Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
by Sam Redman
There’s lots of talk lately about ways to use various internet mechanisms to show programs and videos found only online, but displayed by clever means on your television set. The general argument is that by following a few steps it might be possible to just “cut the cord” to cable or satellite television subscriptions and be able to watch equivalent programming, either free or very cheaply (at a fraction of what the cable costs). But, the reality is that commericial television (which includes both the network shows, plus the huge range of cable programs) is simply far superior to what’s only available on the internet and it really comes down to people kidding (or lying to) themselves that they are going to “mash up” for a small amount of expense, an entertainment product which is going to equal or surpass what’s available when you include both the conventional channels (network and cable), as well as the generous array of what’s also on the web.
There are so many ways to waste your days away… but if the discussion is about how to get the best video (screen) entertainment and is not merely about how to do it without extravagance (meaning that money isn’t the object), then the best approach is to include them all.
I have Directtv (small satellite disk on my roof)… simply because it is the only service which provides the full NFL package (all NFL games live from all locations) on my set, plus also on my smartphone (the Droid) and on any remote internet connected computer (like my broadband carded laptop) when I am away from home. With a great (huge screen) HD media room that NFL package makes for some jovial gatherings many times during the football season. Other than football and other sports, of which some events are PPV (pay for view), which I only have used infrequently, Directtv provides a 130 or so choice selection of the various channels and an always changing list of movies (about 30), some “free” in the subscription and others PPV (pay for view). Of course, all that’s not cheap… it is about $150.00 per month.
I also have AT&T commercial grade DSL (which provides five IP addresses with highest speed they offer). Then, with one of those dedicated ip addresses configured for my wifi, I can avail myself of the best of the internet on my laptop and my smartphone (Droid), as well as on all my television sets.
The wifi connection provides me with Netflix (available on all the sets in your home, with separate special boxes), which is quite remarkable. I first go online on my laptop to search their huge database of films and put them on my list…. then they show as choices on my televisions. It is true on-demand tv. But, most significant is that when I signed up for Netflix, they required me to install and use a Roku box (which delivers all of its content from my internet wifi connection). And what a surprise it was to discover Roku, because it is actually full of content (although Netflix would have been enough to satisfy me). Roku has about 50 channels. Some require a subscription, like Netflix, and others like, Amazon videos, are rented on a showing-by-showing basis (like PPV). Many of these channels (if not all) are internet available, but seeing them on the big screen is a so much better experience. Many of the Roku channels are totally free (advertiser supported, but the ads are far less frequent than on conventional commercial tv). One such Roku channel is Revision 3, which produces (or distributes) all original programming. One of the Revision 3 shows is called Scam School (which is just a lot of fun, describing simple tricks you can do at a bar or a party). Most of these low budget produced shows are reminiscent of the old public access channels on cable, but their amateurish nature makes them often more watchable than something more slickly produced. Check out Roku on line… it is quite a discovery.
Plus, with my Netflix membership, I also get DVDs delivered to my door for conventional playback watching. And finally, I have a most amazing video karaoke machine with a collection rivaling any karaoke bar (and has its own camera to create live performances for those who find that enjoyable). That’s a big hit now and then, bringing out the performer in lots of people who had only ever done their singing in the shower.
So… my approach is to have a broad range of media opportunities which can entertain a variety of guests in my home. I know it sounds crazy (and pseudo intellectually boastful), but I really don’t watch much more than four or five hours a week myself… because I am mostly a reader (still love books). However, it is just so nice that such a wide video selection is there whenever I feel the fancy or have friends over who just can’t function without something moving on a screen.