What does it really take to cut the cable-TV cord? I'd say at a bare minimum, you need a Roku box, a decent antenna, and some way to DVR live broadcasts.
This last item can be tricky, but there's at least one product that does a pretty solid job of it: Simple.TV. For a limited time, and while supplies last, DealFisher has a Simple.TV, Roku, and Mohu Leaf bundle for $249.99 shipped.
The bundle includes a Simple.TV DVR with lifetime subscription (which normally costs $299 all by itself), a refurbished Roku 2 XS (currently $60 at Newegg), and a refurbished Mohu Leaf Ultimate amplified antenna ($80 new). So, yeah, this bundle is worth about $440.
I think most of you are fully acquainted with Roku boxes, and I've written about the Mohu antennas here before: They're excellent at pulling down local TV broadcasts, though just how excellent it'll work for you depends on where you live.
As for the Simple.TV, it's a Roku-like box that lets you stream live and recorded over-the-air TV to an iPad, a PC, and, big surprise, a Roku box. (The company says it'll support more devices soon, though that promise has been dangling for some time now.)
It's a fairly plug-and-play solution, though it doesn't actually connect to your TV. Instead, you'll need a wired Ethernet connection to your router and a USB hard drive (ideally a portable one that doesn't need its own power supply) to store recordings. One solid bet: the 750GB Toshiba Canvio USB 3.0 drive for $59.99 shipped.
I haven't used a Simple.TV myself, and, the device does impose some compromises. On the other hand, it works both inside and outside your home network, meaning you can watch your shows at a friend's house or while traveling. And because you're getting a lifetime subscription with the bundle, there are no monthly fees to contend with.
If you want a big jump-start on the cord-cutting process, this bundle definitely gives you some useful tools. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: If you have a desktop you want to put on DVR duty, Nationwide Surplus has the refurbished Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1800 PCI TV tuner card for $14.99 shipped. It features dual over-the-air tuners and comes with DVR software, though you're much better off pairing it with Windows 7. Take note, however, that it has only a 30-day warranty.
Bonus deal No. 2: How about adding TV features to every networked PC in the house? Today only, and while supplies last, Newegg has the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual network-attached tuner for $56.99 shipped. Plug this into your router, connect an antenna, and you can share two over-the-air tuners with your networked Windows 7 PCs. This unit has traditionally sold for around $100.
Bonus deal No. 3: A couple months back I wrote about Printic, a neat iPhone app that lets you. Today only, you can get two credits (good for two prints) free when you enter code HAPPY26 (case-sensitive!) in the app's promotions field (which you'll find in the accounts page). You must redeem the credits before midnight tonight, and because the minimum order is three pics, you'll need to pony up at least a buck.
Deals found on The Cheapskate are subject to availability, expiration, and other terms determined by sellers.
Curious about what exactly The Cheapskate does and how it works?.