Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cutting the Cord part 1

I have recently decided to cut the Cord. I have had cable forever but when I really thing about it, I dont want all the channels. I really started to notice that I would only watch DVR's shows or Live Sports. Who the hell likes commercials. My year of awesome pricing was going away with Uverse so I shopped around. My local cable provider is offering 100 mgbs for 49.99 a month. SOLD. But they added basic cable for free. This wasn't nearly as exciting to me in the beginning but that would all change soon.

My house is a fully operation Plex facility. Meaning if your going to watch Tv in the house, you have the option to watch Plex. If you have never heard of Plex I have been meaning to write an article about it, but I dont think I would ever do it justice. Basically my desktop computer and the Plex Server are the backbones of my home network. Without either, tv viewing (life) in my house would be useless. Plex is the most beautiful home media server ever made. XBMC (another type & original home media server) is great for tinkerers but Plex is out of the box terrific. It allows you to play/stream all your home media content to all you network devices. Even away from home you can stream your Plex media. This includes, Channels (apps) Movies, Tv, Music, & Photos. Calling it an alternative to ITunes would be a downgrade but a good example of what to base it off of.

I tried using over the air options (rabbit ears). NBC & Fox comes in Excellent. However other channels like CBS and ABC wouldn't.  I watch shows on each network so this was not really an option.  After subscribing with my new Internet Provider I did my research. Can I get a cable card with my basic Tv package. During my online registration I noticed the provider offered a Modem & Cable Box. This was an additional monthly fee. If I didn't have my own hardware this was going to be an additional $20 monthly. By the way. ALWAYS ALWAYS by your own modem. Look at your cable bill, If they gave you a modem, your paying a monthly hardware fee. The whole point of cutting the cord is to save on monthly expenses. I was about to go from $150 monthly for cable and internet to just $50 for triple my internet speed and free basic TV. This left me curious. If they offer a cable box, the must offer me a Cable Card.

I contacted my new provider and asked about the cable card. This must have been an abnormal question as I was put on hold. Sure enough, I was entitled to a
M Cable Card with my service. Think of a cable card as your DVR cable box without the box. This is awesome for this reason. Its free and everyone with a cable subscription is entitled to have this. Back in the day you were able to connect your Coaxial cable to the back of your Tv and run the tuner program and you would start getting Tv. This is no longer an option as cable companies have started encrypting (scrambling) the feed.  But the FCC ruled that if you were going to encrypt the feed, you had to give the consumer this option. The downside is you have have to purchase something to get this working.

So I have this cable card but how do I get it to work. There are a few options out there but I decided on an HD Homerun Prime. I could have went with the Ceton InfiTv 6. But I didnt have the need to record/view 6 shows at once. The HD Homerun Prime is a 3 tuner streaming media player. Meaning when you combine the M Cable Card and HD Homerun Prime together, you get three HD Cable boxes anywhere in your home. (and away from your home) I can play all like Tv on a Phones & Tables, Mac & PC's.

As stated earlier, live Tv is basically useless to me unless were talking about sports. If you have a windows 7 or 8.1 computer than you have a DVR application in place and you might not have known it. Windows Media Center is built in on Windows 7 Pro & above. It's one of the best things windows has done. Basically after setup, this will allow you to use Widows Media Center as your DVR and will allow you to stream live tv, view a channel guide and record shows. I save all recordings in a specified folder. I then point that folder to Plex and use Plex to playback all my recordings.

Now, this is basically an article that is going to spawn many more. This wasn't as easy as all of this sounds. I wish I could tell you it was all plug n play. It was not. This is an ongoing process for me and something that took me almost a week and a half to get where I was able to sit down and relax and actually watch Tv. (it has to be perfect) With everything I will be going over in my following articles,  I hope it makes it easier for you. All I will say is, "It was the Cable Cards fault"




 
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