And now for the downside.

While I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed taking charge of my television from the big Canadian telecoms, it hasn’t been without it’s set backs.  It seems that in Canada if you want the ability to watch what you want, when you want you have to give up something.  That something is live television.  At least that is for the moment.

Cutting your cable services, means that the trade off is live television such as sporting events and news casts aren’t easily available at your fingertips.  And I emphasize easily in that last sentence.  As I’ve said before about my Android Box, it opens up your options a lot if you mess around with it.  It can even give you live television if you know what you’re doing.  Like this guy:

While that is helpful its a lot more complicated than what I would like to see.  I’ll be honest I’m a big fan of plug and play.  Simplicity is my mantra.  Which is why I’m really, really, really curious to see what Apple does with it’s current generation of Apple TV’s.  They are opening up their app development for the unit to outside companies.  Much like you can purchase useful and not-so-useful apps on their app store, you’ll be able to do so for the Apple TV.  And the good news is that this is already starting a race for dominance in the industry for the latest app.  In my opinion, this can only mean good things for consumers in the long run.

Now you’re ready to experience TV on your terms!

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You can invite these guys over to binge watch your favourite shows, or your own friends if you’d like.  Its your choice.

One thing to really understand if you’re going to join the rest of us cable cutters, is that you have to change your habits when it comes to your TV watching habits.  Cable cutting really is about taking charge of what it is you want to watch and viewing it on your own schedule and terms.  Want to watch a show when you have a free moment, you can do that.  Or want to catch up on your favourite series starting at 11 pm?  You can do that.

If you’re looking into joining the trend, you have to stop thinking of which channels you want to watch and more what TV shows.  As I described in my previous posting, sit down and think about what it is you really watch.  Once you have your list, its now up to you to decide how you want to enjoy them.

Honestly that to me is the joy of watching television this way.  I can watch my favourite shows whenever I want.  Often for as long as I want.  Rather than having to tune into television on the broadcasters schedule, I’m now free to watch when I’m free.  If I have work I need to do or other interests that I want to indulge in, I’m free to.  Then binge and catch up on my favourite show.

 

Lets start with the basics

So judging from some of the comments I’ve received from my posts so far, I thought it might be best to give you a run down on the basics of cord-cutting.  Since I don’t know how comfortable you, the reader are with the concept of cord-cutting I figure I’ll start at the basics.  If you’re a pro at this bear with me and help new comers get up to speed with the trend.

First off, I just want to say I hate the term cord-cutting.  It sounds like a medical procedure.  I’d prefer cable cutting truth be told.  Now if you’re like me, or this guy, you’ve had it with high telecom bills.  More importantly you probably wonder why you’re paying for 900 channels but only watch 5.  Cutting your cable so to speak, essentially throws away the old format of watching television and allows you to customize your viewing habits to your lifestyle and schedule.

To get started, I recommend sitting down and asking yourself and your household what do you watch?  And what could you not go a week without watching?  I mean like you drop everything that you’re doing no matter how important and tune in and watch.  I’m betting you’d probably have zero or a few.  The majority of us now watch our shows in binges.  If you use your PVR at home a lot, then guess what you’re really only a small step away from throwing it away and joining us.

I recommend doing your research and invest in a device that suits your knowledge and comfort level best.  I’ve already posted a few thoughts on my devices here, here and here to help you out.  Find an app like Netflix or Crackle and make an account.  If you search around on app stores on your devices you can find a few other apps to download.  Shop around and find what you like.  The point of all this is to customize your experience to exactly what you like.  Once you’ve got your apps and accounts set up, you’re pretty much good to go.

 

How Do You Get Started (Continued)

Android Box

Pros:

  • Literally every television program and film you could think of is
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    Snapshot of my Android Box Setup.

    available to view at the click of a mouse.  I’ve only been using it for a few months and I’m shocked at the variety of programming available on it.

  • Since it’s using Android OS, it’s really customizable.  Using the Kodi app, you can download add-ons to broaden your library of available things to watch.  As well you have access to the Google Play store to download a number of apps to your device.
  • It allows you to stream live television.  I’ve used this ability a few times to varying success.  Once it’s set up though, in theory you’d be able to lose your cable subscription completely.
  • Through it’s use of torrents you have access to virtually everything free of charge.  The ethics of this is very debatable, however in the context of the argument of saving money on your monthly TV bill, we’ll put this one in the pro column.

