Monday, February 1, 2010

Living the Evolved Digital Life

Okay, it’s been a couple of months since I evolved my digital life, cut the cord to Premium Digital TV, and got my house in order.  So where am I now?

1.  Lesson Learned:  You cannot run digital video over a wireless router, especially if you have more than 1 wall to go through.  Bite the bullet and pull the ethernet cable if you can.  I was always at 4 bars with the XBox 360, but the router would shutdown every hour or so (sometimes 3 times in a single episode of CSI).  Pulling the cable through the floor was a PITA, but worth it now.

2.  Spend some time and tune your Harmony remote.  It’ll take a lot of time to get it right.  I still have work to do on mine, but each improvement is noticeable, and after a while, you can’t believe you used to use 3 (or 4) remotes.  That said, sometimes it still is a big pain, especially when the kids are sleeping and you switch video inputs, and the sound is cranked up and you can’t get back to turn down the volume down fast enough.  I find myself planning my moves with the remote.

3.  Make sure you have enough disk (at least 1TB) on your Media PC.  I still haven’t hooked up my HD tuner because I haven’t wanted to spend any more money on the setup right now to add enough disk to record HD shows.  I’d also like to have a dedicated Media PC with faster processors that can also host PlayOn, but since we have multiple laptops floating around the house, most of the time the PC is a dedicated Media machine.

4.  2010 will be the year Internet TV really takes off.  My wife says we were probably a year or two early jumping online, and maybe we were.  I’m looking at things like Boxee Box and thinking that was probably what I wanted.

5.  We miss having a channel guide on our TV.  We currently have to switch over to the Media center to get it, and because we get more channels on the cable than what the media center allows us to see, we don’t always know what is on at any given time.  This might be worth a little more research.

6.  I don’t use Hulu near as much as I thought I would.  I just don’t want to go back and watch old shows that often.

7.  I watch a lot more Netflix and am willing to break movies up over multiple nights if I need to.

8.  The kids don’t miss on demand that much.  We have a few videos laying around at home, and a few lined up on Netflix.  That seems to get us through rainy Saturday afternoons.

9.  Maybe I’ve just been busy the last couple of months, but I am watching less TV.  That was a side effect I hoped for.  I’m reading more, and watching better TV when I am watching it.  When there is a little resistance to the inertia of just keeping the TV on all evening, you find other things to do pretty quickly.

10.  I haven’t sprung for the XBox Live Gold Membership since I get everything I want through PlayOn, but as I was watching a movie last night, I definitely noticed that the hop across my HomeServer through PlayOn left dark scenes a little blocky.  For $40 a year, it might be worth it to get the membership.

These things always turn out to be a little more complicated than you think they will.  I feel pretty good about it now, but it’ll be a few months before I really forget the pain of the conversion.

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