How to Get TV at Home without Cable

Mac MiniTV sucks, mainly for two reasons: 1.) certain shows only come on at certain times and 2.) commercials.

Imagine if you were about to cook dinner and felt like having pizza but noticed that it was 5:30pm on Wednesday. Dammit! Pizza can only be cooked at 10pm on Thursday nights. It’s preposterous, and now that the Internet exists you don’t have to restrict yourself to eating pizza or watching your favorite shows at particular times.

A television show that fills up an hour time slot is actually only about 42 minutes long. So you’re watching approximately 18 minutes of commercials for every hour of TV you watch. Supposedly, the average American watches over 4 hours of TV per day (Can this really be true? Who are these people and where do they get their free time?). So in one year you, average United Stateser, watch 438 hours of commercials. That’s over 18 days worth, or just over 2 and a half weeks worth of commercials you’re watching every single year! You suck, America.

But there is hope. For about the same price as it would cost you to feed a starving child in Africa, you can eliminate commercials from your life all together, and at the same time feel like you’ve got some kick ass entertainment system.

How to Get TV at Home without Cable

  1. Get a Mac Mini. This little guy will run you $599 for the 80GB version, or $200 more for an extra 40GB. Depending on how much hard drive space you’ll need (ie, how much video you want to record), you decide. You connect your Mac Mini to your TV and bam, you’ve got the potential for a DVR, DVD Player, and everything you can stream or download from the Internet.
  2. DVR. iRecord (Cheap as Free!) or EyeTV ($150 and up) will allow you to record actual TV, if you just can’t live without it. Of course, eliminating TV in the first place is the point of this whole setup, but I thought I’d throw this in there for those of you who just love the term “Comcastic.”
  3. DVD Player. Built in to your little Mac Mini, no explanation required. Explanation: hah, just kidding.
  4. TV shows online.
  5. Check out for what they claim to be DVD quality video streams (though it’s probably definitely not, it’s still pretty good.) There are a ton of good shows on here, and it’s very cheap, about $0.16 / show. They stream with RealPlayer, so you can probably find a way to record that. They also provide free, lower quality, Flash-based videos as well. One great thing about these guys is that they update the site basically the same day a show comes out on regular TV.
  6. YouTube, Joost and all of the others. There’s no shortage of other kinds of video on the Web, and basically, anything that you can maximize to Full Screen mode is going to work pretty well with this setup.
  7. So I realize that quality whores are going to be screaming “But none of these options are in HD!” to which I scream, “You are a turd.” I don’t scream it that loud though, because I don’t care all that much. It’s my humble opinion that good TV doesn’t need to be in HD, and indeed the options above aren’t even going to be TV quality, really, but more of a slightly pixelated Internet quality that’s been blown up. If you have anything near good taste you’ll realize that shows with really good dialog and writing will suck you in so quickly that you won’t need to stroke it to how shiny your PS3 and it’s BluRay player are. If you don’t much care for well written, thought out storylines then you’re probably okay wasting that 2.5 weeks a year watching kitty litter commercials in between E! Breaking News segments. Good for you and your mother’s writhing-in-her-grave corpse!

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