Summer 2018 edition of the cord-cutting scene

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the cord-cutting scene. To the uninitiated, cutting-the-cord replaces traditional cable or satellite TV service in favor of receiving TV programming through the internet (called "streaming").

The advent of “smart TVs” that have computer-like circuitry to connect to your home internet feed makes cord-cutting possible. Even a “dumb TV,” which in my column refers to any modern TV with available “HDMI” connection, can be turned into a smart TV for under $50. Yep, streaming devices such as Roku and Fire TV sticks can provide the same computer-like function to connect the TV to your internet pipe.

Has anything changed in a year? Not much, except more choices of streaming service providers while local channel offerings by streaming services are still almost nonexistent in the Cleveland market for now. In Cleveland it is still advisable to try receiving local channels over-the-air for free by pointing an antenna in the general direction of Parma, where the broadcast towers congregate.

“Rabbit ear” antennas of yesteryear have evolved, are now paper thin and just a little larger than letter-size paper. They can usually be procured for under $30 locally or on the internet. Check to see if your TV set has an internal receiver for over-the-air digital programming or if you need to purchase a digital converter box; the latter can usually be found for under $40.

If you have internet but are not quite sure if cutting-the-cord is right for you, many streaming services offer a short trial period. In that case you only need a device – i.e. smart TV, dumb TV with a streaming device, computer, tablet or a smartphone to test the service out.

What if you don’t have an internet connection at home? You’re in luck as Westlake Porter Public Library rents a hotspot device that gives you instant internet connection. Don’t worry if that sounds like magic … you’re just testing if cutting-the-cord is right for you and don’t need to know how the hotspot performs – it just does! Internet, other than for receiving local channels over-the-air, is a necessary ingredient!

What if you have an internet connection at home but only a dumb TV with an HDMI port? Again, WPPL is your hitchhiker’s guide to testing cord-cutting; patrons can rent one of their Roku streaming sticks! Armed with the streaming device, you can utilize the trial period offered by many streaming services for your experiment. Of course, you probably subscribe to an internet connection because you connect your computer, tablet or smartphone to the internet but seeing it on the TV’s big screen, rather than a smaller screen of your device, might give you a better feel of receiving TV programming through the internet.

If cord-cutting is to your liking, remember that the true recurring cost is the monthly fee for the streaming service plus the needed internet connection; the latter cost, though, can be shared with your devices such as computers and tablets needing to connect to the internet.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder for the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 10, Issue 15, Posted 9:49 AM, 08.07.2018