Get rid of Cable...Explain to a 10 year old. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 93 Old 01-10-2012, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I have finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and rid my home of paid cable!

Comcast has pissed me off one too many times and I am done with them.

I have been trying to research the best method of making the switch ... and here is what I came up with.

Buy a Roku lt. Subscribe to Hulu Plus and Netflix Streaming. I believe these two options will satisfy most of my needs. However, I do watch the morning news while getting ready for work. It's part of my daily routine and I feel that I would miss it if I don't have it. The news I watch is usually NBC or FOX.

I have been searching the net for info on how to get these basic channels after cutting cable ties with Comcast. Please pardon me if I sound elementary...I really am not quite understanding the process.

I heard you can pay $5 to Comcast for basic cable with your internet...but then again, I read that you can get those basic channels without paying the $5...if you get an antenna? I also read that some tvs have built in antennas. I have a Sony Bravia KDL-32M4000. Does my tv have this needed antenna? If not, which antenna should I get? Would I need anything else in order to get these basic channels? Please explain this to me as if I were 10...I really need advice in laymans terms. Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 93 Old 01-10-2012, 10:46 PM
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TVs don't have built-in antennas. You need to get one and connect it to the coax input on the TV.
What type you need depends on your location and where the local TV station broadcast locations are. If far away, you would need an outdoor antenna.
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post #3 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 04:29 AM
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Comcast internet with limited basic runs around $60 per month. That will provide most everything you would get using an antenna.
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post #4 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 06:22 AM
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You should look at discussions of antennas in the HDTV Technical topic. I've personally had very favorable experience using the Mohu Leaf antenna as well as the Zenith/Philips Silver Sensor antenna (both indoor antennas). If you are able to put up a rooftop outdoor antenna, that will generally obtain superior results over an indoor antenna.

If you have TVs made before 2007, they may not have an ATSC digital TV tuner. In that case, you will want to obtain a Digital TV converter box - see the HDTV Technical subtopic for "CECBs" (Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes).

With an appropriate antenna, most Americans living in urban and suburban areas can receive the major U.S. television networks for free using over-the-air reception. Your mileage may vary depending geography and location of your local stations.
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post #5 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 07:37 AM
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1) his TV has an internal tuner that supports both ATSC (antenna) and clear QAM.
2) CECB's do not support HD.
3) I'd suggest contacting Comcast for pricing of "limited basic" and internet.

Also, a simple way to test is to take the coax cable from the wall and connect directly to the TV. Set the antenna input to "digital cable". Perform a channel search/scan and see what you get and know what to expect.
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post #6 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses! I'm new to this..can you tell me if I understand correctly.

If I buy an antenna, will I still need to pay comcast the extra $5/month for the limited cable...OR, is it if I buy an antenna, I can cut myself off from comcast cable completely?

Also - does anyone know if this antenna would work for my purposes?

Meritline.com - Artec Digital TV Antenna with Flat Panel (Sorry, AVS won't let me post the url link)
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post #7 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Comcast internet with limited basic runs around $60 per month. That will provide most everything you would get using an antenna.

I don't see the point of having basic internet and basic TV service for $60/month, when for $65/month ($5 more per month) you can get High Speed internet (20 Mbps down/5 Mbps up), Local/Coast to coast Long distance/Canada+ Mexico and High Def TV package from Verizon (if available in your area) and in some areas they are even throwing in lifetime free boxes or DVRs.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #8 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allie78 View Post

Thanks for all the responses! I'm new to this..can you tell me if I understand correctly.

If I buy an antenna, will I still need to pay comcast the extra $5/month for the limited cable...OR, is it if I buy an antenna, I can cut myself off from comcast cable completely?

Also - does anyone know if this antenna would work for my purposes?

