In this segment I will start talking about equipment or hardware. The concept to keep in mind is to use the Internet to supplement broadcast content or over the air channels. Even though I didn’t start out here, I would recommend researching local channels.
Local Channel Reception
Since all broadcast channels have now gone to digital and some even broadcasting in High Definition, the days of static and ghosting are over. I can remember the days before cable and satellite and this was all there was. Finding out your ability to receive local broadcasts is where most of us start and then supplement with Internet content.
First off I would recommend visiting: http://www.antennaweb.org. This is a great site, that will help you decide on an outdoor antenna. The site will allow you to put in your street address and it will map your location and then give you the type of antenna’s that will pull in your local stations. All antenna’s are color coded according to their capabilities.
I had already tried an outdoor antenna, so I knew that I would be able to receive the majority of local channels. I decided to go ahead and pick up a new antenna anyway.
As I live in a sub-division with a fairly strict Home Owners Association, I purchased a omnidirectional antenna and mounted it just over the roof line. I purchased the antenna from Amazon as I have a Amazon Prime membership, so shipping was free.
You can see the antenna here… Amazon Link
After doing the install and running some cable into my distribution box. I was close to ecstatic on the amount of channels I was receiving as well as the signal quality. I should mention that as my house has one of those distribution panels for the cable, Internet, and phone this made this quite a bit easier. I also picked up an in-line signal amplifier as I was piping the signal throughout the home.
Internet Content Devices
So, what are your options? Today, there is a multitude of hardware solutions to play Internet content on your HDTV. They range in price from $59 to the hundreds. Plus you can of course buy a new HDTV’s that come with Amazon and NetFlix pre-configured as well as some of the newer DVD/Blue Ray players. When it comes to set-top boxes Here are some of the most popular:
Your choice will of course depend on your current viewing habits and the kind of content your are interested in.
The Scrooge Solution
Many of us have a old computer (door stop) sitting around the house that we dont know what to do with. Depending on the type of setup you are looking to do this could be a workable solution or a laptop also works well.
This is simply hooking up a computer to your TV! Not as easy as it sounds but not that difficult either. Many of the newer HDTV’s have a VGA and audio port so you can plug in your laptop and your set to go. For those of you who decide on this solution, I would recommend you taking look at some interface options. Windows 7 now comes with Microsoft Media Center and this is a very nice solution. There are also open source solutions such as Boxee and XBMC.
I know, your saying; what about a remote? You can pick up a remote that will work with MMC or for those of you who have a Android Smart Phone, there are free apps that will allow you to use your phone as a remote.
For those of you who do not have a HDTV, there are adapters that will allow you to convert your VGA and audio out of your computer to an RCA connection which most TV’s will accommodate.
My Choice – Roku DVP
Long before I decided to do this, I had purchased a Roku DVP (Digital Video Player). I originally picked Roku because of the price and it did what I was looking for, which was the ability to play NetFlix and Amazon Video On Demand on my HDTV. At the time I purchased my Roku HD1000, it was around $89.00. It is important to mention that I lucked out in picking the Roku, as its one of the most cost effective devices that supports an open SDK and has a very robust developer community.
Most or some Roku users are unaware of the developer community and the existence of ’Private Channels’. Private is somewhat of a misnomer, in that they are not so much private, as they are not available on Roku’s channel page. A good list of Roku Private Channels can be found at: http://www.roku-channels.com/home.
Some of my favorite private channels are:
Its worth a mention that if you are into programming, then you can download the SDK from Roku.com and join the community and start developing your own channel.
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