In late 2005 I purchased my first HDTV. Since then I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the quality of HDTV and the incredible content that is now available to consume. I work in the film/video industry, so this technology is something that I deal with in some form on a daily basis. This also means that I look at what’s available with at critical eye. After years of having an HD DVR from Comcast, I decided to cut the cable and go completely online and off-air.
Reasons for the Cut
After several months of outrageous cables bills from Comcast, it was time to evaluate what what I watched and figure out if it was worth the money. I watched TV everyday, but most of what I consumed was late evenings and before bed. 95% of the shows were available off-air and I had gotten in the habit of “DVRing” them. So I was watching what I wanted when I wanted.
What I’m Doing Now
So I’ve set up a system that is easy and convent. While I may still change things, the first month has gone well.
The first component is iTunes. I’m able to buy the shows I like in HD online. I download them to my Apple TV, where I’m able to watch them on my HDTV. Sure the cost of all these shows can add up, but I’m only buying shows that are on cable. For network shows I’m using a device from Elgato called the eyetv hybrid. This is a USB dongle that receives off-air digital transmissions. It basically turns your Mac into a DVR. But the best part of this setup is that the shows can be converted and transfered to the Apple TV.
Many people might set up a Mac mini to act as a media server. But I didn’t want to spend the extra money. I’ve got a MacBook Pro that I use already. It’s faster than the mini and then I use external storage via the CalDigit VR mini in RAID 1 so I know stuff is backed up. Since I already had a Apple TV, I just use that to consume the content.
While the setup is a little more involved that a simple DVR, now I have a system that just works and I can consume all the content I was before. The main advantage is that I’m saving money. I can take all the content with me when I travel, and the best part is I can alway buy the show if it didn’t record, or there was an issue.
The best selection of Prime Time TV is not on currently since it’s the summer, so that might throw a new dynamic into the mix. We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll update once the Fall shows start to air.