Saving $700/yr by giving DirecTV/Cable the boot.. Part 4

Functional, wife friendly replacement of DirecTV is done:

I have finished the functional replacement of DirecTV with over the air HD recording plus iTunes for any series we don’t have.

From a money standpoint, we’re going to save hundreds. We may run into a few shows we may have to watch on Hulu, Boxee or whatever… but so far all are available via HD over-the-air or via iTunes.

The remaining question is really a question of ease of use… There are two ways to access our content.

FrontRow + PyeTV

This gives us access to everything in one interface. Its slightly ugly because our EyeTV HD Over-the-air recordings are inside the “EyeTV” menu, whereas iTunes shows are inside the “Tv Shows” menu. PeyeTV supports commercial skipping (discussed below) as well as the channel list, TV Guide for recording etc etc. It does, however take a while to load FrontRow, which sucks.

EyeTV Native

EyeTV native mode gives us more options in terms of remote control access. The EyeTV remote allows you to change channels the old fashioned way, allows for one-click record, Picture in Picture and all the kinds of native DVR functionality you would expect. It doesnt give you access to view iTunes contents, which is the downside.

Choosing between the two may be something I leave up to the wife, or just enable two options on the Harmony remote…

Notes on the setup:

I am using EyeTV to watch and record or playback TV Shows.. accessible via PyeTV if thats the UI we settle on for keeps… the reasons are as follows:

  1. I have also installed ETVComSkip, which auto detects and auto skips commercials inside of EyeTV. It does pretty darn well so far too. Thats a big plus over iTunes/FrontRow.
  2. EyeTV has a remote control with far more buttons and control than FrontRow or iTunes. By using a Harmony remote, when you select “Watch TV” it auto fires up EyeTV, sets the screen to fullscreen, and by the time the TV switches input, you have no clue youre watching a Mac.
  3. If I leave everything in EyeTV, I get a very nice interface including access to TV Guide, one button recording and all the PVR style things you would expect (I hear that EyeTV is second only to TiVo in functionality)… on the Mac Mini. All accessible via the remote.
  4. EyeTV shares its content, just like iTunes, so its accessible on all the Macs as well as iPhone. iPhone pre-recorded shows must be transcoded, but watching live tv works fine.
  5. Downside: The files are MPEG2, so theyre quite large… but 100% digital and an exact copy of what was transmitted.
  6. Downsite: The TV Shows etc are not accessible inside of iTunes unless I add them there too.
  7. Upside: I dont have to move files around and/or reencode them. Maybe I will set a script to do this stuff in the wee hours of the morning anyway so there are two copies. Glad I have 4TB o’ space.

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