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I love this thread. Thanks for the info.

I've just moved to the GTA from Alberta, and am trying to get an OTA system going. I really don't understand most of the media devices and computer programs you guys are discussing, but I would like to.

We are also trying to live without cable for the first time. We just got teksavvy DSL Wi Fi hooked up, and have been streaming some shows from the network websites. We find the quality to be watchable but jittery --is this due to not enough RAM in our computer (4GB), or is it from the webpage?

My intention is to now learn about watching internet content on my TV, and perhaps learn how to use a WD live/Boxee etc.

I would love to learn how to get a US IP to be able to view ESPN3, Epix, etc. Thanks for sharing your experience, it gives us tech-illiterates hope to be free of the CRTC-cableco's chains.
 

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I didn't read the whole post, but we went cable/sat free 3 years ago. Have OTA which gives all the US nets + my locals.

Used a PS3 for viewing downloads of other stuff, but now have an Apple TV with IceFilms so we get everything we want. We've saved over $3000 already!!!!
 

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Used a PS3 for viewing downloads of other stuff, but now have an Apple TV with IceFilms so we get everything we want. We've saved over $3000 already!!!!
But IceFilms isn't exactly legal.

That's kind of like saying, ever since I stopped paying for groceries and shoplifted all of my food we are saving thousands of dollars.
 

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Hi gang,

First off, thanks very much for all the info as I look at cutting Rogers cable.

So couple quick questions.

Being as I watch a decent amount of sports from abroad (Formula One, IndyCar, Premier League football, Cricket) was wondering if and how could record them (like i do with my PVR via Rogers), so don't have to get up at 6 am.

In addition is a netbook/laptop with HDMI the only real solution? Was wondering if anyone using say a Boxee Box or WD TV Live Plus like device to stream any shows from the net. Can you use a vpn service with those to get content blocked outside of US, UK, etc.

Lastly, if using a netbook/laptop how can you set up a remote, as it will be located next to the TV. Rather not return to the old days of getting up walking to TV everytime want to watch something else :)

Cheers,

Al.
 

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Cdnff,

If you want to "record" streaming video to your hard drive, the best tool that I've seen for that (by far) is Replay Media Catcher.

Of course, you could also be asking "where can I get streaming video online for my sports", and the answer to that question is "I don't know".

My preference is to use a actual HTPC plugged into my TV rather than a dedicated media streaming device because it opens up a much larger range of streaming services that you would be able to access. Oh, and I thought I'd take a moment and plug Streaming Guide. You can get all that stuff in a browser. You can get a lot less of it from a Boxee Box.

To control your PC from 10 feet away I'd recommend a keyboard (like this) and a device called The Loop for excellent mouse control. You may run into people who prefer to use menu-driven software instead of a browser, but I think these would also be people who haven't tried The Loop with a Chrome properly configured.

Once you have all the good pages bookmarked you won't need to use the keyboard as often, but sometimes you want to type searches, and on-screen keyboards just aren't as nice as real keyboards when serious typing needs to happen.
 

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In addition is a netbook/laptop with HDMI the only real solution? Was wondering if anyone using say a Boxee Box or WD TV Live Plus like device to stream any shows from the net. Can you use a vpn service with those to get content blocked outside of US, UK, etc.
I started with Boxee on a Toshiba Satellite laptop. It was OK to get an idea of the potential, but there was a lot of lag time, etc. with it because the laptop only had a single core processor, so it couldn't really handle the video. A dual core processor is really needed for the load.

Then I updated to an Apple TV (1st gen). Bought it on craigslist for $20 - they're pretty cheap now since the 2nd gen ATV is only $99. I jailbroke it to run Boxee/XBMC and WOW - what a difference. Great streaming, virtually no lags or hangups.

If you then load the Navi-X app in Boxee, you literally have access to THOUSANDS of movie & tv show streams. I'm still wading thru everything.

For live sports, all I've used so far is the JustinTV app. I can get NFL Network on there, so I'm happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #89
Gents,

Quick update. Things are still going well. We spend a lot of entertainment time in the Netflix USA and Hulu Plus realms while I get my soccer fix with a few sites.

