An AppleTV Experience: A Year Without Cable

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by ipedro, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. ipedro macrumors 68040

    ipedro

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #1
    When I picked up an :apple:TV last year, I felt that for the first time, I had found a replacement to TV. I based that on the presumption that my TV habits could be replicated by :apple:TV and indeed add to them via my richly populated and relevant (based on star ratings) music collection. I would also be able to enjoy and showcase my photo collection to visitors.

    With regards to TV, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the nature of "news". It was difficult to flip channels without watching serious networks chattering about celebrity's lives. The current invasion of Reality TV completed the reasoning that $100 per month for cable was so not worth it. Britney, Paris and Brangelina and Tila Tequila, Bret Michaels and Flavor Flav had taken over the airwaves and I had had enough.

    I sat down and reviewed what TV I was watching. My TV was left dialed into CNN most of the time with shows such as Anderson Cooper and Larry King amongst the few that could get me to sit down and actually watch intently.

    Flipping through channels, reruns of Seinfeld and Friends had me put down the remote. Current programming that I watched was limited to Journeyman (cancelled :( ), Heroes and the various incarnations of CSI.

    I found that I could easily replace all of the above with :apple:TV. Anderson Cooper has a daily podcast (the video quality and update schedule have recently been improved) and Larry King's best is also available via a CNN podcast.

    Curiously, it was the podcast component of :apple:TV that has become the main source of programming for me. I've turned away from the major networks and discovered Revision3 and ON Networks' amateur, yet professionally produced programs. Diggnation, the DIGG Reel, Play Value and more are available in HD and for free.

    There have unfortunately been downsides to cutting cable and adopting an exclusive :apple:TV relationship. The most notable has been the loss of connection with the news and programming of my city. By not watching local programming, I'm feeling disconnected from the outside world. I also noticed that sense of disconnect accompanied by loneliness, something that I hadn't felt with the "always on" aspect of cable tv as background noise.

    The lack of live tv is another shortcoming, one that has become very pronounced with the Olympics going on now. Luckily, my Sharp Aquos has a digital receiver and I've been able to pick up the local CBC which broadcasts the Olympic programming in HD over the air. This is literally the first time in months that I changed the Input Source from :apple:TV to TV.

    Surprisingly, I would have expected there to be an Olympic recap show offered by CBC in the iTunes store. Even more incomprehensible is that video podcasts for the Olympics are non existant also.

    I live in Canada and the Canadian iTunes store's anemic offerings hasn't helped my cause to live without cable. I'm still waiting for the Daily Show to offer a season's pass similar to the US iTunes store. Currently, Canadians have to buy each show individually for $1.99.
    Night shows like Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno and Letterman were also high on my wish list but so far, no luck.

    With the Fall Season fast approaching, I'm praying for NBC to reconcile with Apple and offer Heroes and Conan O'Brien.

    My girlfriend has been staying over quite frequently lately and she's noticed the lack of her regular programming as well.

    So as I sit here, strongly considering reconnecting cable, another side of me is holding out for Fall upgrades to the iTunes Canada store.

    What I'm hoping for:

    - Family Guy
    - Conan O'Brien w/ Multi Pass $9.99
    - The Daily Show w/ Multi Pass $9.99
    - Heroes
    - CSI
    - 24

    In the meantime, I'm going to populate my :apple:TV with the Seinfeld and Friends reruns that I can't get enough of.

    I'm going to try to address the lack of local connection by finding an online local radio source for that "background noise" replacement now that :apple:TV officially supports radio streams.

    I'm also going to convert my DVD collection to an :apple:TV/iPhone format so that I can enjoy it (I haven't had a DVD player for years).

    :apple:TV hasn't been a total disappointment though. I've truly rediscovered my music now that I have easy access to it from the couch. My photo collection also fills the screen as my :apple:TV's screensaver. I'm also spending many entertaining hours with YouTUBE and amateur podcasts.

    I feel that the :apple:TV has huge potential to replace cable. For the time being, I've needed to make an effort because the current bottleneck of iTunes Canada's slim offerings doesn't include my favorite shows.

    I think that with YouTUBE looking at Live broadcasts, we may see their partner, CNN offer a stream and perhaps some sports becoming available there as well. From there, its a short leap to :apple:TV since Google and Apple share such a close connection.

    In short, :apple:TV is almost there, but not quite ready for the mainstream.
     