Meritline.com - Artec Digital TV Antenna with Flat Panel (Sorry, AVS won't let me post the url link)

If you just want to watch local channels, you don't need cable, just an antenna. Whether a specific antenna will work depends on where you live and how far away you are from the broadcasters' towers. Check antennaweb.org, which has a tool where you can enter your location, and it will tell you how far you are from the local stations.
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post #9 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

I don't see the point of having basic internet and basic TV service for $60/month, when for $65/month ($5 more per month) you can get High Speed internet (20 Mbps down/5 Mbps up), Local/Coast to coast Long distance/Canada+ Mexico and High Def TV package from Verizon (if available in your area) and in some areas they are even throwing in lifetime free boxes or DVRs.

Yeah... check availability, packages, pricing and contract(s) for FiOS in your area. If not available for a "bundled" (voice, video, internet) 2-year contract, you're SOL. So, pick your poison.

Curious though. Where did you get a FiOS package for $65 and lifetime free boxes and DVR's?

I got $80 for two years. No "free" boxes and 15/5 internet.
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post #10 of 93 Old 01-11-2012, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Horstkotte View Post

If you just want to watch local channels, you don't need cable, just an antenna. Whether a specific antenna will work depends on where you live and how far away you are from the broadcasters' towers. Check antennaweb.org, which has a tool where you can enter your location, and it will tell you how far you are from the local stations.

True... but if you want internet, who will be the alternative provider? If you retain Comcast, then fork over the $5-10 $$.

Just hooking up an antenna to a TV may not be as easy as it sounds.
(for a 10 year old )
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post #11 of 93 Old 01-12-2012, 12:12 PM
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On my TV, an LG LK450, I found that a 4' length of scrap coaxial cable (the same stuff that plugs into your cable box) made an adequate antenna for picking up local broadcast channels. I was in a ground-floor apartment reasonably close to the middle of town, though.

Since you probably have some coax lying around from your old cable installation, try this before you buy an antenna. You don't have anything to lose, after all! Just hook one end up to the TV, and let the other one dangle. You may have to wave it around to find a place where it gets good reception...
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post #12 of 93 Old 01-12-2012, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pretzelface View Post

On my TV, an LG LK450, I found that a 4' length of scrap coaxial cable (the same stuff that plugs into your cable box) made an adequate antenna for picking up local broadcast channels. I was in a ground-floor apartment reasonably close to the middle of town, though.

Since you probably have some coax lying around from your old cable installation, try this before you buy an antenna. You don't have anything to lose, after all! Just hook one end up to the TV, and let the other one dangle. You may have to wave it around to find a place where it gets good reception...

Nice! Thanks, I'll try that. I'm also in a ground floor unit in my 3 story condo. I'm in a Seattle, close enough to tv signals (hopefully). Wow, never would have thought to just use a plain coax cable...hoping it works for me!
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post #13 of 93 Old 01-12-2012, 02:39 PM
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Keep us up to date with your progress.
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post #14 of 93 Old 01-14-2012, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allie78 View Post

Thanks for all the responses! I'm new to this..can you tell me if I understand correctly.

If I buy an antenna, will I still need to pay comcast the extra $5/month for the limited cable...OR, is it if I buy an antenna, I can cut myself off from comcast cable completely?

If you're still paying Comcast, then you're not cutting yourself off from Comcast completely then, are you?

It looks to me like you may be thinking of paying the extra $5/mo. then dropping the Comcast cable TV service. I don't know for sure, but it looks like one of those "too good to be true" things to me. I'd bet that you must subscribe to a regular cable TV package in order to get the Internet access for $5 extra on top of the regular cable TV fee.

If you get all the TV programming that you need over the air, then yes you can get rid of cable completely. That is, provided that you can receive all the OTA channels you need where you live.

Quote:


Also - does anyone know if this antenna would work for my purposes?

That depends on where you are in relation to the various TV transmission sites, and whether or not you can use rooftop antennas. (If you rent, the answer is mostly "no".) As a rule of thumb, if you have to ask, you really should have a professional come to your home, determine your needs and quote you a price.

