Wanna cut the cord? Do the math first.

I had this great idea about a week ago: Tired of paying outrageous fees for cable television, I decided it was time to “cut the cord.”

Of course, I still wanted to see all my favorite shows. And be able to record them. But I didn’t want to pay TiVo’s monthly fees — after all, ending monthly fees was to be the whole point of this effort.

I jumped online and did some research. At first, I thought it would be easy. All I’d need would be an amplified digital antenna to pull in HD signals over the air, and a subscription-free DVR to record the content. Then I could cut my cable TV package and ramp up my Internet service, and still come out ahead in a relatively short period of time.

But then I saw the potential of adding AppleTV to the mix, to leverage my house full of Apple hardware. It wouldn’t cost that much more; so, why not?

But now I had a dilemma. With so many worthy peripherals in the living room, to which one would I connect the Ethernet hard line I had planned to run from the router in my office to the entertainment center in the living room?

Easily fixed, I decided. For a small additional cost, I could add an Ethernet switch, and then my Blu-ray player, PS3, AppleTV, and new subscription-free DVR would all have hard-wired cat6a gigabit Ethernet connections. Problem solved, right?


When I started diagramming my planned new data network (because I’m that kind of OCD), I realized that my TV has only two HDMI inputs, both of which are already in use. The new DVR and AppleTV only offer HDMI outputs. What was I to do now?

Obviously, I needed to add a new HD A/V amplifier/receiver. Of course, the new receiver would not be compatible with my 22-year-old speakers (which are currently connected to my 22-year-old stereo receiver). So I’d need new speakers, too.

Did my problems end there? Of course not.

Next, I realized my first-generation Mac Pro desktop computer is too antiquated to run the requisite OS and software to interact with AppleTV. If I were to upgrade just the Macbook Pro laptop, there’s a risk it would no longer be able to “talk” to the desktop tower.

Figuring I was due for a system upgrade after six years, I looked into buying a new Mac Mini with a 2TB Airport Time Capsule, and an external 3TB Thunderbolt array. Pretty snazzy. Despite the expense, I was starting to get excited.

Then I realized that my 30-inch Apple Cinema HD display isn’t compatible with the Mac Mini (or any Mac made since 2009). I would need to add an adapter. A $100 adapter, which might or might not work once linked into a Thunderbolt device chain.

At some point in my diagramming, I remembered that I would need to buy new cables. Lots of cables. Ethernet cables, USB cables, HDMI cables, Thunderbolt cables.

When the dust settled, I crunched the numbers.

By “cutting the cord” on my overpriced cable subscription, and making some much-needed changes to my and my wife’s iPhone plans, we could realize one-year savings of more than $2,500.

Unfortunately, the initial cost outlay in hardware and software (with tax and shipping) for my new data network and computer was just over $3,600. It would take nearly 18 months to amortize the new capital expenses and begin “sticking it to the man.”

So the next time you wonder why more people don’t just “cut the cord” on cable, it might be related to the sticker shock that comes with making the cut.

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