  2. Galley macrumors 65816

    Galley

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2008
    #2
    I've been satellite-free since Jan. I haven't even bothered hooking up an antenna to my HDTV. Since I got my 24" iMac a month ago, I don't even have the HDTV hooked up. :D
     
  3. gcmexico macrumors 6502a

    gcmexico

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Location:
    New York City
    #3
    *
    wow you have literally explained it all, point by point of what I've gone through since canceling cable, and just going with ATV...best move I ever made

    some tips

    try to see if you can hook your computer to your tv...that is how I have it set up, this way you can watch whatever is on the internet on your tv...you have to go to hulu.com...they have tons of free tv shows, and current ones...that site is absolutely a must...you can also check out cbs's and nbc's websites, they now post current episodes of their shows...so you can watch the fall episodes without a problem

    video podcast is the BEST...still can't believe it's free...to be honest with you I thought I would be watching less tv with out cable...but I actually watch more..it's weird...I found a site, that lets me watch PPV boxing fights for 2.99, for my girl I found a bollywood site that provides all free indian movies...it's crazy! there is just so much stuff on the internet

    great post...*uck cable!:D
     
  4. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040

    ipedro

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #4
    ^ Good to see a couple of :apple:TV die hard fans like me.

    To be honest, it was most difficult in the beginning as I was so used to turning the TV on in the morning and leaving it on all day (I work from home). It was a friend that was always there. Once I disconnected, there was an eery silence.
    The allure of cable (how easily I forgot about the crappy reality tv programming) was ever present and it took some serious resolve to stay with :apple:TV.

    Analyzing what's on TV on any given day, you'd likely come up with a high percentage of re-runs, say 70% and then maybe 15% live tv such as news and sports and then only 5% of new content.

    With those figures in mind, it's the 70% that you should be targeting to get on your :apple:TV to reproduce the experience of cable/satellite.

    By building a large library of shows that you enjoy watching over and over – in my case, reruns of Seinfeld and Friends – and then mixing in some new content from video Podcasts and a small few season's passes to your favorite current shows, you got yourself your very own network, playing only what you like.

    I already have access to a great morning show – NBC's Today – via podcast, albeit late in the day (heck, I wake up late every morning anyway!). Then I can get my fix of an ever growing collection of classic rerun shows, podcasts and YouTUBE videos for the middle of the day. Anderson Cooper and Larry King podcasts complete the late day. All I need is a good talkshow such as Conan O'Brien to top off the night.

    With regards to Hulu and some of the networks' sites, their availability is limited to the USA. IP's from other countries are blocked. :(

    Nonetheless, it's still early in this experience and I'm optimistic that :apple:TV will eventually leave the title of "hobby" behind as Apple's plans come together and :apple:TV's part in the grand plan comes up.
     
  5. Scarpad macrumors 68000

    Scarpad

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    Ma
    #5
    Another option that you don't have access to unless you hack the ATV is being able to access sites like Hulu or NBC.com or other networks that stream their shows. I've considered what you are doing, cause I can certainly get tv shows from other sources but I would miss watching the Red Sox, and once you watch shows in HD it's tuff to go back to SD.
     
  6. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #6
    Awhile back, I believe you were against some new features being added to the :apple:TV like a DVR and TV tuner. Are you still of the same mindset, or would these additions enhance your experience?

    I only ask because I really want to get one and cancel cable, but the drawbacks of the current model stil seem too great...And I really like to watch live sports. My market in America wil be the first in the country to make the DTV switch in September so I will be able to get all the local stations in HD over-the-air. If the :apple:TV had a built in TV tuner and DVR, I think I might be all set. Anything I'm missing?

    Thanks for the great insight.
     
  7. mikenike192 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    #7
    i can really see myself doing this in the future, just really think about out of the 100+ channel people have now how many of those channels do actually watch, I mean I know I only watch about 10 channels example: espn, comedy central, discovery, MHD, and all the local stations, ABC CBS NBC and others. But really after 2009 all your local stations will be broadcasted free in digital so you can just get an antenna to get your fix of local news and shows like the office,24 etc. So really the rest of that is on itunes so could easily save alot of money and then you could even use the money you save to build an awesome HTPC.
     
  8. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040

    ipedro

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #8
    Hi Tilpots. I still defend the fact that :apple:TV shouldn't (and likely won't) get a TV Tuner and DVR. That goes against the concept of paying only for the programming that you watch, rather than being fed a bunch of programming that you don't and sifting through it to find something you like.

