Spring is almost here and with that comes a lot more outdoor activities (FINALLY). The poor weather in February lead to a lot of indoor time. I used that time consume various types of media. It’s kind of weird but ever since I “cut the cord” I find myself watching more TV & Movies than I think I did before. I’m really into binge watching newly discovered TV Series.
My favorites for the month were:
Suburbicon – A dark crime/mystery/Drama/Thriller starring Matt Damon and directed by George Clooney
I just realized the cord cutting “experiment” I started 2 years ago is still going strong so I think we’re beyond experimenting & it’s become a lifestyle. I’ve not run into any real issues but managing an antenna for each TV was a bit of a pain. Not having DVR capabilities made catching some shows (like F1 races at 2am) a little more difficult.
I’ve been waiting for a new type of antenna to come out for over a year. The Mohu Airwave is a device that allows you to get access to Over the Air (OTA) content from various devices on your Network. No more running COAX cable or antennas to every TV. Now your web-enabled devices (Smart TV, AppleTV, Roku, iPad, iPhone, etc.) can stream LIVE OTA content!
After mentioning the Airwave and the past due release to the Executive Chef at Kibbyhanas I learned of an even better product that’s available NOW! The HDHomeRun line of products connect to your home network just like the AirWave and are 100% compatible with the PLEX DVR service. This meant that not only could I get rid of all the ugly antennas in the house I could also DVR any OTA program free of charge using my existing setup and storage.
To setup the HDHomeRun you need to connect it to a WIRED Ethernet connection and connect an HD antenna. I put everything upstairs in the corner of a room so it was out of sight had had better line of sight to the TV Transmitters. Now that I have everything setup I may be moving things to the attic on the other side of the wall.
A bonus I quickly discovered was my Smart-TV treated the HDHomeRun signal on the network just like a COAX input so all the automation I had set up would continue to work like before. Win-Win all around!
The only negative I can say about all of this is your network needs to be able to handle the amount of wired and/or wireless traffic generated by multiple HD streams. I have a slight bottleneck in my setup that should be resolved soon with a new (faster) network switch.
If you’re looking to make OTA content available on more devices on your network and like the idea of getting rid of antennas on all your TV’s you should check out the HDHomeRun line of products to see if they might be right for you.
I officially “Cut the Cord” on Cable TV last November and haven’t looked back. With subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go, I get to watch pretty much anything I want when I want (and save a lot of money in the process). I’m finding a lot of shows that have been around for several seasons and it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve watched and when new episodes are made available.
This is where TVShow Time (TVST) comes in. This is a free service on the web that also has apps for Apple and Android. TVST helps you mark what you’ve watched and has a worldwide fanbase who have running commentaries about the shows you’re watching. It’s a big community of people who are doing exactly what you’re doing!
Community members make and upload GIF’s of important scenes in each episode to post in the comments and they’re usually very entertaining. Be warned though there are spoilers in the comments so it’s best not to view until after you’ve watched a particular episode.
One of my favorite features is a calendar of upcoming shows that goes out about a year in advance. Wondering when the new season of Walking Dead is going to return? As of today it’s 48 days away!
To get started you just search for your favorite show and click the “+” sign to add it to your list. After that you can view show details, season info, episodes, and community comments.
In the settings you can setup push alerts to let you know when new shows are available. If you’re a Hulu user you can even delay the notifications by 24 hours so they’ll actually be available for you when you get notified.
The basic app is free & they just added in-app purchases that will allow calendar access and some additional customizations (I haven’t tried these yet). TVST has been a really great resource to help me keep track of my TV viewing and it’s worth checking out!
It’s been a busy month and Christmas is less than a week away (so is a much-needed week off work for yours truly). As I get older the years just keep speeding up & I don’t know of any way to slow them down! It’s just the opposite feeling from when I was a kid where the years dripped slower than that bear bottle full of honey.
The Great Cord Cutting Project of 2015 is going better than I could have ever expected & there’s no going back. I’m spending some of that old evening TV time trying to keep up on the articles I’m always collecting via Pocket. Some items recently clipped include:
The Kindle is getting a workout too with several books being read in parallel. Just depends on what I’m in the mood for. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and Andy Weir’s The Martian are both fighting for my attention.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to really dig into what’s available on the streaming services I subscribe to, particularly Netflix and Amazon:
The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) is an alternate history story that has the Germans and Japanese wining WWII and taking control of the USA. It’s a pretty dramatic series that’s full of twists and turns.
