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Ok, so this is not exactly a post about productivity, but if you use your imagination a bit you might be able to see how this could come under the heading of “efficiency”….

I used to be much more into television than I am now, and for a long time I have been paying for cable TV services that either I am not using, or I am getting/could get other places.

So I decided to see if I could really have all the TV I wanted without cable.

I quickly learned that this is not necessarily an easy task, but as with most things, the more I have learned, the easier it is becoming.

This was my initial plan…my husband had a 3 year old laptop with a battery problem, and it was about to fall out of warranty.  He had not wanted to have it serviced up until this point because Best Buy said they would have to send it out for two weeks.  Given that the laptop was older, and was a Windows PC, I thought I would buy him a gift of a MacBook (yes, this was partially selfish on my part because I wanted to move us toward a Mac-only household.)  So I bought the MacBook with my Best Buy card, which offered an interest free payment plan for 18 months.  I figured that once his old laptop was repaired, we would use it for internet on the television (a media center), and we would come out ahead on the MacBook payments once we weren’t paying for cable anymore.

Our living room TV was a 10-year old, 32-inch analog with only S-Video connections.  The old laptop had an S-Video connection too so we were all set there.  This would allow us to watch Netflix (with a $9/month subscription), Hulu (free site for aggregating online TV), and the network stations online, at least.  Not a bad start, but I was concerned about giving up the DVR (digital video recorder) since not everything is available online when we want to watch it.

Then I learned that USB “tuners” (for carrying digital tv signals to your computer) typically come with PVR (personal video recorder) software.  However, there were two problems here…the first is that tuners pick up the digital channel broadcasts that come over the air (for free), provided that you also have a screen (monitor or TV) that is capable of receiving the digital stations.  Our TV was analog, so it was not.  The second problem was that most tuners were made for either a PC or a Mac.  Remember my desire to move to a Mac-only household?  I figured that we could use the 3-year-old laptop until it died (which we honestly didn’t expect to be more than a year or so), and then get another set-top box (Apple TV, Roku, another computer) to stream internet television in our living room.  After doing some research on these, I decided on a Mac Mini, because it has all the features of AppleTV plus all of the benefits that result from it being a full-blown computer.  So I didn’t want to invest in a PC tuner, only to have to buy a Mac tuner later.

Ok, now that you have some of the background and preliminary information, the story continues in part 2