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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Watch TV In 2012?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the does-not-involve-3d-glasses dept.

Television 479

zaba writes "Once again, I can hear the tell-tale signs of a hard drive dying. This time, it's in the DVR for one of our TVs. In the U.S., are we at a point where, with a little technical savvy, 'cutting the cord' makes sense? If so, what are the best options? Does a refurb Roku (anywhere from 60-80 USD) make the most sense? Does building a mythbox or some such device make sense? For my family of four (ages 36, 30, 13 and 4), we are paying ~100 USD/month for two receivers (one with a DVR). What, in your opinion, is the best option to have TV service in two rooms of the house? Kid's shows could be in one room and adult shows in another. Or, all of it could be on one server (I have computers lying around) that could go to multiple rooms. We like the DVR for the instant access, but saving a hundred bucks a month would be nice as well. I can drop CAT-5 as needed, but Wi-Fi would be preferred. For programming, we currently have 'standard' cable and mostly watch the major networks. I would love to have ESPN, but can get my sports fix (mostly college football) through other means, I'm sure. How do you all watch TV? What have you found to be the best way to get what you want?"

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First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460089)

First

Best way to watch TV (5, Funny)

Niris (1443675) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460103)

By looking at it.

Re:Best way to watch TV (4, Interesting)

Niris (1443675) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460169)

Also on a more serious note: Netflix. My girlfriend and I only have that and it works great. You can set it to play only kid shows fairly simply, there's a pretty solid amount of content, and you can always rent movies if you really want them (or torrent, if that's your thing). I run ours through a Wii in the bedroom and a PS3 in the living room, though you could do it with a computer as well. Biggest pain would be using a keyboard and mouse, but I feel like they also sell remotes for computers so you could look into that.

Remember TV dinner? (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460317)

you could [run Netflix] with a computer as well. Biggest pain would be using a keyboard and mouse

That's what a tray table is for. You put the wireless keyboard and trackball on the tray while picking a show, and once the show starts, you put them away to make room for your microwave dinner.

Re:Best way to watch TV (2)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460389)

I like Netflix, it's good for entertainment content. But, something I haven't found for any media box, is CNN. Live news. On some, you can access the video files CNN puts on their website, but not CNN/HLN live feeds. My wife's addicted, so cable it is.

Re:Best way to watch TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460607)

Live news. On some, you can access the video files CNN puts on their website, but not CNN/HLN live feeds. My wife's addicted, so cable it is.

Get one of those cheap android set top boxes and run the CNN app?

Re:Best way to watch TV (3, Interesting)

wallsg (58203) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460617)

We watch Netflix via a PS3 and OTA via an antenna in the dead air space above our ceiling.

Sports is likely to be your biggest drawback of dropping cable or satellite.

We're not big on sports or "regular" TV so this suffices for us. Honestly, after you get used to it you'll wonder why you bothered to watch half the stuff you did. I did miss not getting to watch the second half of The Walking Dead season two (should be coming to Netflix in the relatively near future), but as long as you're willing to wait for them to get to Netflix (or willing to buy or otherwise "acquire" the episodes over the internet) you'll be fine. If you watch a couple of hours of TV per night you'll have literally years worth of movies and really good television series that you meant to watch but somehow never did just waiting for you. With no commercials you can know out three half-hour shows in just a touch over an hour. I guess that would be a season of 24 in about 18 to 19 hours...

PS3 sucks hard for Youtube. Big hoops to jump through to get anything other than low-res video there. You can either go through third-party websites or set up a proxy PC.

I will probably like to watch the Olympics to a greater degree than what will be OTA so I'll just plug my laptop into my receiver via HDMI and stream whatever's available online. BTW, that works pretty good with a Toshiba Thrive android tablet too.

Re:Best way to watch TV (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460305)

Looking at it...1/3 of the time.

Game on one monitor (currently Tera), surf on the other (yeah,'I know, only two monitors is pathetic) and big screen TV behind them against the wall.

Truth be told, the second, surfing monitor is often playing fullscreen TV.

ATTENTION GAME MAKERS!!! Make sure fullscreen on one monitor is functional while it is technically backgrounded when surfing on the other monitor.

ATTENTION VIDEO SITES AND FLASHPLAYER!!! Make sure you can run fullscreen on one monitor while technically backgrounded and a game is foreground on the other monitor.

Re:Best way to watch TV (4, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460547)

Make sure fullscreen on one monitor is functional while it is technically backgrounded

If that doesn't work, run two computers with one head each and use Synergy [synergy-foss.org] to move between them.

Re:Best way to watch TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460603)

ATTENTION GAME MAKERS!!! Make sure fullscreen on one monitor is functional while it is technically backgrounded when surfing on the other monitor.

Sounds like something you could rig up with your OS/video card driver/third party tool fairly easily if you have a modern PC, whether or not the game developers care. Even my 6.5yo PC could probably be forced to do that as long as I'm surfing without many in-browser resource hogs.

Re:Best way to watch TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460385)

Roku for most streaming ( also has usb for some mp4/mkv files) and perhaps a $35.00 Raspberry Pi for playing the local files not played by the Roku

Re:Best way to watch TV (4, Funny)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460503)

Bonus points if you're actually looking at the screen. Looking at the back of the device is kind of boring.

Re:Best way to watch TV (1)

Zizi (725033) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460521)

And if you get bored with the TV you can look at the radio as well.

