So which Media Center device is the best for getting rid of cable?
You can just get rid of cable, but if you do what’s going to happen? Where are you going to get your favorite shows? You mean I can’t watch Burn Notice any more? No more Sons of Anarchy? That just won’t do.
No, getting rid of cable means, just that. Getting rid of cable means replacing it with a better more cost effective alternative. It means taking a good look at what you want to watch and what you enjoy and seeing if there are any alternatives and how much they cost.
As I began to analyze the possibility I settled on a short list of things that I would need from whatever alternative solution I chose.
2. News: local and national
3. Sports – a world without football is not a world I want to live in
4. Music channels and the variety to make it worth while
5. First Run TV shows
6. Classic TV Shows
7. History/Nature Shows
8. High Definition Content
I want to be clear; these are the items important to me. Your list may vary some so if you are not sure about something you are looking for, be sure to ask me. If it can be done, I will find the media center that can do it
Let’s take a look at a few of the major players in the home entertainment device market. Reviews are available for each so be sure to be on the lookout for those.
|Task||Roku XDS||Apple TV||HTPC||Boxee||WD Live|
|New Release VOD*||X||X||X||X||X|
|Other Streaming Movies – Free||X||X||X||X|
|First Run TV VOD*||X||X||X|
|First Run TV Free||X||X**|
|First Run TV with Hulu Plus||X||X||X|
|Classic TV VOD*||X||X||X||X||X|
|Classic TV Free||X||X||X|
|Play Ripped DVDs||X||X||X||X||X|
|Play Blu-Ray or DVD Disc||X|
(*) VOD = Video on Demand. This is a pay movie service, such as Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and VUDU, which provides instant access to new releases.
(**) Has first run TV for free but only what is available on the internet. HTPC has first run TV free from internet but also with an antenna, what is available over the air.
HTPC is a home theater PC. This is based on the Low Carbon PC, which I resell, and runs Windows 7 Media Center with a series of additional plugins. The cost is higher but the feature set is greater.
To receive the full benefits of the other devices, at times, a PC will be necessary.