Friday, October 19, 2012

Cutting the Cable TV Cord...What are my options?

Are you looking to cut the cable TV cord?

First option:  The easiest option that requires the least tech savvy is the the Roku.  This is a great little box. This is probably the best Netflix streaming device out there.  No hassles, just plug it in and go. Netflix is not the only thing this does.  It also does Pandora, BlipTV, some local news channels, Amazon Video on Demand, and many other things. I would recommend these on all of the secondary TVs.  There are a surprising number of options available to use on this simple little inexpensive box. - The Affordable On Demand Player! Click here! - 30-day Money Back Guarantee
Option number two is to build an XBMC box on Linux.  You can even use the XBMC Live distro to try it on a PC without having to install anything.  If you want to install XBMC and Linux on a PC, I wrote a basic post about it here.  The only problem with this option is that you can't run Netflix on Linux as their plugin does not support Linux at this time.  There are ways around this, but that is for another post.  Although, this is not really a problem for me because I use my $50 Roku to stream Netflix.  I pull all other kinds of content down with XBMC.  I also use it as my music server.  It pulls all of the music from my NAS (another upcoming post) and plays it on my living room stereo.  I also use it for multiroom audio with an XBMC plugin. I love it! Who needs cable TV?  Not me!

Now, if you are very geeky, I would try option number three. Warning:  I have not attempted this yet, but would like to in the future. This is not for your average geek,  It will require a significant time investment. And lots of research and geekines. Option number three involves building your own micro media center PC.  These have come a long way from the days of having a mini-tower with loud fans running next to your TV.  They now have these little netops that are fanless, so they make no noise at all!

One of these netops is the Zotac Zbox.  It is a powerful little box that is a good base for your media center experience.  Now, be aware, most of these are sold barebones.  Your first geek hurdle you will have to overcome is to add memory and a hard drive and any other components you will need.

After you have succeeded in adding your components, you can almost end your geekiness there if all you want to do is run XBMC.  All you have to do is get XBMC Live version on a USB stick and set your Zotac to boot from it.  Now you can enjoy your XBMC Media Center.  We would not be geeks if we did not want to do more!  Here we want much more out of our media center. 

If want to do Netflix streaming This is one of those very rare instances that I would recommend Microsoft Windows over Linux. As I said above, Netflix is not currently supported under Linux.  Once you install Windows 7, you can have a full working media center PC with Netflix streaming.  If you really want to attempt this you can start your research here and here.

Here is the Zbox....

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1 comment:

  1. XBOX has a lot of options now for video. Roku would be great to watch shows that are recorded while you travel.