Looking for good cord-cutting advice

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Michael CM1, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    As bills come in and my debt keeps going nowhere, I think I have come to the point where I really want to try cutting the cord. Well, cutting the satellite link. I'm paying about $65/month to Dish Network and not even getting everything I really want, although that does include HBO. So I'd love it if someone could point me to some resources.

    If this is all in some master thread, just post a link in reply. I know this has probably been discussed before, but maybe I'm a little different and maybe things have changed.

    I have two HDTVs, both with Apple TVs, an iPad 3 and iPhone 4S. Right now my plan is to utilize Netflix and Hulu Plus. I already had Netflix, and I just re-subscribed to Hulu Plus. So that's basically $57 in monthly savings. I use Comcast for my cable modem and have an Xbox 360 with Xbox Live Gold. That means I have WatchESPN on the big TV.

    Most of the shows I watch are on broadcast TV -- Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, etc. I watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report nightly, plus I like a couple other Comedy Central shows. The other main cable stuff I watch is Deadliest Catch and Whale Wars, both of which I know I can buy on iTunes.

    I would really like to figure out how to create an HD DVR setup somehow with an antenna. I have an iMac and a Windows 7 notebook -- be warned, it set me back $250 brand new last year. The EyeTV HD Video Recorder ($199) looks like maybe what I need and would pay for itself within four months.

    So I'm up for suggestions or links to read. Thanks a bunch!
  2. Giuly macrumors 68040


    The EyeTV HD is for cable/satellite boxes, for antenna you want one or two EyeTV Hybrids, which hook right into the antenna.
  3. mslide macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2007
    My advice is to just cut the cord and not bother with a DVR. Do you really need it? Most new prime-time shows are either available on Hulu Plus or via the station's website by the next day. CBS always has at least the latest episode of Big Bang Theory. Netflix has tons of Family Guy episodes. It works out even better if you are willing to stay one season behind on shows that are on Netflix.

    That's what my wife and I did almost a year ago. I can't think of a single case where we wished we had recorded a show on a DVR.

    BTW, it seems kind of silly to say in one sentence "my debt keeps going nowhere" and in another to mention spending $200 on a toy that's not needed. No offense, but perhaps that is part of the reason why your debt keeps going nowhere.
  4. MarkKevin macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2013
  5. linds15 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2012
    Great White North
    this is my setup
    netflix + huluplus = 16$/month
    that gets me old series on netflix, and then current stuff on hulu
    i also have an antenna so i can watch stuff live if im home, if not its on hulu next day, for cbs its on their site
    for sports i have the app on my ipad, and airplay to ATVs connected to whichever tv, don't need cable.
  6. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    That sounds like pretty much what I plan. My problem is I'm almost never at home during the prime time shows, so it would be nice to find a solution for the CBS shows. But it's not really a major deal since I only watch two and purchased one a few months ago on iTunes when it was on sale.

    I signed up for Hulu Plus again already and it's better than I thought. Between those services and CBS's website/iPad app, I can only find four shows I have to get another way.
  7. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Yet if you want to watch something specific that isn't available on iTunes, Hulu Plus or Netflix, having a DVR comes in handy.
  8. jmcrutch macrumors regular

    Jul 27, 2010
    CBS has an app now. It has most of its recently aired shows available a week after they've run - but the app doesn't offer full airplay so you'll have to mirror your iPhone or iPad through your appleTV which is not as good as airplay.
  9. GLWOLL macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2008
    CBS shows are available through the CBS channel on Plex. I use Plex with a Roku box, and there are usually the 5 most recent episodes of most current shows, such as Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Elementary, NCIS etc.

    I don't know how that compares to the new CBS app but it's worth checking out.

    I cut the cord from Dish in December and have watch TV via OTA and Roku.
  10. dgalvan123, Mar 25, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013

    dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    Here's what I do:

    -OTA Antenna
    -HD Homerun (dual-tuner, takes input from OTA and outputs to router so any computer on your wireless network can access the program stream)
    -EyeTV software on my MacBook Pro (mid-2009, 2.8 GHz intel core 2 duo).
    -Auto-export recorded shows from EyeTV to iTunes
    -Once in iTunes, all recorded shows are available to both my Apple TVs.

