Cable TV free

We have done it. As of yesterday, we are Cable TV free. Cable boxes were returned, bill adjusted (just $59 per month for Internet & basic cable), and now figuring out what to do next. The price drop is over $70 from our previous cable bill.

So far so good. We definitely have watched a lot less TV, although we haven’t been home much either. When we were home yesterday and this morning, my 4-year-old nephew was over, so I ended up streaming cartoons for him over Netflix. Including the original Popeye cartoon from 1936, which was really neat to watch with him.

While my bedroom TV can see the few Clear QAM channels in HD, my 2007 era living room TV cannot (it only sees the SD versions). This is something that will need to be rectified. I may experiment with a TV antenna just to see what channels are in the area.

I’ve begun to think of what is next. I’m seriously considering a Mac Mini server & home theater computer. Combined with the Elgato EyeTV we could work around the HD issue I mentioned in the previous paragraph, record anything on basic cable worth recording, and also have a centralized server for movies, music, etc. Then use an AppleTV for easy access. Another option would to build a Windows Media Center PC as that seems like fun to play with, although it seems to have its own annoyances.

I also have been wondering whether to get a receiver and start building a home theater sound system. The problem I’ve had so far is that all of the receivers I have found are bulky, have tons of connections & buttons I would never use, and aren’t my definition of simple. There are also very few that are even Energy Star qualified. Where is the Apple of home theater receivers when you need one?

Operation Cable TV free so far appears to be successful. More updates to come.

Apple TV 2.0?

In my previous post, I wrote about my dilemma since my lone DVD player (not counting my Macbook) has died. I had three options:

  1. Buy an el cheapo upconverting DVD Player.
  2. Buy a $100-$200 very good upconverting DVD player.
  3. Splurge and get a Playstation 3, complete with Blu-Ray.

I have another option to add to the list: what if Apple releases AppleTV 2.0 on Monday that includes (among other upgrades) with either an upconverting DVD player or (probably a dream) a Blu-Ray player?

I would seriously consider that in a heartbeat. It essentially would be a Mac mini specifically designed as your media center for your TV. No clumsy hacks or buggy 3rd-party software involved.

So I guess I will wait until at least Monday before figuring out what I do.

DVD player has died

So my old DVD player (a cheap $30 Wal-Mart model) that I have had since 2000 has officially died. Well, to be honest, I could still watch movies if I put up with it skipping and making clicking noises every few seconds on several perfect condition DVD’s.

My first instinct is to go buy an cheap up-converting DVD player to go with my HDTV. However, what are the odds of 1) one of those doing a good job upconverting movies and 2) being good enough quality to last awhile?

So I think if I am going to spend money on this, I need to buy a good up-converting DVD player or stretch enough to spend for a Blu-Ray player (in which case, a PlayStation 3 might be the route to go). Since all signs point to Blu-ray winning, that would be a good strategy.

A cheap upconverting DVD player can be found at the local Wal-Mart for ~$40. Of course, the odds of it doing a good job upconverting is slim and the build quality is probably suspect.

A good upconverting DVD player can go from $100-$200. The downside is it won’t be anytime soon that I go with Blu-Ray if I buy this.

If I go the Playstation 3 route for a Blu-Ray player, that is $399. The bonus on that of course is frequent firmware upgrades and the ability to play games. The downside is the cost.

I don’t know what to do!