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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > House & Garden > Cable TV

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2013 Recommendations

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

Alternative to Comcast

Feb 2011

I've had it with Comcast and am looking into alternatives. I've done a little research and thinking about getting an antenna to receive HD and then a device of some sort to stream Netflix. I think we will have to increase our internet speed too. I would love to hear from anyone who has tinkered with this-good or bad. I did not see any postings for tv/cable before 2002! so I hope someone else out there is knowledgable. Tired of paying for cable

We have a TV antenna (we have ours in our attic) for a good array of local broadcast stations, a ROKU box, Netflix, and internet and phone. See--

It costs us about $50/mo before taxes for the entire package. (The ROKU box was ~$80.) We are in love with our ROKU box and Netflix streaming and don't watch broadcast TV as much as we used to.

The phone that you get with Sonic is a land line and comes with all the bells and whistles---caller ID, voice mail, unlimited domestic long distance---and wonderful customer service. It was a definite upgrade from our AT&T service where I had long ago refused to pay separately for each of those services.

Good luck. (I'm always shocked to hear how much folks pay for Comcast.) Sally

I recently purchased an HDTV and a Wi-Fi Blue-Ray Disc player. I never bought into cable. I don't think it's worth it unless you like to watch sports. Whenever I've watched cable TV there seems to be more commercials than the actual program, so why should I pay for that? Instead, I just stick with broadcast tv and already had a subscription to Netflix. So with my new BD player I can stream movies,etc that Netflix carries. My particular BD player has the capability to stream UTube,, Pandora, Internet TV, Picasa, and a couple of other movie/TV carriers. Of course, some of these require subscriptions, but I stick with Netflix.

I love the set-up! I barely watch broadcast TV anymore. I don't have to sit in front of a computer screen to watch movies streaming on Netflix. I can sit on my comfy sofa and watch on a 50' screen. I love old movies and documentaries and Netflix has plenty of those. If you are like me and don't need to see programs/movies immediately, most shows eventually are carried by Netflix. Or you can tune into Another nice thing about streaming on Netflix is that you get to choose what to watch every night! (No...I don't have any connection with Netflix.) If you decide to stream only, I think it's $7.99/month. I have the subscription which includes streaming and 3 DVDs at home for about $20/month. (Isn't that cheaper than cable?) Also, the entire set-up is not that complicated. I live in the El Cerrito Hills and get fine broadcast digital TV reception with just a rabbit ear antenna. This is the best thing I ever did! Love my BD Player

Cable tv or ????

Jan 2010

We watch very little tv, but love our On Demand esp for HBO movies/series, but our Comcast bill keeps going up and up. Do you have a tv service you love? Is there anything like On Demand except on Comcast? What about the services that package telephone, internet too? Thanks for sharing your good find! picky about our tv

We have Comcast strictly for internet. For TV, we installed an antenna in the attic and bought a digital tuner--so we get digital broadcast. How well that would work for you depends on your location, of course.

For on-demand, I use Netflix's Roku box. I had Netflix already (the price varies depending on the package, but I'm paying about $15/mo), and my husband bought the Roku box. Sorry, I don't recall what he paid, but after the first cost of the box, you can access a lot of material at no additional cost. They do offer some additional on-demand items on a pay-for-access basis.

So we have several hundred dollars invested in antenna, tuner, and Roku box, but our ongoing expenditure is only about $15/mo. Carrie

Netflix has a watch instantly feature that allows you to watch many tv shows and movies whenever you want. I watch from my computer, but I've seen that it can also be watched ''from Xbox 360, TiVo, select Blu-ray players, and more'' according to the website. I get the 3 DVD plan for just under $20 each month and it includes unlimited instant watching. There are other plans too, but some plans include limited instant watch time. I like that I can watch movies anywhere my laptop goes. I'm guessing that means you could also watch streaming movies on a friend's TV too as long as you remember your account password, though I haven't tried it yet. cable-free but entertained

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

2003 & Earlier

Dish Network or Direct TV

July 2002

Does anyone have Direct TV or Dish Network and could recommend or site some pros or cons to either? We currently have AT & T digital cable and we have problems with the picture all the time which they can't seem to resolve. Any input on alternatives would be great. thanks!

Hi, We've had DirecTV for a year and think it's a good system. We pay $40/month for all of the non-premium channels plus all of the local channels (which used to be the downfall for satellite providers). We've never had cable--we went straight from broadcast to DirecTV. You can also usually find a good deal on the initial receiver/dish combo by shopping around. I think that satellite does get more expensive if you're connecting to more than one TV. We only have one, so it's not an issue for us. Good luck! Michael
We put in DISH networks a little over a year ago, mostly because I was sick of dealing with the folks at AT&T and the lousy picture quality. I chose DISH because it was the one offering the free installation and equipment at the time, and we've actually liked it quite a bit. You can watch Law & Order pretty much continously, if you like, the picture quality is excellent, and the customer service has been quite surprisingly good. I like the PPV that you can order on demand, though I don't use it very frequently. Myriam
We were dissatisfied AT&T customers for a long time too. We have had Dish Network for almost a year and LOVE it! The picture quality is so amazing that it made it seem as if we had a new improved tv set. We chose Dish over Direct based on the progamming offered (we wanted 2 specific stations that Direct didn't offer) and Dish had a great promo at the time. We have had two issues while having the system but got through to a real live person immediately when calling and they were resolved easily and immediately. We don't watch much tv but still feel it is worth the $ since we have clear reception (vs. an antenna & no cable) and pay slightly less than we did for far less programming and poor service with AT&T. I highly recommend the Dish service. Nicole
I've had DirecTV for about three years now and have been quite pleased with it. No problems to speak of, great picture quality. And since all the local channels became available in December, you won't be missing anything, and it probably will be cheaper than digital cable too. Get one of the deals with free professional installation and it will all get set up for you too. Just be sure you have a place on your house where the dish can point to the south-east (the satellites are over Texas).

