The new quest has begun

When it comes to embracing new technology and utilizing it new ways, I’m all about it. I’m not always cutting edge — in fact, I’m nowhere near cutting edge — but I tend to be above the curve in most regards to the average person on the street.

So, my latest quest has begun: To ditch my cable TV.

Now, see, normally this wouldn’t be hard to do. I went for YEARS without cable, and could easily go without it again … except … well … 3 words: High-def television.

Dear GOD I love my HDTV. I mean, it’s bad … and its even to the point where if it’s not at least in 720p, I don’t see a point in watching it. I openly balk if you have a 19″ pre-HDTV (even though I have one in my bedroom) … I mean, seriously, what kind of primate ARE you that you don’t have HDTV?

HDTV is glorious. Blu-rays just pull you in. And if you watch a lot of shows that have great special effects, they’re just on a whole new level.

You see why I’m having a hard time with this — I’m now a TV elitist, and a complete jerk about it, too.

But I’m also a cheap bastard, and with my finances still struggling from that “no raise for a year, but oh, your health insurance just shot up again” in 2009, I figured it would behoove me to make more cuts to ye olde budget. Eating out was a big one. Cable is probably the second largest cutable item that I have.

So, today, I started experimenting with “free TV.” Technically, I’ve already been surviving on it for the past few months: I tend to download shows to my harddrive and route them through my PS3 to my TV.  There’s a lot of perks to doing that … no commercials, watch at your whim — kinda like TiVo without the monthly fees.

But I was curious as to what else was out there. The problem with d/ling everything is that I’ll eventually run out of space, and have to buy a new hard drive. It’s not a horrible thing, but if I can avoid it, so much the better.

A google search took me to Orb. I started giving it a try, and found that without a TV tuner card, it was pretty much useless to me. I got frustrated very quickly, and probably didn’t spend enough time on it, because, quite frankly, having access to a billion Internet channels that aren’t in a language that I can understand makes it pretty useless.

Then I moved on to PlayOn. This program was much smoother. Both Orb and PlayOn were easy to set up, but PlayOn seemed to be more functional. Plus, there were scripts and plugins so that I can access all kinds of crap on the web. Neat! The picture quality varies, depending upon what source is streaming the video, but the videos on Hulu, for example, seemed pretty good. Not crystal clear, mind you, but hey, what do you want for $free?

The “problem”: It’s $40. I’m running a free trial of it now, and have it for 2 weeks. And yeah, the cost goes away the first month I’m without cable. It’s not a big hit by any means, but hey, it’s still a cost.

But the main problem is this: No live TV. This means no hockey, no football, no live sports at all. I’d have to get an HD receiver and hook it up to my primitive antennae (oh the shame!) that’s still up on the side of the house (ghastly!). Again, it would pay for itself in a few months of not having cable, but I have no idea of the picture quality. Or, if I were a baseball fan, I could pay like $50 and stream any MLB games through my PS3, which would be pretty awesome — except that I’m not a baseball fan. If the NFL and NHL did this, that’d be totally worth considering.

Today, I’m out of time to continue the experiment. But I’m going to goof around and dig a little deeper into this free online TV stuff, and see if it’s worth doing. I’ll keep you posted.


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