Family Entertainment Experiment for 2011

This year we are going to be trying a new media front. A new means to bring outside content to us. We are tired of the high cable costs we spend. It wouldn’t be so bad if the channels had decent stuff on during the times we watch TV. Most of the shows my wife and I catch are always off the DVR.

What are we paying $70 or more a month for? We watch the same content over and over when we aren’t using the DVR? Reruns of The Office, My Name is Earl, Suite Life on Deck, iCarly, etc. We pay for 300+ channels where we probably only watch 10%. Sounds like a big old waste of $840 a year. What how much…? I think smoking is still cheaper than cable TV.

We are looking into set top boxes to deliver online content to our TV. Something usable, easy, and reliable. Something that supports Netflix (which is everything these days), Hulu Plus, Pandora, and options for user created content. Those are just the necessities. The big players in my search are the Apple TV, Roku XDS, or Boxee. Apple TV is too limited for me. Being what some claim “Apple Fanboy”, I do not own enough IOS devices to make it worthwhile. I’ve heard great things about Roku and they are half the price of the Boxxee. The Boxxee design and awkward cube look is quite the conversation piece. However, content options and price points it will be a Roku XDS in the near future.

Two big downfalls, sort of, is teaching everyone how to adapt to a non-cable provider way of watching TV. My wife is leery on new technology. The other is lack of sports. I don’t watch a lot of sports these days. I can get my soccer fix with ESPN 3. Football is going to be my biggest loss. I guess with the money I’m saving I can walk down to the bar and watch. Or I’m coming over to your place to watch the game and drink your beer. Or pay the premium fee to stream hockey games. (Experiment begins after Super Bowl next month.)

My quick cost numbers is $100 for the Roku and about $200 a year for Netflix and Hulu which means a savings of over $500.

Plus, we are hoping that if we have more structured content to watch, we might watch less of it. We definitely won’t be watching the same rerun sitcoms between 10PM and midnight anymore. (If we do need our Office fix, we will just stream it from one source or another.) Might even free up more time for video games and board games.

Howl’s Moving Castle in Lego Format

Over my vacation I got to watch some movies. Of course most are movies I’ve seen a dozen of times. I got to watch Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, two of my favorite full feature cartoons to come out of Japan. Both movies are directed by Hayao Miyazaki. (I’ve yet to see Ponyo…it’s on my list.)

Anyways, the reason I bring up Howl’s Moving Castle is I want to showcase someone’s dedicated time (or too much time on hand) and their massive collection of Legos. My kids love Legos so this was right up their alley. Someone actually built a full fledged Howl’s Moving Castle. Good work imagine’s brickzone!!! Click here to see his work.

My kid’s only wish they had half the Legos it took to build this. My kids are fully addicted to them like Pookie hooked on crack.

Hunting for a new TV – LCD

My 10 yr old 27inch Zenith CRT no longer can survive in this day and age. The color is going out in it and it looks terrible when playing games via an S-Video connection. Colors are all washed out, the screen alignment is off, and the list continues.

Since I am such a cheap ass, value is key. I won’t be going for any high end 108-p business. Mainly because I have not bought into this whole Blu-ray era, yet. All other content that I would watch would be just a 720p. I’m notorious for refurbished goods as long as the extended warranty will cover it. I’m mainly looking at a 37-42″ LCD widescreen that is 720p, HDMI, and HD Ready.

Some brands that I was looking at was Viewsonic, Dynex (Best Buy), or Corion (newegg.com). Of course others will be looked at if the price is right and the specs are met.

Here’s hoping that the NFL Playoffs/Superbowl will drudge up some good deals.