Thought I'd also mention I updated my "tv guide" webpage front end. Bigger text, bigger buttons, easier to click on from the couch. Beats the boring text I had before.

http://bucketo.ca/tv/

For anyone that's interested I grabbed the web template from here:

http://eight.kx.cz/

and did a few tweaks to it.

As for devices to control the macMini we moved to a black compact keyboard and a compact mouse. Easy to tuck away under the coffee table as needed. The keyboard has come into play more as we use other web sites that need logins to get at streaming.
 

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Dennis_D, can you run any Bit Torrent software on a jailbroken ATV? They are such small boxes, I'm tempted by your success with it.
 

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bucketo,

Now that you have had some time to really utilize your setup, I am wondering if you wouldn't mind providing an update. Is there anything you would do differently? Is there anything you are utilizing more than others?

Did you ever end up posting a video of your setup? That would be really helpful for those of us deciding on how to approach cutting the cable and going with an HTPC etc.

Many thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #92
Hey Snowbird and company.

We are bout 10 months in to cutting the cable and we have no plans at all to go back. The big test was with the kick off of fall shows and all went well.

Here's what we have today:

Mac Mini
Eye TV 3 OTA software
HDHomerun OTA dual tuner
CM4221HD up on the roof here in Kanata
Mini keyboard and mini mouse
PS3 (optional in our case)

Here's how the programming breaks down:
* Hulu Plus for ABC, FOX, NBC, CW etc. CBS is not on there. You don't need "Plus" but it does allow you access to the full season for a bunch of shows - instead of just the last 3 and it also allows access from devices such as the ipad and ps3.
* EyeTV (OTA). Used to record anything off CBS as they don't make it easy to consume their shows online. We have access to Global, CTV, CTV2, cityTV so we record anything that originates from CBS and other stuff not on Hulu.
* Netflix. Fills in the entertainment gaps. We'll pick up documentaries on here, lots of tv shows and movies. We have Netflix USA...
* Browser pointed to http://bucketo.ca/tv . I keep a little static webpage as a jump gate to everything else we can consume online

Notes from our experience:
* It can be done and it is fun once you cut the cable cord!!! My wife rocks the Eye TV software like it's nobody's business as she gets around the Hulu Desktop app and Netflix website just fine.
* You may be tempted to look at 3rd party hardware that are not true PCs. So googleTV units, Boxee Box, Apple TV etc. these do cool things but they aren't flexible enough to cover all your streaming angles. My experience is you need a PC, whether that is a macmini or some form of windows-based machine that can handle full screen flash/silverlight streaming with a way to connect it to your TV. You might also be thinking Linux but my experience with my linux machine shows silverlight doesn't play well on there (flash is fine though) and netflix isn't currently supporting linux. So flexibility = a PC of some form tucked away near tv.
* We tried various forms of controls for it and ended up going back to a traditional keyboard and mouse. Both are compact versions. A tip here is to get a KB with a mini directional pad/button on it. Apps like Hulu Desktop etc love to use directional buttons. We went with the Microsoft Arc (model 1392). It has the perfect little directional button on it.
* If your going to depend heavily on Hulu Plus keep in mind they don't have the rights to stream everything to devices. Everything will stream to a PC no problem but certain shows don't allow streaming to xbox, ps3, ipad etc even if you are paying for Hulu Plus...
* If CBS shows are important to you you're going to need OTA to see them from Canadian channels or look at other methods. Since they are the biggest boys in town they don't need the internet at the moment to flip a profit - they've even come out and said that. For us OTA fixed that problem right up.
* We spend 90% of our time on hulu, OTA and Netflix in that order. While I do have the webpage front end it only accounts for 10% - which is my streaming sports etc and some direct link to stations.

We really do love it. We watch a lot of cool stuff. My wife gets to see 99% of the stuff she watched on cable and we fill in any entertainment gaps with netflix (usa). We are finding ourselves watching early seasons of a show on Netflix and then catching up to the current season on Hulu Plus. In my case Parks N Rec, in my wife's case Nikita. A neat example: since cutting cable I stumbled on a streaming show called Live From Daryl's House. It's Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates fame) chilling at his place with musicians playing music and cooking up some food. I most likely would have never stumbled on this but now that we entertain online I found this gem and watch it all the time. It's on Page #2 of my tv portal web page. Very cool stuff. And I can see more and more people moving their talents to the web.

