About the book

This guidebook is full of ideas, knowledge and projects that can open up more choices in the way you watch TV. It leverages changes in technology; new products and trends. New technologies like streaming, smart TVs, broadcast to air TV advances, personal and portable devices, higher display resolutions and home networks, all offer new and more customizable options for TV viewing.

This book is an independent guide/almanac based on our own experiences in creating solutions for watching TV and video without the “help” of cable or satellite providers. It is not an academic report and it is completely independent and objective. Finding practical knowledge and useful approaches can take take days of internet searching and shopping, and—as we discovered on our own search—can oftentimes lead to more questions than answers. In addition, vendors focus on their products and solutions in isolation—ignoring the fact that many practical solutions utilize multiple vendors and mixed technologies. All this means that after much work and research, a lot of people who’d like to control their TV still fail to find suitable options. By giving a systematic overview, along with some in-depth practical examples, we hope to save you time, make the process more fun, and increase your chances of success.

This book is written for readers of all technical levels: from someone who can plug in a lamp all the way to someone who feels very comfortable writing software code or modifying router commands. It isn't dumbed-down, but it also isn't full of jargon. You don't have to have a technical bent, but if you do, you may still find out some cool new ways to watch video and TV. Some of the solutions we use are lengthy and complex, and we try to walk you through them as carefully as possible. Many of the solutions are very simple, and most people can employ them. Even if you don't use one of our solutions, there is a lot of general knowledge in the book, and you will probably come up with your own solutions and options.

A major theme of the book is about learning about the technology we own use and depend on, and about shifting our habits to:

  • Not pay for content that is freely available. Statistically, most of what a "typical" household (if that exists) watches on cable is also available for free on broadcast TV.

  • Watch fewer pre-packaged channel based bundles, and switching to more demand-based, individual show-based content.
    Watch our own chosen mix of internet-sourced and broadcast-to-air TV.

  • Take ownership of, and leverage the abilities of your home's data network.

  • Break the "bundled" pricing service models many of us subscribe to for our entertainment. For many, our internet service is akin to the water, sewer and electricity services to our homes, and independent of our entertainment budget.

  • Only pay for content access once. Streaming services we may already have (Roku, Amazon Fire , etc) include content that is also bundled into our current cable TV subscription.

The book's Table of Contents

About the authors

We are two people who have worked in engineering, product marketing, marketing, sales, PR and management in the tech industry for over 25 years. We continue to review and follow latest tech trends and still geek out over new and cool ideas.

Our education backgrounds are in electrical engineering, data communications, English and business administration.

In 2008, the "great recession” made our monthly satellite subscription (that jumped from the introductory rate of $39.99 to over $150) very unappealing. Our solution was a $300 e-machines computer (we named her Emmie) running Windows 7 Media Center, a Hauppauge USB dongle for broadcast TV, a small antenna in the attic, and a streaming subscription to Acorn.tv. After this initial investment had paid for itself within a matter of months, we just kept exploring…