    I like the idea of iTunes offering individual programs that you can buy and I hope that it develops into something ubiquitous. The networks are gradually coming on board, as are individual producers who won't need to deal with the networks and can sell their shows directly on iTunes.

    I think Apple has it figured out but while they had the element of surprise with the music industry and built the best and most popular model, this time around, some people – including the networks – know what to expect and don't want to fall into the position of being weak in negotiations with Apple. NBC is trying their best to deal with others while avoiding Apple, even going so far as to offer their programming for free.

    I think this is going to drag on like HD-DVD and BluRay but eventually there will be a standard and the :apple:TV model will likely become the de-facto way of watching television in the near future.
     
  9. bacaramac macrumors 65816

    bacaramac

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    #9
    I was enchanced cable free prior to getting ATV. I had the free basic cable that Cox in my area was offering with High Speed Internet, but they have recently changed that and started charging 21.95.

    Since the only channel I will miss that I cannot get over the air is discovery, I will continue to survive cable free for now. ATV is a blessing for the myself, the kids and wife. Has already paid for itself over and over throughout the last year.
     
  10. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #10
    Thanks iPedro. I think I'm still gonna hold out for the "wishlist items", but if it doesn't happen by Christmas, I'll be at a crossroads. Yourself and several others members give great arguments for going cableless.

    Curious here, what do you do with all the movies/TV shows you buy? After a year, surely your HDD is filling up. Will you just delete the shows you bought, try to resell them (don't even know if this is possible or legal) or find some way to store them indefinitely? For instance, my music collection keeps getting bigger, and I'll never delete any of it, but I usually only watch a TV show once and have never even thought about archiving shows. Even with my DVR at home, as soon as I watch, I delete. How do you manage your growing library?
     
  11. bacaramac macrumors 65816

    bacaramac

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    #11
    Delete? Sell? More storage is more like it :D Bigger is better:D
     
  12. gcmexico macrumors 6502a

    gcmexico

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Location:
    New York City
    #12
    *
    to make the ATV perfect...it must have a tv tuner card and safari!

    at first I was not up for safari on atv, but I've changed my mind... just going to hulu.com on the ATV, would be AWESOME!!!
     
  13. kugino macrumors 65816

    kugino

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    #13
    i, too, have experimented with the aTV by being cable-less since january. it fulfills 90% of our (my wife and me) watching needs but there are some things that i just can't get even with podcasts and the itunes store. over-the-air HD is nice so watching network tv content isn't a problem. but as a big sports fan, i miss espn. and my wife misses various cable shows on the learning channel and other stations that do not make their content available to itunes.

    a tv tuner would be nice but not entirely necessary. like others have said, though, i really would like safari on the aTV. i subscribe to the mlb season pass so i can watch live games...but it requires a web browser (and flash/silverlight)...hulu would be very nice on the aTV...and, depending on where you live, one can even watch live sports via espn360. but this also requires web access. more so than a tuner, a browser would be my first choice for an added aTV feature. though it still wouldn't reach the 100% fulfillment mark, it would get very close.
     
  14. iJED DV macrumors member

    iJED DV

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    #14
    Tilpots, there's a HUGE thread about storage solutions already. You can get some ideas from it: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=502415
     
  15. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #15
    Thanks for the link iJED DV. Some informative info.

    I guess what I was really trying to get at though is: Do people planning on keeping all their TV shows indefinitely? I love TV, please don't get me wrong. I watch hours and hours everyday, I make commercials at a TV station for a living and have been in the film and TV business for a decade. But usually, once I watch a TV show, I'm done with it. Movies are different, granted, I've got some in my collection I've seen way to many times.

    So, iPedro and the rest of you brave cableless souls, what is the shelf life of a TV show in your collection, how big is your library after one year, and how many times do you watch a given show?

    Haha! That's what she said! bacaramac, does Discovery offer anything you can view with the :apple:TV? It's one of my favorite channels, too.
     
  16. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040

    ipedro

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #16
    I don't delete the shows that I buy. The growing TV show library contributes to the experience that I pointed out above: as your library grows, eventually you have your own TV station with only the shows that you like. You can play your own re-runs, rather than watching the ones on network TV.

    Opposite to you, I watch TV shows more than once while movies often are watched just one time. I haven't been buying many movies. I mostly rent them. Only the real classics that I know I'll want to watch over and over get purchased.
     
  17. macworkerbee macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    #17
    I REALLY want to ditch my cable (full of the worst brain rotting crap known to man half of the time) but I love live sports way too much to do it. I envy your freedom from the cable bill.
     
