Steve’s Kill Your Cable Adventure #1: The Device Experience and The Discussion

Well, there's a lot of re-orging going on at my apartment.  One roommate is moving away for work for a year.  Another may move.  Plus we've thought of a relocation anyway for a bit more walkability.

Somewhere among all of this we came up with trying to Kill Your Cable.

It fits.  It saves a good amount of money a month, lets you not pay for stuff you don't want, and it's seemingly the wave of the future.  So my remaining roommate and I looked into this – and I'm going to share my findings.

Kill Your Cable both seems to be a trend – and be inevitable.  So I'm going to explore it from the user end and see what lessons we can learn from it – programmers and media people, pay special attention!

So here's what we found.

No one is selling a true Kill Your Cable device.  There's always something missing from the various entertainment systems.

We got a Logitech Revue (cheap considering Logitech's change in plans).  It's a neat little device that lets us do Netflix, comes with some other online options, and has a good Chrome web browser.  But it doesn't do Hulu

OK, so not a perfect device.

Now we also have an XBox.  That's got Hulu and Netflix, but the Netflix interface isn't that great, there's no browser.  But it's another piece we can use.  Also we can play DVD's in it.

Oh, there's a Wii.  That hasn't gotten used a lot.

Based on everything I've heard there's only one Kill Your Cable device – a separate computer hooked to your TV.  This is something I've read about people doing.  The Logitech Revue comes close, but we know how that's gone.

So first up, if you're gonna kill your cable, you may need to A) limit yourself, B) have several devices, C) Wait, or D) just get another separate computer.

It may sound extreme, but if you think about it:

  1. A decent cable mix costs you a good $40-$60 a month in my experience.
  2. Separate devices to do Kill Your Cable may work if you own them for other reasons, so it's not worth buying them just for that.
  3. A spare computer would give you all the advantages of having, well, a spare computer.  A Mac Mini or small Winbox/Linbox/Androidbox would probably do it.  It also wouldn't cost much more than a gaming device.

So my advice is that despite the many gizmos attached to my TV that killing cable may require just one for now – a computer.  A Mac Mini runs you about $600, which is 10 months of cable bills – and even with subscriptions to things like Hulu and Netflix it's still probably cheaper and has more power.

(And my guess is an appropriate Killbox is going to come out, evolve, or be provided by gaming consoles in the next 1-3 years).

We also found that when it comes to Kill Your Cable you have to talk about it – because people may have radically different ideas, know what works and what doesn't, and so on.  Unless you're on your own, it's best to rally your household to explore the idea – because there may be good or bad things about it that not everyone sees.

Kill Your Cable is a group effort.

So what are we doing in my household?  We're going to give it a shot and try for a month.  We're not canceling cable but seeing if between our computers, the XBox, Netflix, and the Revue we can get away from using Cable.

We may fail, so we're giving it a month.

So let's see how this goes, and I'll give you an update after awhile!

Steven Savage