Almost five years ago I made the decision to cut my expensive and often frustratingly limited cable connection and haven’t looked back since.
Over the years I’ve used a variety of devices and applications and each had their own strengths and weaknesses. At one point the now essentially dead DLNA streaming app Tversity was the centre of my cord cutter system. Admittedly sometimes my setup got a little too complicated, though. I used my Xbox 360 for streaming U.S. Netflix through a VPN connection courtesy of Unblock-Us, my PlayStation 3 for Canadian Netflix/Cinema Now and my laptop for streaming downloaded content via Plex. Then there were the even more complicated ways I accessed U.S.-only streaming platforms Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video.
Since the PlayStation 3 only supports certain file formats (here’s a full list of PS3 compatible streaming file types) I’d often even have to plug my laptop into my television via HDMI. I’ve had far too many difficulties with transcoding video files on the fly through Plex, especially when I stop a TV show or movie half way through and then want to resume it a few hours later.
Now I finally have a comprehensive cord cutting solution that’s relatively simple to set up and should meet most users needs.
But what about over-the-air television?
Over-the-air (OTA) television signals are usually a necessity for cord cutters, especially if you’re interested in watching nightly newscasts or channels like Global, CBC and CTV. If you live in a large city and in an apartment building, your probably best suited for OTA television use, but even in my basement apartment I’m able to pull in quite a few channels. Depending on how powerful the HD antenna you choose is the cost will vary significantly but usually ranges from about $20 to $130.
Adding a Tablo set-top box to your cord cutting setup will give you a Plex-style easy to navigate menu/TV guide and the ability to schedule the recording of content just like a PVR. The Tablo also allows you to free OTA television signals from the confines of a traditional television and watch TV on almost any WiFi-enabled device.
At $249 the Tablo is kind of expensive though, especially since it requires you to purchase a separate external hard drive. Also having access to Tablo’s TV guide beyond 24 hours costs a small monthly fee.
For more details on the Tablo, check out my review of the device.