Q: I would like to cut the cord for TV and other services because my Comcast bill is about $220 a month for internet, Wi-Fi, phone, and TV (including premium channels such as HBO.) I don’t want satellite TV, and I can’t receive free over-the-air TV broadcasts because rooftop antennas aren’t permitted where I live. I’m interested in the Hulu streaming TV service. What can I do?
Paul Racette, Hooksett, N.H.
A: Streaming video from internet subscription services is less expensive than cable TV. For example, Hulu’s library of TV shows costs $8 to $12 a month, and for $40 a month you can also use Hulu to stream network TV and some other channels normally associated with cable (see tinyurl.com/yajr6u3x).
But you can’t completely cut the cord. You will still need high-speed internet service, and the providers in your area are cable (Comcast), telephone (Consolidated Communications) and satellite (Viasat.) Cellular internet services are also available, but their metered data plans are usually too expensive for streaming video, which uses a large amount of data.
Whichever provider you choose, Netflix recommends that you buy a service with at least 5 megabits of download speed for streaming high-definition video, or 25 megabits for ultra-high-definition video (also called 4K.) You will also need a streaming device for your TV ($30 and up, see tinyurl.com/y9anxgsy or tinyurl.com/y9qeyy3d) that receives video via your home Wi-Fi network. If you don’t have a Wi-Fi router, they cost $50 and up.
You are probably paying about $25 a month for Comcast phone service, so for a comparable amount you could switch to a cellular plan (see tinyurl.com/yd9fnle4). Note that this does not include the upfront cost of buying a cellphone.
Meanwhile, an alternative to a rooftop digital TV antenna is an indoor one. For an overview of antenna issues, see tinyurl.com/zbdsqcb.
Q: My four-year-old laptop shuts down for no apparent reason. The only thing I have not tried to fix it is to reinstall Windows 10. I previously had the PC repaired because of a main circuit board failure caused by my dog chewing on the power supply connection. What can I do?
Rick Hudnall, Colorado Springs, Colo.
A: Unexplained laptop shutdowns can be caused by the power supply, battery or cooling fan, or by malware. The first three should be checked by a repair shop.
Because this PC previously had its main circuit board destroyed by a damaged power supply connection, the power supply might be the problem this time. A faulty power supply can cause fluctuating electric current, and that can damage both the PC and its battery.
Laptop batteries can also wear out from use. After four years, you may need to replace yours.
It is also possible that your laptop is overheating, which triggers an automatic shutdown. Overheating can result from a defective cooling fan or a dust buildup.
The purpose of reinstalling Windows 10 would be to rid yourself of any viruses the laptop might have. Before going to that much trouble, try running the free version of Malwarebytes (see tinyurl.com/jsdacdk) to see if it finds any malware on your laptop.
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