For the past year or so my wife and I have been contemplating getting rid of our satellite TV service. The topic comes and goes as the months go on and finally when our bill increased by more than $20 because all of our “introductory” specials finally ran out. You see we’ve been a paying customer for 7 years and every time our bill goes up I have to call and play the unhappy customer dance, threaten to cancel, and then eventually it whittle them down and they find all these incentives I am eligible for.
My argument with this is if I’m eligible for it in the first place why do I need to ask for it? I’m pretty sure anyone that has ever paid for a cable or satellite service has done the same as I have. Well this past week I called about the increase and they said there’s nothing we can do other than a $10 a month loyal customer discount. Which again I had to ask for.
After seven years of playing this game I have completely had enough. I have several friends that have went other routes and some still pay a monthly service just so they can record their over the air shows to a DVR. Two of my other friends however have built what has been deemed as a “Home Theater PC” (HTPC).
This is essentially a computer that will act as a DVR for all over the air programming along with stream Netflix, or any other online service, play music, basically everything a computer can do but it will be hooked up to our TV instead. This is basically the new tech savvy version of a VCR.
Now you can go out and buy one of these units off a website but you will pay a good chunk of money for it. I on the other hand have some great friends that agreed to help me build one. So after shopping around I acquired a stack of parts and was just waiting for a case.
Well, the case came in last night. The case isn’t a normal PC case, it’s a case that will look just like another home theater receiver sitting on our TV stand and will have no display on it. These cases are built just for being in a living room or media room and are quieter than a typical PC case.
Since the case was in I decided to do the smart thing and open it up to make sure there weren’t any defects. Well this lead to putting the motherboard in, then the CPU, then the hard drive, and next thing you know it the whole thing is put together. I wasn’t brave enough to hook it up to power yet as I was to have everything inspected by my computer tech friend first. Once that’s done then I will begin installing all the software.
The best part of all is i am going to be able to surprise my wife who uses Skype quite frequently to see her family that live out-of-town. Since this will be running Windows I can simply hook up a webcam and download Skype, next thing you know the TV is a life-size picture.
All in all this unit will have a pay back period of about 3-4 months. You can build these units for considerably cheaper and on the other hand you can also go considerably higher in price. I went with the middle of the road because I saw it was a good investment and it will be upgradeable and expandable to our needs.
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