    This gives you a "DVR-like" experience, because you can use the Apple TV interface to watch the time-shifted shows, and fast forward through the commercials. Alternately, you could just hook up a computer to your TV permanently, and run either EyeTV or Windows Media Center on it, still using the HDHomerun tuners to get your OTA shows. Using EyeTV on the computer itself really does feel like using a DVR. It's an easy and slick interface.

    BTW: The HD Homerun is better than the ElGato Hybrid for three reasons:
    1. Two tuners. So you can record two different channels at the same time. ElGato Hybrid is single-tuner.
    2. It connects to your router, not your computer. So that frees up a USB port on your computer, and keeps your computer mobile since the program stream is available on the wifi network to any machine running EyeTV (mac), Windows Media Center, or MythTV (linux).
    3. Recent reports suggest that the new HD Homerun unit coming out this summer will actually output the program stream in .h264. So that means you won't have to wait for EyeTV to transcode from uncompressed mpg2 to .mp4 to get it into iTunes (which takes some time).

    (I also use two jailbroken Apple TV 2's to watch internet streaming shows via the free Hulu and "Free Cable" plugins for XBMC, which gives me any shows that a network streams on its websites, including CBS shows and cable shows. But that requires XBMC, for which you either need a jailbroken ATV2 or a dedicated computer. If you do have an ATV2, check here for details to get Hulu/Amazon/FreeCable working: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1305573 )
  11. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Thanks a bunch for all the info. It looks like a good deal at $80 for the hardware on Amazon and $80 for the software. I might hold off on that because my main OTA DVR concern will be football in the fall. Most everything else is stuff on Hulu Plus available within a day.

    You might have to translate the link on the new HDHomerun for me. If I buy the Dual model now, will it be upgradable to this new firmware that keep me from needing to encode? If not but there is a model coming that should be less than $100, I think I'll just wait on that.
  12. linds15 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2012
    Great White North
    if you are worried about football, just get nfl gamepass, gets you all the games, and you can go back and watch them later if you missed em
  13. sulliweb macrumors regular


    Mar 13, 2011
    On the same subject, I'm considering going in this direction myself, but I want a "trial separation" if you will. I know Dish used to offer a "Dish Pause" service. Basically, you pay $5 a month, and you could put your service on hold for up to six months. I'm thinking about doing this, and making sure that I know what I'm getting into before I cut the cord altogether.

    Anyone know if this service is still available from DISH? Or anyone used this service before? Just looking for some info.

  14. BigDukeSix macrumors 6502a


    Sep 22, 2010
    34.6700N 118.1590W
    Got rid of cable earlier this year. Use an OTA antenna, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus. I also have ITunes but have only downloaded a couple of movies from there. Saving about $70/mo and no regrets.
  15. cdavis11 macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2009
    That's hilarious - they have found a way to charge people for NOT using their service?

  16. Giuly macrumors 68040


    You could put that free USB port of yours to use and add an elgato turbo.264 HD hardware accelerator dongle, to speed up the conversion process to iTunes. Works seamlessly with EyeTV.
  17. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    True online DVR

    For that strictly online, one would need an online DVR. It seems there now is one: PlayLater:

    I have no experience with it, although it would seem to be a forerunner in a developing market. Note that at the moment it does not work with Macintosh, but Windows and iOS.

    Services such as Hulu are great. But they have not overlooked their growing popularity, and have increasingly added more advertising. To the point where in some cases one ends up dealing with nearly as many ads as in OTA broadcasts. Or why DVRs became popular in the first place, aside from time shifting.
  18. expectdelay macrumors member


    Mar 6, 2010
  19. scapegoat81 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 7, 2012
    Netflix for The Walking Dead but you have to wait for the whole season to be over to watch. That was the 1st thing I looked into. :D
  20. Director Doug, Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013

    Director Doug macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2013
    Not all Elgato is good...just most of it

    I have an Elgato Hybrid, and the Turbo HD device. I do like them, and recommend them, but they have some catchup in the codec world to do.

