Adventures in 21st Century TV

In the 20th century, TV was simple.

After a decade our TiVo HD died yesterday. High winds caused a power outage. When the power came back, about 4 hours later, the TiVo didn’t. It looks like the power supply died.

If you don’t know what a TiVo is, it is the premiere digital video recorder (DVR). It’s an easy-to-use device, unlike the boxes provided by the cable companies.

So now we have to decide what to do:

  1. Buy a new TiVo with lifetime service $750
  2. Buy a new TiVo with one year of service $350, additional years currently $150/yr.
  3. Gamble on replacing the power supply with a rebuilt power supply $130.
    (Not certain that just the power supply died.)
  4. Rent a cable TV box and pay for DVR feature ~$25/mo
  5. Replace cable TV with a single streaming package or multiple packages.

Our cable TV Optimum Economy plan costs $52.17/mo. It also gives us $25/mo in discounts on TV, phone and internet from a triple-play package

I don’t know what happens to the discounts if I cancel cable TV. Worst case is we might only net $20 – $25 per mo in savings.

We own and use Roku, Amazon Fire TV HD, Google Chromecast and Apple TV OTT devices, which are all set up. We currently subscribe to Netflix $10/mo, and Amazon Prime (no way to decipher what part of the annual Prime fee is for video). We buy TV episodes or seasons, which we don’t get via cable, and rent movies on Amazon and Google Play with some frequency.

Here are the major choices for replacing cable TV (Please note: these streaming services do not provide identical content. In fact what they offer varies quite a bit from one service to another.):

  • Sling TV $25/mo (no DVR, no on-demand, non-skip-able commercials)
  • Hulu Plus $12/mo (on-demand, no commercials)
  • YouTube TV $35/mo (DVR, commercials?, availability unknown)
  • AT&T Direct TV Now $60/mo (on-demand?, commercials?, extra hidden fees?, ???)

If YouTube TV were available today and I knew more about it, I would probably replace cable TV with it and do away with the TiVo. But it isn’t available yet, and I don’t know whether, when it launches in a month or two, Weston, CT will be included. So I opted to gamble on replacing the TiVo power supply for the immediate future. It will be about a week before I know if the gamble paid off.

Stay tuned for future episodes of Adventures in 21st Century TV.

Oy! My head hurts.