You get what you pay for.  For professional advice, pay the professional rate.
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post #15 of 93 Old 01-15-2012, 04:10 AM
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If the coax trick doesn't work, check radio shack. I bought an antenna from them (antenna craft $40) yesterday. It works awesome and the design is pretty minimal, plain thin square about 10"x10". I even connected it in my basement where my coax is split up and I get great reception on all my TV's! I'm looking forward to canceling FIOS (no more monthly calls about my messed up bill!)
On a side note, I was thinking of getting a bigger antenna in the attic, do you think I'd get a better picture? I live close enough to NYC (about 10 miles) where I can pick everything up pretty well. Or is digital a "you get all or nothing" signal? When connected to the antenna, I've noticed occasional pixelation. Is that caused by bad signal?
Thanks
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post #16 of 93 Old 01-17-2012, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Yeah... check availability, packages, pricing and contract(s) for FiOS in your area. If not available for a "bundled" (voice, video, internet) 2-year contract, you're SOL. So, pick your poison.

Curious though. Where did you get a FiOS package for $65 and lifetime free boxes and DVR's?

I got $80 for two years. No "free" boxes and 15/5 internet.

That was the black friday deal in 2010. This year, the Black friday deal was $79.99 and $300 AMEX gift Card. Which works out to be $67.49 per month.

Free boxes and DVRs are only available in certain areas. My parents live in the Bronx, and have free box and free DVR for "life"

I built my own "whole house DVR" and only pay $3.99/month to rent the CableCard from Verizon to connect 5 TV's in the house.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #17 of 93 Old 01-17-2012, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

I built my own "whole house DVR" and only pay $3.99/month to rent the CableCard from Verizon to connect 5 TV's in the house.

Great it worked out for you. Please describe your setup. It may be helpful for others.
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post #18 of 93 Old 01-18-2012, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Great it worked out for you. Please describe your setup. It may be helpful for others.

AMD Athlon II X4, 8 GB RAM, Onboard Radeon 4250, onboard Realtek Audio, onboard Realtek NIC, Windows 7 X64 Professional, 4x Linksys DMA 2100 media center extenders, Ceton InfiniTV4 + 4x ClearQAM Magica tuners, gigabit network.

All 5 TV's are independant from each other, but can also share content (recorded, live, or downloaded).

There are no keboards or mice, everything is controlled by a remote control at each TV.

The only time you know it is a Windows based system is when you first start up, as it goes through the boot process.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #19 of 93 Old 01-18-2012, 10:50 AM
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What was your financial investment for the "setup"?
I agree that the $4 cablecard rental sounds great. But... the PC, processor, media extenders, tuners, etc.... sounds like a wallet buster.

To me (unless I'm missing something), $65 a month for internet and clear QAM locals sounds easier and perhaps less expensive.
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post #20 of 93 Old 01-18-2012, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

What was your financial investment for the "setup"?
I agree that the $4 cablecard rental sounds great. But... the PC, processor, media extenders, tuners, etc.... sounds like a wallet buster.

High initial cost, but subtract the price of a cable card and add the remaining cost of renting a couple of dvr's and a couple of stb's every month from Verizion and that system will pay for itself in only a few years. And it's still a lot cheaper than hooking up Tivo's to four tv's, plus you'll need to rent a cable card for each Tivo. And like Tivo, WMC has a much better user interface than any cableco dvr/stb.

Quote:


To me (unless I'm missing something), $65 a month for internet and clear QAM locals sounds easier and perhaps less expensive.

But if you want to watch premium channel programming, you can't get by with basic cable. And unless you want to go to questionable legal routes, much of that programming isn't available via the net either.
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post #21 of 93 Old 01-18-2012, 01:57 PM
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But... if you need a Cablecard, that means you have to subscribe to another tier of service, which is an additional monthly fee. That's not what the OP questioned/desires.

Refer to post #3 for the least financial impact and perhaps effort.
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post #22 of 93 Old 01-18-2012, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

But... if you need a Cablecard, that means you have to subscribe to another tier of service, which is an additional monthly fee. That's not what the OP questioned/desires.

Refer to post #3 for the least financial impact and perhaps effort.

