My friends and family are sick of hearing me espouse the virtues of the Mac mini media center I built last weekend, but the experiences since have made me realize that TV as we know it is going to be toast much quicker than I thought even two years ago.
Though I considered AppleTV as one solution, it’s too limiting as it’s Apple and iTunes-centric. Instead, I am using PlexApp, an open source media server forked from the XBox Media Center (XBMC). I’ve downloaded and am playing with Boxee as well, which is positioned as a social media TV platform so friends can see what each other is watching or has watched.
Using this has profoundly shifted our use of our HDTV. From my watching of HD shows from Revision3 to Hulu shows as well as those from Joost. It’s been fun to get hooked on an old science fiction show with my son as well as my wife who discovered several shows she watched many years ago and is delighted to view again.
We can even bring up DVD’s I’ve backed up to the 1TB external drive which is also increasingly holding all the video I’ve shot over the years (and never pulled off the miniDV tapes). In addition, my multiple gigabytes of photos will end up there as well as all of our music.
iTunes? Yep. We can leverage all that it has to offer from movie rental or purchase to podcasts to music.
The best part is the ease with which developers can create plugins that bring other video sites to Plex. In the works are CBS and ABC ones and more.
Why is TV toast? Because even Comcast cable can’t compete with the on-demand capabilities (and MUCH better user interface than the embarrassingly bad one they offer) of apps like Plex and the ecosystem that has already exploded around it. Yes, they can try to slap us around with draconian measures like their 250GB cap to stave off the inevitable move away from what they offer, or do what I view as the smart thing: embrace these moves, help the development of Plex, Boxee, XBMC and others, and be the preferred delivery method for it all.
So I’ll keep moving along with what we’re doing and hope I’m not exceeding the cap. NOTE: I did ask recently — when on with Comcast’s executive resolution center — that even paying more for a business class account is still subject to that 250GB cap. Weird.