Q. I am tired of paying my cable bill and feel the expense has gotten out of hand. I want to cut the cord but don’t want to give up my favorite cable channels. I see these ads for “magic boxes” that say you can stream everything without paying for it. Is it really possible to get rid of cable and stream everything for free?
— D.P., Atlantic City, N.J.
A. If you want to have access to enough content to keep you constantly entertained, it is possible to have that without cable. There is a lot of high definition programming available over the air for free, and all you need is an antenna. Add a Roku box and you will find dozens of free streaming channels available across a wide variety of categories.
For some, this is enough. I recently visited a friend of the millennial generation, fresh out of grad school. He has an antenna and a streaming box for free online channels and it serves all his home entertainment needs. If you want to try this option, I suggest using the antenna and streaming exclusively for a few weeks to see how you adapt. If you find yourself missing what cable has to offer, this is probably not for you.
If you are looking to duplicate your cable services and channels for free, there is no secret formula or magic device that will let you get rid of your cable bill and keep all your channels. While most pay TV channels like ESPN and HBO have streaming options for a monthly fee, if you subscribe to more than a few channels you will find yourself rapidly coming up on the cost of your cable bill. You likely use your cable company for internet as well as TV, and you will lose bundle discounts for subscribing to both cable and internet if you cancel the cable.
Some services that stream live TV offer channel bundles at appealing prices. This could be the best option for those who want to cut costs while keeping something that resembles cable. I find the best value to be Sling TV. The Sling Orange & Blue package is $25/month and you get a lineup that looks a lot like a basic cable package, and additional channels can be added a la carte. Sling offers a seven-day free trial and can be accessed with most smart TVs and streaming devices. Learn more at sling.com. Apple will also be entering this market in May, and it will be interesting to see what they have in store as well.
I still think that for most consumers, cable and satellite service is worth paying for. Proceed cautiously before cutting the cord. More on this topic is coming soon.
Q. Do CD players get “tired” of playing the same CD over and over? We have a certain CD we enjoy and after playing it over 3,000 times in a 10-year period, the player stopped playing it. I tried buying a new copy of the CD, but it refuses to play the new one. It will play any other CD I put in it. My CD player in the family room will play both the old and new CD.
— J.Y., Franklin, Wis.
A. I have never heard of anything like this, and there is no logical explanation for what is happening. Would any readers like to chime in? Have you had a similar experience, and was there a fix? Contact me through my website.