Is the Cost of a Cable Box Really Too Darn High?

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by AlphaAtlas, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. dgz

    dgz [H]ardness Supreme

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    I write software that runs on some of these Arris STBs. My personal opinion is that they cost way too much for the hardware.
     
  2. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    So I suppose this is one way. And for all means, too each their own.

    My way is Cox Cable for internet service at under $80 a month I think.
    I do Amazon Prime mostly for the shipping and service, but the music and movie stream is certainly value added, that's about another $12 a month.
    I was paying for Netflix, just dropped it again, $14 a month, I replaced it with Cinimax off of Amazon Prime for like $10 a month.

    Then their is the cell phone plan from T-Mobile, "unlimited data", (which we all know isn't really unlimited), two lines for the wife and I, at a little over $100 a month total.

    This is pretty much everything and it's all we need. I add and drop different services as the mood suites me. In a week or so, since I recently dropped Netflix again, I'll probably add Starz or something that has several movies and a series or two I want to see. Then I'll drop Cinimax and add something else. Evenetually Netflix will refresh their lineup and I'll go back to them a little while, catch up so to speak.

    We can find almost any sporting even online to stream from somewhere, even the big ones like the SuperBowl.

    So that's how I do it, one caveat, I do still purchase BluRays on occasion, still watch the old ones now and again.
     
  3. Tweak42

    Tweak42 Gawd

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    No hidden "rentals" here.
    We've been Tivo users for over 14 years, and cable card users since Series 3 release replaced the pathetic DVR rental we had for a painful month. Always bought the Tivo lifetime service as it pays off in a 2 years and the devices have lasted at least 5. Also bought a compatible cable modem as soon as I was able to find a good model at a sale price.

    I hate that Cox in our neighborhood doesn't offer the lower internet tiers they offer in other regions. We were perfectly happy with 25Mbps to play games and stream youtube, but they bumped all the plans up one tier so we now have 50Mbps we don't need and can't downgrade lower to save.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
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  4. ndehmer

    ndehmer [H]Lite

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    If you have T-mobile they include Netflix on some of their Unlimited plans (T-mobile one/one plus)
     
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  5. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    I had originally looked at TiVO before i set up a MythTV server. The reason I decided against it was that - at least at the time - there was no way for it to store recordings to my NAS, and I wanted to make the most of the storage I had already bought.

    Has this feature become available over time?

    What I really want to do is have one device that supports the following three uses:

    1.) DVR that can store to my NAS server

    2.) Playback media files from my media library on my NAS server

    3.) App compatibility for various streaming services.

    I was looking at the Bolt, it appears to support 1, but not to NAS, and 3, but not 2. It's really tough to find exact feature lists of these things though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  6. Doc Doc

    Doc Doc n00b

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    Google has given up on new fiber builds as it was costign them too much.
     
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  7. griff30

    griff30 I Lower the Boom!

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    AT&T did this with home telephone forever...
    You paid a monthly fee for service and a monthly fee for the phone and any additional lines....
    You could BUY a phone and splitter but they would find out and charge you again for another phone.
    That eventually went away but my parents paid monthly fees for a phone rental till the late 80s.
    Fact.
     
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  8. Darth Ender

    Darth Ender Limp Gawd

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    The cost was less to do with normal business expenses and more to do with having to fight legal battles with various telecom monopoly agreements in nearly every municipality that would make sense to expand into. Cost of entry is high into an established industry and if you are barred from the places you'd make the most profit, you can't afford to expand into places where the profit margins would be lower due to high costs ....or would have to be subsidized by the higher profit areas due to costs (the US is very big).

    So you dont have google fiber because cable and telcom companies made it too difficult to justify the expenses. More of a reason to cut ties with such companies whenever you can.
     
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  9. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    So funny story... and by funny, I mean infuriating as all hell. Sonic.net finally has 1000Mbps fiber available* in my neighborhood, great... but it's $90/month which isn't horrible don't get me wrong, but it's a far cry from their $40/month that they charge elsewhere and a quick look at AT&T availability I see why, THEY are not running fiber in my neighborhood AT&T has already, and they simply lease the lines, AT&T cost is also $90/month, however Sonic "adds value" by giving you a "free" voice line with that price. Now the problem is for that voice line you have to rent their adapter at $6.50/month, and getting a voice line means you get all the local/state/fed taxes on telecommunications which here translate to just over $13/month, and unlike AT&T who gives you a free fiber gateway, Sonic rents one for $9.50/month, and the kick in the nuts is that you are committed to 1 year in which case the you basically could buy your own for cheaper or a similar cost and you still own it.

