Monday, June 13, 2011

TV or not TV

I watch more and of my TV and video online, either at the computer or on TV or with Roku (or AppleTV). Most is not live but recorded. The day may come when I do not need cable or satellite, nor its cost, though there is now a charge for some online offerings. The $60 Roku box Click here for Roku delivers much recorded TV and even some overseas live TV, plus recorded broadcasts and my CDs. I recommend it for anybody.

The offerings online are increasing daily, with much PBS Click here for PBS, and with university lectures available via Apple iTunes via computer (free).

For example, a consultant to this retirement community (Willow Valley) has turned my attention to the stimulating offerings of TED online Click here for TED .

Recently Willow Valley Click here for WV, my retirement community, has offered us a choice: Comcast TV or low-cost in-house SeniorTV, a satellite-based provider like DirectTV or DishTV, but using the pre-existing cables.

Which to choose?

In the past, those with a choice have often asked for help in their decision. The answer will depend on their needs and wants and pocketbook.

To cut to the chase, the choice has often been made simply on channels offered or cost. There were those who wanted the Phillies if offered only on Comcast and those who alternatively wanted a lower price. The sports channels may now become more generally available now.

SeniorTV offers 40 HD channels in its basic price and HD to all TVs without added cost to the basic service, a bargain at $25 a month.

There is then the issue of whether you want to record or watch recorded TV.

Comcast offers a very good set top box for recording at a monthly cost. Other services may rely on such a box or you may buy one yourself, such as from TIVO Click here for TIVO at an initial one-time cost of $100-300 plus $20 a month.

Or you may may simply watch on your newer computer, or stream pre-recorded TV from your internet service, directly or through the Roku or AppleTV box ($60-80 and $100) Click here for AppleTV. You might not want or need TV service at all, yet have plenty of programming to watch online.

How confusing!

Basically I plan to have almost all the options and at low cost. Here is how.

I don’t need the sports channels and I will take the low-cost community coverage and use a $100 TIVO Premiere set top box.

I will be using an old computer to play recorded PBS, not HD but thru our large-screen HDTV---the local PBS offerings are otherwise very limited with a single channel as compared with eight in Philadelphia! Separately a $320 newer Dell 560s computer Click here for Dell will have the capability of recording about ten hours of HDTV, using a $130 HDHomerun HDTV tuner box Click here for HDHomerun (search my older posts).

I will save $180 annually by giving up the Comcast recorder and another $336 annually by not continuing Comcast service.

Also, consider the internet service itself and its bandwidth or speed. Comcast offers high-speed internet and others DSL or mobile hotspot service (Clear Communications). Clear covers the whole campus plus much of Lancaster, for example, with no wires or cables.

I would recommend Clear, Click here for Clear which I do have, and which delivers access to me in most places BUT I am not sure if it can handle the use by many in a small area for popular TV, or will be forced to "Cap" service I have it anyway.

So I have Clear but also Windstream DSL Click here for Windstream

Write down your needs and consider your pocketbook. All options are worth considering. All have some downsides.

Let me know if you find some better alternatives, especially for recording TV.