How to Live Without A TV and Cable

For the last few years, we simply haven't used a TV in our home. This all started a few years ago when I first moved into an apartment. We didn't have cable and the TV was mostly used for playing video games. As time went by, I've completely stopped using TVs of any sort.

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When we moved to Asia in 2006, we sold off our old TV. In our new place, there was a TV with cable, but we asked our landlord to take it away. Since then, the living room has become more of a secondary office, with a desk and bookshelves than a home theater.

The one thing that you will love is that you will no longer be tied to a TV schedule. When I was growing up, I ran home to watch G.I.Joe and the Transformers at 3PM. Throughout my teens, the TV schedule was important. Now, I don't really know when shows or movies come on. Since I read the news, I know when a good show or program comes along.

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The easiest way to live without a TV is to refocus your home entertainment system around your desktop computer. While laptops are great, they usually don't have enough power or storage to serve as these. It can still be done. I've actually used a 13.3-inch laptop as my main computer to watch my stuff for over a year, but it doesn't work for two or more people unless you plug it into a bigger screen.

Nowadays, with Netflix, iTunes, and Hulu, you no longer need to be tied to cable or satellite TV. I've watched most of the matches of the World Cup this way as well as movies with my wife. Most shows that I watch have no commercials, so they are shorter. A 1-hour show ends up being 40 to 45 minutes.

The trick for this to work effectively is to have a good computer monitor. I use a 24" ViewSonic monitor that has served me well for the last few years. Before I used a 19" ViewSonic screen. I'll probably upgrade to a 30" ViewSonic shortly though, since I feel that I could do with more screen real estate. That and plenty of hard disk space. I use Western Digital hard drives exclusively. I've had extremely good service from them. They warrantied a 3-year old hard drive when it broke without any problems.

Since we are living in Asia for a few years, we won't be buying anything big that we can't bring back home, but once we arrive home, we'll probably buy an HDTV to watch movies, but we won't be getting cable. A DVR solution is interesting, but ultimately, you're still paying for cable. My way, if you don't have time to watch shows, you can just wait until you do have time.

[all photos by Range]

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