My Setup (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460113)

HD TiVo w/ Antenna Broadcast HD channels
ESPN via XBox Live

My TiVo, BluRay, Xbox, Receiver, and TV can all stream:
Netflix
Hulu Plus
Amazon Prime

Re:My Setup (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460341)

Here in Iceland I get my TV service through something called "myndlykill"; I don't know the English word for it, but it's a box with a Cat5 on the back that plugs into your hub and downloads channels from the net and yeilds an HDMI signal. Most people here have 50Mb/s or 100Mb/s optical fiber net connections so there's enough bandwidth for a good picture.

OTA, Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460115)

OTA TV gets me most of the Hockey games I care about (the rest can be streamed at terrible quality online), and a few recent series I care about. Netflix gets me most everything else. I pirate Top Gear; the BBC really ought to get with the program and offer foreigners a way to pay for series or subscriptions.

Re:OTA, Netflix (5, Informative)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460597)

I pirate Top Gear; the BBC really ought to get with the program and offer foreigners a way to pay for series or subscriptions.

You mean, like Netflix? Most of the BBC series I watch are on it....

Roku Box (2)

Banichi (1255242) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460125)

The Roku Box fills all of my TV watching needs.

Re:Roku Box (2)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460445)

I concur. The Roku box makes no noise and is a low power draw when idle. With Roku + Netflix + Amazon, I never don't have something to watch. I only have Amazon because I forgot to cancel after a free promo when I wanted something shipped quickly. I'd also consider Hulu+ if I cared about current season shows.

For sports, there's a sports bar within walking distance of my house. A beer is much cheaper and tastier than a cable bill.

Re:Roku Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460453)

Yep. I can't believe people still pay for cable. I cut the cord almost a decade ago. Netflix provides a ridiculous amount of entertainment for $8, free video podcasts provide a lot, and the few shows worth watching (there's usually one or maybe two shows worth watching at any one time, like Mad Men and Breaking Bad), there's torrents (sorry, it's not worth $100+/mo just to watch one show).

Roku or AppleTV (4, Interesting)

rgbscan (321794) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460135)

I would have recommended a Roku or AppleTV with Netflix and Hulu Plus.... but Hulu Plus just started running political ads. Arrrgghh. Amazon Prime is a nice to have, but not needed. I rarely find something there that Netflix doesn't have.... unless you want reality tv stuff or those "dirty job" type shows. Amazon Prime streaming seems to have those in spades.

Re:Roku or AppleTV (1)

theelectron (973857) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460179)

I second the Netflix idea. Though, Mythbox is useful if you have a large digital repository of videos already, otherwise you probably won't need it with a streaming video service.

Re:Roku or AppleTV (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460463)

Thirded.

I gave up on cable about five years ago, and have yet to regret it. I can get full seasons, commercial free, from NetFlix within a year of their original airing.

I seriously wonder why I ever paid over $1200/year for something I can get for a tenth that, and without the single biggest nuisance associated with live TV - The one that people pay more for devices to extract - Commercials.


Cut the cord, dude! You'll never regret it.

Re:Roku or AppleTV (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460293)

I've got both Roku and Apple TV. The Apple TV integrates nicely with iTunes, but the Roku seems to be more open for third party content/apps (Roku "channels"). Scanning through the available channels reminds me of the early internet: some gems and a lot of crap. I actually like the crap in a public access sort of way. It's great for people with a fetish (mine is Korean dramas, on DramaFever!). $99 for the top of the line Roku, complete with motion controller and a copy of Angry Birds, is a great deal.

Re:Roku or AppleTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460519)

I have Roku and a Western Digital LiveTV Hub (internal hard disk). I like Roku's interface, and the whole family can use it - very easy to operate. WD is a bit clunkier, but also has YouTube support (which Roku strangely lacks).

However, about half the content I want to watch from YouTube on the WD box is "not available for this device'. For awhile, I would enlist DownloadHelper to grab the content, shove it on the WD's hard drive, and play it from there just out of spite. When that got old, I built a PC just for Internet access via TV. Very flexible, but the most of the family won't use it.

As long as the content owners can't figure out how to offer their IP in some reasonable fashion, I think the hybrid approach is going to be essential.

What's on? (4, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460151)

Have you found anything worth watching yet? Whenever I hear about something good I check it out, but it just seems like shit to me. Game of thrones? Lord of the rings with tits. Caprica 1? Zzzzz. Walking Dead? Nothing ever happens - there's a strict 5 zombies per episode limit (apart from the last episode - perhaps it's the same 5 zombies over and over, though).

Loads of talk of 3D, google/apple/whatever tv, but if it's just the same old shit then it seems like a waste of a lot of money. Just stick the good stuff on the net so we can watch it whenever.

Re:What's on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460335)

Hey stan go back to south park . k thx bye

Re:What's on? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460365)

>>>Game of thrones? Lord of the rings with tits.

I fail to see the drawback.

>>>Caprica 1? Zzzzz. Walking Dead? Nothing ever happens

Agree on Caprica (though it had a great 5-episode ending... watch it on syfy or hulu). Walking Dead is better in comic book form because you can read at your own place, plus it's about 5 seasons ahead of the TV show's current location in the plot.

Maybe look to the past: The 90s. Hercules was blah, but its spinoff Xena was quite good from season 2 onward. Also Star Trek DS9 and Babylon 5 (my top 2 favorites) and Outer Limits and Twilight Zone and X-Files and Sliders (season 1,2). Basically TV was better in the 90s.