Hey, I was just defending the guys system. And can't a guy go off topic around here?
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post #23 of 93 Old 01-19-2012, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

What was your financial investment for the "setup"?
I agree that the $4 cablecard rental sounds great. But... the PC, processor, media extenders, tuners, etc.... sounds like a wallet buster.

To me (unless I'm missing something), $65 a month for internet and clear QAM locals sounds easier and perhaps less expensive.

whole house DVR from Verizon is $20/month, additional boxes are $10/month. For a 5 TV household a DVR and 4 boxes will be needed at the minimum. $20 + 4($10) = $60/month = $720/year = $3600/5 years.

vs.

HTPC: $300, quad tuner $300, Media Center Extenders (4) ($80/each) = $320

For under a $1000 I am set for the next 5 years. I have been doing HTPC for a long time. This is my 3rd HTPC, and they usually last 5 years before needing upgrades. They can actually run longer, but in 5 years there is so much development that you always want newer and better.

As to the OP. He wants to cut cable and pay netflix/roku ($10/month each?), which means he has to have high speed internet ($50/month), and he has to pay subscription to netflix, roku, huluplus... ect.

It may make more financial sense to shop around, or negotiate with the provider.

Add a landline if he desires one, and that is another $20/month. Even the cheapest VOIP are about $10-$15/month.

$50 + $20 + $10 + $10 = $90/month for a limited capability.

Compare that with: $65 - $70/month for FIOS triple play (Phone, HD TV, 20/5 Mbps internet) and building your own equipment and having full capability.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #24 of 93 Old 01-19-2012, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

As to the OP. He wants to cut cable and pay netflix/roku ($10/month each?), which means he has to have high speed internet ($50/month), and he has to pay subscription to netflix, roku, huluplus... ect.

Roku doesn't have a subscription. It's just a piece of hardware for $50-$90, depending on what you want and where you get it from.

Netflix and Hulu Plus are $8 a month each. You could also do Amazon Prime for $80 a year (which includes shipping perks and free Kindle books. Makes sense if you do a lot of shopping through them and/or have a Kindle.) Youtube is free. Vudu and others are pay as you go. You can mix and match. Personally, I don't mind paying a tad extra for the flexibility.

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post #25 of 93 Old 01-19-2012, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

HTPC: $300, quad tuner $300, Media Center Extenders (4) ($80/each) = $320

For under a $1000 I am set for the next 5 years.

Unless one or more of the 6 devices fails and/or has to be replaced within 5 years.
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post #26 of 93 Old 01-20-2012, 09:08 AM
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Unless one or more of the 6 devices fails and/or has to be replaced within 5 years.

The only thing that has the potential of failing beyond repair is the media center extender. But at $80 or less, I can replace one every year, and still come out ahead.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #27 of 93 Old 01-20-2012, 09:16 AM
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Roku doesn't have a subscription. It's just a piece of hardware for $50-$90, depending on what you want and where you get it from.

Netflix and Hulu Plus are $8 a month each. You could also do Amazon Prime for $80 a year (which includes shipping perks and free Kindle books. Makes sense if you do a lot of shopping through them and/or have a Kindle.) Youtube is free. Vudu and others are pay as you go. You can mix and match. Personally, I don't mind paying a tad extra for the flexibility.

amazon prime: $80/year
Netflix: $96/year
Huluplus: $96/year
Total subscription cost: $272/year

"piece of hardware" $50 - $90

For the cost of annual subscriptions one can have an HTPC with a lot more flexibility...

We have over 3000 movie titles in our digital collection (DVD rips from the movies that we owned) accessible on any TV.

We have over 10,000 song titles in the digital collection (CD rips from CD's we owned) accessible on any TV.

There is no need to flip through hundreds of physical discs to find what you are looking for. And if more than 1 person want to listen/view the same content in different parts of the house, they can, without having to fight over the CD/DVD.

There is no need to fight over who gets to watch recorded programs, as every recording is available on every TV in the house....