    So yeah this is a well known tactic by businesses in order to pad their bottom line, the shitty thing is that many of them straight up are allowed to lie about how much their service cost by advertising one price, when the reality is when you rent their equipment and in many cases you HAVE TO then the service is more than the price the advertise, doubly fucked if you live in an area with major sports teams then you get hit with "Regional Sports Fee" and if you have OTA stuff, then "Local Transmission Fee" between the two of them that's another $12-15/month, which a company like Comcast claims is too difficult to add into the advertised price because of local variations in the fees but they ask where your residence is to quote you the price, so no it fucking isn't too difficult. Some still charge a "HD fee" like seriously WTF you advertise HD channels in your add, fucking show me the price for what you are advertising, want to use that DVR? Well that'll cost you another $10/month. All of this shit is similar to what hotels are doing with "resort fees" that are not advertised in any price anywhere. But will the FTC do anything about it? Nope, they're powerless apparently.
     
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  10. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    Yup, lots of old ladies with phone rental fees, and sometimes for a phone they have tucked away in their closet because they (or someone else) bought them a different phone. Even though they stopped renting phones, they still charge. AT&T (Pacbell) did this with me and DSL service, way back when 1.5Mbps ADSL was like $79.99 a month, then it dropped to $39.99 a month, but do you think they adjusted pricing? Noooooo, so they happily charge more for the same service, and this isn't a promotional rate either that is the rate they charge. Should have taken them to small claims court, but knowing them they'd say that there was one iota of difference between the plans and say my old plan was grandfathered in.
     
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  11. mkk

    mkk [H]Lite

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    Cable? I could have sworn the year was 2018.
     
  12. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    The telephone company kept raising the costs. COX started providing phone service, and the cost for the base service was less than the bundle discount so I signed up.
    Over the years COX kept raising the costs, so I canceled the service with COX and switched to Ooma. $99 for the box, and a little over $4 per month which just covers the taxes. Already saved enough to pay for the box a couple times over. Unlike the phone company or COX, the $4 includes long distance calls anywhere in the country.

    If Ooma starts charging too much, I'll drop them and add a line to my cell phone plan. My T-Mobile plan would only cost another $10 for the 4th line, and I can connect it to my home phone system (multiple handset system) using Bluetooth. The phone system base even has a USB connector to keep the phone charged :D
     
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  13. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    If COX ever stops supporting the cable card on my Windows Media center, or tightens the DRM so I can't watch the shows on other computers in the house, I'll drop their cable service.
     
  14. Joust

    Joust 2[H]4U

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    Yeah, so, self-interest fuels the world.
     
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  15. MajicJack $20/year if you sign up for 5 years. NEVER had an issue.
     
  16. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    It's a DRM flag set in the digital transmission.

    There are many flags that can be set, but the most common are "Copy Freely" or "Copy Once". If Copy Once is set, a DVR can record it, but it cannot be copied from that DVR to another system. If Copy Freely is set, once recorded, the file can be copied freely.

    In order for the DRM protected modes like Copy Once to work, the system has to be certified to have working DRM. This is an expensive process, and as such, usually only your cable companies set top and DVR boxes, Windows Media Center and Tivo do it. The open source community generally tends to shun DVR as well, so they probably wouldn't implement it even if it were free.

    On a system that lacks the certification, you can playback and record "Copy Freely" content, but "Copy Once" content will neither display nor record.

    HBO has required that cable companies that wish to carry their channel must flag it as "Copy Once" forever. Up until 2015, HBO and some other premium channels were the only ones who did this, but in 2015 all Fox channels (except the local affiliates) added this requirement to their contract as well.

    As a result, I who don't pirate content, simply watch live and record for future viewing using MythTV suddenly lost the ability to watch all Fox channels.

    Usually this is not a problem though. Verizon occasionally throws in free HBO service for me, which I can never watch, which is a bummer, but the free stints are limited, and I wouldn't pay for premium channels anyway. There is also nothing on any Fox channel I'm interested in seeing. Except the World Series. That was kind of a bummer.
     
  17. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    We've been using Vonage for years. The experience has been pretty good. I can't complain.

    Doesn't Magic Jack require the use of a computer though? I vaguely remember seeing the ads years ago, and it looked like some sort of dongle you plug in to your PC...
     
  18. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    You can get that, or an adaptor that a regular phone can plug into. Dunno how well it works, though.
     
  19. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    Read to many complaints about MajicJack back when I was switching.
    Ooma is supposed to have better sound quality, and I'm ok with it costing less the $50/year.
     
  20. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    I've had no problem watching recorded shows from Fox Business and Fox News. I have the folder shared out on the HTPC, I can browse to it and play any recorded show I want.
    Don't have HBO, so I can't test that.
     
  21. GoldenTiger

    GoldenTiger [H]ard as it Gets

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    Same here I have used Tivo since they launched.
     
