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To Tv Or Not To Tv?

With more and more options for home-screen entertainment, some folks are choosing to drop cable or satellite television service, hoping to save a few dollars but still be able to watch the shows they want when they want. How to make that happen depends a bit on how scaled-back you want to go—whether you want to forego watching TV altogether, hoping for a quieter and less tech-dependent lifestyle, or whether you prefer to remain plugged in but not pay a high monthly bill for dozens of channels you rarely watch.

Perhaps the least costly option is to install an antenna, which will pull in–depending on where you live—major network channels plus regional channels. You can use either an indoor antenna or an outdoor one; exactly how good your reception will be depends on factors such as how close you are to a TV tower and where you position the antenna, which might require some trial and error. Web sites are available, including www.antennaweb.org and www.tvfool.com, that allow you to enter your zip code and find out what over-the-air stations are available in your area and which direction you should point an antenna.

Before deciding whether to cut the cord, do some research to determine what content your family most values, and what’s available without a cable package (and how you can get it). Then calculate how much you’d save—and what you’re willing to do without.


SPORTS SPECIALIST
Your favorite games may be online

For some consumers, a key question is whether they can drop cable and still watch the sports teams they love. In some cases, the answer is yes—the major networks broadcast a lot of games, and last year CBS offered some (but not all) March Madness games online.


ON THE INTERNET
Watch TV on your computer

The capacity of your Internet connection plays a major role affecting the choices you can make in alternatives to more conventional TV watching.

Some folks are turning to on-demand subscription services such as Hulu Plus or Netflix. For a monthly fee, subscribers can stream available content, including both movies and TV shows. It’s possible to watch those shows on a variety of devices, including computers, tablets such as the iPad, and many models of newer HDTV televisions. Other services, such as Amazon Instant Video or iTunes, charge by the episode—you can pay to watch a particular episode of a current-season show.

Some newer model televisions are “Internet enabled,” meaning they allow subscription services to be streamed directly through the TV. If your model doesn’t permit that, you can purchase extra devices, such as a Roku box or Apple TV, which will enable viewing through subscription services onto the television.

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