TV/Visual Media Viewing 2011 Project

Project Goals (by priority):
1) Replace (or replace functionality of) aging VCRs
2) Reduce overall Month-to-Month Costs
3) Increase quality of the Experience (content and visuals)

Current (Legacy) Environment:
-All 3 TVs connected to analog cable TV service (no Digital TV box needed) via Time Warner Cable
-Only one of the three TVs have OTA digital TV tuners (the small TV in the office)
-None of the VCRs have OTA digital TV tuners
-No HD viewing capability
-No BlueRay DVD viewing capability
-Internet available in all rooms via Wi-Fi 802.11n
-Internet is available in room “office” via Wi-Fi and wired ethernet
-Netflix Subscription – 1 DVD out at a time and unlimited streaming
-TV “A” (Big old Sony,) is in the “family room” with attached combo VCR/DVD and Roku Box (streams Netflix and some other stuff)
-TV “B” (Small 13#) is in “my office” with an attached combo VCR/DVD next to my Windows-based TV
-The Windows PC in the office can show TV-ish content via YouTube (and like sites), Netflix Watch Instantly, Hulu (non Hulu Plus), or Video/MP4 content in iTunes (currently being replaced by Mac Mini)
-TV “C” (Small old 13″ Panasonic) in “my bedroom” with a a VCR and a combo VCR/DVD attached
-No Laptop, NetBook, or iPad functionality
-I prefer to watch shows most shows in the “family room”
-I prefer to watch TV in bed late at night, as opposed to falling asleep on the family room couch
-If I watch TV on my office, it tends to be usually be just the news
-I rarely watch TV-ish content on my PC
-I will xfer some TV-ish content from the internet to my PC for syncing to my iPod
-Most of my VCR tapes are 8hour…the rest are 9 and 10 hour tapes
-My VCRs are getting old and starting to have issues (HW issues, recording quality issues)
-I do not have a gaming system attached to a TV
-lots of remotes

Project Requirements (by priority):
-access to current big network TV shows for viewing when I want to view them
-access to current cable network TV shows for viewing when I want to view them
-ability to record media on behalf of (and to transfer to) my parents
-access to Red Eye for viewing when I want to view it
-access to old movies for viewing when I want to view them
-access to new-ish movies for viewing when I want to view them
-access to cable news (Fox, CNN) for viewing current and current-ish news/events
-access to C-SPAN for viewing current and current-ish events
-access to C-SPAN’s Book TV for viewing when I want to view them
-access to Internet content like YouTube (and the like) for viewing when I want to view them
-access to Bittorrent content (and the like) for viewing when I want to view them
-access to new-ish Premium Cable TV shows for viewing when I want to view them
-access to older Premium Cable TV shows for viewing when I want to view them
-ability to record media to transfer to my iPod
-ability to play iTunes stuff through my TV

In-Scope:
-Change recording technology options
-Change media source options
-Change viewing technology options
-Change storage options
-Add-to and/or change options for office new Mac Mini (in-process of replacing legacy Windows PC)

Out-Scope:
-Standalone Internet Radio devices
-Purchasing a Laptop, Net Book, Android-based Pad, iPad, or Kindle (different 1Q2011 Proj)
-”3D” TV Technology
-Adding a Gaming system to a TV (e.g. XBox, Playstation)
-Adding a fourth TV Viewing area (e.g. Kitchen, Bathroom)
-Changing to a Residential VOIP service from my Land-line Phone
-Dropping my Land-line phone and just using a cell phone (different 1Q2011 Proj)
-Skyping through my TV
-Increasing my Internet bandwidth (different 1Q2011 Proj)
-Switching Internet Service Providers

Likes:
-I would like to have the High Definition TV Experience
-I would like to be able to watch content of all types, from any of the three TVs
-I prefer simplicity to complexity
-I prefer to not be a home SysAdmin (I prefer to be paid to be a SysAdmin)
-I would like to play Blueray DVDs from Netflix

Hates:
-I hate my monthly (every increasing) Cable TV fee
-I hate the idea of a monthly Tivo/DVR fee
-I hate the idea of additional fees for Digital Cable boxes or Digital Cable cable cards
-I hate the idea of recording directly to a DVD

Neutrals:
-I am okay with building/assembling my own HW/SW solutions if I am going to be the SysAdmin
-I would prefer Unix-based to Windows-based solutions if I am going to be the SysAdmin
-I could care less about Twitter or Facebook via my TVs

Options / Stuff / Considerations / Investigations:
-Tivo dual-tuner DVR and Digital Cable Cards
-Tivo dual-tuner DVR
-Moxi tri-tuner DVR + Digital Cable Cards + Upgrade to Digital Cable + 2 Moxi Mates
-Hulu Plus subscription ($10/month, rolling out soon, will be on many devices)
-Play ON
-Beyond TV on my HW (Windows, can support multiple tuners)
-Myth TV on my HW (Multi-Tuners, UNIX Based)
-FOSS Overview
-Freevo
-XBMC on my HW
-Windows Media Center on my HW
-Apple TV ($99, iTunes-to-TV bridge, Streams Netflix
-Roku Appliances boxes (stream Netflix, will stream Hulu Plus, HD support)
-Channel Master CM-7000PAL Digital Video Recorder (DVR) for OTA TV (dual-tuner, no monthly fees)
-Sezmi – Current – OTA local channel Digital TV + dual-tuner DVR with $5/month fee
-Sezmi – Future TBD – OTA local channel Digital TV + many “cable” channels via internet streams + dual-tuner DVR with $20/month fee
-Boxee on my HW
-Boxee Box Appliance ($200 TD, Netflix Streaming, Hulu Plus assumption, other net content
-Nuu Player Boxee Appliance Future TBD
-Google TV – not shipping yet, early stuff might be rough
-Elgato EyeTV HD DVR
-Elgato Eye TV Digital or Dual USB Tuner for Mac OSX
-Elgato has lots of products for TV/OSX interaction
-Build my own Media PC aka Home Media PC aka HMPC
-What about Bittorrents?

