Friday, April 10, 2009

Using Your Computer as Your Television


A year or so ago, we stopped using our television. We didn't get very good reception in our apartment, so we primarily watched DVDs anyway. Since then we've discovered quite a number of benefits to this.
  • The computer is in our main room, where it should be.
  • One LCD display is cheaper than two. Most TVs can be used as computer monitors anyway, with the proper adapters.
  • It's a good excuse for me to have a large computer monitor.
  • We can hide everything in a corner cabinet (that closes). This makes our living room look much less like a shrine in which to worship the television.
  • Less power consumption.
We actually have a device to receive standard TV signals on the computer, but rarely use it (once again, bad reception in our apartment). There are plenty of other sources for excellent television content. Here are a few:
  • Hulu.com: Free television shows and movies, including many current shows.
  • Netflix.com: A huge catalog of DVDs that can be sent through the mail. You pay for the number of DVDs you'd like at once, and set up a queue of titles that you're interested in. The variety and sheer number of videos available has made this far more useful to us than any other source for television shows or movies. They also offer free, unlimited streaming of many shows over the Internet. This means that I can watch Columbo whenever I want.
  • YouTube.com: Less valuable than the above two sources, because there is a very high proportion of entirely useless content. The best way to use YouTube is to just look at channels of organizations and people that you are interested in. The LDS public affairs channel, for instance: LDS Public Affairs on YouTube. My basic rule is to only use YouTube if I know what I'm looking for in advance (this is a good general rule for the Internet, actually).
  • Various television channel websites are also available. Television channels from around the world broadcast their content, often live, over the Internet.
Now, instead of paying for both Internet access and cable television, we just pay for Internet access. (This also gives me an excuse to pay a little extra for the faster Internet plan)

We also get to pick which content is available in our home, instead of sitting down in the evening and surfing channels trying to find something that isn't completely useless.

Give it a try! Netflix has a free trial, and everything else I listed is free.

1 comment:

Jeremy Pack said...

If you use Mac or Linux, there's some great software to make this more seamless at http://boxee.tv.

It's still incomplete, but it shows a lot of promise and can actually show Netflix or Hulu videos with better quality on older machines than if you go directly to the websites themselves!