I am celebrating the seventh anniversary of the purchase of my Ooma Hub and Scout. Before Ooma, we relied on our ‘land line’ for phone communications and our ‘land line’ was Comcast VOIP. The hardware cost me $205 which comes down to $2.44/month — less than fees and taxes on a traditional phone line. Eliminating phone service did not save me much, since I lost my ‘Triple Play’ discount, but it left me just a little less reliant on Comcast. The following May, I replaced Comcast’s internet service with less expensive Fairpoint and Comcast’s television service with an antenna. With Black Friday and the holiday season at hand, I thought this might be a good time to take stock of things.
In the Attic: For most of the last six years, I have had two antenna systems — one inside my attic and one on a mast above the roof line. This spring, I took down the mast. My attic installation has proven to be as good as the outdoor antenna, is much easier to maintain, and is out of the weather. The attic installation consists of a DB8e ($128.02) and a pair of Stellar Labs 30-2476 ($34.99 x 2) antennas coupled via an RCA TVPRAMP1Z Preamplifier ($24.11). I have extended a Stellar Labs 30-2476 with the front half of a second to improve gain. I distribute and amplify the output of the system with an EDA-2800 ($75.98) distribution amplifier. Total cost of the three antennas, pre-amp, and distribution amp comes to $274, as of this morning.
On the TV: I have some kind of set top box on each television — one DTVPal DVR ($170 when I bought it, but no longer available), three Channel Master DVR+s ($250 plus $50 for a 1t USB disk), three TiVo Roamio OTAs ($400), and two TiVo Minis ($146). I also have a couple Fire TVs (current gen is $89.99), a pair of Fire TV sticks (current gen is $39.99), and two Roku 2 XS streamers (no longer available, but roku sticks go for $39.99). Total cost of $2586. I know this is a big number, but we have eight televisions. It comes to $323.25 per set. Assuming five years service per device, $5.39/month/set.
What We Watch: We are OTA-first cord cutters which means that most of the time, we are watching programming received via an antenna (live and time shifted). There’s plenty to watch: 2.1 WGBH Boston (PBS Prime), 2.2 PBS World, 4.1 WBZ Boston (CBS), 4.2 Decades, 5.1 WCVB Boston (ABC), 5.2 MeTV, 7.1 WHDH Boston (NBC), 7.2 This TV, 9.1 WMUR Manchester, NH (ABC), 9.2 MeTV, 11.1 WENH Durham (PBS Prime), 11.2 PBS Explore, 11.3 PBS World, 11.4 PBS Create, 25.1 WFXT Boston (Fox), 25.2 Escape, 25.3 LAFF, 38.1 WSBK Boston (MyTV), 38.2 Heroes and Icons, 44.1 WGBX Boston (PBS), 44.3 PBS Create, 44.4 PBS Kids, 50.1 WBIN Derry, NH, 50.2 Antenna TV, 50.3 Grit, 56.1 WLVI Boston (CW), 56.2 BUZZER, 62.3 The Works, 62.4 Comet, 66.2 BounceTV, 66.3 GetTV, 66.4 Escape, 68.1 ION, 68.2 Qubo, and 68.3 ION Life. We no longer pay for a streaming service. VuDu has a great ad supported service and Crackle is very good. I find myself buying discs again — they are so inexpensive and the quality is unsurpassed. A lot of movies include a digital code, so my Vudu-Amazon-Disney library is growing. I watched the election returns on Newsmax TV. I like the ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, and RT News free streaming apps. That’s about it.
I look forward to 2017 with a $50/month communications and entertainment budget. It’s not exactly free tv, but it’s free enough for me.