Three Months and Still Very Happy!

Posted on Friday 13 December 2013

So it’s been just over 3 months, as we head into the latter part of December, that we pulled the plug on our Cable ( to be truthful on our Satellite – we dropped Cable 5 yrs earlier due to costs! ) We haven’t missed it once and saving $$$ every month isn’t bad either!

We still watch live news, including CNN (amazing but true) and get to see the shows that we like ( NCIS, Castle, etc) but without commercials – which is AWESOME! And no I’m not squinting at a small screened computer, phone or table. It’s all up on my living room TV. It’s a win win! Let me tell you how I did it.

There are several key parts that made all this happen.

  • First off, NONE of this would have been feasible without our Apple TV. It lets my Apple computers connect seamlessly, so now I have a Mac Media server and I use my MacBook  and iPad for the adhoc stuff. That little black box is the key to everything else… and it lets me put everything on the big screen in HD!
  • The next key was an external ( on the roof ) HD antenna. This was done, originally, so that we could get PBS and CBC ( for live news. )  I’m up in the Ottawa/Canada region that is way too far to pick up any US Network stations ( save for PBS ) but I pick up all the Canadian ones AND 3 PBS stations and they are all in Super HD ( better than Cable or Satellite ) because nothing get’s compressed along the way from them to me! It doesn’t get used that much any more due to my discovery of the following goodies.
  • Unblock-Us is a small outfit in Toronto that lets us point our Internet address through their services and make us appear as Americans or British etc ( does not yet work for Australia ) all for a very small nominal fee. So we can now go to most of the TV show websites there and see all or most, or the most recent of their episodes… albeit some with commercials. It works really REALLY well! Then I just “AirPlay” them from my MacBook to my Apple TV!
  • Then of course – there’s Netflix. It’s pretty amazing on it’s own but when you add Unblock-Us to it, it becomes phenomenal! Here you can discover all sorts of shows and movies that you may or may not have heard about – yes it’s not very up-to-date and usually at least a year old – but the wealth and depth of shows and movies available make it a no-brainer for just about anyone… oh and AppleTV has a link readily available ( in pretty well all markets ) for you to click on and enjoy – for a pittance a month!
  • So how can I get CNN ( or a bunch of other news channels available ) – here is the magic website –! There you can find all sorts of news feeds available, including CNN and all Live! You will be greater by a commercial when you start your broadcast – but that is a small price to pay for such a great service. With my set up I just make the video full screen and once again “AirPlay” it to my AppleTV and watch CNN live on my big screen TV!
  • While the Apple TV is central to all this – it isn’t just a conduit for other devices. With it you can rent movies ( notice how most video stores are disappearing? ) So now just like Cable or Satellite – you can rent movies AND tv shows through your provider – Apple!
  • We also love British costume drama’s and mysteries and so have subscribed to AcornTV to give us our fill of that ( I airplay my episodes from my iPad to my AppleTV ) for only $30 a YEAR it’s a no brainer!
  • Using your AppleTV you can also subscribe to ( buy ) seasons ( like NCIS, Castle, etc ) and watch the new episodes as they become available ( usually 24hrs after they air. ) They play without commercials AND you can pause, rewind, save, watch later, and even watch again and again just like it was on your VCR/PVR/TVR/etc…. The price is very affordable and still a lot cheaper than paying for cable with commercials and one time viewing unless you record it!
  • Here’s a couple of extra tricks you can do with your AppleTV:
    • Once you subscribe to Unblock-Us above change the location for your AppleTV in the Settings menu to the good old US of A. You will be amazed at all the other channels you have available to you like PBS, the Weather Channel, and recently ABC Networks. We really enjoy the PBS channel – and has dramatically affected our use of Live TV because of it!
      • One bit of warning if you change the location – you will no longer be able to use Apple’s Movies, Music or TV Shows. They think they are now in the US and to use them you will need to have both a US address AND a US Credit card…
    • I have all my Apple devices on my network sharing with each other and as such I have set up a small Mac Mini in the basement to hold all our digital music, photo’s, videos and movies. If you subscribe to new TV shows or buy new movies it’s easier if you go through iTunes on your server as they will automatically download and be ready for playing when you are ready to watch or listen. Then you just go through the Computer button on AppleTV, select what you want and again watch or listen and enjoy it on the big screen… This time of year for example I have a huge Christmas playlist that I play along with a slideshow of all our previous Christmases – it really helps to put one in the spirit of things!
  • Ok – the last piece of this puzzle is all about the bandwidth. Right now a lot of Internet providers are finally offering unlimited usage ( no limit as to how many gigabytes/GB you use a month ) for a small extra fee. Once you have that you can sit in front of the TV all day if you wish!

So that is it. My set up ( generally speaking – I may have missed a few pieces here and there. ) Yes I am paying for my TV shows but on average it’s only $35 a show – but that is for the ENTIRE SEASON and I get to watch it when I want, WITHOUT commercials and can watch it again and again and again AND I never have to worry about disks being damaged or lost! I was paying over $100 a month to get hundreds of channels of garbage so that I could watch the few shows that I enjoyed! Now that money pays for me to buy those shows AND I’m still further ahead financially…

So how much do you spend on TV a month…. is it worth it? This might be a better way for you, it’s certainly affordable – think about it!

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