Okay so this may sound like an obvious question to many of you, but really its not. There are lots of other options besides sitting down in front of that big screen LCD at an appointed date and time to see your favorite show, not to mention watching those you’ve missed. What are they, well …
Not to long ago when we wanted to watch a television show and wouldn’t be around to see it live, we would program our VCRs to record the show. Then we would sit down at our leisure, replay the tape and watch what we had missed. With Network shows we might even wait for the summer reruns to catch those episodes we missed during the season. Some times with cable shows this wasn’t necessary because the show would be rebroadcast at another time during the week/month and we could catch it then.
In the past decade things have changed substantially. We no longer live in a time when every program gets replayed during the hiatus, nor are the reruns necessarily from the prior season. So waiting for reruns can be a hit or miss affair. VCR’s are already a passé technology. We now have many new options from cable on demand to streaming video via the internet.
After VCRs came DVRs (Digital Video Recorders). Among the first, and still popular DVRs available was TIVO a hardware/service combination. With the technology proven, cable and satellite companies like Comcast and DirectTV began offering integrated On-Demand DVR services. Okay so this fills in some of your viewing gaps but what if you’re a road warrior and want to see a Red Sox game while you’re stuck in a hotel in Seattle with limited hotel cable programming and your laptop?
Have you heard about Slingbox from Sling Media? The Slingbox allows you to watch your home TV anywhere, any time on your laptop or cell phone. All you need is a Slingbox connected to your home device (TV, DVD etc.) and an internet connection. There’s even a version that lets you watch your TV on your Windows Mobile, Palm OS or Symbian cell phones and PDAs.
Not looking to add another piece of hardware to your TV setup at home, then an older technology – the TV Tuner for your PC may be just the ticket. TV Tuners allow your computer to capture television signals, and many can also capture video enabling your PC to serve as a DVR.
What about options that cost little or no money? Many TV Shows are now available on DVD. This means you can rent them from your local movie rental store, or if you have a Netflix account, get them through the mail or stream them via the internet. Other no cost options are the Network web sites themselves. Miss the last season of Lost? Head over to ABC and run your own private Lost marathon. Do the same for Heroes by going to the NBC website. These networks are not alone, you can watch full episodes and seasons (current & prior) on many program provider’s web sites. Along with the offerings on the big network sites, you can find additional programming and movies on Hulu. I’ve been catching up on Burn Notice and Regenesis via Hulu. What’s also interesting is that Hulu has some shows from networks that don’t provide video on their own, like Nova and Scientific American Frontiers from PBS.
These are the options I found for getting my TV fix when I want it. So let me ask you again – how do you watch TV? Do you use one of these alternatives, a combination of the above, or have you found something else you like better like P2P file sharing?