View Full Version : Replace Cable subscription with Apple TV?
Apr 18, 2010, 12:32 PM
Is it possible to fully replace your cable subscription with an Apple tv?
I'm going to move back to the US and get a house soon, I really don't wanna pay 80 dollars for cable. It's literally 2 dollars here..
I planned to just get an internet connection, a really fast one, and run Skype, for phone, and Hulu for the TV.
I really don't watch TV, I get my stuff from BT or Hulu, but if I can make this kind of setup work, I'd like to help my parents shed $100 of their monthly cable bill.
If I can find a cheap Apple TV here, I'll get it but I have some questions first.
With the stock firmware, is there some sort of RSS support? I'd like to be able to get the news, like CNN or a local station (play the crappy web videos is good enough), or does the Apple TV mainly play stuff you got off of iTunes?
What about with like XBMC or the like, can I get 'channels'? A Hulu plug in would be great, like for front row (I use the desktop client), that has regular TV shows, and other stuff. But News is important, it's a 'filler'.
My parents watch a lot of TV, but only like 10 our of hundreds of channels. My mom watches the craft channels, and my dad sleeps. They both watch the news a ton and like the 'idol' channels, ABC CBS NBC ect, the big names. Is there a way to get these?
I guess I'm looking for Pandora but for TV. I don't think it's evolved to that point. The main thing that annoys my with hulu is I have no Filler programming, crap that I don't care about, but is noisy, so when I eat, I don't have to do it in a silent room. The wife is cool with that but it drives me nuts.
Also how hard would it be to crack the case and stick in a bigger HDD? I know I can plug in an external, but if this is going to go to my parents after I need it simple. Super simple.
As far as movies, I really don't need the codec support of cracked Firmware, I play those on my MBP, I don't think I'd even put any movies on there except for a few, and I'd just convert them to whatever works.
You can get channels over the air now right? Like HD ones?
Apr 21, 2010, 03:00 AM
I've been messing around with boxee, it's pretty sick but I don't know where to get more sources from. Plex is horrible I couldn't get it to really work. Are there any others?
Apr 21, 2010, 08:47 AM
If you expect the AppleTV to perform more functions than what Apple provides, you're going to be disappointed with the results... IMO of course.
The AppleTV is still a great piece of hardware as long as you're willing to play within the Apple ecosystem. In my case, I buy a lot of content from the iTunes Store and have been very pleased with the results in converting my entire DVD, HDDVD, and Bluray collection to Apple-supported formats.
I don't have any problem living within iTunes, and this has saved me quite a bit of money over the past two years in comparison to paying monthly cable rates and buying DVD season sets of my favorite shows once they become available.
Apr 21, 2010, 10:06 AM
In my case, having the AppleTV has allowed me to reduce our cable subscription to the basic service, which in itself saves a lot of money.
Currently, I have 1 TB of our favorite TV series and movies ripped from DVD which is nice. It's like having my own VOD service.
Apr 21, 2010, 01:08 PM
A question for you is this... you watch Hulu, are there things not on Hulu that you want to watch, and preferably watch through AppleTV? If its news, the AppleTV has you covered fairly well. You can watch video podcasts of evening network news, the Sunday news shows, Washington Week, Anderson Cooper on CNN, etc. This is not live, but you can usually watch the next day. For live sports, you can watch ESPN 3 (formerly called ESPN 360) on your computer if your internet provider supports it, but this is not on AppleTV. I'm surprised that AppleTV does not have MLB.TV yet, given that with a subscription you can watch baseball games on a Mac computer, iPhone, and iPad.
In short, if you are comfortable watching television through your computer, you can find ways to do without cable. The appleTV doesn't provide a complete solution by itself, but it can contribute to the solution. If AppleTV adds MLB.TV and ESPN 3, I could easily ditch cable.
Apr 21, 2010, 01:28 PM
Let's not forget that most people can use either a set-top or roof- or attic-mounted antenna and get all of their local stations, crisp and crystal clear in HD for free.
