I recall when I was young, my parents paid about $45 monthly for Cable TV services and at that time we may have had about 82 channels in standard definition. Technology has evolved so quickly that nearly every home now has at least one HDTV television. The issue today is that HDTV comes with a cost. A cost that begins with the equipment rental, and also includes paying for the SD, and HD channels. So to sum it up, you are paying for the Standard Definition channels in your basic service, then paying for the equipment to output the HD signal to your HDTV, and again paying for the same channels you already pay for, but in a HD resolution.
I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds absurd. First of all, I no longer want to see any SD channels unless they are only available in SD. Next, is the issue that I am sure not everyone is faced with, but for those that choose to have multiple televisions in their home, they are paying for each HD box rental. Rogers Canada is charging a shocking $25 per month just for the HD PVR terminal, and if you do not need PVR capabilities a still shocking $13 per month for a regular HD terminal rental.
Most recently, Rogers announced the Whole Home PVR solution, the Cisco Next Box 2.0 which provides the capability of pausing your show and allowing you to resume viewing from another Cisco terminal in a different room. So if you do the math, if you have 3 HD televisions, you will have the one HD PVR, and 2 HD terminals for a total cost of approximately $51 per month in just equipment rentals. Now, I could be wrong but calling a few stores today I was provided the same information. This equipment rental is added to your basic programming fees, and also a separate HD programming fee.
Why does cost continue to grow for something as simple as television? With the digital video sources we have available, shouldn’t our television rates be going down to entice us to continue paying the premium for having such a convenience?
To expand on growing cable fees, I received a letter in the mail advising that 2012 rates were increasing yet again! So on top of the equipment rental fees, the programming fees, and the convenience fees, we must remember that annually our bill be also increase to ensure this premium service is maintained at a cost to US.
Is it time to cut the cord on cable? It is entirely a personal choice but you must know the options that are available.
1) Netflix – Netflix offers older movies at a low monthly rate and can be viewed on many platforms. Great for the older films and some recent television shows.
2) ATSC OTA Antenna – This is something that I strongly recommend for anyone that faces the CN Tower and can pickup the signals properly. I recently had a ChannelMaster antenna installed with a booster that will ensure I can pickup about 27 channels and can share the signal with about 3 to 4 televisions. Here is the kicker. This signal is true uncompressed HD and no additional equipment is required. If your TV was purchased in the last few years, there is a great chance it has a built in ATSC tuner. Once you connect your antenna to the Coax input for the antenna, you simply do a channel scan and a guide populates with available channels and a program guide also appears. The available channels all depend on your location but may include: Fox, ABC, NBC, CityTV, CBC, CBS, and CTV.
There are many other methods of tuning the ATSC signal and one of the most recent is with the Boxee Box. Boxee released a Live TV usb tuner that simply plugs into the Boxee Box and allows you to watch tv along with the other great services supported by Boxee. Just for the record, Boxee Box is our preferred media streamer and we suggest that everyone must own at least one Boxee Box. With the recent partnership with Slingmedia, it is now possible to sling content from a Slingbox to other televisions via Boxee Box. If you have your Rogers service hooked into your Slingbox, this would eliminate the need for additional Rogers HD terminals.
If you want more information, we have reached out to a local antenna installer (Toronto), and they will be able to take care of your installation or answer any questions you may have. If you do contact Sals TV, make sure you mention Tek Tok and you will get a great deal!
3) Bell Fibe TV – Bell has been known for poor satellite service during severe storms and now offers a more reliable solution to bring you the service you expect. We have yet to try Fibe TV, which delivers your content via high speed internet lines, but are looking forward to reviewing this technology once available in our areas. The advantage to this solution is when you sign up for 3 years of service, the HD PVR is provided for free and after the 3 years you now own the box. The disadvantage may be the fact you are sharing your internet to provide television service. We have yet to be able to test this claim, but keep in mind it may be a lower cost solution.
I have had many people ask if Apple TV or Boxee Box alone will replace cable tv services, and I have to answer simply, No. The Apple TV is great for rental service and the ability to purchase content from Apple, but for Live TV there are no incentives at this time. As for Boxee Box, although there are many partners that offer digital content, it also lacks the ability to provide Live TV. Now purchasing the additional Live TV tuner will give Boxee some life, you are limited to the local channels you can pick up from the CN tower. I will say, between the Boxee Box, Slingbox, and ATSC antenna, I am the closest to cutting my cable bill than ever before!