Some time ago I wrote a post about an HTPC (home theater PC) that I was building. The intent was to use it as a DVR on our cable system via a Ceton TV card. After quite a bit of trouble I finally had it ready to go using Microsoft Media Center to control the DVR and playback. Well, about the time I got it ready to go, Cox Communications decided to implement switching to their cable system. This required that I get a switching box to use my Ceton TV card. After trying three different switching boxes I could not get the box to work with my Ceton TV card. So the HTPC basically became just a PC attached to our TV.
Since that time Cox has raised their rates to the point I had to switch providers. We now have AT&T U-verse which uses a streaming technology for cable TV delivery rather than the traditional cable. So I still can’t use the Ceton TV card on the PC. Our two year discount with AT&T has run out and their charges for cable TV are just as much if not more that Cox was.
Paying nearly $170 a month just for cable TV is stupid. So I have decided that it is time to cut the cord and go with streaming TV. I have been investigating this now for about the last 6 months trying to determine all the pieces that we need to get the TV service we really want. As part of this investigation, I discovered some software called PLEX. PLEX at its most basic is a personal media streaming server. The cost for PLEX is free. There are a few more advanced features that require a $5.00 a month PLEX Pass subscription. Not a bad investment for what you get.
I used the Media Center PC that I mentioned above to install PLEX. I did upgrade from an AMD A4 processor to an A8 processor and added an additional 8 Gb of memory. I also replaced the DVD drive with a Blu-ray drive. I have ripped most of our DVD and Blu-ray collection and put it on the PLEX server. It puts a very nice front end on the media and automatically downloads some additional meta-data about any media you put in the PLEX file system. You can access the media via the web or apps that are available on Windows, smart TVs, streaming boxes, X-box, and smart phones. All my testing so far has gone well. Continue reading “Getting Ready to Cut the Cord”