Re:What's on? (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460449)

I fail to see the drawback.

No kidding. I pity the person who can't enjoy Naked Dragon Girly. BTW: Why didn't her clothes burn off when her dragon children charbroiled the wizard in the second season? They burned off in the first in her husband's funeral pyre.

Re:What's on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460549)

Ah DS9. I remember at the time everyone hated it. "Not real Star Trek" they said. "Just a rip-off of B5" they said. And then we got Voyager and it seemed better. I watched them both in reruns recently and DS9 is clearly the better show, while Voyager is just painfully dumb. B5 is obviously the best 90s sci-fi series though.

Re:What's on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460541)

With such an open-minded approach, I can't understand how you'd have such a hard time finding anything good to watch.

Either you've never seen Lord of the Rings or you've never seen Game of Thrones. You can't have seen both if you think they have anything in common beyond one actor and most of the costumes. Characterization, themes, plot... they have none of these in common by any stretch.

Re:What's on? (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460651)

heads up on the walking dead: the title refers to the survivors, not the zombies. hence the show is about human drama in a zombie apocalypse. plenty of shit has happened. i could drop a few examples but it's spoilers for others. and what other zombie tv show have you seen that gets away with this much gore? they routinely burst heads open and hack bodies up in the walking dead. even the creators have expressed surprise that amc lets them get away with their graphic violence.

i admit i've read the books since they came out and there is plenty of fucked up shit happening in the story line that waiting for the rearranged-for-tv version is exciting enough. it seemed like forever before they got to the part where carl kills zombie-shane. i liked the book version better though, where carl kills the living shane.

the best way to watch tv (4, Informative)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460155)

is not to watch tv. seriously, it sucks.

Re:the best way to watch tv (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460329)

is not to watch tv. seriously, it sucks.

Agree, don't watch tv. Plus you're supporting the legions of hell.

Re:the best way to watch tv (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460387)

No, you suck.

It doesn't suck. Like any medium most of it sucks, some of it is good. No more or less then movies music or books.

Maybe you should think about the stories and no be so fanatically hateful of he medium in which it is delivered?

Re:the best way to watch tv (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460529)

No it sucks. Used to be there were so many shows* I couldn't keep-up. (I had to tape them and catchup during Christmas hiatus and summer break.) Now the channels are mostly filled with reality crap, even the National Geographic (!) and Syfy Channel (building cars == fantasy or sci-fi??). I often flip through the cable when on business trips, and wonder why anyone would pay for it.

*
* The 90s; Just off the top of my head:
Seinfeld, Friends, Quantum Leap, Star Trek TNG, Babylon 5, DS9, Voyager, Twilight Zone, X-Files, Sliders, Buffy, Angel, Xena, Hercules, Timetrax, Ren & Stimpy..........

Watch TV? (1)

InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460159)

Sit in front of the box and open your eyes

XBMC (4, Informative)

Bourgeois_Rage (149503) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460161)

I made the switch from cable to XBMC. Well we still get our internet through the cable company, but no longer do I get television through them. There's plenty of free streaming plugins in XBMC. And I have a server in another part of the house that hosts digital copies of TV shows and movies that stream over the wireless to a seamless picture and sound. I subscribe to Amazon Prime and get a lot of TV shows that way. It is very DIY, but once it is working, it is great.

Television is a prison for your mind. (-1, Troll)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460181)

Television is a prison for your mind.

Re:Television is a prison for your mind. (0)

perry64 (1324755) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460231)

You're right.

Whereas responding with snobby comments on /. is the height of self-enlightenment and a fulfilled life..

Re:Television is a prison for your mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460253)

Television is a prison for your mind.

But not watching television transforms you into a douchebag that uses every single time somebody mentions the word television as an opportunity to claim how horrible TV is and how much better our lives would be if we abandoned it.

Don't let this happen to you! Watch at least 6 hours of TV a day!

Re:Television is a prison for your mind. (0)

mallyn (136041) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460561)

May I please disagree.

I have been without TV for 34 years and I have have an extremely fulfilling life.

I have these wonderful hobbies that give me more entertainment. I happen to a a light artist and I really love it.

If you want to see some of the things that I make during the time I could have watched TV, go to http://www.allyn.com/ [allyn.com]

If you are in Portland, Oregon, and you see someone with jewelry and clothing that glows in the dark, that's me.

Re:Television is a prison for your mind. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460403)

No it isn't. Ignorance is the prison of the mind.

I lie how you think learning about math and science is some sort of prison.

Not every one sits around watching shows about fat couple with a nagging wife.

Good question! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460199)

What have you found to be the best way to get what you want?

I just flash my titties..

Asking the best way to watch television... (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460201)

... is a lot like asking what size of running shoe your goldfish takes.

Almost there... (2)

mislam (755292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460207)

I have been without cable or satelite for a year now. I have MythTV setup with dual tuner which captures OTA programs. After the shows get recorded an automated process converts the mpeg2 files into mpeg4 for lower file size and easy to stream in home network format. On the front end I have 4 apple TV connected to 4 TVs in different rooms. Each of them is running XBMC on it which streams the recorded programs from MythTV. My network is a mix of WIFI G and ethernet over power line. Works fairly well. Only problem is I can't watch live tv on the Apple TV because uncompressed mpeg2 is too much to stream. And the Apple TV are too underpowered to decode it properly. I get channel lineup information from schedulesdirect on yearly subscription. Anything I missed? My only gripe is not having sports access. This year missed NBA completely. :(

Watch your local team (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460361)

My only gripe is not having sports access. This year missed NBA completely. :(

You could always buy a season ticket to watch your local college or D-League team. Yes, I know that's not for everybody, such as someone with a family or someone who follows multiple sports.

