TV without cable.
May 17, 2010 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I want to ditch cable and opt for things like the Xbox360 and/or AppleTV for the kids to watch the equivalent to DisneyTV, Nik and Cartoon Network.

My girlfriend and I don't watch cable however her kids can't live without their daily cartoon fix. I'm not looking for "ways to ween them off cartoons," but what I'd like to do is somehow shift them from cable to AppleTV or 360 so we could ditch the box.

I've got a 30mb pipe for internet, we do in fact own a 360 and AppleTV and have netflix. What I'm trying to figure out is a way they can easily pop the TV on and watch their favorite cartoons without going through a bunch of steps (such as logging in, waiting for internet connections, etc).

The other caveat is that we have two tv's (one in the kid's room and one in the den) so if we ditch cable, the kids can't watch tv upstairs.

Is this doable? Is there a setup that will efficiently work and doesn't require an IT staff to keep things running should something go awry?

FWIW: I've tried PlayOn and it's rather difficult to get anything to work correctly and efficiently. I've hacked my AppleTV with boxee before and it was a terrible experience (don't know if they've made that better now).
posted by Hands of Manos to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't recommend PlayOn for this endeavor, and boxee is also more complicated than it ought to be for easy-viewing.

How does Hulu's app run on the Apple TV & xbox for you? You could set up a dedicated username/password for your kids that automatically subscribes to new episodes of their favorite cartoons that are on Hulu. I think you can configure it have a list of those newer shows pop up on the screen first thing. You can probably do the same thing with Netflix, so that everything in the User's Instant Play queue are cartoon titles. You would have to manage the Instant Play queue on a separate computer.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:02 PM on May 17, 2010

Response by poster: Hulu has an app for xbox/aTV? Do tell
posted by Hands of Manos at 12:05 PM on May 17, 2010

Hulu doesn't have an app for the xbox or apple TV, other than PlayOn and the like.
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2010

Boxee has an AppleTV app, and it handles many TV feeds. You can choose whether to use NBC or hulu as the '30 Rock' feed for example. However most of these prime feeds work very poorly on boxee for the AppleTV, probably because it's a bit underpowered for that sort of streaming.

There are a ton of other apps on boxee for the aTV that might provide the content you're looking for (NexTV, etc...). Not sure if you can get hulu / a good web video experience on the xBox 360.

If you live in a large metro area, try hooking the TV up to an antenna. I'm in Baltimore and we get 25 channels, two of which seem to be all cartoons (and 4 of which seem to be all cooking shows!). You can't beat Free!
posted by joecacti at 1:14 PM on May 17, 2010

Sorry, not really a mac person, and not sure if you can set up this Hulu app on an Apple TV.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:21 PM on May 17, 2010

The Apple TV isn't a Mac, you can't run Mac applications on it.
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:33 PM on May 17, 2010

Response by poster: I'd read rumors about Xbox getting an official Hulu app, but apparently nothing more than just whispers amongst blogs unfortunately.

I just find it throwing money out the door that the kids, every other week when they are here (the other week they are with their dad), watch three channels and that's the only time the tv gets used (cable wise. We do use it for netflix a bunch).
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:44 PM on May 17, 2010

How old are the kids? My 4 1/2 year old nephew can operate the Roku box at my parents' house to find episodes of Caillou in their Netflix Watch Now queue. You could hook it up to the upstairs tv and not have to disrupt your current setup at all. Roku boxes are less than $100, it would pay for itself in a couple months of canceled cable.
posted by donnagirl at 5:00 PM on May 17, 2010

I ditched cable for an Xbox360 + Netflix basic account. I have a 7 y/o and a 10 y/o and both are able to navigate to their favorite show. You do have to have Xbox Live Gold in order to run the Netflix app. You can check out the shows that Netflix has available for streaming to see if there are enough shows for the kids to watch.
posted by elmay at 5:01 PM on May 17, 2010

we have a mac mini as our "tv" that runs Plex. Between that (which works with hulu) and our Netflix account, I can't see ever getting cable.
posted by inertia at 9:52 PM on May 17, 2010

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