By Martin Klaver
I watch more and more free TV and video online, either at the computer or on TV with Roku or AppleTV. Most is not live but recorded. The day may come when I do not need cable or satellite, nor its cost, though there is now a charge for some online offerings.
The offerings online are increasing daily, with much PBS, and with university lectures available via Apple, along with other recorded TV or podcasts not available on the networks or cable channels.
For example, a consultant to this retirement community (Willow Valley) has turned my attention to the stimulating offerings of TED online.
Recently my retirement community has offered us a choice: Comcast TV or low-cost in-house SeniorTV, a satellite-based provider like DirectTV or DishTV, but using the pre-existing cables.
Which to choose?
In the past, those with a choice have often asked for help in their decision. The answer will depend on their needs and wants and pocketbook.
To cut to the chase, the choice has often been made simply on channels offered or cost. There were those who wanted the Phillies if offered only on Comcast and those who alternatively wanted a lower price. The sports channels may now become more generally available now.
SeniorTV offers 40 HD channels in its basic price and HD to all TVs without added cost to the basic service, a bargain at $25 a month.
But now other issues loom and influence decision. Will Comcast continue to offer sports not available elsewhere and as they merge with MSNBC? Which channels will be scrambled for basic service?
Things are changing, and will change further. Although more and more such TV, especially recorded TV, is flowing to internet and from internet, it is unclear how much will be advertising supported like old TV and how much free. Oddly, NBC news is free, but PBS charges for some telecasts on Roku and AppleTV.
For background, you need to know that maintaining cable costs money. Even DSL requires wiring support, though ”riding” on phone lines. But phone lines may also become more expensive to maintain as people give up their land lines for cell phones.
New internet services use portable hotspots and avoid wiring. Yet bandwidth may be limited or capped. I use Clear Communications internet hotspot service.
Although internet carries more and more video, much of it is recorded. Live, it may be subject to occasional stops for moments or minutes, though these can be avoided by using your computer as a “holding tank.’
There is then the issue of whether you want to record or watch recorded TV.
Comcast offers a good set top box for recording at a monthly cost. Other services may rely on such a box or you may buy one yourself, such as from TIVO at an initial one-time cost of #100-300 plus $20 a month.
Or you may may simply watch on your computer, or stream pre-recorded TV from your internet service, directly or through the Roku or AppleTV box ($60-80 and $100. You might not want or need TV service at all, yet have plenty of programming to watch online.
The new TIVO box offers BOTH regular TV and internet TV. Yet TIVO has had some corporate losses recently. Also, read reviews of the TIVO on Amazon before committing to it.
Basically I plan to have almost all the options and at low cost. Here is how.
I don’t need the sports channels and I will probably elect to take the low-cost community coverage and use a TIVO unless I find a better alternative.
Also, consider the internet service itself and its bandwidth or speed. Comcast offers high-speed internet and others DSL or mobile hotspot service (Clear Communications). Clear covers the whole campus plus much of Lancaster, for example, with no wires or cables.
I would recommend Clear, which I have, and which delivers access to me in most places BUT I am not sure if it can handle the use by many in a small area for popular TV, or will be forced to “Cap” service I have it anyway.
So I have Clear but also Windstream DSL.
Write down your needs and consider your pocketbook. All options are worth considering. All have some downsides.
Let me know if you find some better alternatives, especially for recording TV.
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Martin Klaver, Resident of Willow Valley Retirement Communities, Lancaster PA, spent much of his professional career as both an Industrial Engineer and Management Information System Director. As MIS Director of North East Treatment Centers, Philadelphia PA, Martin coordinated the employee educational components of computer and information management systems.
Currently, Martin enjoys teaching and troubleshooting the computer needs of fellow seniors.
Click here to view Martin's blog:
Martin's Senior Tech Site
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