My old camcorder died. Do you think I could get by recording the setup on my iphone? If so I can do it up provided it's not too shaky-cam.
 

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I too have been free of cable (satellite) since the end of August.

My set up consists of OTA and Netflix USA. I live close to the US border so I have full access to ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, ION, CW as well as CBC and CTV. All in all 30 channels. I too use a Channelmaster 4221 HD on a 3 foot pole wedged into an old satellite J-pipe in a fixed position on my chimney.

I use Windows Home Server 2011 and SageTV with a hauppauge 2250 and 1250 giving a total of 3 OTA tuners. We view recorded shows on a PS3 at each of our 2 TV's fed by PS3 Mediaserver. Netflix USA fills in the gaps quite nicely and we still have more than we have time to watch.

I also watch Revision3 shows via the built in PS3 browser.

I am not a huge sports nut but all I need is fed from OTA sources including the Rugby championships, football, golf and hockey.

DentedMarble.
 

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Hey Snowbird and company.

We are bout 10 months in to cutting the cable and we have no plans at all to go back. The big test was with the kick off of fall shows and all went well.
bucketo,

Thanks for the response. I'm glad to see you are still finding the experience to be very positive.

I have been looking into several options over the last few months. So far I have the following already installed:

  • OTA antenna with access to Canadian broadcasts, ABC, FOX, PBS and CBS (most of the time) among others
  • PS3 with access to a PC from which I stream videos from my library as well as access Netflix Canada (this gets a lot of use)
I haven't taken the plunge to cut the cable quite yet but do intend to do so in the very near future once I get some of the details ironed out (i.e. which isp to go with, best way to record OTA, how to get NHL games...go leafs go... etc)

My wife likes her Y&R (CBS) so Hulu isn't going to help me here...I'll have to improve the OTA reception. The kids have been splitting their time between cable tv and netflix. I suspect they would eventually forget about the cable only content and completely move over to Netflix (or do their homework for a change :rolleyes:).

I suppose I could try hulu plus through the PS3 via vpn. I am assuming that is what you have done. That way I can test Netflix, Hulu Plus and OTA prior to deciding to cut the cable.

As an aside, I did a trial vpn for Netflix US and thought the US version actually had less content than the Canadian. Seemed strange to me but I did a comparison and that is exactly what I found. Weird considering everyone here is saying the US version has more content. As an example, my daughter likes iCarly. The Cdn version has several seasons but the US only had the first two (if I remember correctly). There were other examples of this with other shows.

The above still doesn't address recording our shows which would now only be available via OTA. I'm on a tight budget so a used Mac Mini may be an option or I can build a HTPC. I have two other PC's already but one is outdated and the other is strictly for my photo editing.

In terms of providing a video, I would really like to see how slick the system is with the Mac (i.e. PIA factor and WF). Right from turning it on to clicking through content to recording a show and then watching it. Not sure an iphone is going to capture it well but if you don't mind giving it a shot, I'm sure I am not the only one who would really appreciate it.

Once again, thanks for the update. I have learned quite a bit from this forum and have returned to this thread specifically many times over the last number of months.

- Snowbird
 

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You'll find that Windows Media Center has excellent out-of-the-box connection to CBS internet TV. That, plus Hulu desktop nicely integrated into media center via this plugin (http://hululauncher.codeplex.com/) and one might say that the Internet TV experience is darn-near complete for those who happen to be on a US internet connection.
 

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Everyone start sending tweets to Microsoft Canada and let them know you want this north of the border for Windows 8 MC. Too late for 7MC now I'm assuming.
 

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This isn't a Microsoft Canada issue unless you want them to provide similar access with CTV, Global, etc. CBS sells Canadian rights, including online rights, for many of their shows to Canadian networks. Therefore CBS blocks access to their web site and other forms of Online content from non-US IP addresses.
 

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I have my MC box setup to be US based and I am using Unblockus to spoof a US IP. The US online content in MC is very good, including Netflix and I use the Hulu Desktop to get access to Hulu. This is definitely an alternative to cable TV when combined with OTA. The only problem is the lack of access to a lot of live sports.
 
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