I’ve been putting some research lately into finding an alternative to cable and satellite services, and I’ve been really surprised by how many choices there are out there for television lovers to leave their high-priced monthly plans behind. I’m going to share the alternatives I’ve found below, as well as some other useful information I’ve picked up along the way.
About Box Televisions
I know this sounds REALLY old school, but I have a box TV. Yes, my secret is out. I use a television in my bedroom that is probably fifteen years old, and it’s a dinosaur in the world of televisions. This really isn’t an issue if you’re paying for cable or satellite services. Their boxes work fine with these. However, as I’m quickly starting to find out, should you decide to get bold and ditch ones of these services, finding an alternative can be difficult.
I’ve ordered a digital converter box for this and just recently got it hooked up. This was surprisingly easy to do. However, I don’t have any channels yet, as I’m still waiting on the antenna to get here. More about this later.
Digital converter boxes can get pretty pricey, and I am amazed at how many choices there are. Maybe even a little overwhelmed. However, I got the following model for $19.99, and it comes with all the cables you could need as well as the remote. Batteries weren’t included in mine, so make sure to pick up some AAA’s.
Why I Didn’t Just Buy a Flat Screen
I do have a flat screen in the main room of the house. However, I still have box sets in the other rooms.
Here are a few reasons why:
- My words to live by: If it’s not broke why try to fix it?
- A lot of places charge to dispose of television sets. I would hate to pay to get rid of a perfectly good (but outdated) television.
- You can buy these used for CHEAP. Don’t believe me? Check out your local Craigslist or second-hand store. You can get a huge (but extremely heavy) television for less than $50.
- The volume is just better. From what I’ve seen on the flatscreen televisions, the volume isn’t always so great.
By the time you buy a converter box and other things you’re going to need, this adds up fast. From what I’ve seen, 19 inch flatscreen televisions are around $100. It would definitely simplify your life to just purchase one of these, but then again 19 inches is not that big. It’s a decision only you can make.
If you are thinking about getting an antenna to use for local channels, the first thing you want to do is check for your local area to see which channels you should be able to receive. You can do that by clicking here and entering in your address. With a good antenna, you should (at minimum) receive all the channels in yellow that pops up. If you get an antenna with a bigger range, you could probably pick up the channels in other colors, too.
I don’t have any experience with antennas. None. Before starting on my research to make the switch, my idea of an antenna was the one that looked like metal bunny ears. So I was really surprised to see how far things have come.
I’ve seen a lot of good reviews in regards to the Mohu Leaf antennas, so this is what I ordered. This looks nothing like the antennas of the past. You can get them in different ranges, and you might want to look at the Mohu Leaf 50 if you live out in the country. Otherwise, if you live in the city, check out the one below. They are very affordable and easy to use.
I received this antenna and hooked it up within just a minute or two. It works perfectly, and I am able to get several local channels with this, all of them clear. To hook it up, you simply screw it on. In my case I screwed it onto the in section on the converter box and I already had the converter box connected to my television. It’s really that easy. I am pleased with both of these brands (the antenna and the converter box).
The Best (And Cheapest) Cable/Satellite Alternatives I’ve Found
After researching like mad recently, these are the alternatives I’ve found that will likely work best for what I’m looking for or the ones I really am interested in most trying. If you’ve used/are using these, I hope you’ll jump on board and share your experiences below!
Roku 1 TV Box
One of the things that really attracted my attention to this one is that they work with the older box set televisions. The Roku 1 is the original device. Since making this, they have come out with several more and even a television stick that you can use with the new TVs.
One thing I haven’t quite figured out is how this is all supposed to work with the old box set. Would you have to take off your digital converter box in order to hook this up to the television set? Your antenna? Or is there some way to make it all work without the hassle of disconnecting anything?
With this, you will need wifi. But the great thing about having a Roku box is that the sky is the limit when it comes to watching movies and television shows. You can even stream your Netflix account or Hulu to your old box television set, so long as you have these subscriptions. You can also watch Youtube. It’s advertised as having 2,000+ entertainment channels. You can see the details here.
Update on 2/19/17:
I’ve been using the Roku device now for a few months, and it’s AWESOME! I’ve not only used the Roku 1, but I’m also using the Roku stick on another television. I wish I would have known about it before. It costs me a fraction of what I used to spend with satellite services, and I’m able to get the exact channels I want. I use this with Sling TV, Netflix, and Hulu, but there are also countless channels you can add on and many are free.
A lot of the premium channels like HBO, Starz, and Cinemax are offering free trials. Once your free trials are over, you just pay their monthly fee if you want to continue. Otherwise, just make sure to cancel during the trial period. You can sign up for these directly by going to their websites (and sometimes through your device), or you can get the free trials through Amazon Prime’s instant watch. And as a bonus, if you have Starz, you can watch the Outlander series!
On my Roku remote, there is an Amazon Prime button, and this adds the channel for Amazon instant watch movies to my line up. Once the channel is added and you’ve signed up for Amazon instant watch, you will login once and that’s it. All you will need to do is push the button on your remote, and it will take you straight to Amazon’s instant watch movies on the television.
Haven’t had Prime before? Amazon is offering a free thirty day trial of their instant watch movies. If you continue on past that thirty days, it’s $10.99 a month. Cancel anytime.
The following is Roku 1:
Amazon’s Fire TV
Amazon has a Fire TV stick and a Fire TV device that looks like a little box. Both of these come with remotes. I’m more looking at these for the flat screen television set, as I don’t think that these would even work with an old box set. However, I could be wrong, so make sure to double check on this.
Another reason I’m considering this for the flat screen is that I read you can use the Fire TV with Sony’s Playstation Vue, and this is supposed to have a lot of great movies to watch. The review I read stated you can’t use with this Roku.
With these you’ll also need wifi. With the Fire Stick, some people have stated on their reviews that they experienced issues when it came to using this with wifi, so keep this in mind. However, the stick is a lot cheaper than the box.
Amazon states that there are over 4,000 channels, apps, and games to be watched with this, and over 250,000 television shows and movies. Wow, huh?
There is also a Fire TV Gaming Addition that comes with controllers, etc, for those of you that love to play games! Out of the three, this is the most expensive. however, it comes with more.
Check them all out, read the reviews, see other people’s questions and answers (this is a very useful feature), or even order at the links below!
Fire TV Gaming Edition
When it comes to your Internet
Once you start streaming pretty much all of your television watching, make sure to keep an eye on your data usage. Some companies are starting to charge extra if you go over a preset number every month. In addition, depending on the plan you currently have, you might have to consider an upgrade. If you notice the movies or shows are slow or freezing a lot, you are likely going to have to upgrade to a faster or bigger plan.
Now that you have the devices needed to stream movies to your television set, you’re probably wondering where to find said movies. Make sure to see part two of this post by clicking here.