Need to cut the cable! Mac Mini?
August 19, 2010 9:45 PM   Subscribe

We want to replace our cable TV with a Mac Mini. We watch mostly documentaries, cooking shows and cartoons. She loves cheesy horror movies, and I love baseball and pro football. Apart from Netflix, what do we need to live cable-free?
posted by Slap*Happy to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I have an earlier version of the EyeTV Hybrid hooked to my Mac Mini and receive 60 or so over-the-air digital television channels. Some cable material (like CNN Reliable Sources and MSNBC Countdown) is available using Miro. Some live cable sports content is available through ESPN3 because my ISP (in this case, AT&T) has cut a deal with ESPN.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 10:25 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Live sports is going to be difficult to replicate. IYou can get and stream out-of-market baseball games live and in-market games after a 90-minute delay. (Note that Saturday day games and Sunday evening games are blacked out for live streaming, regardless of location) I don't know how the equivalent football service works. From what I've read, the NFL's streaming service isn't available in the United States at all, even if you want to watch out-of-market teams.

For an interface, I'd see if Boxee will run on the Mac Mini. It looks very nice on my Windows 7 machine connected to my TV with a VGA cable.
posted by fireoyster at 11:06 PM on August 19, 2010

Boxee works great on my Mac mini.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:25 AM on August 20, 2010

Best answer: Plex. It is my favourite interface for TV and movies and is Mac specific. Also a programable digital remote like the logitech harmony is really great when you have computer, sound system, DVD, xbox all connected to the same TV.
posted by saradarlin at 2:41 AM on August 20, 2010

Seconding Plex. I replace Front Row with Plex pretty much as soon as I get a Mac. I use several plugins (which Plex calls Apps), including Netflix, Hulu, PBS, Revision3 (shows like Diggnation, etc). The MTV 'app' is popular at parties because you can select videos by year... everyone had fun watching bad videos from 1983.

I've used Boxee and other Front Row replacements and I have to say that Plex is the easiest to use and is quiet attractive.
posted by aristan at 3:58 AM on August 20, 2010

Also recommending Plex. I haven't gotten around to getting EyeTV set up on it, but with that, you'll be covered with the major network channels (and NFL football for the most part), there's also an MLBTV app, Netflix, Hulu, PBS, and a variety of smaller cool apps. Both Android and the iPhone have remote control apps for Plex that I've found to be pretty good as well.
posted by KilgoreTrout at 6:40 AM on August 20, 2010

I've been blasting through tv series on my Hulu plus account. If I had the appropriate TV or gaming system I imagine I'd been even further into my backlog by now. So Hulu plus account and a ps system?
posted by FlamingBore at 7:41 AM on August 20, 2010

Best answer: Some live cable sports content is available through ESPN3 because my ISP (in this case, AT&T) has cut a deal with ESPN.

plus if your carrier hasn't cut a deal with ESPN, you can reach it through a carrier that has (like at the library or a friend's house), set up a free account for yourself, and then access it through your non-contracted ISP. Or so says the ESPN3 info page.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:33 AM on August 20, 2010

Best answer: Nthing Plex. It was fantastic when we had that setup, worked like a charm with a Harmony remote and a 5.1 speaker system and when it was setup worked well. I haven't used it in a little while as I no longer have that Mac Mini, but do remember that the initial setup was a little complicated, in terms of adding apps, etc. But it sounds like sports is going to be an issue for you. Consider installing a really good antenna if you can to at least get the local broadcasts for free.
posted by AmitinLA at 10:32 AM on August 20, 2010

Here's my setup. I love it.
posted by olinerd at 10:33 AM on August 20, 2010

Best answer: Plug in your street address at to find out what channels you can get over-the-air and what kind of antenna you'll likely need to pull them in. If you've got plenty of strong signals, an EyeTV device is a good buy. PBS is flush with documentaries, though a little short on cartoons. Between EyeTV and Netflix (and a slowly growing collection of TV on DVD), we stay well-stocked with media. Our Sunday football choices are limited, and we watch a lot less TV than the average viewer, but that was part of our goal in not getting cable. Being able to record shows (and skip commercials) is great. Although a hiccup might make a recording fail to start, it's a lot easier to catch up on an episode online than to depend on them for all your watching. That's just my two cents, though.
posted by fishpatrol at 6:41 PM on August 21, 2010

« Older Washington D.C. Trip   |   You know how some southern gentlemen kept wearing... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.