Ditching Cable

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Godwalk, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Godwalk macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2009
    In S. FLA cable & internet has gone to $155 pretax. B.S.! I've already bought an HDTV antenna, and am planning on buying an ATV. I'll need to get a new internet source unless cable will let me buy just internet. I use a Sony stereo for all sound, a 42' HDTV w/HDMI, an XBOX360, and a Sony Record Player (I have 750+ albums). I realize that I will lose CNN, ESPN and :( The Golf Channel HD, but for $155 so be it. My questions are:

    1. How can I make this close to the cable experience?
    2. What is streaming?
    3. What is bittorrent?
    4. What else don't I know that I should?
    5. What is and how does Boxee and Hulu work?

    Thanks in advance for all your help!
  2. NeGRit0 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 19, 2008
    Las Vegas, Nv

    Google bittorrent as I'm sure it's discussion here is completely unacceptable.

    Also, hulu blocked access from boxee.
  3. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    Bel Air, MD
    1. You will never get close to as many options or channels. You will always be at least one day behind on any TV shows you watch. Your best bet would be a cheap mac mini attached to your TV for the following services it will provide:
    -Internet Access, web browsing
    -Hulu - to watch TV shows and free movies
    -NetFlix to watch movies
    -DVD player
    -Ability to play all video files via VLC

    2. google is your friend
    3. google is your friend
    4. seems like you may want to rethink this
    5. google is your friend
  4. dmm219 macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    How about some actual answers for your questions? ;)

    1. You probably can't. Getting HD OTA is a good first step. You can also use your HDTV's QAM tuner to pick up most of the same OTA stations "in the clear" IF you keep your cable for internet only. If you ditch cable entirely, you only option is OTA. OTA will provide the basics: ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, in most cases, PBS, and a few others. So don't worry about watching your favorite network tv shows, sports and news. You'll be able to get them OTA. CABLE tv is where you will feel it. This mean all those other shows you may like: Comedy Cental, Sci-Fi (BSG), TBS, TNT, History, Discovery, etc...you won't have real time access to. Boxee and Itunes are your remaining options, detailed in #5.

    2. Streaming: You keep all of your TV content on a constantly running computer, running itunes. This computer "streams" all the content you want to watch to your ATV. Yes, for this to work, you are forever "tetherer" to an online, running PC (or mac) at all times. Syncing is just like an ipod. Your computer will transfer content to the ATV itself. Since all the content is on the ATV's harddrive, no computer needs to be running in order to watch this content (after it's been transfered). The problem with syncing, is the relatively small HD size on the ATV. You will find yourself streaming eventually, because if this, most likely.

    3. In most cases bittorrent would involved pirating. In which case, it's illegal.

    4. Itunes: almost every show, both cable and network, can be purchased from itunes, directly from, and to your ATV. In other words, you can browse, buy and watch all without interruption, from your couch. For some of those cable shows you just have to have, or if there is value to you in owning the shows to watch over again (or let others watch), its a good deal. For $1000, you can get anywhere from 30-50 full tv show seasons. Thats a lot of TV, for less than what cable would cost you all year.

    5. Boxee is a 3rd party hack, developed as media center software (think windows media center), that can be installed on the ATV. Boxee is not approved or supported by Apple in anyway. It is not illegal to put Boxee on your ATV, and you will not void any warranties by doing so. Boxee allows you to stream online content, straight to you PC. One of the services Boxee used to allow you stream, was Hulu. Go to Hulu.com to get a feel for what it is. Basically, you can watch most Fox and NBC shows on Hulu for free. This service has now been blocked from ATV. There is still CBS, Comedy Central, WB, MTV and some others. With ABC coming soon.

    Basic rule of thumb for us. First and foremost, try to watch what you can OTA. If that fails, try Boxee. If that still fails, purchase via Itunes. I promise, with this method, you will spend FAR less per year on TV than you did with cable.

    Oh, and if you live of ESPN, Comcast sports, NFL Ticket (or other sports packages), you are pretty much entirely out of luck as of this time. This is not the route to go if you are a heavy tv sports junky...

    Hope this helps...
  5. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    Bel Air, MD
    I think the Mac Mini would better suit your needs if your getting rid of cable.
  6. CPD_1 macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2007
    South East Texas
    1. How can I make this close to the cable experience?

