Thursday, January 14, 2010

More Ways to Reduce Your Cable Bill

Almost two years ago I wrote a post advising my readers who wanted to reduce their cable TV bills to call their cable company, ask for the disconnection department and threaten to disconnect their service if their bills were not reduced. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to use the same strategy again. Still works. I got our cable bill reduced by $30 per month for 12 months. Not bad for a 5 minute call.

But there is more interesting news. My brother-in-law recently drew my attention to the high cost of renting a DVR from the Comcast. We were paying $16 per month for the device. When I spoke to the customer service agent at Comcast I also discovered that we were paying $5 per month for our cable modem, all for a total equipment rental charge of $21 per month... that's a lot of money.

This inspired me to make a move I have been thinking about for a long time. I ditched the Comcast DVR in favor of a top of the line TiVo HD XL. While the TiVo cost us $389 (there are much cheaper TiVo models available on Amazon), on an ongoing basis the service is cheaper. The TiVo service costs $10 per month when paid annually, and the cable card needed to connect the TiVo to cable service costs $1.7 per month. At the end of the day, our cost is reduced by $4 per month compared to what we were paying for the Comcast DVR. To be honest, savings of $4 month would ordinarily not be sufficient incentive for me to take action, but I have had my eye on a TiVo for a long time. The reasons:

1. Much bigger disk - our TiVo can store 150 hours of HD recordings with its build-in drive, and the disk can be expanded using an external drive. This compared to the miserly 15 hours our Comcast DVR could store.

2. Access to Netflix Streaming - I am a big fan of streaming Netflix movies on my computer and have been thinking about a way to get that content to the TV for a long time. TiVo makes that connection for you. Hello Netflix on demand.

3. Transfer Content to your Computer - we have one TV in the house. While Alpaca watches her shows on the TV (Idol, Survivor... urgh...), I can now watch mine on the computer at the same time. Whatever is recorded by the DVD can be instantaneously viewed on the computer.

4. Stream music, home videos and picture to the TV - as easy as pie. One exception, the TiVo can't read Apple's music file format, so no luck with my iTunes bought music. As always, there is some barrier put up by some company (with Apple always a prime candidate for evil).

Alas, there is also one draw back, and it's big. If you use TiVo you lose access to Comcast's own free OnDemand content, and there is a lot of good, free content there. I asked both TiVo and Comcast representatives about this problem and they told me this would never be fixed and that the problem was the navigation system for TiVo could not be used with Comcast content. A complete crock if I ever heard one.

Still the content on Netflix is superior and the Comcast content and the other advantages offered by TiVo make the switch worth the sacrifice.

One more thing, I also got rid of our Comcast Cable Modem and bought my own on Amazon for $80. With a monthly reduction of $5 per on my Comcast bill, this transaction has a break-even time horizon of 16 months. Good enough, I guess.

Did I previously mention my gadget addiction?

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1 comment:

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