As an extra plug, I can't imagine having all those channels and kids without TiVo! TiVo finds all kinds of shows I want to see, even from obscure channels. And with having to get kids in bed, I can just wait until it's convenient for me to watch my favorite shows, instead of trying to make it when they're on. There is a nice TiVo/DirecTV combination box that you can get for pretty cheap as a new subscriber if you can find it. They're fairly rare, but try: -Mike

When we moved into our house, a Dish Network antenna was already in place so we initially subscribed to their service. After about a year, we switched to AT&T digital cable. The main reason for our switch was that they had been unable to resolve their dispute with KRON 4, who at the time was the local NBC affiliate (and even though we had 50 channels, NBC was one of the few I actually watched), so they were not providing NBC. But I also found their menus difficult to use. I find the picture quality to be about the same for satellite and digital cable (both are better than non-digital cable). Also, it was a little easier to hook up more than one set with digital cable (I don't know if this is an issue for you). Stephanie
We recently switched from AT&T Digital to Direct TV and we are thrilled with Direct TV. With AT&T we always had reception problems, customer service was a nightmare and it was expensive. With Direct TV the picture is significantly better, they are very nice and helpful, we get more channels (especially kids programs) and it's actually a few dollars cheaper. You will need to buy the receivers and Satellite Dish, but we got a special with Best Buy for two receivers and a Dish and by the time we got all of our rebates, gift cards etc it only cost us about $49 and installation was free. Kristi
When we moved in to our last house, there was no cable option. So we signed up with direct tv. We loved the guide, (my husband's favorite channel), we got great reception, though once or twice in severe storms we lost picture, and we were generally happy. However, we found the customer service to spotty, so in a fit of defiance we switched to DISH Network, which we love even more. We pay $50/month for all the locals, 100 channels, and the ''store brand'' TIVO on 2 receivers (so we can watch different channels on different tv's). The customer service is fabulous, We just moved, and I called them days before we moved into the new house and they were there by the time I moved in. Also, apparently there is a new law which says that if they offer any local channels, they must offer them all, so they came and installed a second dish last week and now we get 20 extra locals (including KRON, KSTS, KTSF????). The TIVO (PVR) is amazing with a child and we can't imagine life without it with a 9 month old. However it is not smart like TIVO so we have to choose what to record. The picture is clear, we find the menus easy to use. ALl that being said, I believe the two (DIsh and DirectTV) are planning a merger -- assuming the SEC deems them not-a-monopoly, and that may affect lots of things. As others have said, do it when you get the best deal -- I think if a current dish customer refers you, you can get up to 4 receivers, free installation etc for free...If you have more questions, I would be happy to natter on some more. Good Luck! Shahana
Just to add that I too was completely dissatisfied with AT&T & switched to DirectTV and love it. We have the $39.99/mo which includes local channels, and we also opted to pay for HBO for $12/mo. And I also subscribe to the monthly magazine $39.99/mo which lists all the shows/times. I highly recommend DirectTV, and you can generally find great prices on the dish itself. We went to -- and only paid $19.95 s&h. Tasha
November 2001

I would like to get recommendations about which cable company people use. We have been to Bay Area for over four years and hadn't had a TV until recently. So we would like to get some idea as what kind of deals existing out there, price and service-wise, and also if possible, which is better, cable vs satellite? I didn't find anything on this topic on the parentsnet web site. Thank you.

I have AT&T. The previous ones I had merged into AT&T. I am paying about the same amount of money as before, but I have access to many more channels plus the DMX music channels which are really nice as they have no commercials. I know other people get the dish or other satellite-oriented services, but the cable has been the easiest since we stitched to the digital service. You need to first find out what is available in your area. Marianne
In terms of cable you are pretty much stuck with what is offered in your area. There are two providers of satellite, DirecTV and DISH Networks. In terms of programming they offer about the same thing, and one or the other of them is usually offering free installation and equipment. DISH was at the time we were so irritated at the poor quality of AT&T in Oakland that that is what we bought. You need to be able to see the Southern Sky from your house to have it work, which wasn't a problem. They came at the time they said they would, and we've been quite happy with it. The only catch is that they did not negotiate a contract with KRON Channel 4 (NBC) so we don't get it via satellite, but via antenna. Fortunately it comes in well enough via antenna. Pricewise it's about the same as cable, amazingly enough, but you get about 150 channels.
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