Eric H. Johnson on 15 Nov 2014 09:04:26 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Cut The Cord - How to Start?


I can tell you what I have done. I trimmed the cord rather than cut it.
Unfortunately I only have Comcast as an option, so I downgraded to the Blast
plus package which gives Internet and a very basic set of channels for a
base price of $69.99 per month including some period of free HBO. I think
you can get a year at $59.99 if you are not already a Comcast customer. Two

1> At the same time, I also got rid of all of my HD boxes since it they
weren't worth paying for due to the limited number of channels available,
and most of the stuff over the Internet is available in HD without going
through an STB.
2> I purchased the cable modem outright rather than pay Comcast's $8.99 per
month rental. I think I paid $79.99 for the version without phone. The
version with phone is $129.99 or so.

I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime. I am still grandfathered in to both
at $7.99 per month and $79.00 per year respectively.  Amazon prime for me is
basically free when the savings I get in shipping costs are factored in. I
also have MythTV, although I have not recorded from over the air since
Comcast terminated the firewire output from the one type of HDDVR box I was

I have two smart TVs and a Roku on the third. I also have two Chromecasts
which I am using increasingly more. One application I find particularly
useful is Hola  ( It is a proxy, where you can choose the
location of the proxy. So, for example, if you want to watch Downton Abbey
when it is broadcast in the fall in the UK, rather than in the US starting
in January, just pick a proxy in the UK and go to the ITV Streamer on the
ITV website (requires registration). It can then either be watched live as
broadcast in the UK or for the period it is available for "catch-up" (about
a month).

Further, Hola has an Android/iPhone app that in addition to browser
compatibility, can be used for certain other applications including Netflix.
The programming on Netflix changes based on the location of origin, not
registration. Programming out of the UK is significantly different than that
available in the US for example. I have one of my tablets permanently setup
to use Hola with Netflix. When I want to play something from it, I then
Chromecast it to one of my TVs.

Also note that you can do a drag and drop of many media files to the address
bar of the Chrome browser to Chromecast those to a Chromecast enabled TV.
There are also apps which can broadcast the desktop via Chromecast, but they
do not work very well for streaming video.

Lastly, there is Popcorn Time (, although it's use
is even more suspect than Hola as far as copyright. It layers on Bittorrent
and basically gives it a Netflix type interface. The key advancement is that
it seems to be able to stream torrents basically in order, without the need
to download the entire file first. It also has a built in proxy to hide the
use of bittorrent from the ISP.

The main thing I miss at this point is sports, because any package that
includes the sports networks comes at a significant price increase that I am
not willing to pay.


So I've pretty much decided I want to cut the cable TV cord.

I therefore want to combine broadcast TV with streaming services.   I'll
build a custom media PC for all this.

Can anybody point me to a good reference for getting started?    I've done 
some searching, but I feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose.

Ideally, I'd like to do a virtualbox test setup.   

I'm wondering about if I need special hardware.  Should I use the TV's
tuner, or use a special tuner card?

Any suggestions or horror-stories would be greatly appreciated.


Casey Bralla

Chief Nerd in Residence
The NerdWorld Organisation
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