    My wife and I actually dropped Dish Network in January. In our area, they'd dropped one of the major network affiliates, and we'd had so much trouble with our receiver locking up, we decided it was time to try something else. ATV is good if you're patient enough to wait 24 hours for the most recent episode to be available (almost like clockwork). We only watch five shows that are available on network TV, so the $35-50 it cost us to buy a season was far less (per year) than cable or satellite. Plus, since we tend to purchase our favorite seasons on DVD anyway, we get to skip that step and get the above DVD quality HD versions of the episodes.

    Where we found ourselves a little desperate was the lack of History Channel and Discovery. The thing that made up for that were Discovery podcasts (free on iTunes) and purchasing a couple of History Channel specials a month ($2.99). Video Podcasts are your friend.

    Overall, not including the cost of the ATV itself, we're only paying $350 for our programing this year. Last year we payed about $1,200. Factor in the cost of the ATV, and we're still coming in at half the yearly cost of satellite.

    I don't know that ATV will ever be comparable to cable when it comes to immediate, same day availability, but I know that I rarely watched shows on the day they aired anyway. I can say, we haven't regretted our switch even once.

    4. What else don't I know that I should?

    If you wanna go full on ATV as your primary media device, I'd take the time to copy your DVD collection onto a big external HDD. I've done that with mine (using handbrake and other methods), and after I added cover art, it really is great not having to look through my DVD collection. And my wife is glad that we've boxed them up and tossed them in the storage space of my home office.

    If you decide to synch any content to the HDD (I did my music library), I would suggest doing the first synch over ethernet. Although, if you set it up before going to sleep, it may not be all that bad to do it wirelessly.

    5. What is and how does Boxee and Hulu work?

    Hulu is nice, but if you plan to eventually buy a season of anything, I'd say skip it and buy the iTunes content. If you aren't prone to buying seasons, then Hulu might be good for you. As mentioned though, you'll have to go with something other than an ATV for that.
  7. Godwalk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2009
    Cable Ditched; The Sequal

    Wow! What can I say to the mates of Apple Forum. Apart from a few semi-condisending comments, (yeah, yeah, I'm a bit of a smart ass myself) you guys have given me great information. By way of a little history; (sit back, load a bowl, and listen to my tale).

    I bought an Apple IIc when it first came out and made a budget for the $5.5M Food & Bev Dept. We had a Rockin Lounge and a Restaurant that did 1200pp for Champaign Brunvh. I bought the first group of Lisa. i bought the first Mac 128k. I bought the first512k upgrade. I bought the first External 512K floppy drive. I was Chastised for using a Mg to ac in my hotel company at one point. Yet I am not a computer geek. I dont know chit about programming or code. I just like neat things, that do cool stuff.

    Any way, thank you to one and all, especially to Dmm419 for some great info and all of you for your responses. I'm going to go with an ATV. I have a Mac Mini G4 connected to a 32"HDTV, but apparently it won't cut the mustard.
    I'll let you know what I think and look for help.I also have a MacBook that i just installed a 160 mG hard drive and 2 mG of Memory ,into , and a 20 mG iPod in a kickin car stereo

  8. TraceyS/FL macrumors 601

    Jan 11, 2007
    North Central Florida
    Netflix is supposed to have a HUGE collection of DVDs that would provide you these type of shows. It is what i'm planning on going with when i ditch the cable this year.

    Also, for me DiscoveryStreaming is an option that i'll consider getting back. The videos aren't high quality though, but good enough for the kids. I'm also pondering SkyAngel IPTV - mainly for the kids. I'm not sure what my budget will be, so i'm just gathering info at the moment.

    But really, for us, if we had the DVDs we have at our fingertips we could very well ditch the cable (sat). I just have to pick what speed DSL to move too.
  9. rickeym macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2005
    If you have a mac mini, you might consider using it with a large Terabyte hard drive to act as your Home Video Server. Then stream content to the ATV to attached to your HDTV.

  10. elcid macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2007
    I am most likely going to do what you are doing. Mainly to save money, at least through the summer when nothing is on.

    Anyways, I just bought a Mac Mini and installed Plex (plexapp.com) and believe I will be able to easily kick the cable habit.
  11. jtbell macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Carolina, USA
    Also, your cable company should offer a tier which contains about 20 channels, mainly the local broadcast channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, FOX, etc.), which should include the "clear QAM" HD versions. It should cost somewhere around $10-$15 per month, maybe up to $20. It's often called "lifeline basic" or "limited basic," and some companies don't mention it on their Web sites so you have to call them up and ask for it specifically. That's the way it is with Charter around here.

