Today marks 4 weeks since Jeanette and I ditched cable TV and completely moved over to Internet TV. So far we’re still very happy with the decision and are saving about $90 per month. We have a computer that is always connected to the TV running a program called Boxee that enables this.
Most TV shows are also available online somewhere, but are scattered around between Hulu.com, TV.com, ABC.com, NBC.com, etc so finding them is a pain and watching them on a computer is no fun. Boxee takes care of these problems. It has a database of TV shows so you just pick which ones you like to watch and it finds them regardless of where they are online and plays them on your TV in full-screen mode. It alerts you when new episodes are available and the whole process becomes fairly mindless, you just pick what you want to watch.
There is an iPhone app available that we use for our remote control, however this November, they are releasing the Boxee Box for $199. We plan on switching over to this instead of using a computer and using the remote that comes with it. There are no subscription fees, so the savings on the cable bill will very quickly cover the up front cost.
We also signed up for Netflix at the same time we shut off cable. For $11 a month we get 2 blu-rays per week plus access to stream all their online content. Netflix integrates nicely into boxee so we can seamlessly switch over to it. Netflix doesn’t have a ton of good movies online to stream, but one thing they do have a great collection of is tv shows. We’ve been watching The Office from season 1 commercial free for the past few weeks. They also have many HBO and Showtime shows, and we’ve been watching Dexter lately. There are a few other pros and cons.
It’s free – The Boxee application is free and there are no subscription costs
Netflix integration – We tend to use netflix a lot more than we would otherwise since it runs within boxee and very convenient to get to.
Everything is available on demand – Pretty much the same as with a DVR other than you don’t have to decide in advance to record anything.
Greater storage – There are usually several months worth of past episodes available for every show, no need to record anything or worry about your queue getting full.
Limited commercials – A 30 minute show tends to have about 2 minutes worth of commercials instead of 8.
Switching between content is seamless – There’s no longer a barrier between playing a tv show, vs playing a podcast, youtube video, Ted talks, mp3 on my hard drive, a vimeo feed, etc. This has opened up the doors to a lot of new content we wouldn’t have watched before. For example we have Pandora running most of the day now because it’s much more convienient.
Social aspects – If you add friends to boxee you can recommend shows and have it show up for them and vice-versa.
1 day behind – Shows are usually not put online until the day after they air, so you’re always 1 day behind.
No live content – We don’t like sports, but this would not work for someone who did. Of course you could always hook up an HD antenna.
Not everything is available – Almost everything is, but Discovery channel in particular I miss. Many of the Disney and Nickelodeon shows also aren’t available online, but Netflix does have older episodes available for streaming.
Overall we’re very happy with it so far. If I was a sports fan or Lost was still on the air and I had to worry about others talking about it the next day, I don’t know if this would have been do-able, but neither of these are a problem for us anymore. After getting use to it, I do think it’s a better way to watch TV, and saving $90 a month is a nice bonus.