One year without TV – Part One (Short Version)

Posted by on 17 Jan, 2010 in My Stream | 0 comments




It’s almost a year since we received any kind of TV broadcast into our home. That’s not to say we don’t watch TV shows, it’s just that we’ve been using different technologies to do it. Here’s a quick summary of the why, how and what. You can read a more detailed version of this post over here.

Why did we do it? Time and Cost.
We’re all busier today. You can’t watch shows when they’re on, not if you want to catch every episode.
At first we bought a PVR, which lets you watch TV in a much more on demand way. Once you’ve owned a PVR, you’ll never look back. But the PVRs we had, Sky+ and V+ both meant expensive monthly packages and too many shows. Soon we were spending too much time deciding which shows to delete or burning recordings off to DVD so as not to lose them. It was becoming a chore.


New ways of getting our TV shows
Also we started watching more American shows like Lost and Heroes. There’s a wait to get these in the UK, if you can get them at all. We started downloading shows from isohunt, getting them quickly with no ads. It also changed the way we watched TV – a computer was needed. We began to look at media players – cutdown PCs specialized in media file playback.


We started off with a modded XBox, with XBMCa fantastic interface which can play most media files. We accumulated more files, and needed somewhere to store them. We built a Linux server, but it was hard to configure. Then we discovered FreeNAS, which is pre-configured for exactly this purpose. It worked beautifully.


New start, new approach
By now it was 2009, and we were emigrating to Canada. Mrs Alex digitized all our DVDs and CDs, so we took our entire collection on just 8 hard drives. We bought a cheap PC here and installed FreeNAS again. We used my Mac for playback.


We also designed our lounge to be less TV-centric than we’d had in the UK. We arranged the room so that my monitor could be used for Mac and as a TV. It’s much nicer – when the room’s not arranged around a TV, you don’t default to watching it.


Home cinema
Six months on, I was getting sick of using my computer for playback. Mrs Alex bought me the excellent Popcorn Hour. It can play most video formats and can output HD quality. Plus, it’s low power and quiet. It doesn’t have the best interface but you can live with that. We moved to a bigger apartment set up a home cinema by connecting it to a projector a friend lent us. It’s amazing to have your TV fill one wall.

In the next part of this post I’ll look at the pros and cons of no TV and explore the future. Hope you found this useful – thanks for reading!



























Submit a Comment