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Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008
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Nix the cable for monthly savings
I babysit my three grandchildren full-time. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made, except economically. I plan to cancel my cable TV, but I will keep broadband. Can I legally watch scheduled TV programming on my PC? I'd like to get kids' shows, along with sports and movies. Can I connect my PC to my TV to view these shows?
In fact, many people are giving up television altogether. When the transition to digital television comes, many will let their screens go dark. They won't purchase a digital converter. Nor will they buy a new digital set.
Instead, they'll get their programming online. It's ideal for people who only watch a few shows. It's also good for those who want to watch on their own schedule.
With online shows, there's no such thing as scheduled programming! There are also fewer ads in online shows. That should make everyone happy!
You'll need to find sites that offer shows, though. Fortunately, that isn't difficult.
It sounds like you have particular channels in mind. So, just head over to Google. Do a search for the television channel. On the network's site, you'll probably find video clips and full-length episodes.
There are also a number of sites that aggregate television shows. Sites like Hulu contain full-length shows from several different networks, along with movies. Learn about the best aggregator sites in my recent column.
Now, you probably won't find too many cable shows online. However, some networks like Comedy Central do have episodes online. I expect more cable networks will follow suit. Online television is really taking off.
There are also sites that run shows aimed at children. That should be a relief to you. You wouldn't want the grandkids watching shows like South Park! Here are some great sites for kids:
All of the sites I recommend are legal. The networks own these sites or have contributed content willingly. The sites generate revenue from advertising, just like regular television.
You could run across content that has been uploaded illegally on some sites. Stick with the sites I recommend, and you'll be okay. Or, go directly to a network's official site.
Now, watching shows on your computer monitor isn't ideal. Your monitor is quite small compared to your television.
Fortunately, you don't need to watch on your computer monitor. You can easily connect your computer to your television. I have a tip that explains all you need to know.
Or, you could buy a media hub. These are boxes that connect to your television. Media hubs stream videos over your wired or wireless network.
Media hubs are ideal for watching videos stored on your computer. You'll also find a few that will stream video from Internet sites. This is a relatively new development in media hubs.
For example, D-Link's DSM-750 ($230) features ActiveTV Online. It lets you watch YouTube, ESPN, AOL Video and more.
Or Linksys makes the DMA2100 ($250). This is a Media Center Extender for Vista. It lets you access online videos. If you don't have Vista, skip this one. Other manufacturers make similar Vista-only media center extenders.
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• Video of the Day: Tornadoes are dangerous. Midwesterners know; when the sirens sound, they take shelter. But this guy chases twisters.
• Cool Site of the Day: Slang is ever changing. You might not know what your kids are saying. You could ask. Or, find it in the Urban Dictionary.
• Digital Minute, on your radio: The election is next week. But there's still plenty of time for dirty tricks. I'll tell you about some to avoid.
• Free Download of the Day: It's easy to foul up your iTunes library. Dead tracks can cause a mess. Here's a program to clean them up.
• Tip on the site: Listening to audiobooks is generally nice on an iPod. However, sometimes you get crackling. Try these ways to banish it.
Tomorrow's Tip, in your e-mail: DTV, VCRs and DVD players
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