Sunday, July 10, 2016

Saving Money While you Relax

One thing you might miss once you move into the dorm is having those 363 channels your parents subscribed to at home for $176 per month. Yup, cable is expensive.

You also might think I wouldn't recommend TV, but after a hard day's working and studying sometimes you just have to veg in front of your own personal boob tube and it doesn't have to cost a bunch of money.

There are a few different ways to get free (or relatively free) television in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you have a laptop you can use that free high-speed wi fi in your dorm room to access Project Free TV. I have to admit I don't use it that much - I'm pretty old school - but I have used it on an iPad, it gets good reviews, but I'd beware of viruses.

Speaking of free wi-fi, another way to watch TV is to get a Roku with an initial investment of anywhere from $50 to $120 (Costco, BestBuy, Fry's). The Roku is a streaming tv service that attaches via your TV's HDMI port and comes with a really easy remote. Roku is super simple to set up and has lots of free channels you can enjoy. If you have a streaming Netflix or an Amazon prime account, you can easily watch those channels. You can also rack up money by subscribing to HBO, Showtime, MLB.tv or NBA, etc, however those fees are usually less than most standard cable packages. Roku's most popular free channels are Crackle (TV/movies), YouTube, PBS, CBS, NBC, TwIT (geeks), History Channel, Smithsonian Channel, etc. and something called Twitch, which being a gamer I don't understand, but my game-playing kids love.

The biggest drawback of Project Free TV and Roku is that you don't get local news (some limited selections) and SPORTS - I know, no Warriors! AYK?! - but not to worry, if you have a television (a new tv costs less than $100) you can get an antenna (remember, I'm old school) and before you say "No way!" I have a secret to share. Today's antennas are not the rabbit ears padded with tin foil that you had to hang from a coat hanger off the nearest curtain rod. Today's antennas deliver HD signals FREE. And, btw, today's antennas deliver snow-free signals, you either get the channel or you don't. In the East Bay you can get over 90 channels (check out Antenna Web to see what channels are available via antenna in your area). Of course, you have to buy an antenna and those can run anywhere from $20 to $40 depending on . . . who knows. It just depends on which antenna your TV likes, so you may have to try a couple (save that packaging). The best one I've found that works way out here in the sticks is the Mohu Curve. BTW new antennas need a power source.

You can even buy a Roku TV (40 inch, $250 at Costco) that comes all set up and ready to go and includes 3 HDMI ports for your video equipment and the antenna connection for local tv.

There is also a way to turn your computer monitor into a TV by using a ATSC Digital Tuner (about $40) hooked to an antenna, but that's a whole different post.

Now that you have your FREE tv set up, you can also get free tv listings on the internet from Titan TV where you can view customized schedules for broadcast tv (antenna) and various cable services, so you can figure out when your favorite shows are on.

So now that you are a starving student who needs to unwind to some free tv every once in a while, what are you going to watch? What is your favorite show? Why do you like it? What is your guilty tv pleasure? Mine are Firefly and Downton Abbey.

14 comments:

  1. This short little article is awesome.Free TV?!?! You had me at free , I would rather enjoy having an antenna again on one of my televisions.It would serve as a type of throwback to the good old days where if the TV signal was bad you had to wrap some tinfoil around that thing and move it about.The idea of having relatively free cable , as a penny pinching college student searching for a legal way to relax, is awesome.

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  2. This article is a life saver! Dorming last year without television almost killed me of boredom. I felt so disconnected from the outside world without access to local news or even commercials of new movies showing soon and limited menus of fast food restaurants. It felt like my life only revolved around campus because I didn't know what else was happening around me. If only I knew how to access television without a tv! This year I am still living without a tv and I am glad to have read this article. It's amazing what technology these days can offer.

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  3. My family has always been very frugal, so in fact I never had cable TV. I think we just never found a need for one. My parents indulge in the free Chinese soap operas that come on after the nightly Chinese news so that works out great for them. For me, I can just eek out a living with my laptop. I have a couple of websites that, together, give me all the shows I need to keep me entertained. My family actually tried Roku once and we absolutely hated it. My parents hated all the shows and when I tried to stream my Netflix, it was super laggy. In the end we returned it and now my parents will occasionally watch their nightly soap operas and youtube creepy medical secrets. I just stick to Netflix and watch an occasional episode of DudePerfect on youtube.

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  5. Cable is really expensive even if you get the basic package. Now, mainly watch things on Netflix or other streaming websites. I still have cable, but I'm not sure if I will continue to keep it. One of my favorite shows to watch at this moment is Once Upon a Time. When I was little I would watch all the Disney princess movies, so watching this show brings me back to when I was little. They mix all the different fantasy stories (Snowhite, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Belle, Cinderella, Wizard of Oz, and many more) by bringing them to real life and taking them out of their storybook. Reality TV shows are my guilty pleasures. I love all the drama. They may be fake or whatever, but that doesn't meant that they aren't interesting entertainment.

