samsung smart hub

It is time to "cut-the-cord"...but why?  ...and how?  We Can Help!

It's a common phrase those fed up with high cable or satellite bills and hundreds of channels of nothing to turn to say.  For those who might not be familiar, cord cutting (in this case) is the act of breaking away from cable or satellite TV and going all streaming or going back to over-the-air or using a combination of both (and I will ignore those who decide to just go without a TV completely, you are cord-cut and you are streaming).

I'm a latch-key kid from the 70's and 80's...TV was one of my friends (and all my friends friend too) and still is...my wife believes I am Mike Teavee, so when I started thinking about cutting the cord myself, I was scared.  After all, how would I get local news channels or local live sports or maybe I'd even lose some of the networks I enjoy.  But as my cable bill kept going up, it finally got to the point I knew I wasn't getting value for my buck.

In a long history of TV watching, my family has enjoyed just about every service out there living all across the USA...the last few we went through were DirecTV, Spectrum (TWC), CCi (Everest), and Google Fiber TV.  DirecTV had the best picture and U/I...Google Fiber TV was second with a big DVR....but each and every one of those companies kept raising our rates...we were finally over $170 for Internet and TV and I know of those who pay more.  That was the las straw...we decided to forgo service and see if we could survive on the Internet.

And if you don't have good Internet service, go ahead and stop reading right now and call us...let us help you fix that problem that no one should have in the 21st century.

Ok, so now that we know everyone reading has good Internet, let's continue...

My basement is rocking a 2008 model DLP TV and our living room TV is still a CRT...what is that thing about the cobbler's children?  Anyway, neither of the two main TVs are Smart TVs so we started out using our Blu-Ray player as our streaming hub (most newer ones will have apps built in).  I can tell you, it's a good way to try it out, but it's not the best way.  I have not studied the hardware in depth, but streaming through boxes not specifically meant for it does lead to more buffering than other methods.

We started out with Amazon Prime due to having a membership for my wife's Kindle and for that free shipping thing...it is a fantastic deal.  To be completely transparent, before we cut the cord, we were already streaming Prime for some cool series and decent movie selection.  We had not yet started on with Netflix though (didn't want another $8 a month for TV that was already too expensive).

Once the cable co was gone though, I quickly learned that the Blu-Ray wasn't cutting it and didn't work for the old-school CRT at all (no analog out on our Blu-Ray).  We had already installed streaming tech in several customer's homes, so I was familiar with Roku, Chromecast, AppleTV and SmartTVs.  I seems the best customer experience is had with a SmartTV with built in apps...easy to use, no extra boxes, and most smart TVs have hardwired and wireless internet connections.  Since I didn't have a smart TV and at the time, AppleTV did not have a Prime app, I went with Roku...did a Roku Ultra for the DLP TV (1080p, no 4K for me yet) and a Roku stick for the CRT.

After setting up a Roku account (no costs with that part) we added in Prime and then started to try other services...Netflix was a no-brainer...between Netflix and Prime, we just about have it covered.  We then tried DirecTV Now, Sling, and Hulu to get some of the networks back that we lost...worked pretty well on each--went with the 7-day Free Trials on each to try them out.  Then I decided I had to have the local channels...each one of those services (and now YourTubeTV too) offer live locals for $40 a month.  After beating each service up and trying out all the features, we came to the conclusion that Hulu wins (for now).  None of these services have contracts so you can change between them monthly.  Hulu wins right now because of better channel offering and I believe their user interface is superior.  Frankly, I wanted DirecTV Now to win because they had more of a virtual DVR, but their user interface seems like it's still in early Beta stage.

So, now we're cranking away with Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix...the cost is about $60 a month (including Prime, but I could count that as free since we'd have it anyway).  Occasionally we add other apps (some free and some for monthly experiments) and they all have seemed to deliver (we tried Showtime, PBS, CBS, and local channels apps specifically for certain shows) and none have contracts either and almost all have free trials.

Then, what do you need to cut the cord? 

1.  Good Internet, but not great...your download speed needs to be over 20Mbps and over 30Mbps if you're running several streams at once and get into some 4K streaming as well.

2.  Wi-Fi will work, but it needs to be good Wi-Fi...the speed limits above still apply and we all know how Wi-Fi is....I recommend hardwiring for full enjoyment!

3.  A Smart TV or other streaming device (Roku or AppleTV as the top two choices--devices with built in processors dedicated to delivering video).

*You can stream without a TV, straight to your computer, laptop, or phone and you can do this simultaneously....I was able to watch some NFL playoffs while working on a few weekends on my own Hulu account...probably didn't help my productivity, but, come on, it's the playoffs!

So, when you’re ready or just have questions, please contact us and let us help make this painless...it really does work and we no longer are hostage cable companies for mindless TV programming!

**Note--I really did ignore Over-the-Air in this article...I will get back in and add that lovely re-discovery's features that you might have thought were gone when HD took over.

ISU 4ISU 4ISU 4ISU 4

This installation consists of multiple displays throughout the Iowa State University Book Store.  The system also ties in to the existing 70-Volt Public Address system and manages the ambient music as well as the informational displays.  All new cabling was ran for each monitor and we utilized HDMI over UTP transmitters and receivers to deliver the goods.