Re:Watch your local team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460545)

Also, if you have a reasonably popular college team it'll cost you as much as the cable, not counting concessions and parking.

Build a Mythbox PVR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460209)

then get it hooked into a ku band dish. Don't pay for shit then, and don't pirate the signals. That will get your pee-pee smacked.
http://www.buydvb.net/

A Vast Wasteland (-1, Offtopic)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460225)

That's what television is.

Re:A Vast Wasteland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460273)

I always thought of it more as a treacherous hive of scum and villainy.

Re:A Vast Wasteland (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460483)

Im so tired of this.

I leaned a new lick watching peter frampton last week. Was that a waste?
My kids and I had a discussion regarding quantum physics because of something we watched on TV. Was that a waste?
My kids no more about our solar system then most kids their age because of some of the television we watch. Is that bad?
My kids want to build things over the summer because of something they say on TV. Is that bad?
My daughter likes doing experiments because of mythbusters. Is that bad?

I have used TV tio teach my kids about advertising shenanigans. Was that bad?

I could list a 1000 ways TV is good.
Is there stuff on TV that is horrible drivel and nonsense? yes. But to dismiss all of TV because of that is no different then burning down all the library's because they have a copy of twilight.

Whoa I just thought of something! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460227)

Offer your 2 kids $50 a month each to not have any TV in the house. See if they go for it. Then they get to do whatever they want with the money. And you will all be better off without the "boob tube" clogging your brains with junk. And they can do crafts or learn computer programming or something fun. Good luck.

Re:Whoa I just thought of something! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460601)

What you imagine: The kids pick up several productive hobbies and grow up to be sharp-witted citizens free of the fetters of mass advertising.

What would actually happen: The kids pocket your $50/month, go watch TV at their friends' houses, and learn that their parents are starry-eyed idiots who are easily taken advantage of.

My Setup (3, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460233)

I've learned not to try to tell people what to do, especially since they rarely listen (like my brother who spent $70/month on Dish when I had advised spending 1/3 that amount). Instead I tell them what works for me and let them decide:

SETUP 1 :

- free TV via an antenna. Attached to all the rooms in the house. Both an old VCR and DVR that I use to tape stuff while I'm sleeping.
- supplemented by Hulu.com over PC or roku
- supplemented by DVD purchases of shows not on hulu (like Games of Thrones). Supplemented by uTorrent if the DVD has not been released yet.
- I also read a lot of mystery or sci-fi magazines online if nothing's on.

SETUP 2 (if I lived where antennas are not allowed)
- $25 a month Dish service for cable on two sets
- supplemented by hulu, DVD, torrent, et cetera

Re:My Setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460459)

Yes. (This is a response to your sig.)

Re:My Setup (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460609)

Just realized how wordy I was. Short version:
SETUP 1 :
- free antennaTV + DVR
+ Hulu
+ DVD or uTorrent
+ clarkesworldmagazine.com, asimovs.com

SETUP 2 (if antennas not allowed)
- $25/mo Dish
+ hulu, DVD, etc

Re:if I lived where antennas are not allowed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460613)

In the U.S., this issue was resolved by the FCC a long time ago. You are always allowed to have an antenna no matter what an HOA might tell you.

Antenna not allowed? (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460635)

If you can't put up an external antenna, put one in the attic or even an outer upstairs closet works almost as well.

Give yourself multiple options (2)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460245)

As it stands right now, an HTPC is going to do the most separate functions, but it's not necessarily the best option for all services. Here's my cord-cutter setup, and it works great for me:

Roku for Amazon, Hulu+, Netflix: Clean interface, super low-power, remote easy enough for my daughter to learn at 4. You also get the 300+ other channels for Roku, plus a bunch of awesome private channels (and the ability to create your own, if you're so inclined). It's NOT a local streaming machine, though it's possible via a variety of hacks. Overall, we use this the most.

HTPC for DVR functions and various internet stuff: I like Windows Media Center, but there are a bunch of different free flavors out there, depending on what hardware and software you're using. It's a great DVR for our OTA signal, plays every format available for downloaded stuff, and handles DVD rips by default. It's also the best way to play the stuff that content providers won't allow on Roku-style set-top boxes, like standard Hulu. Oh, and it does music, too, of course.

TV Tuner for OTA: I use my HTPC for this sometimes, but really like the speed and ease-of-use of using the built-in TV tuner. YMMV.

The main point here is that no one device is necessarily going to do everything you want it to, or not in the way you want it. A HTPC is the most versatile, but not always the prettiest or easiest for everyone in the family (if you're techie but your spouse/kids aren't, for example). I love my Rokus, and they're so cheap that it wasn't a big deal to get one for every TV. I don't miss cable at all.

Re:Give yourself multiple options (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460497)

haha I love how 'cutting the cord' now equals subscribing to several different cords.

Re:Give yourself multiple options (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460527)

"It's NOT a local streaming machine, though it's possible via a variety of hacks. Overall, we use this the most."

