The Budgeteers' Guide to 21st Century TV
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The Budgeteers' Guide to 21st Century TV

A layman's technical companion to TV without cable or satellite

About the Book

The Budgeteers’ Guide to 21st Century TV is an independent, technical companion for those seeking TV without the “help” of cable or satellite providers. Finding practical knowledge and useful approaches can take days into weeks of internet searching and expensive shopping. It’s easy to get waylaid into doing nothing because the options look really difficult or inappropriate. Additionally, manufacturers often focus on their products and solutions in isolation, often choosing to ignore the fact that many practical solutions utilize multiple vendors and mixed technologies. By providing our readers with a systematic overview, along with some in-depth useful examples, we hope to save you time and money, make the process more fun, and increase your chances of success.

This book caters for readers of all technical levels. It isn't dumbed-down, but it also isn't full of jargon. You don't have to have a technical bent, but even if you do, you may still find out some cool new ways to watch TV.

Major themes of the book are:

  • Understanding and taking control of technology you own.
  • Not paying for content that is freely available.

A lot of the information in this book is specific to the United States.

About the Author


We have worked in the tech industry for over 25 years, from technical (engineering, QA, product marketing, etc.) to operations (marketing communications, sales, PR) to management. We continue to review and follow latest tech trends and we still geek out over new and cool ideas.

In 2008, our satellite subscription jumped from the “introductory rate of $29.99" to over $150 a month. We just couldn’t justify the cost of TV. We did a serious amount of research and came up with a solution: 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 After this initial investment had paid for itself within a matter of months, we just kept exploring…and finding new and better ways to take control of our TV and the costs associated with watching the content we wanted.

Table of Contents


Getting ready

Before proceeding...

What skills do you need?

Choosing how to proceed.

Chapter 1: Introductions

1.1 Specs and stuff

Resolution and screen size

Bandwidth — bits per second and stuff

Closed Captions

1.2 Digitally Broadcast-to-air TV

Introduction to Antenna TV

What is an antenna?

Introduction to TV tuners

Networked TV tuners

Using Networked Tuners with Multiple TVs and devices

Do you need an networked tuner?

1.3 Smart TVs

Introduction to Smart TVs.

1.4 Digital Video Recorders (DVR)

Introduction to DVRs

Networked DVRs

Integrated DVRs

Do you need a DVR?

Do you need a networked DVR?

1.5 Streaming Gadgets

Introduction to streaming gadgets

Introduction to Roku

Introduction to AppleTV

Introduction to Amazon Fire TV and FireOS

Introduction to SlingTV Air TV player

Using multiple gadgets on one TV — HDMI switches

1.6 Chromecast and AndroidTV

Android consoles and TV Boxes

Introduction to Chromecast and Android TV

Chromecast dongles

AndroidTV and the NVIDIA Shield

1.7 Personal Computers and TV

Why attach a computer to a TV?

Introduction to the Intel NUC

Introduction to the Mac Mini

Stick computers

Remote input for PCs — keyboards, trackpads, etc.

Chapter 2: Getting content

2.1 Antennas

Can you get broadcast-to-air TV at your place?

Choosing a digital TV antenna.

Getting the signal – and finding a home for the antenna.

Do you need a signal pre-amplifier?

Mounting the antenna.

2.2 Streaming

Internet streaming

"Live" Cable channel streaming services

Alternative "live" streaming sources


Movies and TV shows

2.3 Optical Disks

Optical disk formats

When to use an optical disk?

Chapter 3: Moving Content

3.1 Networks

The Home network

Streaming on the home network

Network Connections — Wires and Radios

Choosing between wired or wireless.

The Router

The Internet Service Provider

Finding and fixing streaming problems

Using multiple WiFi bands for smoother streaming

Keep it all working

3.2 Wires

"Fun" with Coax

HDMI, Display Port and other multi-media connections


Chapter 4: Watching content

4.1 Smart TVs

Smart TV Operating Systems (OS)

4.2 Networked Tuners

Installing a HDHomeRun Connect Tuner

Watching live TV in an app

Maintaining a HDHomeRun Tuner

4.3 DVRs

Networked DVRs

Networked DVR — TabloTV

Set up a TabloTV

Using a TabloTV

PC based DVRs — MythTV, NextPVR

4.4 Streaming Gadgets

Streaming — Overview

Set up a Roku

Set up an Amazon Fire TV

What is Google Casting?

Setup Casting Receivers — AndroidTV & Chromecast

Casting from apps and the Chrome browser

4.5 PC and Mac computers

Streaming in a web browser

Troubleshooting browser streaming

Watching Broadcast TV on a PC using a tuner

4.6 Privacy

Who is watching the watcher?

Chapter 5: Example projects

Project skills and cost rankings

5.1 SmartTVs and live broadcast-to-air TV

Using an antenna with a Smart TV

The TV guide

5.2 Internet Streaming

Is this the right option for you?

Unbundling the cable TV bundle.

Making it work

5.3 Streaming "Cable Only" channels

Example: Hulu Live

Example: Playstation Vue

Sling TV Air TV Player

You can't always get what you want...

5.4 Combining streaming gadgets and broadcast-to-air TV

A networked DVR as a Roku channel

Watching Broadcast-to-air TV in FireOS

Chromecasting TV to the big screen

5.5 AndroidTV

Installing apps on AndroidTV

NVIDIA Shield — an AndroidTV console

Watching a networked tuner as a Live Channel on AndroidTV

Using a networked DVR with AndroidTV

Casting to AndroidTV

Watching Amazon Instant Video on the NVIDIA shield

Trouble shooting AndroidTV

5.6 Personal Computers and TV

Keyboards, mouse and network

Watching a Tablo DVR in a web browser

5.7 TV on Apple computers and Apple TV

A Mac Mini computer with Tablo TV

A Mac Mini computer with a HDHomeRun tuner

AppleTV and a TabloTV DVR

5.8 Plex DVR on an NVIDIA Shield


Install the Plex client and Media Server

Configure the Plex DVR

5.9 Money saving ideas

Using less internet

Little or no internet

Thank you..

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