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adios, Comcast

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[N.B.: In the process of cutting cable, I had to learn about digital antennas and a bunch of stuff I would have liked to have been told in one place but wasn’t, so if you’re going to cut your cable too, I’m here to help you out! See update at the bottom]

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We’re pulling the plug tomorrow. On cable, that is. We actually don’t even have Comcast right now, we have Verizon FIOS, but I’ve always really wanted to stick it to Comcast, so I’m just going to pretend they’re our provider.

You may be wondering why we are getting rid of cable. Amazingly, I don’t have to write the reasons, as I was handed the perfect online article in my lap yesterday evening by my aunt. Timing is everything, and apparently I have my finger on the pulse of the winds of change, since just yesterday the Wall Street Journal posted an article titled Cutting the Cord on Cable. It’s cleverly written, short, and even includes some ideas for going cable-free at the end.

Our reasons for ending it are similar to the writer of that article. When we watch TV, it is nearly always something we DVRed ahead, like “Modern Family” and “Top Chef.” If we aren’t watching the DVR, we are either watching reruns of “30 Rock” (available to be streamed on Netflix), PBS (which can be viewed online), or something truly awful (see: River Monsters…or rather, don’t see it).

We’re actually technically ending cable tomorrow night, right after the last college football bowl game. We aren’t hosting a Super Bowl Party anyway, so no harm done there. Here is my plan for what we’ll do for digital entertainment instead:

1. We have already purchased a mini display port cable to plug our computer into the TV, so we’ve given Hulu a trial run. It’s not as good a picture as cable, but it’s FREE, and we just pretend we’re back in the ’90s, only with an exceptionally larger TV.

2. Rent movies from the library. We do this occasionally now anyway, but they have lots of great classics we’ve still never seen (Dr. Zhivago, Raging Bull, The Deer Hunter), plus dozens of TV shows.

3. Stream movies and TV shows on Netflix. Now that they have added many more TV shows, this will serve as our new method of mindless channel surfing. They really need to update how you can manage your instant queue though; one long list of TV shows, movies, and kid stuff is killing us. Are you listening, Netflix? To ANYONE?

4. Join Hulu Plus. We’ve got one month for free (they sent me an email after I registered). It will allow us to view TV in HD, but other than that I’m not sure it’s worth $8/month since we already have Netflix streaming. We’ll see.

As for the world outside of TV, it’s a place I love and miss. Nate and I disagree on how much TV to watch, so we compromise by staying in the same room, but I am often reading when he’s watching. After football is over, he will join me in reading, and we can even put some music on instead of the blasted boob tube. I am currently listening to The Great Gatsby on my iPod shuffle (rented the CDs from the library and burned them, a brilliant tip I got from my uncle years ago) to get ready for a book club meeting next week at none other than Daisy Buchanan’s. Clever gals, those book clubbers.

Have any of you taken the no TV plunge? What do you do for entertainment? I wish we could go back to the days when everyone danced and listened to ladies play piano, but I suppose there’s something to be loved about the small screen too.

Update (1/10/12): If you are tech savvy, you may know how to go cable-free already; if so, go read Wired or something. The following instructions are for the technologically-challenged among us, like myself. Up until recently, Nate was in charge of all things TV, but now that I’m a home ranger, I’m braving a new frontier. Here are some Q&A to help you out…

Is your TV made after 2005/2006? 

If No: You need to get a DTV Analog Converter Box. Don’t ask me what it is, just google it.

If Yes: Congrats! Your TV is equipped with a tuner, meaning you don’t need the box. Just plug your antenna (digital, not analog) into it.

Do you live in a rural or urban area?

If Rural: You probably need an outdoor roof antenna, depending on how rural we’re talking. Go to this website, and they’ll figure it out for you based on your address.

If Urban/Suburban: You probably need an indoor antenna, but don’t take my word for it! Go to that same website and find out for sure.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of Frugal Fridays