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  6. I like anything that is free so free T.v is something that I would definitely take advantage of. I have a netflix account and I normally binge watch all the seasons to shows like Grey's Anatomy , How To Get Away With Murder, and Criminal Minds, to name a few.I enjoy watching drama and crime shows. They keep my attention and it makes me want to watch more which is the reason why I spend hours watching netflix. When I'm at home watching cable t.v my mom and I will watch reality t.v together. That's my go to for entertainment on t.v. Some of my favorite shows are Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, Love and Hip Hop LA , Real Housewives of Atlanta, and many others. Those are my favorite because they are the most entertaining. You'll always get a laugh out of reality t.v. and that is what I need after a long day of school and work.

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  7. Lately I haven't been watching tv much since I'm pretty much addicted to netflix (watching The Office). My two favorite tv shows at the moment are the Flash and Arrow which come on once a week for any hour but since I am a college student and work I usually miss the episodes. Luckily I have the CW app and can just watch them the next day. For some reason I really enjoy watching shows that involve humans and superpowers. I have probably watched all the shows on Netflix that have people like this Alphas, The Secret Circle, Heroes, and so many others. Highly recommend those by the way.

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  8. In my household my parents go on and off on cable TV. We have it for a certain amount of time and then next few months we don't because no one really watches TV besides night time only. Up till today we haven't had cable for about year and let me tell you it isn't bad. My parents are old school like yourself so they have one of those new hd antennas and they enjoy it (movies, drama shows, news, sports) what more would they want good shows while saving money. But for myself since I am new school I use the mighty Internet to watch live stream shows/movies, sports, news (sometimes). Since I am a college students the way I access Netflix and Hulu is sharing accounts with 2 other peers we all divide cost three ways every month so it comes out to around five dollars each (talk about saving). I am a American Horror Story show fanatic, movies - horror, action, and Comedy. But it is sad because the only time I watch my shows is when eating lunch, dinner or at two in the morning before bed. College Life.

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  9. Back home I used to watch a lot of television, so coming to East Bay and not having a TV to watch all my favorite shows is sad. I was caught up with all the seasons of Pretty Little Liars, The Walking Dead, so on and so forth, not to mention my all time favorite shows, and now I am so behind. I hate coming home from work, being super tired and stressed and not being able to watch anything because I do not have the accessibility of a television. Pretty Little Liars is one of my favorite shows because it is so thrilling and keeps you off your seat. It's so twisted and you really never know what can happen next. It keeps you wondering just like the Walking Dead. Who will die next? Will they ever be safe? I would say my guilty pleasures are the reality TV shows. KUWTK is by far my favorite. All the drama in these shows keeps me watching them.

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  10. This is very interesting. I have never thought of having to use an antenna but if it saves me money while still being able to watch TV, why not? Ever since I moved to college, I haven't been able to enjoy TV as I used to. One, because I have no TV and reason two I currently don't have a TV provider. However I've been settling with watching Netflix through my laptop. I think it's much wiser using a device such as Roku or antennas to save money and it's something I'm now considering. My favorite shows include The Office and Game of Thrones. The office is my kind of show because of it's dry humor and Game of Thrones is just perfectly written and genius. I can't wait to finally enjoy TV again but this time without having to worry about paying unnecessary bills.

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  11. When I sit down with a nice snack at the end of the night in order to relax a little after a long day of school or work, I usually choose one of my few favorites shows to watch. I actually have a set schedule of shows that are my regulars throughout the week. If it is a monday I'll choose to watch this one show called Jane, Tuesdays are reality tv show days, thursdays are my favorite though. Grey's anatomy and Chicago Medicine are my two favorite out of all. I enjoy it because it is a hospital show and it is super interesting. The story lines for both shows are incredibly strong.

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  12. I don't think it's really free. This article is misleading. There are underlining cost to everything. Enough of my rant. I use netflix, Hulu and amazon to watch my favorite shows. There have been some amazing shows like breaking bad and sons of anarchy. Also, Netflix has come out with great originals like Narcos. Tv is almost unnecessary, except for the local channels that provide news. I hope more great shows come out. There seems to be a dry spell of good shows out right now.

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  13. At the end of the day, I like to relax by watching an episode of one of my favorite television shows on Netflix, Nikita. If a Warriors basketball game took place earlier that day, I would record the game and watch it later on cable. If I had to choose between spending more for cable and less for other cheaper TV programs such as Netflix, I would have to go with cable. Although a Roku device would allow me to watch ESPN highlights on Youtube, there is nothing better than watching the game minute by minute. I think this article can help many people choose what form they want to watch TV, but as a huge Warriors fan, I would definitely prefer cable.

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  14. As most people who have cable, including my family, we know cable is expensive. We have the basic package and for the channels given, is still expensive. We once had most TV channels and can watch almost any channel available, however, the bill at the end of the month doubled. So we ended up going back to the standard deal. My mom has recently began strongly considering buying antennas for the TVs in our house or any way to minimize cable costs. So far, we have bought 2 cable antennas and have actually bought 2 Roku TVs. Now, there is only one TV with cable on it. We have definitely saved a lot of money in comparison to when all or most of our TVs had cable boxes. I will also use this article as a future reference for when we purchase a more affordable way to watch cable TV.

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