Apr 22, 2010, 01:49 AM
I found the Apple TV not worth the hassle. It's minimal storage capacity and its need to sync with a computer to offload old TV shows and movies made it a pain. Everything synced wirelessly so the transferring of shows just took a while and I found the need to manage files to be a chore. Plus I intended the Apple tv to be a cable replacement and when hacked to run Hulu, I was seriously disappointed with the performance.
Remarkably I was able to sell my Apple tv on eBay for almost what I paid for it and bought myself a Mac Mini. I have that connected to my TV and am able to play iTunes movies, stream Hulu and Netflix. Those shows not available on Hulu I either buy from iTunes or I wait until its released on DVD/Blu-Ray from Netflix. I have an external HD storing all my media and then I have a Time Capsule as a backup. I spent probably close to $1000 on the Mini including wireless keyboard and mouse, extended warranty, additional cables, and increasing the RAM. I basically broke even the first year when compared to what I was spending on satellite TV. This year I expect to save about $500 in cable expenditures. That includes buying a few iTunes shows not available on broadcast TV or Hulu.
Apr 22, 2010, 03:20 AM
I ditched paid TV in August of last year. I have an AppleTV in our bedroom to watch our favorite shows/dvds. I have an antenna for local stations, but that's it.
The older version of my ATV was awesome with Boxee. Then I decided to update it and get the latest stuff a month ago. BOOO. It now requires a daily reboot or it's so lagged out it takes a few minutes to navigate one option up and down in the menus. The newest Boxee is all but useless on it. Even DVDs I ripped with Handbrake in a supported format (without Perian) can't play all the way through anymore. The older version worked fine, but I'm totally disappointed with the updates :(
You can ditch your cable TV easily. However, I'm not sure an ATV is the way to go anymore with Boxee. It's just too sluggish. If you don't plan on hacking it you'll probably be fine, however if you are using BT you're not going to be satisfied with an unhacked ATV.
Apr 22, 2010, 03:31 PM
Sure, it can be done. Lots of people are doing it. If you purchase a lot of content from the iTunes Store AND don't mind the hassle and time of converting all your TV Show and Movie DVDs to Apple formats...
I personally have a decent collection of 20-30 TV Shows, lots of seasons, and about 550 movies from my personal DVD collection. It took a lot of time and effort to get it all in to AppleTV compatible format and tagged properly but it is REALLY nice. Like someone else opined, it is literally like having a personal VOD service (with no monthly fee!)
I myself purchase next to nothing from iTunes as I don't care for the copy protection which limits my ability to transfer PURCHASED items where and when I want; the prices are also pretty absurd for a lot of the content. Cheaper to just buy the DVD sets and rip them myself at my leisure.
Apr 22, 2010, 04:03 PM
Yeah I've looked into it more and have decided on a mac mini.
Now will the older mac mini, with like the 1.83 GHz proc, play stuff as good as the newer one?
Just wondering, I'll probably go for a newer one anyways.
With Boxee, how do I get the news?
And is there a way just to play any random thing?
Like turn the TV on basically to hear noise?
Apr 22, 2010, 05:56 PM
@OP: Absolutely. An AppleTV Experience: A Year Without Cable (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=542382)
Apr 22, 2010, 06:02 PM
Like turn the TV on basically to hear noise?
Funny, that's the thing I missed the most from having cable. I missed having background noise. Nearly 3 years into it, I don't miss it any more. I replaced it with thoroughly enjoying my music catalogue. When I get home, I shuffle music and then use the Genius function to keep the it in mood that I'm in.
Apr 23, 2010, 05:03 AM
Yeah I like watching junk when I eat, the wife and I ran out of stuff to rant about so we'd just be sitting in silence eating lol. I'd rather be watching we both enjoy like seinfeld or even commercials..
MMM commercials from the 90's.. Built ford tough lol.