  18. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #18
    Cable TV is starting to feel like (for me at least) FM radio. TV is just full of commercials and crap you don't want. On the AppleTV, it's more like my iPod. I get to have everything that I want and not what someone else decides what I want. I don't listen to FM radio EVER and I doubt I ever will again ever since I got my iPod a few years back. I know what I like and I know how to find it... so therefore a constant stream of stuff (hoping that something's on that you like) seems counter-productive to me.... and then I end up watching something that I don't like just because there's nothing better on.
     
  19. ViViDboarder macrumors 68040

    ViViDboarder

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #19
    I'm thinking about a Mac Mini instead. Then I'd just use a similar interface and can get any flash based video up there too :D

    Could even put together smart playlists that last 24 hours and make my own "chanels" haha
     
  20. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040

    ipedro

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #20
    ^ Well, you wouldn't get the privilege of using a "similar interface" at all. The :apple:TV UI has been upgraded significantly since Front Row was launched.

    Of course, most of what :apple:TV can do, can be done through iTunes on a Mac Mini but you'd lose the convenience of a couch friendly UI. If you're ok with using a keyboard and mouse from your couch, the Mac Mini will serve you well.
     
  21. ViViDboarder macrumors 68040

    ViViDboarder

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #21
    With Leopard there is a pretty nice FrontRow adition and there's not Plex or something like that (Originally XBMC for mac). My other thought was getting an :apple:TV because it's cheaper and then installing full Leopard. It could then still run Backrow :)apple:TV interface)
     
  22. BOSS10L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #22
    Thank you for the very informative thread, iPedro! My wife and I recently considered canning DirecTV and going with just local basic cable for $12 a month. In reality, while we do watch a lot of TV, most of it is can be termed as "boredom" watching. I've been hesitant because I don't want to give up Discovery HD, Science HD and most importantly, NFL Network HD and the NFL Sunday Ticket HD (my favorite team is over 1,500 miles away).

    That being said, overall, I don't feel we get our money's worth with DirecTV. I guess another part of me is hoping that by forcing our hand, we might actually watch less TV. Regardless, the thought of being able to have all of our movies available digitally over the network (and thus having discs rarely handled again by my wife or kids - my biggest reason), is reason enough for me to get an :apple:TV.

    I just wish the cable companies would realize that something along the lines of the :apple:TV paired with a la carte programming is the wave of the future. I know they have issues because they want to keep that advertisement revenue pouring in, but don't they realize that (at least for us), most serious TV watching is done via DVR, and a lot just fast-forward through the commercials anyway?
     
  23. ingenious macrumors 65832

    ingenious

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    Virginia, United States (Kansan in exile)
    #23
    It seems to me that maybe [apple]tv needs a few more opportunities on the iTunes Store to become fully viable, hence the complaints about lack of live or local programming.

    I've often thought that cable or satellite providers should team up with Apple to allow customers to download shows off of channels they subscribe to for a reduced price, or even freely, if some sort of revenue-sharing deal could be worked out. It would make iTunes into a sort of "virtual DVR," and would probably satisfy those calling for a DVR to be added to [apple]tv.

    Partnering with those same providers, or with individual channels, to provide a streaming (or stream-to-download) service would fully eliminate those complaints.

    As for the networks, I don't know. It's so crazy that NBC is still in a pricing dispute with Apple. I mean, seriously, their content is available for free in HD over the air! It'd be nice for them to follow the same model as above, but I don't see that happening. Ever. :rolleyes:
     
  24. imacdaddy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    #24
    Give your mind a rest

    Its funny to read some saying they feel lonely and disconnected from the outside world without their cable/satellite. It just shows us how much people rely on watching or even just hearing the television in the background as part of our everyday lives and how much time is wasted sitting on the couch and watching crappy programs.

    Its good to give your mind a rest without the audio/visual distractions from TV and find your inner peace. If you feel disconnected from the outside world, just read the newspaper or read your local online news.
     
  25. gcmexico macrumors 6502a

    gcmexico

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Location:
    New York City
    #25
    I think the original poster is just pointing out to the fact of how addicted we are to TV, not that he's lonely...he's absolutely right when you get rid of tv, it just feels different, it's weird how tv is so embedded into our mind frame and culture...I mean before I got rid of cable I was reading newspapers, that's how I stay informed...but once I got rid of the cable and knew it was gone, I was like WO something is totally different...but I'm so glad I did
     

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