I’m a forty-something who still remembers the thrill I felt watching The Flintstones via KATU in San Francisco for the first time in the mid-’70s. Cable TV had just come to my little town and it offered cheap entertainment for the whole family. Ironically, over 40 years later I’ve reversed the process because it became too expensive.
I cut the cord with traditional cable TV service about two years ago, and now save $100 a month enjoying over the air free TV and streaming media. I have more entertainment options than ever before and I’m happier with the no-contract choices I have at the right price.
This is a breakdown of my cord cutter setup. It consists of equipment and services that I find work for me at my location. Your setup will vary depending upon where you live, your budget, and available internet speeds and OTA channels.
No matter what equipment and services you use, just remember the ‘best’ cordcutter setup is the one that gives you what you want in terms of price, performance and programming.
Cord Cutting Equipment
All of my equipment I’ve either purchased over time or been given to review. When gathering your own equipment, set a budget. It shouldn’t cost you a lot to cut the cord, and you can always upgrade over time if desired.
The network powers an entire household’s wired and wireless internet needs. A stable, strong network is key to happily streaming media to TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones and streaming media devices, so this is where I suggest no cord cutter skimps on quality equipment if they plan on using services like Netflix and Sling TV.
Home Network: Wired and Wireless
Cisco Router: Provided by Charter Cable as part of 60 Mbps high speed internet service) connected to a gigabit network switch is in my home office, which allows me to have a wired connection for my PC and printer, freeing up some bandwidth for wireless devices.
Mohu Curve 50 HDTV Antenna – Used to obtain all of my local over air broadcast channels in both standard and high definition. I hide the coaxial cable from the antenna to the TV over a doorway using the Legrand Cord Mate II Kit.
If you have a smart TV you may not need to buy other streaming devices. Check what apps are on your smart TV and how they perform before you spend more money on streaming devices.
Amazon Fire TV Stick – Used for Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Sling, and games. The Amazon Fire Game Controller pairs well with it and allows my family to enjoy a bit of simple gaming for added entertainment.
Apple TV 2nd Gen with current firmware updates.
I use the Apple TV primarily for streaming my iTunes library, iTunes Radio, Hulu and Netflix. If you have a lot of media in the Apple ecosystem, it’s really worth having an Apple TV.
Roku 3 (*Newer model available; also called Roku 3.) – Before getting the Fire TV Stick, I used this to watch Amazon Prime content. I like it now for apps like Livestream which allows me to access news broadcasts around the nation in real time.
Laptop with XBMC (Kodi) connected via HDMI can also allow me to use my HDTV as a huge monitor!
Kodi Media Center is fantastic, but you’ve got to have some tech-confidence to use it effectively. Check YouTube for lots of ‘how to’ videos to help you get started.
Logitech K400 Wireless Keyboard: Used to control the laptop from the couch.
Mohu Leaf 50 HDTV Antenna: Connected to a PC monitor with Mohu Channels for a digital tuner.
Mohu Channels: New product that offers a great way for cord cutters to have access to all their favorite OTA channels, apps and websites via an onscreen menu.
You’ll notice I don’t have an OTA DVR like a Tablo or TiVo Roamio, but if I want to, I can connect my Mohu antenna to my PC which has a TV tuner in it and use Windows Media Center to record programs. There are other options, but this works well for me.
Cord Cutting Services
OTA in HD and streaming media are so much better than cable! It’s cheaper, and I never run out of stuff to watch. I love that I can cancel or modify services at anytime without fear of penalties.
High Speed Internet: $59 a month via Charter Cable averages 60-90 Mbps, and more than enough to power up to 20 streaming devices with my equipment.
Amazon Prime: $99 a year well spent. I love its original programming including Bosch, Transparent and Alpha House, in addition to the TV, movies and documentaries. The Prime Music library that streams via the Amazon Fire TV Stick is awesome too! Plus, there’s the added benefit of free 2-day Prime shipping on thousands of items from Amazon.com.
Netflix: $8 a month for movies, TV, documentaries and general variety. Great original series like Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards are outstanding.
Hulu Plus: $8 a month for current TV series and original programming. I use it to catch up on The Following and Black-ish.
Sling TV: $20 per month with add-ons if desired. Sling TV provides cord cutters with popular cable channels like ESPN and HGTV but without the high price tag and contracts associated with traditional pay TV.
XBMC now Kodi Open Source Media Player: $0 per month for access to live TV streams from worldwide sources.
With a Mohu antenna and a stable home network, I believe it’s possible for even the most diehard cable TV subscriber to find happiness cutting the cord for good!
Andrea Polk hails from Oregon and is a wife, mother, writer, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, and more. She’s also the author of the Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV and the Simple Guide to Sling TV as well as the avid deal-seeker behind SavvySleuth.com, where she scours the web for the best online deals.