Yep … Internet TV on your TV! Yeah … you heard me right.
I dropped Comcast’s $75 a month cable TV bill long ago.
Its really pretty simple … I put links below that list a bunch of sources for full episode mainstream TV and full length feature films that you can view legally for free on your PC. I discuss my preferences for those later in the post … but first lets talk about how to watch the shows on your TV.
When I say free I make the assumption that you have some specific items already available. Some people’s PC video card has a 2nd VGA jack where you can plug in a 2nd monitor … most laptops do. Also a lot of people now have an HDTV and almost all of those include a VGA connector. I got my 27″ Soyo HDTV at geeks.com for $339 delivered (sweet) … it has lots of ports including 3 HDMI, s-video, composite and for our purpose today a VGA port.
So … I buy a $12 15ft. VGA to VGA cable and plug it into my PC video card 2nd VGA port and my TV (its running under the rug). I buy a 12ft PC audio cable at Radio Shack and plug it into the headphone jack on the front of my PC and the audio in jack for the TV VGA . That cable is also running under the rug (my TV and PC both accepted the regular PC audio jack plug).
Your video card will have a display manager setting (usually in the tray at the bottom right of your screen) where you select the settings for your second monitor (the TV). Your settings will vary but my options were clone desktop or extend desktop. I choose clone mode (duplicates what you see on your desktop) because I’m running mine on a laptop (its plugged for electricity and sits over in the corner) . Since my main PC has a 27 inch monitor and is running at 1920 x 1200 resolution and the most the TV can do 1360×768 … the laptop in clone mode is more convenient that running the main PC monitor in an extended mode and dragging the browser over to the TV side and reducing the browser size to fit the lower resolution.
Now we don’t want the laptop on the coffee table so we have a wireless bluetooth mouse (about $20 with the USB bluetooth dongle) on the coffee table. You can have a wireless keyboard too but I find the mouse is enough for me and its less intrusive on the coffee table.
I suggest you put a folder on your Firefox toolbar or Internet Explorer links bar with bookmarks for each of the sites below.
It makes it a lot easier to change the channel so to speak.
You’ll find some channels work better with Internet Explorer than Firefox 3 … I’m sure that will smooth out over time.
Below are some links to content … there is much more out there on the net but I consider these to be the mainstream. All of them include stuff besides full episodes … like clips and blurbs or text about the show etc … but once you go through their site you can usually find where they keep the full episode and bookmark that page.
Ok … I like the ones listed as an aggregaters … they host shows from multiple networks which makes navigating between shows faster and easier … and I’m all about easier … trust me! Of the aggregators Hulu.com is my favorite.
Its handy having the individual channels bookmarked too as some shows may not be on Hulu.com.
I find TBS and TNT’s DRM very intrusive … where you have to download a license before viewing each show … I haven’t noticed it anywhere else.
VEOH and Joost (pronounced Juiced) are pretty cool interfaces but I don’t particularly care for having to install software … I have enough stuff running as it is and I don’t need to spend my time managing another applications behavior. I don’t mind The discovery Channels as much.
TidalTV even looks like cable with a program guide where you click on the show to watch it. They also have some channels I have not seen elsewhere.
Now Orb.com isn’t really a content provider … they let you stream content from a remote PC … including recorded video and live cable TV if you have a PC with a TV Tuner card and a cable outlet nearby. Now if you don’t have cable at home and maybe you gave Grandma a PC for her spare bedroom since Grandma has cable and DSL for email and sending pictures to the Grandkids … well … you might want to set Orb.com up for her so when she comes to visit she can watch cable TV (wink wink). By the way Orb can stream to your mobile phone too … at least it does on my EVDO from Sprint.
So now you’re watching TV and Movies on your TV from the internet. On my TV it looks fine … if you have a really BIG TV it may not look as good … I don’t know but I would assume. (If you have a really big TV you can probably afford cable)
I have other TV and videos to watch … but not for free. The Roku Netflix Player ($99) streams Netflix TV shows and movies for an $8.95 a month subscription (you still get to order movies by mail too). I have a Windows Home Server with tons of video, music and pictures … I use that content via the Netgear Digital Entertainer HD (eva8000 … it was about $300) … it also lets me watch YouTube videos, views news rss feeds and if you get cable you can watch live TV streamed.
I hope this information was helpful to you. I know I’ll sleep better tonight knowing my $75 a month Comcast TV cancellation will cost them $9000 over the next 10 years.