You don't need ugly hacks. Setup a Plex Media Server on your computer and run the Plex app (an official channel) on the Roku box. The server transcodes every video format imaginable to a form the Roku can play. It also automatically matches your video to metadata and artwork. The Plex app interface is as good as NetFlix and the server is dead simple to use -- install and configure it with the folders containing your videos.

There are also great clients for Windows, Macs, Linux, iOS devices and Android devices.

The Roku box is great and they fully support private channels.

The best way (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460257)

You should have a home file server where everyone keeps everything. RAID 6 it. That way you never have to worry about dying hard drives.

Put RTorrent on it with a watch directory. Sign up to a private TV torrent tracker with an RSS feed. Download the torrents linked to by those feeds into your watch directory. Share the torrent directory via Samba.

Put a PC with XBMC anywhere you want to watch TV. Add your samba share as a source. You're done.

Re:The best way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460309)

What you just advocated is highly illegal.

Re:The best way (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460393)

The best things in life usually are.

Re:The best way (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460465)

Well, really it's just moderately illegal. More along the lines of slightly naughty, or sternly frowned upon.

Re:The best way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460581)

I'll say! Declaring that RAID 6 means never having to worry about dying hard drives? The horror! After a drive dies, RAID-6 becomes RAID-5, and has all of the problems associated with it.

So many choices! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460259)

Keep in mind these features, not all boxes have them all and figure out which you want the most:

* Netflix (N) $8/mo
* Hulu Plus (H) $8/mo
* Youtube (Y)
* Amazon (A) - $80/year - Interface sucks balls right now
* Media Streaming from a DLNA box (S)
* Built in Wifi (Wifi)
* Keyboard controller (KB)
* Controller also controls TV and an audio device. (U)
* MythTV Compatibility (Record shows, share them over the network)

Now what I use:
Google TV 1.0 (Logitech Revue) - N, A, Y, S (somewhat limited though), WiFi, KB, U
WD Live (forget which version) - N, H, Y, S (can add a wireless KB and a USB WiFi dongle)

What I considered:
Roku 2 Boxes - N, H, Wifi
Boxee Box - N, A, Y, S, WiFi, KB

What I'm looking forward to:
Google TV version 2.0 - Vizio has the first one coming out next month

Also a MythTV setup with an external Network tuner (HD HomeRun) and decent antenna can fill in the live TV gap. Set it to record and share shows on the network which you can later watch on your other DLNA devices.

* Note these may not be 100% accurate but at least it should give you some idea and help you pick out what you want.

Kill your TV (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460279)

No, seriously.

I got rid of mine a few years ago, and I have no idea (not a clue) how I ever had time to watch it.

It's incredible how much time it takes to watch your TV! In the absence of TV you will devote that time to other pursuits. And *any* other pursuit, including sleeping or picking lint out of your navel, is more valuable to you than watching TV.

The other thing that happened was that my desensitization to the crap on TV abated. Now, watching TV is torture: I cannot believe how horribly bad it is relative to anything else. I don't know whether it was always that bad and I was used to it, or whether it has *really* gone downhill in the last 5 years.

For the record, I am probably around average when it comes to productivity, engagement, and intellectual ability: this is not the pronouncement of a Harvard professor, just an ordinary IT manager who is sick of looking at screens when he gets home.

DVD (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460295)

The best way to watch "TV" is to buy DVDs from past eras and watch the shows on your time, not the networks's schedules. This also gets rid of the commercials and only the better ones make it to DVD.

Raspbmc (1)

perles (1855088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460297)

Well, not exactly what you want but I am working on my Raspberry Pi to make it an HTPC. I have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) - well, actually it is a Pogoplug but a real NAS would be better - connected to a Wi-Fi router. I have installed the latest Raspbmc (http://www.raspbmc.com/) in the Raspberry Pi (http://www.raspberrypi.org/), and with a wireless keyboard it works great. The Raspberry Pi have an ethernet card but I am thinking to buy a Wi-Fi dongle and use it instead of wired network.

Watch much sports? (1)

Scottie-Z (30248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460313)

It is easily feasible to 'cut the cord' provided you are not too demanding in your programming requirements. In any reasonably-large city you can easily pull down all the major networks in HD over the air with a small digital antenna and a pc-HDTV card or equivalent. Quality is reputed to be even better than the quality of HD cable. Many other shows are easily available through your browser at nearly the same time they are broadcast. If you *must* see the latest HBO series, well, then choices are either to bend over and pay, or break the law and fire up the rationalization engine.

One notable exception is that if you are a big sports fan you will definitely miss live programming on ESPN.

Me? I've been watching only broadcast TV using Myth for over 10 years. That's $6,000 saved so far, minimum.

XBMC (3, Informative)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460315)

XBMC on a small 1080p capable system (even a $35 Raspberry Pi will do), XBMC Remote on an Android device as the remote control, and optionally a file server for locally stored content. The library for movies and TV season DVDs. We cut the cord years ago.

I Actually Prefer Cable + DVR (5, Insightful)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460323)

I spent a long time without cable watching everything off a hard drive or Netflix, but I'm back to cable + a DVR. I really just love flipping through channels, and having everything instantly on in HD. I felt like watching TV only off Netflix and my hard drive had me making too many of the choices, and I got into a rut. I admit I have weird taste in TV and so maybe it's not for everyone, but cable + DVR is definitely my preference.

Re:I Actually Prefer Cable + DVR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460571)

I'm with you.

