Cutting the Cord

“Cutting the Cord” seems to be the topic many people are thinking about these days, especially in the U.S.. It refers to reducing the dependence on cable programming and moving to getting your entertainment and information off the Internet.

A revolution is underway and this year I believe it will begin to move at an accelerated rate. Apple recently made a major price reduction in its Apple TV to $69 from $99. The current rumor going around is that a new offering will be announced during the WWDC in June. It is speculated that its processor power and memory will be increased as well as its content ordering.

This will undoubtedly result in new offerings in the U.S. by cable companies as they see the Internet entities encroaching on their turf. Even Cable Onda has started to offer apps that allow you to see some of their programming on smart phones or tablets.

What does this revolution mean to those of us living in Panama. Well, it depends on the capability of your current Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you are connecting to the Internet with a WiFi dongle on you laptop then it may not mean much. However if you have a reliable 4MB download speed then the options start opening up.

I use Cable Onda and have a 6 MB contract. For the current content available to me, that is more than enough. The current reliability I am receiving from Cable Onda is pretty good. I would say that 90%+ of the time I am getting what I am supposed to get. However, I do have some times with no service or marginal service.

So let’s assume you have a reasonable ISP and want to see what is available. The cheapest way to experience Internet streaming is probably to view the content on your PC or tablet. Try YouTube. If you can play Youtube videos without major pauses for downloading, then try NetFlix or Amazon Prime. You can try both of them for a limited period of time for free.

If those play satisfactorily, then you may want to consider tweaking. By tweaking, I mean seeing if the content you are getting can be improved by accessing U.S. Content. NetFlix and Amazon Prime have different offerings depending on where you live and their offerings in Panama are different from their offerings in the U.S..

To access U.S. content you will need to explore either VPN providers or other IP masking capability. I am using UNLOCATOR because I have found much less bandwidth overhead than when I was using a VPN.

Assuming you have satisfactory Internet capability, then you will most likely want to watch using your home TV rather than your PC. How do you accomplish this. There are several ways. The new TVs are offering a capability called Smart TV. However, I have yet to see a smart TV that I thought was equal to Roku or Apple TV.

If you have a current TV with a HDMI port, then you can use either of these two streaming devices. If you only have the old RCA inputs on your TV, then you will need an adapter for an Apple TV and some Roku models have RCA connectors built in.

Why would I want to cut the cord if I already get movies on cable (HBO, SHOWTIME, ETC.). For me it is convenience and quality. I can watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it. I can pause in the middle of a movie. I can stop it and come back to where I left off on another day. The quality is better than the standard TV cable broadcasts unless you are paying extra for HD.

In the U.S. The cable companies will be trying to keep their users and have a good chance of doing that. However, for the English speaking set of expats in Panama, the offerings on the Internet will have a large following.

If you are already in the Apple ecosystem, then looking at Apple TV will make sense. If you aren’t, then I think that Roku is a better current choice. That may change, with Apple’s announcement in June.

I have cut a large amount of the cord. In our house the primary channels that are watched relate to news (local and international), and sports. All the rest of my content comes directly from the Internet.

5 thoughts on “Cutting the Cord

  1. If you start to consolidate your information and communication pipelines, you risk the chance of becoming “blind” in an emergency.
    I prefer to keep several open (land-line, cable, cell, satellite, broadcast, etc. open to members of the household,
    I used to just hate (and still do) the old “when one goes out, they all go out” Christmas tree light strings, and I guess I never got over it.
    Nice to have a water storage tank (even if I have to drain it an clean it once in a while)
    Nice to have a small electric generator and a 5-gallon jerry can of gas available.
    Nice to have an extra quart or 2 of motor oil and 3 or 4 jerry cans of gas for the car
    Etc. etc., etc.
    Anyway, something to consider.

  2. Certainly, I am not advocating the elimination of backup. I also nave multiple cells with access to the Internet. All security systems in the house have battery backup. Where I live, I don’t currently need a water reserve, but the time is probably coming. I am not going to invest in an electric generator. My outages, don’t justify it.

    I will add that I have reduced my Cable Onda bill by about $30 with the cutting I have done.

    However, I understand where you are coming from and in Panama, a backup plan is a wise idea.

  3. I went with a Roku but hardly ever use it since I actually get better reception on my wide screen computer monitor. Rather than Amazon Prime or Netflix and having to use a VPN for the US shows I went with USTVNow and have a free DVR with that service. It is US television for people living OUTSIDE of the US, primarily started for US military. So I get US news, sports is available though I’m not a fan, all the US programming I can handle and lots of movies.

    There are free movie options out there too if anyone is interested. Google is your friend.

    I was tired of paying for cable TV when it was mostly all Spanish and the English programming was mostly re-runs or last years programming. Like you Don Ray, I saved about $30 a month which is now spent for 100% English programming. My Spanish isn’t good enough to watch Spanish TV. lol

  4. Don, thanks so much for your input. I have reduced my monthly cost from $114 +/- to $79 per month after speaking with you. And, I do not miss what I no longer receive. I have Apple TV and Netflix and frankly, not enough time to watch all that I want to watch:)

  5. To 004143 – USTVNow’s DVR is included in the first 3 months of paid subscription services only; after that, add $10 per month.

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