03 March 2011

Hello Flatscreen....goodbye Comcast!

During my recent move I was forced to sell my old 34" Tube HDTV since it was huge and the built in spot for a flat screen in the new home just wouldn't fit a tube television.  At the same point I decided that it was time to let go of Cable TV, say goodbye to Comcast and slap an antenna on the roof to see what signals I could pickup.  I figured between HD broadcast TV and Internet streaming, I wouldn't miss Comcast too much.

I purchased a small NetTop PC made by Acer, the AspireRevo.  The main reason I chose this PC is because it not only had an HDMI port out but also an Optical Audio port which nicely hooked directly into the surround sound system that was already in place.

Adding an external Tuner Card I was able to pick up all of the local broadcast channels and using Windows Media Center combined with XBMC I am able to use this PC just like I would a regular DVR.  I record broadcast shows and watch them when I want to.  XBMC allows me to stream media, even ISO images (just as if you had inserted the DVD), direct from my NAS Media server in the other room.  



The TV of course also had to be replaced.  The new LED LDC Philips 40" did just the trick.  The reason I bring all of this up is one of the best consequential outcomes of this entire situation.  Windows Media Center has a built in feature that allows me to create a slide show, reach across the network to my workstation, and display all of the shots I've taken over the past several years, be it skydiving or traveling to the far corners of the earth.  Displaying my photos on a random basis on an HD screen might not sound like much, but it's a huge plus to this entire setup.  It's very easy to find yourself staring away watching the past flip by one glimpse at a time.

The best part of all of this is that I really don't miss cable that much.  This new setup has already almost paid for itself as I'm saving around $80 per month not subscribing to Cable TV.  Enhancing the images I've taken over the years by displaying them in 1080p in my living is just the icing on the cake.

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