Can I Cancel Cable TV?

October 19, 2009

I don’t know about you, but I would love to cancel my Cable TV and just use a computer and the internet to get programming. Preferably free. It seems like we are getting closer to that, but how close are we?

We’ve done articles in this newsletter about Home Theater PC’s. In case you missed those articles, a Home Theater PC is a computer that is connected to a projector or TV and to the internet. It is used to obtain or record and also play back media like video and music. Video includes TV shows and movies.

Here’s what’s a Home Theater PC can do today.

A home theater PC (HTPC) can play music CD’s and movie DVD’s. Most PC’s can do this.

Your HTPC can act as a media server. Store all of your media there and share it. Then any computer in the house can access it. Other TV’s in the house can access it if you purchase and connect a media sharing device that lets you access media on your HTPC.

You can go to websites like YouTube and Hulu to watch videos and TV shows on your HTPC. You can also watch TV shows on the network websites. But not all shows are available and there is often a delay of days to weeks before you can see them.

You can install a TV tuner that will not only allow you to watch TV shows, but will also act as a DVR so you can record and playback. If you hook an antenna up to it, you can only get over the air stations. You can hook cable TV up to it, but you can really only get basic cable this way.

As far as movies go,  services like Netflix are starting to offer the ability to stream movies to your computer. So if you are a Netflix subscriber, you can watch some movies that way.

There are ways to download music, TV shows, and movies and watch those on your HTPC free of charge, but by doing this you are violating the copyright on that media. You can be sued for this.

In a nutshell, we aren’t there yet. We are just part of the way there. Without cable or satellite TV, you can’t watch any stations other than local broadcast channels. You might be able to see the shows after the fact, but then again, you might now as all shows are not available.

If you only watch network TV, then an HTPC would be great on its own. But for the rest of us, that’s not enough. Not yet, anyway.

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