What is the best cord cutting setup?
June 1, 2014 8:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering finally dropping cable and implementing a home DVR solution that captures over-the-air channels. I'm in the Phoenix metro area so will have no problems picking up the basic channels. I'm leaning toward the Simple.TV (the new one with two tuners) setup but wanted to see what other options might be out there. I subscribe to Netflix and have an Apple TV but don't want to pay for other subscriptions - which eliminates the Tivo. I also want everything to run off a dedicated "box" so I don't have to use a computer to manage things. So - in your experience, what works well? What doesn't? Is the Simple.TV 2 decent... or junky? I know this question has been addressed before but don't know what might be new in the last year-ish.
posted by whatisish to Technology (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The reviews for Simple.tv have been unimpressive. The Tablo TV OTA DVR gets better reviews

You're still on the cutting edge of this technology, so almost any product will have warts.

Note that Simple.tv and Tablo have subscriptions, just like Tivo.
posted by blob at 9:32 PM on June 1, 2014

Simple is terrible and I am still unable to get my money back from them. You have to pay for subscriptions to everything anyway, so in the end tivo is still the best and most reliable.
posted by rmless at 10:36 PM on June 1, 2014

TiVo really is the best for this sort of thing. Buy a unit from eBay with a lifetime subscription.
posted by cosmac at 5:44 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Elgato EyeTV Hybrid TV tuner, perhaps.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:19 AM on June 2, 2014

I know this isn't exactly everything you want, but what we did was get a Silicon Dust HDHomeRun, a HD digital OTA antenna (in a metro area I would suggest an omni-directional unless you can confirm that most channels are in one direction), a remote, and hooked up a Win 7 computer to the TV. Windows Media Center was the one piece that allowed my wife to become comfortable with cutting cable, as it works with a remote and if you didn't know it was a computer, you wouldn't be able to tell. Everything is managed through the DVR interface. It also has free TV schedule listings as well as a great signal strength meter that as far as I've been able to tell is amazingly good and rare without another expensive purchase.

As a DVR it works great. No subscription needed beyond Netflix (which is an app within WMC), plays everything I get from the usual unsanctioned places, and also doubles as a file server for the house. It also interfaces with the Xbox (which is a great media player in and of itself) to show the recorded shows and our media files in the projector room. My wife is very comfortable with it and has little to no aggro (beyond not being able to just veg on the couch and flip through a million useless channels, which she acknowledges is not worth $100+ a month for). Added bonus: it shows a slide show of pics of your choice when idle, and now our TV is an awesome display of our treasured family trips and events.

Downsides: Doesn't do things outside of it's preconfigured apps/services (like Hulu or Amazon Video or Xfinity) as well as I'd like, and beyond Netflix there is basically no other app. We have subscriptions to Amazon and Xfinity and when we want to use them it's just like any other computer - open browser, click the shortcut, blah. It works but it's not streamlined. For some reason the Xbox 360 (not sure about the One) has Amazon Video, Hulu, etc but that love doesn't bleed over to WMC. We normally watch those on the 360 or find it in the usual places and make it available on the WMC.

I will be "upgrading" the htpc to a smaller, less power hungry form factor at some point in the near future. I'm looking for less heat and power consumption while still being able to share files and have enough horsepower for the menus not to be laggy. I've tried nettop, netbook, pc and laptop; pc was the best of the bunch. I'll probably do something like this.
posted by dozo at 9:49 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

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