Edit: Back to OP. We actually record a lot of PBS content for later viewing with the child. It is all available on the FREE Over the Air Channels; Sesame street, bob the builder, Barney, Nova... With unlimited sotrage we can afford to keep the recordings indefinitely. And when there is a need to view, it is always available.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #28 of 93 Old 01-20-2012, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

amazon prime: $80/year
Netflix: $96/year
Huluplus: $96/year
Total subscription cost: $272/year

"piece of hardware" $50 - $90

For the cost of annual subscriptions one can have an HTPC with a lot more flexibility...

Heh, you're like a friend of mine who is also pushing the HTPC route on me. He's the most annoying friend I have. I understand the advantages, but there are reasons why everyone hasn't gone that route. Your proposal is a great whole house solution, but most people don't have or need anything near that complex (in terms of capability, not setup, although still...)

You still have to rip those discs, and buy them for that matter. You may not think it's a big deal, but you can't acquire them overnight. Sure if you have an existing collection, it makes sense, but for those just starting out, a Roku box and those subscriptions have advantages. For one, they don't deal with discs AT ALL.

And you have access to thousands of titles (Netflix 20,000+, Hulu, probably the same, Amazon, 5,000+), ON THE DAY YOU BUY THE MACHINE AND SIGN UP.

So there are two sides to the coin.

Of course you can also get a HTPC and subscribe to those systems, too, but a Roku is a tiny box, fits anywhere, costs a fraction, and hooks up in three minutes, something a HTPC can't claim. It also can stream content from an existing HTPC, so you don't necessarily have to choose one or the other.

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post #29 of 93 Old 01-20-2012, 10:45 AM
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I am not pushing it on anyone. I just correct other people's erroenous counter points.

No, we did not aquire the huge collection overnight. I have been doing this for over 15 years, so, in time, the collection grew. Someone has to start somewhere, right?

As to netflix on demand, we tried the freebie when we were offered free subscirption for them throttling the shipments in the past. The stuff on there was mostly obsolete content, or some oddball TV shows. It was hardly worth the cost.

With 8 tuners we hardly need to go on Hulu to view previously aired content.

I actually like the Classic Archive TV online, where you can watch the old Roy Rogers, Ronald Reagan Variety show, and many other classics that I was not around to watch. the best part, it is FREE.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

Heh, you're like a friend of mine who is also pushing the HTPC route on me. He's the most annoying friend I have. I understand the advantages, but there are reasons why everyone hasn't gone that route. Your proposal is a great whole house solution, but most people don't have or need anything near that complex (in terms of capability, not setup, although still...)

You still have to rip those discs, and buy them for that matter. You may not think it's a big deal, but you can't acquire them overnight. Sure if you have an existing collection, it makes sense, but for those just starting out, a Roku box and those subscriptions have advantages. For one, they don't deal with discs AT ALL.

And you have access to thousands of titles (Netflix 20,000+, Hulu, probably the same, Amazon, 5,000+), ON THE DAY YOU BUY THE MACHINE AND SIGN UP.

So there are two sides to the coin.

Of course you can also get a HTPC and subscribe to those systems, too, but a Roku is a tiny box, fits anywhere, costs a fraction, and hooks up in three minutes, something a HTPC can't claim. It also can stream content from an existing HTPC, so you don't necessarily have to choose one or the other.


6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #30 of 93 Old 01-20-2012, 11:14 AM
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It really depends on how PC/networking literate one is and how much time and effort one wants to go to. But, kudos to your and your setup.

Based on the OP's question, if he/she is trying to cut costs, they may not have the $1000 (or a little less) for the initial investment for a solution similar to yours.

I don't know if it's an erroneous counter point or not, but if someone wants to have Comcast internet and an antenna... I'd still suggest adding $5 to your monthly bill and subscribe to "limited basic" and get most everything you'd get with an antenna. No antenna or changes to required existing infrastucture. And with many TV's and/or Bluray players, you can stream DVD's and/or music from Pandora/Netflix.
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