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15 Responses

  1. I need a Roku box. But then, I just started watching Netflix streaming, and I use my computer currently. It’s hooked up to a 37 in HDTV via HDMI cable and quite wonderful Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU — “@ 2.67GHz, 2668 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)” about 9GB Ram – - iow, a gaming system able to handle the video processing (and all gaming thus far at max settings) just fine.

    Do wish I had a better DSL speed, but I live out in the country, outside any city.

    Still want a PS3 and/or XBox 360 but sadly enough for me I have fallen out of gaming so much. The types of games I like most have disadvatages for me:

    1) MMORPG — First disadvantage is the immersion required, which translates to hours daily to really get into. Second disadvantage: the way in-game economies and even player ability is now so intertwined with real world economics; for instance, those who buy in-game gold and upgraded weapons/armor buy purchasing these in the real world have much, much greater advantages than those who merely work within the game environment.

    2) RTS & 3) RPG — for the most part, these types of games are becoming ever more complex. This applies somewhat to the MMORPG’s as well although not as bad. The learning curve (if one wants to play them well rather than merely muck about every so often) takes quite some time, and setting them aside leads to forgetfulness which then requires another long relearning if you ever start to play again.

    For RPG’s there is another recent (for me) development: they are now so often “open world” where you can pretty much stumble anywhere in the in-game environment, at any time, and take any route you want to when you are playing. This often leads to tediousness, as you can stray away from the main story line or else even forget how to get back to it. I miss the days of having the main story quests kinda nudging me forward; I could enjoy the journey without worrying so much “WHAT is the journey again?”

    I generally play games on my PC though, which, as a former PS2-aholic, was kinda a surprise to me. World of Warcraft changed all that for me though.

    As for other items…a Blue Ray player would be great, but every time I think of getting one I think about how I’m going to have to start building up a Blue Ray library. I have 400-500 or so DvDs, and I don’t relish the idea of having to restock.

  2. I got an email from Roku this morning. They are going to add Hulu Plus to all Roku boxes.

    It is $10/month. I am pretty sure I am going to drop my cable TV. That will save quite a bit over the year and help finance upping my very old bedroom and family room TVs to HD. The rest of the content I can get via OTA Digital TV and other internet sources. I may drop the office TV and just hook a second display to the Mac instead. I can always display TVish stuff there if needed.

    I won’t have access to Fox News anymore. I can use NPR/WPR for news listening instead. I can stream CNN is something big is going on.

    My internet speed is good. I would like more bandwidth, but I d as an option given currently. I have plenty to stream netflix though.

    I don’t play games to much anymore. I occasionally play some live Sheepshead via Yahoo Games.

    I will be getting Civ5 for OSX when it comes out.

    I have stayed clear of WoW fearing addiction to it on my part. Heck, I was addicted to Hack in the 80′s and it was character based!

  3. I have only a few DVDs. Once I got netflix, I stopped buying DVDs. If I got a BlueRay DVD player I might buy a few. Mostly, I would use it for my one-at-the-time Netflix DVDs.

  4. I don’t have cable/satellite service….So I’m trying to decide how to go about watching the HBO series Game of Thrones when it starts airing. I’ve considered getting satellite service just for that. Does HBO (or any similar cable network) offer an internet-based subscription option, for viewing via the internet as it airs, or can they only be subscribed in a cable/satellite bundle? If the latter, I’d say they are somewhat slipping into a “behind the times” category. I know there have been various legislative initiatives to allow subscribers of cable services to pick-and-choose particular channels rather than be forced to subscribe to a whole bundle….at least, last I remember; and, that those efforts failed?

  5. That’s a great idea! I had forgotten that.

    I still look forward to the day when we can subscribe to the channels of our choice via Internet. Really, it’s almost past due. If not for the lock-in and/or ossification of the cable television system and so forth, it’d be here by now.

  6. Apparently, a lot of Blue Ray players now have “Internet Apps” and can be connected directly to your router to stream Netflix and other services. Saw one today from Vizio for under $100.00, but saw several others from different companies that were similar for over $100.00. (This is what happens why you call in late for work because you are having your car repaired and a Walmart happens to be within walking distance of the car dealership….)

    • Netflix is pretty agressive with allowing access from as many devices as possible.

      I would imaging amazon-on-demand is from many different devices as well.

      I got my Roku pretty early on, and I have been happy with it.

      My other equipment is so old it doesn’t have those capabilities.

  7. HTPC

    “Zotac isn’t the biggest name in computers, but the company does do one thing particularly well — cram capable HTPC components in itty-bitty boxes for a reasonable price. VD01 series ditches more well known solutions from Intel and AMD for chips from VIA, specifically the Nano X2 U4025 CPU with its Chrome9 media processor. Inside is room for a 2.5-inch HDD and a single DDR3 slot, but you can get those pre-populated with a 320GB disk and 2GB RAM by opting for the Plus model. Outside is your usual selection of USB 3.0, 2.0, eSATA, Ethernet and HDMI ports while inside are both Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11n radios. There’s even an IR receiver and bundled remote to make this truly living room friendly. Check out the gallery below, as well as the PR after the break.”

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/07/zotacs-zbox-nano-vd01-packs-dual-core-via-cpu-in-a-tiny-tiny-b/

    http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&tag=mozilla-20&index=blended&link_code=qs&field-keywords=Zotac%27s%20ZBOX&sourceid=Mozilla-search

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