Getting Rid Of Satellite TV?

It’s been a dream of mine for some time now to get rid of my monthly $100/month satellite TV bill and get my family’s TV fix from the internet and free over-the-air signals.  Sure, it has been possible for some years now, but not that convenient – when two kids under 5 want Dora they want it now!

Recently I took another look at internet TV and naturally was leaning towards the cheaper option – a software product called Boxee that can be installed on any computer for free.  Boxee on a computer is great, but you still need to have your computer on, accessible and hooked up to your TV to use it – not that inconvenient, but not ideal.  Boxee also offers a device that you can just plugin to your TV and it uses your local wireless network to connect to the internet – it comes with a remote and costs about $190 on sale.  Not bad I thought – can I splurge – is it really any good – will my wife shoot me for being an “early adopter” yet once again?  Then I found Apple TV.

Apple TV is a little box small enough to fit in the palm of your hand that costs $120.  All you do is plug it into a power outlet, use an HDMI cable to plug it into your TV.   Using the sleek little remote it comes with you just choose the wireless network you want to connect to, and then you can start watching!  Watching what you say?  Well, you can get most free internet stuff like YouTube videos directly from the internet, but the best part is you can access any photos, videos or music that you have on any computers connected to your home network – although they do have to be running Apple’s iTunes software.  Also you can connect to the iTunes store and pay to download music and movies – but only if you want.  The best part is – like most Apple products – it is not only easy, but an absolute pleasure to use – and integrates seamlessly with Apple products like the iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad.  I also recommend the Netflix internet move and TV show service that costs $7.99 per month – tons of great kids and adult shows alike.

So, here is the breakdown of our set-up to get rid of our satellite TV bill:

  • Apple TV – about $150 including tax
  • Netflix – $7.99 per month
  • Movies from iTunes – $5.99 each for HD version (or $4.99 for regular version)
  • TV shows from iTunes – $2.99 per episode, or $39.99 per season
  • Set up antenna to get over-the-air TV stations
  • Bonus: photo slideshows, music, direct connection to iPhone / iPod

So, I figure our TV costs will go from almost $100 per month to under $50 per month depending on how many TV shows and movies we rent and that may be none.  Set up is less than $200.  The only potential issue for some people is no sports specialty channels – free broadcasts from the likes of CBC will have to fill any live sports needs.

PS – Update to my  recommendation from last month – a $400 laptop with at least a 15.6″ screen, 4GB of RAM,  a 500GB hard drive, and an HDMI output.  An HDMI output will allow you so to easily send high definition video with sound to most TV’s.

PPS – Why didn’t I recommend or even discuss any Apple computers like the iMac or MacBook’s?  Simply put they are the best but they are super expensive for what you get – try $1800 for a laptop that is basically the same.  With the release of Windows 7, the benefit to buying Mac doesn’t outweigh the cost IMHO.   Also maintenance is much more because if you upgrade your operating system on a Mac, you also have to pay to get new versions of all your software!  Note that this does not apply to iPod’s, iPhone’s and iPad’s – here the extra cost is worth the benefit – but that’s another column.

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Comments

  1. Derek says

    Or find a playstation on sale for about $250. It connects to your home network, plays all your media, can play netflix and is a much better game console then that apple thingy. Not sure about iTunes but wasn’t the point to save money? Also look at free to air satellite (un-encrypted).

    • says

      If I was into video games then good suggestion. But for $120 (not on sale) and simple usability Apple TV did it for me. I must admit that perhaps the $190 Boxee might be a better device – but the “airplay” option with Apple devices (like iPhone, iPod, iPad) likely wouldn’t work.

      I will definitely looking into free-to-air satellite, and just simple free HD broadcasts (e.g. CBC).

  2. says

    Had the apple tv for about 2 months…love it with netflix, but find watching shows and movies from itunes very frustrating as the download is slow and freezes frequently.

    Have \ultra\ highspeed (!), but wondering if the problem lies instead with the little box..does it have enough memory to adequately buffer?

    Am I making sense, Brad? Suggestions

    Cheers,

    Kirsten

    • says

      You’re making perfect sense – we are having the same problem at our house! Here is a thread at the Apple discussion forum that discusses the issue:

      iTunes Apple TV freezing problem thread

      So… unfortunately the only remedy I can see is on the second page of the discussion

      Problem lies with IOS 6.0. You need to revert back to IOS 5.1.1 then streaming is Ok.

      http://www.redmondpie.com/ios-5.0.2-build-9b830-software-update-for-apple-tv-now -available-for-download/

      Use Micros USB cable for this purpose. Buy one if you don’t have one.

      Start up Itunes then Shift and Restore simultaneously, search for the download file 5.1.1. restore it. Reboot and you will be OK.“.

      To do this is a little tricky. I’m going to try it and I’ll let you know how I make out.

      • says

        Ok – so I didn’t actually go with the remedy described above, but Apple has come out with some iOS updates since then. The problem seems to have gone away for us (as of watching The Mentalist last night anyhow), or is much less severe.

        The other solution is to download the show to your computer/iPhone/iPad ahead of time and then play it from there – but this requires some “plan ahead” time.

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