Satellite TV cord-cutting savings: $2.4K!


Here’s an update to my plans to cut the cord from our satellite (cable) TV habit.

The Channel Master equipment arrived a week after I ordered it. The installation was easy. The connection instructions for the antenna and DVR+ weren’t like Apple’s “It just works,” but they weren’t bad. (For example, I needing a Phillips screwdriver to attach the antenna’s four feet.) The DVR+ has a sleek profile — nicer than I expected. Ditto for the antenna.

DVR+ lying on top of the stuff on my top shelf

DVR+ lying on top of the stuff on my top shelf

I connected the antenna to the DVR+, and replaced the Hopper with the DVR+ at the amplifier. And then I realized something nice, and something bad.

The nice thing: I noticed that if the antenna works well, I’d be able to sit it on my highest shelf, on its feet. I won’t need to mount it on a wall.

The bad thing: When I calculated our equipment needs, I didn’t realize I had two unused ports on my NETGEAR switch. Arg! I didn’t need to buy the Wi-Fi adapter! I could have connected the DVR+ to the switch with an Ethernet cable. I thought I was out of ports in the equipment closet, and a wired connection would need a long cable run from the next room where my Time Capsule is. But, no. The Wi-Fi adapter was a waste of money. Stupid!

Now that that’s out of my system…

Initialization was easy. The first task was to download a software update. That took a few minutes, but went smoothly and without surprise. The next step was an automatic channel scan. It took a while, but also was easy.

DVR+ channel scan results

DVR+ channel scan results

It found 48 channels! This was with the antenna in a closet, not near an exterior wall or a window. Ten channels didn’t display anything; I don’t know if they weren’t broadcasting content at that moment, or were duds for some reason. Two were Spanish-language channels, which we don’t have any interest in. Two (maybe it was three) were kid’s channels; ditto. Two were QVC and HSN; ditto. That leaves about 31 channels (if the 10 blank channels stay blank…) with content that we might want to watch. This is nine more than I had hoped for!

I won’t describe the DVR software, or the EPG. Except to say that the visual layouts were more than adequate, and the recording and playback controls were fine. Although we’ll use our T2x remote with this thing, the remote that came with it was pretty good. Better than I expected, to be honest.

As to costs… On the negative side, I bought an unnecessary Wi-Fi adapter. On the plus side, I wasn’t charged for shipping or sales tax, we don’t need the preamplifier, and the only miscellaneous hardware was a co-axial cable to connect the antenna to the DVR+.

Here’s my new cord-current cost estimate:

  1. Channel Master DVR+ 1TB. $399.
  2. Channel Master USB WiFi adapter. $39.
  3. Channel Master 2-year extended service plan. $39.
  4. Channel Master SMARTenna 35/50. $59.
  5. Co-axial cable. $6.
  6. RTI T2x reprogramming. $500 worst-case.
  7. HBO GO. It’s not yet announced, but one article estimated $18/month. That’s $216 annual.

Total hardware: $542. I now project the cost of the cord-cutting to be $1,258 in the first year. Over three years, $1,690.

The status quo costs $1,358 annually, and $4,073 over three years. So the breakeven point now appears to be only 11 months, and the savings over three years is $2,383.

Our decision is clear: We’re cutting the cord!

I’ll report back after the T2x is reprogrammed.

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