I personally like finding the best thing on TV I can find then leaving it on all day and night until I'm staring at it like a doped up zombie.

I find myself strangely more productive and entertained that way. Screw spending endless hours looking at quality youtube videos and get off my lawn imaginary high rise lawn.

Re:I Actually Prefer Cable + DVRD (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460619)

Ditto. Cable + TiVo here. I get to watch things live, bounce things to the other TiVo in the house, and if there's not something on cable TV then it's easy enough to find something through Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.

Now if there was just a way to watch iTunes movies on a TiVo, I'd be set.

Perhaps not the most legal option... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460337)

This may not be considered the best option in some views, but ive found that just downloading tv works a lot better than any of the legitimate services or cable companies. You can generally get rss feeds from most torrent sites and then set keywords so it automatically grabs the stuff you usually watch. You will need to timeshift your programming according to the whims of the encoders and release groups, as someone who hasnt paid for tv subscription in years, I can tell you that is only a very minor inconvienience.

Supplement that with services such as hulu, and you are good to go.

Don't (0)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460339)

Takes this as an opportunity to kick the habit. There is only trash and stupidity on all channels. If you like some series, you can always download them, without ads. For the rest, just do something more enjoyable and worthwhile with your time. If you have kids, tabletop-gaming is really nice, e.g.

Unpopular Answer (2)

mythosaz (572040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460359)

Dish or DirectTV both have great packages and great multi-room DVR systems, mostly without the worry of babysitting your downloads or pissing off your ISP with torrent downloads.

Similar, Ceton makes a fantastic 4-tuner cable-card that works great with Windows Media Center, albeit after a sometimes difficult setup.  Media Center then integrates nicely with things like Netflix.

If your goal is to easily watch TV, then keep paying for cable or Dish/Direct and upgrade DVR systems.

If your goal is to cut the cord, deploy a good internet-enabled Blu-Ray player with DivX/x264 support in each room and get yourself some Netflix.

Not Much About Your Needs (1)

crackspackle (759472) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460363)

If all you want to do is cut the cord and don't want to waste time with too many technical details and have lots of money, buy a new television. Most come with DLNA servers built in and all the standalone library devices you may want to add can support it. They also support most of the major streaming providers like Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube. As well, most can do wireless and some even have DVR functionality built in for recording over the air broadcasts.

due to delayed international telecast... (1)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460369)

I find the best way is to:
have a usenet subscription...
install sabnzbd+ to download 'news' items
install sickbeard and use it to automatically send new episodes to sabnzbd+
use xbmc running on a low power computer plugged into your tv to watch any new episodes, you can even set sickbeard up to notify xbmc of when an episode has been downloaded

Do some research (2)

jj00 (599158) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460371)

1. Write down every feature you want
2. Write down all the shows you like to watch on a regular basis
3. Determine the other means of obtaining those shows other than pay tv (Antenna, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc)
4. Decide the best choice for you by what features and shows you want

We went through this couple years ago and settled on a Tivo with an Antenna. We supplement with Netflix and Amazon.

Why have TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460375)

How do you all watch TV? What have you found to be the best way to get what you want?"

NetFlix, Hulu and 1Channel.ch.

I watch what I want to watch when I want to watch. No cable and their bullshit.If what I want to watch isn't there, I suck it up and live without it.

My TV bill is $8/mo AND I actually have my own Sci Fi channel. with actual science fiction - no ghost hunting, no white trash hunting gators or building motorcycles or what ever the other white trash shows do,.

I also have a History Channel that has history shows without the white trash shows like Ice Cream Truckers and Truckers talk about trucking along their truck route.

I also have a documentary channel that actually shows documentaries - no old people shows like Antique Depends Show where dumb people show up with their junk from Grandma's attic and are usually disappointed that it's worthless. Or worse, they find out it's worth thousands. Oh yeah, well if your dumbshit grandpa was so smart, then why didn't he buy IBM stock and you'd be worth MILLIONS you dried up old piece of shit.

Ever since I got rid of the TV, I've become much calmer and nicer.

TiVo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460379)

... Is still in the game. They make a nice 4-tuner unit that replaces a cable company DVR with something better. It does have a monthly subscription cost, but you can buy "lifetime service" if you want it.

TiVo is about to come out with an extender unit that handles multi-room streaming using Ethernet or MoCA too.

Can't do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460381)

The problems I have with cutting the cord:

1. It limits my selection. I'm not going to be exposed by new things (and if I hear about them elsewhere, I may not be able to access them).
2. Sometimes I like junk TV. I don't mind watching an episode of cheaters now and then. (I scream at the TV that you didn't need cheaters to tell you the guy/girl was cheating.)
3. The cost for the shows I watch regularly is too high without the cord. (Although I need to look into this further, because I think last time I forgot to include the months when no new shows are airing. And I don't generally mind being a "late adopter".)
4. Some shows simply aren't available any other way (besides bittorrent).

I'm sure people who've solved these problems will have much to say and I look forward to their responses.

How legit do you want to be? (5, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460399)

AppleTV is nice, but you'll be paying per show (or season).
Roku is cheap, but not as reliable

Netflix (on either ATV or Roku) and Hulu (on Roku) are monthly services which have decent selection. I'm not sure if Amazon is on Roku.

