California, (August, 2011) —The new fall TV season is almost here! If you’re like us you’ll be setting up your DVR to record every new show. During these tough times many of us use TV as an escape, but one thing brings us back to reality faster than commercials, the cable bill. Sure we could turn to the internet to see the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but who can appreciate McDreamy on such a small screen? Let’s face it HDTV and surround sound make for a better viewing experience. Luckily, NERDS found some great options to bring the multitude of internet-delivered content to your home theater so you can finally wean off satellite and cable to save some serious cash.
Streaming: TV delivered over the internet is growing increasingly popular. Distribution is cheaper and it’s easier for advertisers to track viewership and promote interactive ad campaigns. While there are many websites offering online content, some of the biggest are Hulu, Apple and Netflix. Hulu offers a free application that allows you to watch up to five recent episodes of current season TV shows, while Hulu Plus costs $8 per month, but adds the ability to view more shows and entire seasons. Apple’s iTunes allows you to stream TV or movies, but you’ll pay per episode. Netflix offers streaming of select movies and prior-season TV shows for a monthly fee.
Plug and Play: How do you get streaming content onto your TV? There are several plug-and-play options in the form of set top boxes that connect to your internet and your TV so you can stream content on your big screen. The easiest and least expensive is the Roku box. Starting at $59 with no monthly fee, Roku supports streaming Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and Pandora Radio and connects easily to your home theater. The main drawback is that you are limited to the content that Roku supports. If they stop supporting Hulu tomorrow, say goodbye to future episodes of America’s Got Talent.
Cut the cord with Wireless: If you have an extensive library of content stored on various computers in your home, you’ll want to consider an option that will allow you to wirelessly stream to your set-top box. Apple TV will allow you to stream movies and TV shows from the iTunes store, Netflix, Major League Baseball, and YouTube videos, but it will also allow you to stream content from any computer on your network wirelessly. If you have an iPad, iPod, or iPhone, you can use Airplay to stream video and music stored on your device to your TV, or watch apps you’ve installed like HBO Go or ABC.com for iPad.
Game Systems not just for gaming: Owners of an internet connected Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 already have the ability to stream internet content to a TV. An Xbox 360 will allow you to stream Hulu Plus, Netflix, ESPN, and more, or purchase content through the Xbox Live store. It also allows you to stream digital content from a Windows Media Center PC. Playstation 3 brings an integrated Blu-Ray Player to your home theater system, while supporting Netflix and allowing you to stream content from other computers on your home network.
Think outside the box: One of the most flexible options I’ve found is Boxee. You can customize the shows you want to stream by choosing which “plug-ins” to activate, including Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League games, and more. Most of these services have fees ranging from around $8/month to pay per show rates, but you only pay to access what you choose. You can buy a set top Boxee Box for $199 or you can download the Boxee software to a computer and make your own home theater PC to view your own content, or any web-based media on your TV.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.
About Nerds On Call: Established in a spare room in Redding, Calif., in March 2004, Nerds On Call offers on-site computer and laptop repair services to consumers and businesses. Nerds On Call provides trouble-shooting for PCs and Macs, home and office networks, printers, iPods® and MP3 players, handheld devices and cell phones, home theaters and game systems, and virtually every other form of digital entertainment. In 2009, 2010, & 2011 the company was named to Inc. magazine’s list of 5000 fastest growing private companies. With 7 locations across California and Oregon, Nerds On Call serves more than 40,000 satisfied customers per year. For more information, visit callnerds.com or call 1-800-919-NERD.