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  22. Ranulfo

    Ranulfo [H]ard|Gawd

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    I've never been charged to rent the cable tv box from comcast. They did charge me a shipping fee and preferred to ship it to me instead of me going to pick it up with "well it would cost you more to pick it up at the local office" with the forced digital only requirement several years ago. Of course, that cable box that was shipped to me from a mere 45 mins away and took 3 days via ups to get to me didn't work. I wasted 2 hours troubleshooting it online and via phone, all to be told to go to my local office and get a different box. That wasted another hour. Probably cost me $20 in shipping and gas plus free time.

    I usually leave the tv box unplugged these days though because I don't watch much tv and it sucks 11.1w from the wall all the time and 11.9w when turned on to actually watch tv.
     
  23. mlcarson

    mlcarson Limp Gawd

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    Well, nobody with Tivo or WMC will have a problem since those two platforms support DRM. Comcast is not enabling DRM on the Fox Business or Fox News channels. I think COX and/or Verizon Fios do though; Comcast only does this for the premium movie channels in my area. I dropped WMC when they refused to support it in Windows 10 so can only get channels that are DRM free.
     
  24. pgwalsh

    pgwalsh Gawd

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    That is worded in a very negative pigeon hold way.

    Lots of people start businesses thinking they can provide a better service or product to customers than what exists. Sure, there are people that strictly see dollar signs, but most are not nefarious as you imply. Now I agree with you once a company becomes public, it's all about financials, because then they're obligated to shareholders and usually financial people take the helm and it's all about improving the bottom line. That's one reason why it's best to support small businesses as they tend to work hard for your money and know they need to provide you with the best product or service for your dollar or they're out. With more smaller businesses there's more competition which leads to people not being able to gouge you and only the best survive.
     
  25. piscian18

    piscian18 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Actual you know what nvm forget I said anything.
     
  26. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    That's odd. Maybe the contract with your local cable company hasn't come up for renewal yet.
     
  27. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    Well, what he is saying is that he can browse to the recordings folder and play the files on a different computer.

    Compatible or not, if the "copy once" flag is enabled, this should be blocked.
     
  28. Not anymore. You set it up while it's plugged into computer then it's stand alone.

    Voice mail is delivered as mp3 to email
     
  29. DocNo

    DocNo Gawd

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    Bah - I've never had a cable co's box - been using Tivo since 2001 and if Tivo goes away I'll just cancel cable.
     
  30. umeng2002

    umeng2002 Gawd

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    At least with Satellite, you can just straight up buy the boxes.
     
  31. wizzi01

    wizzi01 2[H]4U

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    Do you have the plan from tmobile that pays for netflix sd?
     
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  32. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not happy with it no longer being available with Windows 10.

    I'm assuming at some point Microsoft will no longer update the channel guide under Windows 7.
    Hopefully that is still years away, and by that time I'll no longer need cable or a DVR.
     
  33. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    If the cable company starts blocking my ability to stream shows to other computers, then they will lose a customer.
     
  34. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    True, but not on the Unlimited Senior plan we are paying $55 for two lines for.
     
  35. Tweak42

    Tweak42 Gawd

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    I'm not the definitive authority on these, but here's my experiences.

    1.) No direct to saving to NAS capability. There is export capability using Tivo Desktop PC software and/or java based kmttg 3rd party software. I haven't tried either of these personally, and there seems to be DRM lockout blocking on some content. (probably sports events and stuff like Game of Thrones)

    2.) Plex playback is supported on Tivo, I have used it a few times to stream content from a Plex Server on my LAN. It's been over a year since I tried it last so there may be more supported than just Plex now.

    3.) We stream from Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and occasionally Youtube. Haven't tried any others than those.

    My reliance on Tivo is mostly for my elderly parents, I did try a MythTV, SiliconDust tuner setup before but it was not user friendly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
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  36. Bootleg Usher

    Bootleg Usher Gawd

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    It's strange to hear that this is such a widespread issue. I bought my cable box refurbished from a local electronics store ($100.00), called my provider (Shaw, Alberta Canada) and they activated it. No fees, no hassle, no rentals.
     
  37. commissioneranthony

    commissioneranthony [H]ard|Gawd

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    My folks are part of a generation of channel surfers. They want to be fed content. The thing is they only want to watch old-timey content, so they end up paying through the roof for cable tv with old folk networks.
    Does anyone know of any way to stream content that has lost it's copyright? I can imagine ras pi + some old time streaming service / old content database.
    Man, copyright law sure is generous to content producers. Life of the author + 70 years. Jeez.

    Thanks!
     
  38. 86 5.0L

    86 5.0L [H]ardness Supreme

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    plex on a pi running 24/7 lol
     
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  39. commissioneranthony

    commissioneranthony [H]ard|Gawd

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    Thanks I'll definitely check this out!
     
  40. griff30

    griff30 I Lower the Boom!

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    Roku+ Pluto TV.
    Has old time channels

    No cost. 200 channels.
    Profit
    Pluto TV runs on Pi too but looks better on Roku.
     
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