcast, DirectTV and Time Warner (although I wish I could get Time Warner- great company). That's $960 a year!!! That doesn't include premium channels or OnDemand. You pay for all the channels in a package, whether you like them or not. And you better be on your game when it comes to locking the kids out of certain channels!

We were averaging $1584 on the one-eyed monster and the cable boxes. By using Roku, the HMDI cable, various individual subscriptions and networks that give away their programs, we are now paying about $310 a year. We spent an initial investment of $320 on equipment, including the HMDI cable, a PC-2-TV converter for our older TV, an indoor antenna to pick up local signals (used), 2 Roku boxes, the PlayOn/PlayLater deal, and a Pico (also used) for projection from the tablet to the wall. So, this year, we will save about $954, and subsequent years we'll save $1274.

If you have an Xbox 360, a Wii, a BluRay DVD or a Smart TV, then you probably won't need the adaptive tools. You will need subscriptions for some of the Internet offerings. If you don't like Roku, take a look at Slingbox, Boxee, Simple TV. Also keep an ear and eye out for cable companies to start offering only the channels you want, based on a per-channel fee.

Cable and similar products are so 20th century, and for grandfamilies, SO expensive! I highly recommend these alternatives over traditional cable offerings. Besides, who doesn't want to be 21st century?

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Quiet Christmas

It was a very quiet Christmas here and in our home. Apparently, the majority of the Juniors and Lulubelles behaved sufficiently that there was no need for me to send emergency emails.GOOD!