No Hot Water

I didn’t expect to be tearing open my water heater today, but it was not fun taking a cold shower. Looks like a new thermocouple is all I need. I had to do the same thing to my boiler a year or two ago.


Update: Spent $13 at Home Depot and the water is heating up.

Goodbye Charter Spectrum TV

I just got home from returning this equipment to Charter.

I watch my share of TV shows and I’ve used a DVR since 2005 for just about everything. I really dislike cable TV as a service though. They get you in the door for your first year and then jack up the price unless you call and haggle with them every year. No matter what you do you’re forced to pay for a bunch of stuff you don’t want. They give you the illusion of value with hundreds of options when most of us probably only ever use 10-15 channels.

I’ve been keeping my eye on services like Sling TV and hoping Apple might be able to shake up the market with a new product/service. Several weeks ago my friend Casey shared a link to DIRECTV NOW, a new streaming service similar to Sling. Looked promising. Then I remembered skimming over Dustin’s post about replacing his TV service. I did some research and had a chat with him to learn more. Sounded even more promising.

I installed the PlayStation Vue app for Apple TV and signed up for a free 7 day trial. During that week I tried to use the Vue service wherever possible. I watched Walking Dead through the cloud DVR feature. I watched SportsCenter on ESPN. I watched the Red Wings Fox Sports Detroit. I was impressed. The interface is an entirely new way to watch and browse channels without having to fight through a bunch of garbage. A huge advantage Vue has over DIRECTV and Sling is the cloud DVR feature. It’s works basically like On Demand, but for anything broadcast on the channels in your package.

Playstation Vue – Core Slim package ($34.99/mo)

One of the things holding me back from a streaming TV service had been sports and Vue seems to deliver just fine with several ESPN channels, Fox Sports Detroit, Golf, and the Big Ten Network.

The one issue pretty much all of these streaming services have is ABC, CBS, and NBC, but you can these for free with an over-the-air antenna. Losing out on DVR functionality would have been a deal breaker, but I learned about Tablo from Dustin’s post. You need an antenna, one of their DVRs, their digital guide service, and an external storage device. Sure beats renting equipment from Charter and paying their ridiculous fees.

All of this meant I’d be able to use my AppleTV for everything… Netflix, YouTube, Playstation Vue, Tablo, HBO NOW, and Showtime Anytime. Really hoping the new TV app on AppleTV (yeah, confusing naming!) will eventually tie everything together.

This week I finally made the move. I already had an AppleTV ($149), but ordered the other equipment:

Setting it up was easy, though I need to adjust the antenna location to get a better NBC signal. The Tablo system is good enough (not impressed) and hopefully they’ll be improving the software soon. I continue to be impressed by the quality of service provided by Vue, which I’ve been using for a month now.

What does this all mean in terms of dollars? This is a summary from my last Charter bill…

  • Spectrum TV – $76.97
  • Spectrum Internet – $51.99
  • Spectrum Voice – $19.99
  • Other Charges – $6.05
  • Taxes, Fees, and Charges – $4.80
  • Total – $159.80

I don’t even have a landline phone in my house to connect, but somehow it makes everything cheaper. That’s the shit I’m talking about with Charter and I’m glad to be done with. Here is how my new monthly services break down…

  • Charter Spectrum Internet – $59.99
  • Playstation Vue – $34.99
  • Showtime (via Playstation Vue) – $8.99
  • HBO NOW – $14.99
  • Tablo Guide – $4.99

I’m confident we’ll be seeing major TV changes in the next few years, otherwise I’d pay for the Tablo Lifetime subscription of $149.99. I’ll only subscribe to Showtime and HBO when Homeland, Game of Thrones, and Westworld are airing new seasons. So although the total here would be $123.95, over the course of the year my monthly average will probably be $105-110. In less than a year the equipment purchases will pay for themselves.