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And save $8.00 a month, which, I admit, doesn’t sound particularly impressive. But if you multiply that by ten years, my dears, you’ll be richer by almost $1,000.

How is this possible? If you’re a big spender and subscribe to cable TV services above and beyond basic cable, you are unfortunately out of this money saving loop. If, however, you are, like me, a basic cable subscriber, you may be able to forever kiss off the monthly cost of renting that cable set-top box and TV remote control. I did, but only after I had enriched my cable company for decades paying them for something, it turns out, I never needed in the first place.

About eight years ago, I was startled to come across info that suggested the cable company’s set-top box was not necessary for the reception of basic cable TV. When I telephoned my cable provider to ask if this was true, I was informed – surprise, surprise – that their cable box was absolutely necessary for the operation of my TV. Without it, they couldn’t guaranty decent picture reception nor repair any interference problems I might have down the line. Boxless, my TV picture and I would be on our own-subject to all manner of interference and interruptions caused by storms, heavy winds, building obstructions, construction problems, power malfunctions, and even, I seem to recall, signal thieves, etc. Their discouragement was not unexpected. Equipment rental was obviously a substantial part of their income, rolling in like the tides, year after year, constant and unquestioned. Plus removing that box from my television would mean kaput to any possible future income sailing from my pocket to theirs in the form of pay per view and upgraded service charges,

Still without a definitive answer as to whether or not that cable box was technically necessary, I continued nosing around the Internet for more specific info. And came up empty.

There was only one thing to do. Try it out myself. After studying the hook-up so I could put it back together if necessary, I removed the cable-top box that connected the outside cable wire to my TV set and connected that wire to the same TV outlet that had been used by the cable box. Not comfortable with any kind of electrical messing around, I turned on my television, prepared for a big POP! A crackle! Or even a blank screen!

Nothing…The picture popped on …Reception unaffected, exactly the same as before. All stations go. And the original remote control that came with the TV set worked fine. And most important, the movie reception on my attached VCR was as flawless as ever. I couldn’t get that equipment back to the company fast enough. At which time they repeated their warnings about evil picture gremlins hiding in the wings.

Years later just prior to the recent high definition changeover, there were, I admit, some reception anomalies. Meaning on some TV channels the picture appeared fuzzy or grainy or just not so hot. Blast! With the new changeover, it looked like I was going to have to fork over that cable box rental money all over again. I decided to hold off ordering a new box till after the changeover date. Lucky move. The changeover came, the bad reception went and I was back in the money saving business.

So if you’re a basic cable subscriber and still paying monthly rent for your cable-top box and remote control, pull the plug on that box and give your TV reception a whirl without it. You may be pleasantly surprised to find you don’t need it. At which point you can save further digital equipment from landfills and start piling up your first $1000.

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