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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guess what? We are surviving without cable!

So, we cancelled our cable this week. We got all set up with our Roku last week, but the office was closed by the time we were ready to bring our cable stuff back, so we did it on Tuesday.

Guess what?  I don't miss it. I would definitely miss it if we only had Netflix. Although Netflix has a decent selection, it just isn't wide enough and doesn't meet all of the things I want television for. The other options on Roku make our viewing selection well-rounded enough for me to not miss cable.

So, here is the scoop (since when I was searching, I really could not find this information). What do you really need to pay for on Roku? What is free?  We paid for Netflix ($7.99/month, only includes streaming- DVDs are extra) and HuluPlus ($7.99/month). Everything else we are using is free. There are some interesting channels. I imagine we will explore a greater variety later, but here is what I have loved so far:
1) Tune in Radio. Internet radio- you can pretty much get anything that streams. To be honest, all we listen to is Native 92.5, a Hawaiian station. I love it for several reasons. First of all, they play all reggae. I could possibly listen to nothing but reggae (okay, and maybe The Beatles) for the rest of my life and be completely happy. (Side note... I wonder if there is a station that plays nothing but Beatles music? Anyone know?) Second of all, I love the commercials. I know, I am nuts, but listening to commercials for restaurants in Kihei and stuff like that just makes me happy. It is kind of like I can pretend I am there or something.

2) TED Talks. I practically cried tears of joy when I found the TED channel. If you do not know what TED is, you are SO missing out. TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design. Their motto is "Ideas Worth Spreading" and they have conferences all over the world where they invite some of the greatest minds in the world to speak about technology, entertainment, and design to, well, spread their ideas worth spreading. I love, love, love these and have used these in my teaching for years. Among my favorites are Carmen Deedy's "Spinning a Story (hysterically funny Cuban woman)," Birke Baehr's "What's Wrong with Our Food System?" (smartest 11 year old I have ever heard), and Ken Robinson's "Are Schools Killing Our Creativity?"

Anyhow... so there is a TED channel with thousands of TED talks on it, and I love them. Some are TED minis, which are 3-10 minutes long, and others are full length, meaning 18-22 minutes long. A new favorite is this TED mini about Life Edited that impresses me so much. My sister would totally love this guy.

3) NBC News. My mom will greatly appreciate this one, and it has been my favorite during Tiana's naptimes this week too. You know how sometimes you just want light tv, little clips you can watch that you don't have to get completely engulfed in? Like something to have on while you do chores or eat lunch?  The NBC news channel has the Today show, among other things, for free. I like the Today show a lot. The female hosts kind of irritate me, but not enough to stop watching.

- Sports
They do have Roku channels for pretty much every major league sport, but they cost money. On average, about $4.99/month. This was too much to be worth us subscribing too, at least right now, but we are not huge sports people. If there is a big game on that Marc does want to watch, I will have no problem with him making plans to hang out with friends at a sports bar.

- Amazon Instant Video
Honestly, Amazon Instant Video has practically everything you could ever imagine wanting to watch. You can rent or purchase movies individually on here, which is very much like pay per view on regular cable, only for the cost of renting on there, you usually get to purchase the digital copy on Amazon.

However... they do let you watch almost everything for free if you are a Prime member. As of now, I am only an Amazon Mom Prime member, which was free, so I do not have access to this; however, my Amazon Mom rights are expiring in about 2 weeks (gasp), and I don't know what I am going to do. I think I am going to have to pay for the $79.99/year membership free. This would pay for itself in 20 shipments, and I ship almost 20 things per month, let alone per year, so this is probably going to need to be a necessity.  I guess at least if I will be paying for it to get the free shipping, at least it comes with free instant video access.

So.. overall, we do not miss cable. I know that next month we will most certainly not miss the $145 a month bill. Our total cost now for cable internet only is $45. Add to that the subscriptions to Hulu and Netflix and we are still saving $84 a month! 

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