I have been a big proponent for digitally delivered programming. What you want, when you want it, wherever you want it, how could it be any better? How about free? Well not likely, but things are getting closer to paying for what you watch rather than for nearly 200+ channels that you have no interest in watching.
It is not quite there yet for the masses, but I am close to jumping the ship from broadcast television. I have been searching for a way to have what I want, when I want it, wherever I want it. Currently it will come from a variety of sources but that is OK with me. I have learned that one device cannot be reliably to sufficiently deliver quality content at the moment I want to watch it. It is better to have dedicated devices perform their tasks. Let the Xbox be my gaming system, let the TiVo record my shows, let AppleTV deliver my Movies, and finally let Control4 deliver my user experience interface (i.e. my universal remote).
I have considered my budget, I spend about $140 a month for my DirecTV service plus about $15 a month in movies. Don’t get me wrong, DirecTV has delivered good HD content for years without any issues, it has been reliable. But then again, I am spending $140/month. I have been looking into how do I get Hulu and other TV shows form the internet to my TV. There are ways to do this, but the quality suffers in terms of resolution and consistency. Unfortunately I feel that for the mean time a webpage video stream is meant for the computer (or ipad!) not my 42” Plasma. However in the future, I believe this will no longer be the case.
The solution? Currently, I believe that if you live in a metropolitan area you should switch back to the antenna. Remember the old antenna? Free TV delivered to your home over the airwaves? This allows you to receive the local HD broadcast of your major networks and some local TV stations as well. So get your HD antenna, and buy a DVR. I would suggest either the Moxie, or the TiVo. Both are capable of recording HD OTA (Over The Air) broadcasts. If you like more flexibility, than pickup a Media Center Computer and record your broadcast on your PC (this gives you better flexibility to move your content from your TV to your Zune or iPod to watch away from home. Oh did I mention HD with an HD antenna is free?
Next is how do you get your TV shows and movies if you don’t have Comcast or DirecTV to deliver them? Well take a look at the Vudu, or my new favorite gadget the AppleTV. While the AppleTV can only play 720p content, most HD Television shows are delivered 720p so it works out ok. The Vudu can deliver and play 1080p content but I never desire to wait for the download to watch them and end up watching in 720p. Currently, Vudu delivers more HD movies but AppleTV delivers more TV shows in HD.
Last thing to consider is your viewing distance. If you have a 1080p TV and you are watching a 1080p movie it does not necessarily mean you are seeing a 1080p picture. If you have a 42” 1080p TV and you are sitting further than approximately 7-8 feet from the TV and you have 20/20 vision, any benefits of 1080p will not be visible over a 720p picture.
My plan for 2k10? Switch from DirecTV to a Media Center Computer to record HDTV over the air. Then use a combination of AppleTV for the other TV shows I like to watch which are not available over the air, and Vudu/Apple TV to rent movies on demand. I would expect to slash my monthly bill to $45 a month to rent an average of 3 movies a month, and watch 6 TV shows that are not available over the air.
Brett | Technology Advisor