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Cord Cutting

January 7th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

This isn’t about visiting a delivery room.  It is about Smart TV and what you can watch without cable or satellite feeds.  The vehicle in the early days was Google TV and frankly it sucked.  I still have a Logitech GTV which is the first generation product for interfacing to a modern TV.  The problem is/was multifold.  Many past sins are now solvable with the product coming online.

The early GTV attempts were premature and that’s being generous.  Processor power has been an ongoing problem that was hidden by the rapid advance in desktop processors.  The low power processors used in phones and tablets have lagged the software aspirations.  Couple to that the outright terror it engendered in media companies and capability was stunted.

Cord cutting is more possible today than in the recent past.  With CES happening this week, more options are going to be hyped.  In this very transient, moving target; it is hard to impossible to make the best, informed choice.  Fortunately, a number of options are available at fairly modest cost.  Processors are much more capable and the software approaches a degree of maturity that makes it more useful.

The problem with the machine’s capabilities has always been beaten up by the media conglomerates.  Some are happy to let you watch their shows IF you can enter info to prove you are a cable or satellite customer.  Others allow PC’s to watch but recognize GTV as an enemy and deny access.  Fortunately, some give access to their current programming.

In the first group is ABC.  OK, I want to watch the latest NCIS because I wasn’t home when it aired.  I can watch it on my Android tablet or my standard PC.  It see my Google TV unit as an enemy and denies access.  Over on history channel I can watch with the GTV and get my Pawn Stars fix.  Now we throw in the transition that is occurring to replace flash.  Adobe doesn’t update for all processors; so, some sites who are willing to allow viewing are disabled by version incompatibility.

This all sounds pretty daunting but isn’t the horror story one might think.  What many are doing is downing torrents of the shows that they can’t access for a variety of reasons.  That’s quite doable but shouldn’t be approached in too cavalier a fashion.  If you don’t understand this, drop me an email and I’ll explain.

OK, you seen the worst.  What is the best option at the moment and what would it cost?   I feel the best current option is one of the new Android units with HDMI output.  You attach one of these to your fancy TV and, via the router, you are online.  Many also have HDMI input.  So, while you are watching tonight’s national championship game, you can do picture in picture using the Android and look up player stats or such online.

(If you have broken from the cable/satellite feeds and gone back to antenna, you need to convert the old input to the new input.  Typically, an old recorder might be around that can do that.  Otherwise we have another cost )

If you don’t have HDMI input, all is not lost.  You just don’t have the TV and Internet integrated but much switch sources.

If I haven’t scared you away, what a typical setup?

Cost for the Android can run between 40 and 80+ with the sweet spot about $55 for one with best in class processor.  A keyboard at $20 and up.  Interface to HDMI in is too complicated and hopefully something you already have.

It still won’t be as transparent to use as a cable box.  But, the gotchas aren’t game breakers any more.  The investment is modest.  You can try it inline with an existing Set Top Box and try the experience for not a lot of money.  You’ll be able to watch your stored movies,  download free web content including movies, access a site like Amazon Prime or Netflix with streaming content.  That’s not a bad deal for less than $100 invested.  There are smart TV’s out there with similar ability but more expensive and fixed to the one TV.

Whether you cut the cord or stay with your TV provider can be a down-the-road decision.  I’ve done it and still see more TV than I should.  Admittedly that due to the SDNY sending poker to purgatory.  Well, I hope that gives you some idea of what’s out there.  I am tired of blogging and off to watch the latest episode of American Pickers.

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  1. January 7th, 2013 at 21:15 | #1

    I know I need to cut the cord, but haven’t been able to do it yet!

  2. January 8th, 2013 at 08:54 | #2

    So many have considered cable/sat as just another necessary utility bill.  For many it is the most expensive one. 

    Putting $100/mo into a retirement account would seem to provide a lot better future entertainment potential.

  3. January 8th, 2013 at 10:10 | #3

    My cord was cut over a decade ago.  I pretty much stopped watching TV during my college years and never bothered to start again.
    I’ll watch some shows with friends here and there and I’ll buy seasons of shows I love on Blu or DVD.  Occasionally a Roomie has gotten cable but I pretty much ignored it.
    Currently I do have DirectTv and the NFL Package, but this was largely in part so that my parents could watch what they want when they want.  The room I spend most of my “home” time in does not have box access and I never watch.
    I might look into one of those Android boxes though.  

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