Narcos (Netflix) depicts the story of Pablo Escobar and the DEA agents assigned with bringing him to justice. I’m not going to lie, you have to pay attention to this show. Mainly because it’s 90% Spanish with subtitles. And a Gringo like me needs them. No Sprecken la Espanola
I’ve been helping keep USPS, FedEx and UPS in business with lots of holiday purchases for friends and family. Along with those items I picked up a new Keyboard/Case for myself and my iPad Air 2. The Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro is a great replacement to the Logitech keyboard cover I was using with the last iPad. It’s a little pricy $150 but It’s currently on sale now for $130. I’m working on a review but let’s just say that after a few days using it I’m a fan.
After a glowing review from a co-worker I also ordered the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Electric Sandwich Maker. Seriously, I did! I’ve see this gadget before but didn’t think it would be any good, especially costing under $30. Well I’m told this thing really works so I had to see for myself. When I happen to eat breakfast the egg and cheese (with various meats) is my regular go to. Delivery is scheduled for Monday so we’ll see how it goes Tuesday morning when I fire that baby up and make my first sausage, egg and cheese muffin.
No matter your religious preference (or not) I hope everyone is gearing up for a fun holiday season with friends and family. If you get any good tech gadgets or kitchen toys let me know! I’m always looking for ways to give Amazon more money.
Apple has finally released the first new AppleTV model in several years. What was once considered a “hobby” by Steve Jobs has finally matured into an impressive multimedia device!
The 4th version of the AppleTV has a familiar shape and footprint but it’s at least twice the height (and heavier too). The remote has undergone a major upgraded to include a touch screen and Siri integration as well as an internal, rechargeable, battery that is reported to last up to three months of regular use (charged by the now Apple-standard lightning cable).
I ordered the 64GB unit for $199 on the first day it was available for pre-order (Apple also offers a 32GB device for $50 less). Being impatient I opted for the next day shipping option in the hopes of receiving a new toy in time for the weekend.
Well it didn’t happen. My package was stuck on a loading dock in Tennessee and didn’t leave until sometime on Sunday. Apple refunded my overnight shipping cost which was appreciated (I had to call them to get this done though). I love the ability to get detailed tracking of packages but this had the reverse impact as the shipment didn’t get updated for days.
While reviewing the Apple forums full of other people waiting for their shipments I learned about a carrier in Europe that not only tells you the status of your package but you can see the progression on a real-time map. If that wasn’t cool enough you also know the name of the delivery driver along with a 30-minute delivery window (also updated in real time). Talk about stalking the delivery Guy!
Being an early adopter can be fun but it has its frustrations as well. Physical setup of the new Apple TV was relatively smooth once I figured out a work around for the missing “optical audio-out” (S/PDIF) I was using with the last model. The App Store, which is one of the big selling factors of this new model, was not very exciting the first couple of days. Not a lot of “must have” apps and nothing was categorized so finding apps to download and try out was not as easy as it should have been.
Now that things have been up and running for a few weeks the store is getting better and more useful apps are starting to become available. The Siri remote is the real star here. With it you can basically ask for a particular movie, actor, or genre and a list of options magically show up on the screen complete with a list of where you can view the content and pricing (if any). Right now this search is limited to Netflix, Hulu and the Apple Store but it’s supposed to be opening up to other services soon. This is a similar feature that Roku has had for a while but dictating with your voice is the new (and better) input method.
I’ve written two posts about my Cord Cutting project and how it’s been going. The new AppleTV has made the transition from Cable to Over The Air (OTA) content and streaming media a lot easier and the App Store keeps getting better every day. I think as this platform matures there could be some interesting capabilities surface that will make the 4th generation AppleTV an integral part of the entertainment stack.
It’s time to start thinking about the next electronic purchase and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a TV upgrade. My 38″ Plasma has served me well for many years but 55-60″ of UHD (or 4k) video sounds very appealing. And the prices keep coming down to the sub-thousand level which makes it a more attractive buy.
I’m wanting to get a bigger screen and possibly install it over the fireplace. I’ve heard good and bad things about this mounting location but after seeing an articulating wall mount that allows you to pull the TV down in front of the (unlit) fireplace for a better viewing angle I think that’s the way I’m going to go.
I’d love to hear from any of you who have feedback on the over-the-fireplace mounting option. Is it that bad? I’m going to be 15+ feet away from the screen so that makes the viewing angle relatively flat (that was the main complaint from people who chose the higher mounting position).
Thoughts? Please leave them in the comments section below.