Cutting the cords – ALL of them

There are so many posts out now about the potential trend of “cutting the cord.” In other words, dropping cable and satellite service and relying on free to air television and internet streaming.

English: An F connector attached to a black co...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Well, I’ve gone even further that that – I’ve even cut the cord to the rooftop aerial and am getting all my media via the internet – radio and TV.

I’ve already covered the radio bit. That was about convienence and functionality. The TV part is a bit different. It was driven by interior design, actually.

For the past ten years, our TV has been one Mac or another connected to an EyeTV device. It was convenient and sort of easy to set up (if you’re a technologist). Having discovered the wonders of having a DVR (PVR if you’re in the UK) was an eye opener. We have not watched live TV since then.

The one drawback is that I ended up spending several hundred pounds to maintain the ability to watch “free” TV.  We ended up with hours and hours of unwatched programmes that we couldn’t bear to delete because “we might watch that some day.” In the meantime, all the channels we recorded continued to transmit hours and hours of new, often interesting programmes. So I would have to shell out for larger and larger hard drives to contain all this stuff.

Anyway, back to the pivotal moment. About a year ago, we rearranged the front room and the cabinet containing the iMac that we use for audio and video was moved to the opposite corner of the room. This was great visually and made it easier to run the wires for the surround setup, but it was nowhere near the wall plate for the TV aerial. Neither of us were interested in having a thick coaxial cable snaking halfway across the room, so we left it unconnected.

After a few weeks, we discovered that through a combination of BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and a few a la carte iTunes purchases, we were missing nothing that we were getting via traditional over the air distribution. And, in several cases, we were able to watch programmes in HD, which was not possible with the EyeTV system. Most of the UK networks also offer live streams, so on big occasions or for breaking news, we could watch live TV as well. And now that iPlayer has launched the ability to rewind and pause live streams, we’ve got all the functionality of a DVR. When Lovefilm and Netflix started offering streaming, we were able to get along without a DVD player as well. (N0 worries about region coding as well.)

We were still getting the convenience of being able to watch what we wanted when we wanted, and had the benefit that I no longer had to play the role of Media Manager, organising, saving and deleting massive amounts of recorded programmes.

The semi-homemade PVR system we had required a bit more technical know how and constant management. The great news is that these things are now available to anyone able to browse the web. Not quite as easy a pressing the “on” button on a remote, but getting close.