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The constantly evolving entertainment situation

December 5, 2013

When we bought the new house, I managed to convince my wife that we could live without cable and a DVR (and save some money). We hooked HD antennas to the TV’s for local programming and sports. We subscribed to Netflix for movies and TV shows and use the streaming options from the network websites for most other programs.

Netflix has been fantastic. There is a ton of content there and the kids haven’t missed a beat. Actually, they’re enjoying a lot of the 80’s cartoons I used to watch as a kid. The tabletop HD antennas have been ok. Bad weather or people standing in the wrong spot can kill the signal. I should really put a big antenna  in the attic and will probably look at that in the summer. We briefly tried Hulu Plus because they offer current season programming (unlike Netflix). Unfortunately, they show a lot of commercials on top of their subscription fee. If we had started with Hulu it might have been ok, but Netflix’s commercial-free experience spoiled us. That’s when we turned to apps like WatchABC and the CBS app to watch current shows. That’s worked well as shows are available the day after the initial airing and stay for a few weeks. However, we had to sit around my 15-inch laptop or one of our iPads to watch anything. So, I ordered an Apple TV (3rd generation) and it arrived yesterday. (It was half off… so why not.)

The Apple TV mostly solves the problem. Some apps, like Youtube, will stream content from the iOS device to the Apple TV in full 1080 resolution. Other apps, like WatchABC, don’t enable streaming at all. To watch an ABC show on the Apple TV, I have to enable my iPad’s Airplay Mirroring capability. Since the iPad has a 4×3 aspect ration and the TV is 16:9, I lose a big part of my screen to black bars to the left and right. It works but is less than optimal. I really wish more broadcasters would implement the Airplay streaming mode.

Let me say that the whole setup only really works because we have a Logictech Harmony One remote. It’s programmed to set up the TV and receiver for any option with just one touch. Absent that, I think my wife wouldn’t care that we were saving $150 a month.



From → Electronics, Life

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