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Dec 11 2011

Cutting the Cable

Another guest post from the iconic Theodore J Bahas, ESQ.

We we finally did it. We cut the cable! We were giving the local cable company 2400.00 a year for our cable package. That works out to over 6.50 per day!

It was big jump for us to walk away from DVR and on demand and go back to the stone age of local programming. We downgraded our cable to the most basic package that allowed us to have internet. Our bill dropped from 200.00 to 85.00 per month!

So did we give up all of our favorite shows….? No! Did we give up live realtime news?… No! Did we give up the latest on demand movies and programming? No! So, can we have our cake and eat it too? Yes!!!

So how? AppleTV!

I have to admit to being one of the Lemmings that have everything Apple. That includes iPad, iPhone, and Macbook Air. Our company is populated with the just about every available model of Mac.

The AppleTV is a wonderful little device that bridges the gap between your “iDevices” and your TV. It attaches to your TV via a simple HDMI connection. If you have purchased a flat screen in the last couple of years it will have HDMI input. A single cable carries both HD 720p video and digital surround audio.

Once connected to the TV the AppleTV asks you to register it with your Apple ID. ( Don’t worry if you don’t have one your can get one for free.) If you want to purchase programming on the iTunes store you can register it with a credit card. Once connected you have access to hundreds of first run movies and programs available for purchase. Most programs are about 1.99 per episode. Movies are about 4-5 dollars depending on the title. Most importantly, it also includes access to Netflix. For 7.99 a month you have access to hundreds movies and popular programs. In addition we have a Hulu+ account that includes even more movies and programming. Also included in AppleTV are all of the free podcasts and online radio choices from iTunes. All of these are available streaming live with no download required. You also have a YouTube player, a Vimeo player and access to your Photostream accounts. No more attaching your laptop to your computer or making a DVD. Everything streams wirelessly to the AppleTV.

Lastly, AppleTV also allows you to mirror your screen output of your iPad or iPhone. Some games and other apps take on a new dimension on a large screen. You can also share your iTunes library from any of your devices. You can have all of your favorite iTunes playlist on your big system without a dock or a cable to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Sooooo… in a word do we miss cable?… Not at all.

Technical details:

Since one of our TV sets is an antique behemoth. We needed to buy an HDMI to analog video converter.

It cost us about 45.00 from amazon. It scan converts and formats the AppleTV output for 4:3 analog TV. Other than that, I also bought a Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control.

Using a simple software interface it allows you to automate all the Apple remote functions and integrate them with all the other devices in your home entertainment system. I would highly recommend this because the tiny Apple remote is very easy to lose, especially in a house with teenagers. The remote costs about 69.00 at Best Buy.

(editors note: There are some provisos to this approach. Mirroring for the AppleTV requires an iPad2 or a iPhone4S. Hulu’s free version is only available on a computer…which you cannot currently mirror to the AppleTV.

So, to mirror Hulu, you will have to have HuluPlus and stream it from a supported mobile device. So, while Hulu gives you some options…Apple does not.

If Hulu is your main interest than one of the Roku players may be more appealing. It may also be a better choice if you have not reached a state of Apple-fication.

If something is loaded in your iTunes library as either audio or video you can stream that directly from your computer to AppleTV, but you cannot view something that is on a website on your computer.

Scuttlebutt is that MacOSX Lion may add screen sharing to the Apple TV at some point, which will make the AppleTV much more useful.)

1 comment

  1. John Grabowski

    I’d be interested how the expenses compare once you have some experience with which TV shows that aren’t available for free. We’re thinking of doing this, but want to have a better idea of how much we’d probably save each month.

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