    I do a lot of timeshifting with an OTA and my computer. When I transcode the original off-air program, I edit the commercials out before I send them to become Apple TV programs, using the Elgato export and the Turbo HD. And, because there's a 1080p Apple TV preset, that's what I usually use. But almost all of the time (yes, there are exceptions) the audio and video get out of sync, audio leading the video by as much as one or two seconds - and there's no Dolby Digital output, either. So, the export function is fast with the Turbo, but not really that good. (I kinda end up treating the program as illustrated radio...)
    I recently started to output an MPEG program stream and using Handbrake to transcode an ATV3 file, with Dolby Digital - much better. It takes quite a while (generally about 2 hours), but hey - I'm timeshifting here...
  21. adamjb22, Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013

    adamjb22 macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    I've been looking for that solution for the upcoming breaking bad episodes. So far i've come up with purchasing HD content through iTunes or finding the show through an XBMC source. The quality there isnt the absolute greatest though, but it's free. Ive been able to watch a few history channel shows through there.
  22. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I don't watch any AMC shows -- well, I don't hate Hell on Wheels but AMC had a spat with Dish when it was on. But I do like Deadliest Catch and Whale Wars. For all of those, you basically have the iTunes option of buying them. If you're saving $40 or $50 per month and those shows maybe cost $30 or $35 for a whole season, you're still saving money if you only have a few of those shows you watch.

    OR you can wait a year for Netflix. HBO is the really smart network. You pretty much have to subscribe to HBO or buy the stuff on BD/DVD/digital to watch the shows. I'm hoping the rumors of a standalone HBO Go coming in the future to Internet providers are true.


    So does that dongle (no jokes or everyone gets fired!) work alongside the other hardware that captures the video? It looks like that's the case. I'm assuming it has some sort of processing power that does that faster than a standard computer CPU. Am I at least in the ballpark?
  23. BigDukeSix, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013

    BigDukeSix macrumors 6502a


    Sep 22, 2010
    34.6700N 118.1590W
    To answer the AMC question, I am willing to wait for those shows to be available on Amazon Prime or Netflix, then I can watch them non stop commercial free.

    I have found, amazingly enough, that if I miss a show on cable, my life is not significantly impacted the next day....LOL
  24. cdavis11, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013

    cdavis11 macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2009
    Here's what I do:

    3 HDTVs each with Apple TV attached.

    Netflix Subscription used on all 3.

    Regular (non paid) Hulu airplayed from a MacBook for a couple of shows my wife likes. I refuse to pay Hulu Plus $9 a month to watch their commercials.

    EyeTV and two Silicon Dust HDHR dual tuners recording OTA channels from an attic mounted VHF/UHF antenna for regular network/first run shows.

    iFlicks and some custom scripts used to tag new TV shows from EyeTV when they are dumped into iTunes for viewing on the Apple TVs.

    ETVComskip user mod installed to mark commercial breaks as chapter heads. Comskip allows me to skip forward past marked commercial breaks. Nice part of the ETVComskip mod - no destructive editing, so if it missed a commercial or mis-marked a piece you can still get back to it. With a little tuning on comskip you can get to a happy 85-90% success rate.

    Custom scripts run at night to delete any recorded TV show with a play count of 1 or more.

    Hazel set up to watch the Itunes TV Shows folder and trigger a tagging script that runs iFlicks and adds cover art to all new TV Shows as they are imported into iTunes from EyeTV. iFlicks gives me the ability to create custom rules for imports and use square cover art I go find - doesn't sound like a big deal, trust me it's annoying to use rectangular cover art on the Apple TV.

    A script runs as a part of that Hazel process to email me and tell me a new show is ready to watch.

    InstaTV Pro on my iPads used to watch those 2 HDHRs (4 tuners total) over my wireless N network. InstaTV Pro is helpful as it doesn't require the computer to be running or take CPU cycles transcoding the programs, InstaTV Pro talks directly to the HDHR boxes.


    I'm a baseball fan, MLB.tv premium package at $125 a year works out great on my Apple TVs, iPads and iPhones.

    Football and Golf can be viewed from the antenna live or recorded as necessary.

    First run cable shows:

    We buy 2 iTunes season passes a year for shows we don't want to wait a year to see on NetFlix (Mad Men $35 and Breaking Bad $50). More than worth it.

    I also broke down and purchased my own cable modem to avoid Time Warner Cable Co. monthly "rental" fee of $4.50. I paid $90 for it, should break even in 20 months.

    All told, internet runs me $49.99 a month for an acceptable 20 down/2 up. I've had faster packages, but for the monthly bill to speed ratio this one works out very well for us. It allows for good performance streaming 2 things at once - usually MLB for me and NetFlix for my wife - without rebuffering issues.

    $49.99 for internet
    $8.55 for netflix

    That's my monthly.

    $85 a year for season passes for a couple of shows.

    Saves me about $1,000 over cable every year and we never run out of entertainment options.

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