    Also, don't expect front-line customer reps to know anything (or admit to knowing anything) about clear QAM. Cable companies obviously prefer you to think that you have to pay for a digital tier plus HD in order to get any HD channels.
  12. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    Thinking of getting rid of Cable TV myself. I calculate that canceling cable TV and moving my Comcast home phone to lingo, I can save over $1000 a year.
    My wife watches shows on Hulu through Plex, I'll miss some sports but the savings will be worth it.
  13. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    Bel Air, MD
    Superbowl + Stanley Cup + Weekly NFL Games + March Madness = Priceless
  14. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    Actually, more like:

    NBA on local, ESPN and TNT + Red Sox games < $900 a year.

    Superbowl is on the OTA Stations (ABC?)
    Couldn't care less about Hockey
    Patriots games are usually on OTA stations
    CBS streamed every March madness game online this year, Plex had a great plug-in for it and there was even an iPhone app with live games.
  15. Advance The Man macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2005
    I've been cableless now for a couple of months. Short story is, I don't miss it and the kids think the ATV is great. They have a ton of shows from ripped dvds and iTunes purchases. They are slowly realizing that's it, these are the shows to watch and once they get bored with them, they go outside and play. They will never know when a 'new' show starts playing on cable. hahahaha - what they don't know will make them stronger! I started to buy a few of the shows my wife and I watch, but I find I use Hulu more and more via HDMI line out from the iMac, and it's free. I've kept track of $ purchases. Last month, spent less than $15. This month to date - $0 and don't plan on buying anything.

    I do love college football and only like NFL football. I have purchased the OTA antenna, but have not hooked it up (pain) yet. It is an awesome feeling not paying $150 to the cable company. It was a borderline addiction channel surfing and 'settling' watching crap shows. Now I watch what I want, when I want. I also have enjoyed NOT watching news. Like I really need to hear about another murder or the state of the economy. For some of you guys out there, I am sure you can relate to some of this. Come join me!
  16. pandaurae macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2008
    My husband and I, too, have kicked the cable habit; we turned it off in January and have never looked back!

    We have not yet purchased an HD antenna, but we intend to do so soon. Our current setup is the Samsung BluRay/Netflix/Pandora player and the $8.99/month Netflix account for unlimited streaming and 1DVD-at-a-time deal. We have an ATV hooked up and a massive iTunes collection of TV shows, movies, lots of anime, and whatnot.

    We also have Boxee installed on the ATV and, thanks to a recent update, Hulu is working perfectly! (The Boxee team is now using a Mozilla plugin, or some such, to access the Hulu feed - there is now no way for Hulu to kill access to ATV as it has no clue it's an ATV!)

    Even with Netflix and our iTunes purchases, we are paying a small fraction of what our cable bill was ... and we have all the entertainment we want, when we want it and how we want it!
  17. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    Bel Air, MD
    Were you really paying $150 for cable? We are paying around $85 for digital cable with HD, (2) HD cable boxes and (1) DVR Box. This includes OnDemand which has tons of free movies and shows.

    I hate giving the cable company tons of money but atleast I'm not paying as much as you :(
  18. Advance The Man macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2005
    Congrats on ditching cable! Are there newer instructions on how to get Hulu on ATV? I had it, but never put it back on after the last update b/c it was blocked at the time. I've forgotten on how I did it to begin with.
  19. Advance The Man macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2005
    $144/mo for comcast - had HD, 3 tvs, 2 dvrs and every channel available. Oh and don't feel bad for me as I now pay $0 :)
  20. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    Bel Air, MD
    From my understand just the Boxee browser changed, so you install the same way as before. Boxee just changed the way you view Hulu.


    Just make sure to get the latest version of everything

    I'm glad you like it cable-less, just don't think I could miss all my shows lol
  21. iSaygoodbye macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2009
    a boat
    if your gonna miss espn get espn360 its awesome.
  22. nuwomb macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2008
    I just purchased a refurb ATV. its on its way home right now.
    I am hoping to cancel the cable after this week.

    I've had enough of 1000 channels of nothing.
    If I find it a problem I can always go back. We have been watching on demand stuff recently more anyways with rogers.

    I am excited to get the atv. Do the shows and content your get from itunes look great on an hdtv?
  23. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Hmm two words Red Sox. If I could find a way around that, guess I could always listen on the Radio....
  24. dbwie macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM, USA

    Another option... get a slingbox and attach it to someone else's cable system, and watch their cable TV over the internet. If they have an unused (or rarely used) cable hookup, high speed internet, and a router, you are all set. :)
  25. Advance The Man macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2005
    SD looks good - HD looks very good. I typically only buy SD.

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