Mac Mini, AppleTV, TiVo, Netflix – Who Needs Cable?

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Recently we moved into a new home. Getting the cable installed properly has been a nightmare, and it has caused me to take a long hard look at traditional TV service.

Between being lied to by the cable company about the products that they offered, to having to have them out for a THIRD time and still not having cable in the bedroom, there were some pretty compelling reasons to look at my month bills and decide if this $70+ expense was even necessary.

And you know what? It’s really not.

All the networks here have made the digital switch, and they come in beautifully over the air in HD. NBC, CBS, ABC, CW, FOX, PBS – it’s all there…and its gorgeous.

I purchased a TiVo to serve as my DVR for this cable company, but even if I leave them, I’ll still have DVR for my HD locals, and I’ll have the many benefits of TiVo including Netflix service, and super simple podcasts downloads that stay right there with my normal television programming.

I also have an AppleTV, as well as a first gen Mac Mini – so I have plenty of options for buying TV from iTunes and watching it in HD on my television.

I even have HULU as an option if I choose to hook up the Mac Mini, so I don’t have to pay for things like The Daily Show and Colbert if I don’t want to. Of course, I can also watch them on my desktop…which is where I watch those shows the most anyway.

After I finished having a shouting match with the cable guy about disconnecting my high speed Internet (which they also lied to me about), all these options started clicking. Between Netflix and TiVo I’m already spending about $20 a month on my television, and I hardly ever watch the thing. When I do its typically a network show or a podcast.

So it’s time to tell the cable company to suck it.

I tried this when the AppleTV first came out, and found that I really didn’t need cable then…now there are even more options (Neflix “Watch Now” is the dawn of a revolution my friends), and that money could be better spent buying ammo and toilet paper for when the world collapses in on itself. Which reminds me…there’s another reason not to have cable…I’ll no longer have Fox News piped into my home against my will.


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11 thoughts on “Mac Mini, AppleTV, TiVo, Netflix – Who Needs Cable?

  1. @Michael: A Question:

    I have a first Gen Mac mini with no wireless adapter (airport) built-in. I am using it as a media center with my TV. How can I get wireless internet on it that also supports WPA Enterprise (PEAP) security protocol?

    Can you please Michael or anyone help me with this?


    PS> Please note that I can’t get an ethernet cable to the mini cause it’s on the second floor.

  2. @the wizard

    you could use an airport express…connect the mini from ethernet to ethernet on the airport express

    it has been quite a while since i had to do this but i once was having usb wireless dongle problems with my Tivo…so i connected it up to one of my airports…and it treated it as if it was hard wired to the net

    it was pretty much plug and play…now i cant be for certain which setting were set in the airport settings but that base station was being used as an itunes server to my stereo at the time…so it should work for you

    good luck…or you could buy a usb dongle that is mac compatible unless you decide to open up ur mini and put an airport card it it…hope you get what you are looking for


  3. working for a cable tv show, I happen to think cable is necessary… that being said, I’m probably dropping mine soon. I have a MacBook Pro, an iMac, and an old Dell running Linux MCE and Myth. I get Netflix streaming on my Samsung Blu-Ray player, Hulu,,, and Boxee on the screen thru a DVI-HDMI cable or Apple TV. I travel a lot (6 or 7 months a year on the road) and watch online (when the hotel connection doesn’t suck) and buy on iTunes.

    I’m keeping it now, because when my roommate moved in, it was here, so it would be unfair to take it away without dropping the rent… When he leaves, so does cable!

    The problem is, if/when people do this en-masse, there won’t be any cable because no one will be buying cable. Without cable, all those shows you watch online won’t be there.

    My solution is for the telcos to charge more. I know, I know… “Unlimited is unlimited” blah blah blah. Unlimited internet 2 years ago was a few web pages and a flash movie here and there. Now people are moving dozens of gigabytes a week around a network that is 40 years old, really. I’d be willing to pay for “unlimited internet, plus $10/month for streaming video services” if it was offered. The $10 fee could be used to upgrade infrastructure, buy content, and work on how to actually make revenue out of streaming video.

    PS, I think Hulu has the best model. Pre-roll, and one or two ads in the middle that can’t be skipped. 30 seconds of my time is worth free, on-demand tv, I think.

  4. When I moved into my house almost 3 years ago, we gave up cable — HD over the air, combined with a Mac mini with EyeTV, Hulu, Netflix and Boxee have more than made up for the loss of cable.

    I would recommend going the EyeTV route if you can — I sold an analog TiVO for enough to buy the EyeTV adapter. And no monthly fees.

    Here are a few pics I took over the summer of the setup:


  5. I agree that cable is not necessary. But I have the keen feeling that if cable didn’t exist, the majority of programming that these networks (which exist primarily only for cable) would not exist. See the problem here?

    Right now I am content with using a DVR to watch thing when I want, and my VUDU Box for watching movies.

    Cable will eventually leave, but not anytime soon. People are kind of stuck on conventional media.

  6. well, if and when all the cable-only channels one really wants to watch are streaming the same shows on-line, including live cable news, then we really won’t need Comcast or whoever. and that day may be coming in just a few years. of course that raises other big issues, notably telco download caps.

  7. Totally agreed.

    Figures though, any possibility to degrade the most bi-partisan news channel there. That was quite unneccessary.

  8. @alex:

    Thanks a lot for your reply. What you are saying is that the airport express will pickup wireless signal from my university’s wireless network and then relay that to my hard wired mac mini?

    I initially thought that the ethernet port on the express was an input only.

    If that solution is to work, that would be great cause I really wanted to buy an airport express anyway to be able to take it with me to the lab to connect my macbook to my iphone and transfer some files cause the security on my university’s wireless network prevents this connection from happening.

    That would be awesome and I will look further into it. Thank a million alex again.

    the wizard.

  9. I use the Eye Tv Hybrid and an $30 Antenna to receive free HD TV over the air on my iMac. The TV is connected via an Apple TV. For the money I save ($55 to $70) I can by all of my favorite TV shows and movies in the iTunes Store and still save money. Some shows come as free podcasts 2 hours later. The cable companies suck and I do support PBS and NPR with $400 to $600 a year.

  10. Hi

    I’m new to this discussion, so patience please.

    We subscribe to Netflix, have a Mac Book Pro with Airport, our internet connect is with Dish on the one-tier-down-from-the-top level. We’d like to know if it is possible to view their download movies without having to buy a ‘gadget’?

    Thank you.


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