If you're the adventuresome type, don't mind playing fast and loose with the rules (but don't want to get caught), and have a free weekend, you can try and set up the following on a machine you designate as a server:

sabnzbd - a program to download stuff from the usenet
sickbeard - a program to find TV shows on usenet
couch potato - a program to look for movies on usenet (optional)
jailbreak an ATV2 (they're still out there, right?) and put on either XMBC or, for a little more family friendly (but limited), Plex along with Plex Media Server on your PC.

You will also want a NZB account, like NZBmatrix ($10 for 10 years? Lifetime? who knows) and a Usenet account. Look for deals on Slickdeals.net - on rare occasions you can pick up an unlimited account for $6/mo. I rarely use more than 100GB of TV in a month, so a 1TB chuck for about $50-60 is also good.

You tell sickbeard what shows you want it to find, and what your NZB account password is. When it finds the show you want, it passes the info off to sabnzbd (you input your usenet credentials there) which downloads the blocks of the show,decodes it, names it, and puts it into the directory or your choosing. Couch Potato is similar. I'm sure I've gotten something wrong, but after an hour or two of tutorials out there on the net it's not that bad.

Okay, so that's getting you content - probably over https - is a way that does not expose you to the IP owners of the world like P2P does.

Once your content is on the computer, you can either point your Roku or AppleTV with XBMC installed to it and start watching. I prefer Plex, and my 9 yo and wife found it super easy.

We cut the cable (well, sat) back in January and don't miss it. Oh - I do have antennas for OTA reception for local weather and news.

Using usenet isn't exactly legit, but it's also very, very low risk as you are never uploading or sharing any content with others. It's a nice system if you've got a slower connection, too, as you are downloading the files - not streaming them. It means a day or so delay for shows, but you never have to worry about buffering.

Pirate it and don't feel guilty. Paying is immoral (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460407)

Am I the only person that thinks it's absurd that I can purchase a 100 megabit downstream link from my cable provider but can't watch a particular TV show without being forced to purchase a 70 dollar/month (with 2 year commitment) bundled package? (From the same company)

I have a connection to a network where I can grab data from anywhere on the planet, but TV shows come via an obsolete channel switched bitstream on a schedule designed to extract advertising dollars in exchange for my valuable time.

The media companies have spoken, and they aren't interested in selling me content. So I don't buy it. The few shows worth watching are available at the usual places and you can watch them at your leisure. Paying for content sends the wrong message. When you pay, you're buying 20 minutes of advertising. When you pay, you're telling them you're willing to sit there in front of the TV when they tell you to.

Given the exploitative nature of traditional TV packaging, they should be paying you to watch. Not the other way around.

Free is good (2)

fa2k (881632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460433)

I run MythTV, and it's pretty nice (can be combined with a storage server, and in my case, a workstation). Still feels like recording songs off the radio, but the quality is good and the TV industry are only just now starting to provide fair alternatives. (the reason i have a DVR is to watch stuff when I want. Let me know when you can give me that with streaming, without arbitrarily pulling content.) Mythtv is a bit "temperamental" in my experience, and it provides a reasonable interface that could have been better. You can use mythtv with over-the-air digital TV and supplement with other services if necessary

HDHomeRun Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460439)

We were using only HuluPlus and Netflix. We were happy with for a couple of years, but the kids wanted to watch things like Mythbusters and new shows on cartoon network and nicktoons. The HDHomerun Prime is a network attached cable tuner. I have one cablecard ($1.99 a month) that supports all of the PCs in the house using Windows Media Center.

It's not perfect, but it's better than paying $100 to rent the cable company's crappy hardware

No TV, Canadian Netflix and news sites (2)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460441)

I haven't had a TV for 15 years or so.

Strangely, I find myself able to form my own political viewpoints and impression of what's going on.

Netflix and iTunes for movies and commercial-free old tv series. News sites for news.

Go to the pub to watch big sports events like Stanley cup and World Cup soccer (the vibe is better than the living room anyway).

Olympics etc come online now too. Not a fan of (the mostly non-foot variety of) football, so no problem at all there with weekly sports viewing.

Only thing is, Canadian Netflix and iTunes movie and tv show selection sucks sucks sucks due to separate licensing agreements for the content compared to in US. It's like spending an hour in a video rental store trying to find a movie that you haven't seen that actually wasn't straight to DVD. Most of their selection is "wasn't good enough for the big screen" crap or something from pre-1965. Almost bad enough to make you want to get a TV or a US proxy net connection and fake US zip code and US bank VISA card, but not quite.

Re:No TV, Canadian Netflix and news sites (1)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460585)

"Strangely, I find myself able to form my own political viewpoints and impression of what's going on."

smuggest sentence of the day award goes to you!

you can call the cable to get a new box or switch (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460451)

you can call the cable to get a new box or switch to a dish or DIRECTV.

Mix and match (2)

MoGrapher (2658463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460495)

I was in your exact position (minus the kids) in January, and I settled on a bit of a hybrid system. I have a Blu-Ray player to play my existing (past) movie collection. For Netflix and some Hulu Plus streaming I have a Roku HD; it also supports Amazon Prime and a plethora of other channels that I haven't dug into much. For everything else I have a spare 35' HDMI cable (www.monoprice.com) that I connect to my laptop, add 2.4ghz mouse and keyboard and it's a very robust solution.

The additional thing to note is that all of this is supported by a Comcast internet-only plan. If you take the raw coaxial cable coming into the house before your modem and split it to be sent to your TV, you will get all of the major networks in HD and a lot of other content as well. This fulfills any "live TV" watching we want to do, such as sports or reality-tv.

