Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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In your situation, from what it sounds, the money you save on your cable bill may not much. Really depends on how much equipment you're "renting" from the cable company.
Yes, you could set up Ceton, HDHomerun and so forth your live tv and DVR needs. Maybe you're lucky in live in an area, and use a cable company that does not encrypt all channels. You may get a small discount for using the cable card and your PC; Comcast gives me $2.50 credit for this. In addition, if they're not encrypted, you just use the TV's build in tuner.
I'm not very familiar with Simple.TV. I use Windows Media Center, which is approved to record and extend copy once DVR'd shows. May be important depending on what shows your family DVRs. I do know that Plex can play WMC DVR files (wtv). Since I only have limited basic cable, they're not flagging these shows as copy once, so I'm not sure what happens when Plex tries to play them. It's not perfect because fast-forward and rewind work poorly; skip forward and back work ok. This could be a cheaper option if you need to get media extenders.
If use Plex, and things like WMC, you may need more powerful machine so the Plex Media Server has power to transcode files that can play on, say, the Roku. Even more it is tasked to do multiple files at the same time.
End of the day, you're going to be looking a long term savings because it will take a while to recoup the costs you save to do setup what you want from the money you save off your cable bill. I tend to fine it's usually around twelve to eighteen months whenever I add something to mine to recoup costs.
Yes, like you, I find cable to more expensive than it's worth. I understand why it so high, and how I get stuck with dump truck load of channels I have zero interest in.
On a side note, people adjust to whatever content they have available to them. I watch plenty of TV when I only had five channels; it was a lot junk, but I still watched.