Cons:

  • While the Android box can give you access to a lot of material, it is difficult to set up I’ve found.  Rather than the plug and play ease of the Chromecast, the Android box requires you to set up and load up a variety of apps prior to enjoying the device.
  • Sometimes the quality of the video isn’t always the best.  This is due largely to the fact that it’s streaming off of torrents rather than one source.  This can be fixed usually by finding another link to click on and view.
  • The fact remains you’re watching illegal streams or downloads of videos and television programming.  You aren’t paying anyone to watch what’s on your screen.  The ethics and morality of this I’ll save for another post.  However, the reality is this, eventually it will get the Napster treatment.  A lawsuit from content providers will drastically change this device.  It’s just my prediction but I’m sticking with it for the time being.

Often the Android box is touted as the replacement for traditional television that we’ve all been waiting for.  After using it for a few months, my opinion is decidedly mixed.  While when it works, it works spectacularly and I can find myself losing hours in front of the television because of it.  However, it’s been months since I first got it and I’m still teaching myself how to fully utilize it’s features.

 

How Do You Get Started (Continued)

Apple TV:

Pros:

  • This is literally the definition of plug and play.  I have the first generation
    IMG_1252.JPG
    Screenshot of my setup for the Apple TV

    Apple TV at home and found that all I had to do was open the box plug in the power cord and plug it into the TV and I was ready to go.

  • The latest generation Apple TV allows you to download apps, much like the Android box, through their App Store.  Already there is a plethora of apps available to use on the TV.  With Apple releasing their code for developers to create new apps for use on the App store, the possibilities are endless for what can be available in the future.
  • This device is easy to use.  Like really easy.  The designers created it with the idea being that a new user could plug it in and go.  The remote is slimmed down to only two or three buttons and a track pad.

Cons:

  • There is no customization with this.  Apple is notorious for their closed systems, which means that to really optimize the device you pretty much need to commit to Apple products completely.
  • There aren’t a lot of options for streaming movies or television shows for free.  Most streaming services available for download on the Apple TV require you to have a paid account.  Which means that in order to keep as many options open to your viewing habits, you might be racking up some high credit card bills.

Apple claims that they are on a mission to revolutionize the way we watch television much the same way we now use mobile phones.  They are still a long way off in my opinion.  However, they are on the right path.  Allowing apps to be developed can lead to new ways we use our television, integrating them into our lives in ways we haven’t imagined yet.

 

So How Do You Get Started?

So judging from a few responses I had in the comments from my first post, I thought it might be prudent to get into the basics before going any further.

I figure that the best place to start would be at the beginning of course. I’ve used each of these the following devices so I thought a brief pros and cons of the three most prevalent technologies would a great place to start.

Chromecast

Pros:

  • From what I’ve been able to find this is the cheapest device on the market.  Prices range from low $20 to just under $40.
  • For ease of use you can’t really go wrong it
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    Taken from website Android Police

    is literally plug and play, into the HDMI port in the back of your TV.  (If you’re wondering which one is the HDMI port, it’s the socket that fits the end of the device)

  • Allows you to stream the popular apps to your television, including Netflix, Shomi and YouTube.  As well as a few other music apps like TuneIn and Google Play.

Cons:

  • You need a smartphone using either an Android or iOS platform.  The device only works by streaming what’s operating on your phone to the Chromecast.  You’ll need to keep an eye on you battery as well as your connection strength.
  • The selection of what you can play isn’t that great.  Aside from the apps I mentioned above I can’t remember too many other apps that I could play on the Chromecast.

The Chromecast was good for what it was.  Which was a cheap and small device to allow me to stream Netflix to my television.  However a number of times the signal from my smartphone to the device would drop, which meant my TV watching suffered.  Google has a lot to do to fix this problem as well as expand the number of Apps available to stream before it would fully replace a tradition set top device.

 

How This Adventure Began…

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Two years ago, my family and I took the drastic step of cutting our telecommunications.  We made the decision to cut our services for internet, television and landline.  We thought we would be having to go without and live a very minimal lifestyle.  Or so we thought.

We found a small internet provider who could give us unlimited bandwidth for a fraction of the price we were paying through our mainstream provider.  We kept our Netflix account and our mobile phone accounts.  Our viewing habits quickly adjusted to our new lifestyle.  Plus we discovered the joys of binge watching along with half of Canada.

What we discovered that we weren’t really doing something out of the ordinary.  In fact, more and more Canadians were following a similar path.  In fact in 2015, Canadians cut the cord six times faster than they did the year before.  It is becoming more and more apparent that this isn’t a trend, but is the future.

What I’m hoping to accomplish through this blog is an examination of the Canadian telecom environment.  How the Canadian telecom industry is helping or hindering the transition to this new format.  What are the best devices to facilitate your television watching.  As well as what might the future look like and how is the change already affecting content providers.

It’s going to be an interesting ride.  I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy it alongside myself.

 

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