Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Say Goodbye to Cable TV Forever

We love to watch TV and movies sometimes. But getting media from standard cable is a drag, mostly because it locks you into a steep monthly bill–not a good deal if you don’t watch the American average of 34 hours of TV per week (sad, but true).

Streaming media devices offer a great alternative to cable. They are compact, affordable and allow you watch and pay for media (HD TV and movies, web-based media, music and more) on-demand on your TV, projector and stereo (sorry, but huddling around a laptop or desktop to watch movies can get pretty old).

appletvThe LifeEdited apartment uses Apple TV. The small box is connected to our Apple Airport router, and through a small remote (it looks like the original iPod Shuffle) you can select and play a variety of streaming media such as iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube and many others. You can stream media from any Airplay-enabled device to Apple TV as well. For non-Apple desktop apps like Spotify and Pandora, we use something called Airfoil to stream audio from the desktop to the Apple TV which is connected to a receiver (these apps have iOS, but not Mac OS compatibility for some odd reason). The $99 device works well enough. The minimalist remote can be a drag to operate, forcing you to hunt and peck for letters when searching for a media title. There is also a 2-4 second lag between when media is sent and received.

roku-hdWe have less experience with Roku another popular streaming media player that works much like Apple TV. The main difference being Amazon is the primary media delivery, not iTunes. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Amazon rivals iTunes in terms of its selection of media; with an Amazon Prime membership, you also get thousands of free streaming movies and TV shows (many are the same as those on Netflix). Like Apple TV, Roku allows you to stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO plus (something you can only get if you subscribe to cable-based HBO, which is kinda annoying if you’re trying to get rid of cable service) and a number of other services. Big minus for iOS users is its incompatibility with Airplay. It does however allow you to stream from Android and PC. There are four Roku models ranging from $50-100.

google-chrome

We’re pretty excited about Google’s latest entry into the streaming media world with its $35 Chromecast (shipping in 2-3 weeks). The tiny fob-like device hooks direct to any HDMI port allowing you to stream media from almost any platform: iOS, Mac OX, Windows and Android. Perhaps the best part is that instead of using another dumb little remote to get lost (sorry Apple and Amazon), you control Chromecast with your device. Unlike Apple TV and Roku, there is no AC cable, which helps minimize cable mess. Like Apple TV and iTunes, and Roku and Amazon, Chromecast tries to lock you into buying media from Google Play (you can play Netflix and Youtube as well). You can stream from your Chrome browser, though it’s unclear whether that includes browser-based video, e.g. Amazon. While we can’t guarantee this, Google’s history of open-sourcing their products would suggest Chromecast can be easily hacked to work with any streaming media services in the near future.

  • rarspace01

    i really like to see chromecast in action. sadly its US only at the moment and not available in europe.

    • linjunhalida

      And it definitely not works in China, with Google blocked by the government.

  • Margot

    We have had a roku for quite a while now and love it. We can watch Amazon based videos and things through it but for less than half the cost of our old cable/satellite prescription we have Netflix, Hulu+, Acorn tv, local pbs stations and more options than we would ever watch.

  • streamthedream

    Just a minor nit-pick … Roku isn’t Amazon’s streaming device. It’s actually an independent that was one of the first to get Amazon’s streaming service.

    • David Friedlander

      thanks for the nitpick. gotta get the facts straight.

  • Anon

    Though the Chromecast is never depicted with the AC adapter it does in fact need it; By AC adapter, I mean it is USB power (not all TVs have a USB port so it might still be a cable mess.)

    • David Friedlander

      thanks for the clarification.

  • joyz

    if you have an ipod touch, ipad or an iphone you can use your apple tv without needing the bundled remote controller through the remote app. it also provides a full keyboard on your device as a nice bonus :)

  • manks

    Don’t forget Xbox

  • Mike

    Only problem with this approach is the ability to watch sports.

    • David Friedlander

      i know appletv at least has several espn packages, if those are the kind of sports you’re interested in.

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