Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hulu? Who Knew?

So I've been on TiVo's tip for a couple of years now. I've seen the Comcast DVR and the new DirectTV DVR, but the interfaces aren't as smooth and even though I don't spend a lot of time rating programs to take advantage of TiVo's higher brain functions, I still manage to get some good recommendations out of it. In fact, I almost never look at the suggestions my TiVo makes for me, but one of the few times I looked at the list I found a show called Mad Men.

While we're out here in the middle of nowhere, WifeRat and I decided to roll TV free. We didn't bring one with us and turned down the numerous offers of TV sets as well. When our young cousin came to stay with us last week I thought he was going to have a stroke when he realized we didn't have a TV.

I was talking with one of my teammates before I left town and he told me that he and his wife didn't have cable, but still watched TV over the internet. I knew that networks had started showing streams over the internet, so when I was jonesing for some TV the other night I watched a couple of episodes of 30 Rock that I had missed during the season.

Then the other day I was reading Wired (which alternates between brilliant, insipid, and a collection of press releases for the Silicon Valley flavor of the moment) and saw their "Wired, Tired, Expired" list that contained Hulu, TiVo, and Blockbuster. Blockbuster is most assuredly expired, that one I get, I haven't set foot in a video rental store in at least four years. But calling TiVo "tired" and WTF is Hulu?

Not that I live my life according to lists in magazines, but I just spent almost $1,000 on a new dual-tuner HD TiVo (upgraded with an additional 500GB of storage, natch) with a lifetime subscription less than a year ago and the technology is being declared obsolete? Fuck me gently with a chain saw.

After posting to the other blog I'm contributor on I wanted to watch some TV so I took my stinkin' ass over to Hulu. Interesting stuff, they have a lot of TV shows over there. In the Summer when shows are off the air and the entire previous season is available it seems like a good deal for the low, low cost of free. But this seems awfully forward thinking for companies like News Corp and NBC/Universal. Anybody reading this on the Hulu bandwagon?


monkeyrotica said...

I think they've pegged TiVO as "tired" because a lot of it's functionality can be created using a media server and an HD antenna. Gradually, TiVO's been whittling away at its own advantage, plugging ads in during fast forwards and nonsense like that. Yeah, the interface for non-TiVO DVRs are crap, but it does 90% of what most people want. I'm still stuck with a Version 1 DirectTiVO and have no interest in upgrading to HD (which isn't even that HD anymore) feature sets that try and feed me more ads and popups. I spend most of my evenings ripping my DVD collection to a 1TB drive so I don't have to mess with sticky fingers all over the kids' Disney movies.

Anyway, since I'm getting most of my programming via torrents, when my TiVo finally tanks, I'm going to eBay it and opt for either a Popcornhour streamer or a hacked AppleTV. I looked at Mythtv and Beyondtv and the software just isn't at the level of polish of TiVo's to make it worth the swithc.

Hill Rat said...

Fucking Comcast! I swear to G-d Almighty the day FioS is available on the Hill I am 86-ing those bologna smokers.

I haven't really messed with the Torrents much because by the time they blew up I had TiVo and a kid and my time to watch nonsense had been severely curtailed. I suspect that I'll finally get on the Torrent tip while I'm out here, but until my HD TiVo goes belly up I can't see myself making the switch.

We did fool around with connecting WifeRat's new laptop directly to our flat screen via HDMI cable with pretty good results. Price aside, what's the advantage of Cornholehour if you have a laptop that can easily connect to your TV?

monkeyrotica said...

I think it pretty much depends on the horsepower of the laptop and what kinda output you've got. Standard VGA is going to look pretty poopy compared to DVI or HDMI, but it doesn't really make that much difference if you've got a smaller screen. And if you've got all the codecs to handle .mov, .avi, .mkv, and the rest of the file formats, you're probably better off saving the money and just opting for as much hard drive space as you can afford. The advantage of the dedicated movie server like the Cornholer or AppleTV (both around $200) is that it does all the streaming/decoding work, leaving your laptop free to do laptop stuff. I'm routing my video to a projector in the basement and a 120" screen, so I need as good a resolution as I can get. Anything less than DVD quality and it's too damn pixely. Watching standard def Tivo is like looking through scratched plexiglass covered with vaseline.

And I wouldn't hold my breath for FIOS. 7 years and as many email accounts later, I'm still on their "Tell me when FIOS is available" sucker list.

Anonymous said...

i dont think so the laptop has the horse power which is need but i think is should have the elephant power to run the stuff. lolzzz

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