The conversion to this solution cost me about $200 in cables, the Roku, etc., but my monthly fees for internet and entertainment media have dropped from $130 to $58. So it has already payed for itself.

-MoG

Re:Mix and match (1)

MoGrapher (2658463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460539)

I should also mention that I picked up one of the LG "Smart" TVs. It connects to my PC via the WiFi network, and plays any videos I have using Plex Media Server. It's a convenient system.

-MoG

My Dear Old Aunt Enna (2)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460507)

I have an antenna. I get better quality than many people I know with dish or cable. I spend more than adequate time in front of the idiot box as is - why tempt myself with more.

There are a few premium shows I want to watch - Mad Men and Sopranos for example. But I've watched entire series on DVD for less than the cost of a month of cable.

Savings depends on your plan but compared to many of my friends and neighbors I am saving over a thousand dollars a year in subscription fees alone not counting the cost of the box and the power to run it (many DVRs are power vampires on standby). That pays for a week or more camping at a national park. Or a weekend at Disneyland.

Reddit has a resource (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460565)

http://cordcutters.reddit.com is a great starting place.

If you are embedded in the Apple Kool-Aid (as I am) then AppleTV makes sense. Some like Plex,

Boxee Box (2)

morari (1080535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460579)

Cut the cord! Subscription television is ridiculously overpriced and saddled with more advertising than content. There is rarely even anything on worth watching. Set yourself up a new media box (Boxee, Roku, GoogleTV, custom HTPC, etc) and enjoy everything you want without accidentally slipping into channel surfer mode. You'll enjoy life a lot more the less television you take in. :)

What should go with? I love my Boxee Box. It's quick and easy to set up. It gives you that "set top" feel. It has great options for local and network playback. It has a lot of options for streaming as well (but with some notable exceptions, like Hulu and, I believe, Amazon). The interface is absolutely beautiful and the remote control is even kind of cool. Couple it with a basic Netflix subscription and a health dose of torrents and you'll be all set.

download the torrent of the shows that u watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460623)

i don't actually watch any tv but when i did i would just download the torrent, no commercials and you can watch whenever you want, only problem is most tv is rubbish

2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40460633)

>2012
>watching tv
ISHYGDDT

Evolving Internet-Only setup (2)

needsomemoola (966634) | more than 2 years ago | (#40460653)

I've wondered about the best way to do this as well. I refuse to pay for a service that makes me watch commercials (cable/sat TV). IMHO advertisers should be paying cable companies to give away cable access to people who want it, or there should not be commercials if I'm paying. Why do I need to pay to be advertised to? I'm sure it's more complex, but I just don't care.

My setup has evolved over time. I have a 30 Mbps Internet connection, a 55" LED LG mounted to the wall in my living room, and a mid-line BD/surround system. The evolving part is the media source of course. I started with a small tower with Windows 7 running on it. It let me play my Windows-based games on my big screen and I could stream Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray, and my questionably acquired collection of movies and TV series.

Disclaimer: I know from reading this site frequently that most people here don't like Apple. The disclaimer part is that I just don't care. My views are based on my experience.

Eventually I decided it was taking up too much space, making too much noise, and taking up too much electricity (didn't want to shut it down because takes a while to boot). Over the last couple years I've picked up an iPhone and an iPad, so as a natural progression I decided to try the Apple TV. It has some nice features such as being 1080p, having AirPlay (lets me stream music and pictures from my iDevices, and lets me mirror the screen on my iPad, some games work with it too), and a superb Netflix interface (much better than most App-enabled media appliances). I've picked up a few TV series and a few movies and they play beautiful video and sound. Since most people seem to have iDevices nowadays, it's nice for friend and family that come over to be able to share pictures and videos and such from their phones on the TV.

The problem with Apple TV is that it's the usually Apple-walled-garden situation. You're limited to the services they provide (for now). I suspect they will open the Apple TV up for app dev soon (like they did for the iPhone when the Appe Store was announced) based on the direction the interface is heading. Once that happens it may be a solve-all solution for my needs. But until then, there is one major problem with it... there's no way to play my video collection.

To fix this, eventually I picked up a Boxee from Best Buy (made by D-Link... not my favorite brand). So far it has been a fantastic solution. It streams my video collection on my LAN flawlessly, streams Netflix (interface is not as polished as Apple's), Pandora, Vudu (decent service), Hulu, and many others. There's an app repository that you can get quite a few apps from, and the ability to add custom repos if you'd like. The remote is not a simple and beautifully made sliver of aluminum like the Apple TV remote, but it's far more functional. It has a full QWERTY keyboard on the back, it's not directional (works in any orientation, so not IR I guess), and the front is a simple interface. The Boxee also support AirPlay for audio and video. I haven't had luck with doing any screen mirroring.

I've only just recently discovered the Vudu service on it. It's owned by Walmart and it's pretty nifty. I don't want to be an advertisement for it but if you go the Boxee route you should definitely check out Vudu.

Over all the Boxee does 99% of what I want and maybe everything that you would want. You can even add an antenna attachment so you can stream local broadcast channels. The Apple TV is nicer in design (smaller, sleeker, cheaper), interface, remote (iDevices can be remotes too), and overall polish. Once they start having apps for it and stuff like Oplayer and Hulu show up on it, I don't think I'll need the Boxee anymore.

I've also considered the Roku, but I haven't had a reason to look at it since I got the Boxee.

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