Saturday, February 21, 2009

We've Bought Xbox 360; Now Let's Cancel The Cable

I bought Xbox 360 mainly for my BF. I'm not a big game person. Oh, I say I'll buy this or that game and "master" it. But I won't. Except for Miss Pacman. I'm totally going to kick that game's ass.

But I didn't think the Xbox 360 held anything of real interest to me. That was, until I realized that it was a proto-model of what the all-in-one entertainment consoles of the future are going to look like; if, indeed, that future is not already here.

I can stream #$%@% Netflix on the Xbox 360. For $20 a month, I can stream unlimited movies from our Netflix queue straight to our TV. Granted, they don't have every movie "streaming ready" yet. But they have a good portion (including documentaries, which are my fave). And the ones they don't have? We still have the option, on top of the unlimited streaming, to have the physical discs sent to our door.

This is on top of the fact that Xbox Live (Gold Membership, which costs $50 a year) offers more movies and TV shows on-demand. The option to play all of your Windows Media -- songs, movies, etc -- on your TV via your Xbox 360 (wireless connection). Or we could just use the console as a DVD player. Or we could hook up our iPod to it.

Oh, yeah -- and we also can play video games on it.

I always told the BF that once another Hulu-type streaming video service comes out, we were going to have to cancel the cable. Perhaps keep the basic of basic packages, just to watch the networks and NY1. But that cable was such an enormous expense, one of the biggest we have outside the rent each month.

That new streaming service may or may not be CBS. But, regardless -- the Xbox 360 more than takes care of all our media needs. We have media media media (inexpensive media) coming out off our butts.

Which is awesome.

Sucks to be the cable companies, though. And the movie and TV studios who have steadily been losing "hard copy" revenue from sales of DVDs. And the video rental stores? The ones I frequented not ten years ago, like the one I worked at when I was in my early twenties? Are they obsolete yet? Will they be? Even Blockbuster, eventually? And what happens to all the jobs connected with all those things I've just mentioned? Service jobs, and jobs lost by studios shifting their focus, tightening their belts?

But this is the march of time. And the hope is, that more jobs will be created by shifting focus to digital. The hope is, everything will figure its way out, find its own niche. That's the hope.

The big winner, at any rate, is Microsoft. We're canceling the cable.

Related article from Hot Hardware: "The Future of Netflix Is All About Streaming"


  1. BBC iPlayer on the Wii...

  2. You are not the first person to rave about this. Me, well, I am big INTO cable actually, & it is because of my DVR. The ability to record short-form entertainment (TV) & watch WHAT I WANT TO WHEN I WANT TO is really great. I do think you are right, though; we're seeing entertainment consoles coming together, little by little. Soon the laptop will be the "computer" & the console will be a computer/television/movies/videogame machine.

  3. Already exists.

    PlayOn is software that changes online media streams like Hulu, YouTube and others into RSS feeds that can be viewed on the X-Box.

    And it's not just the X-Box.

    For $150 ($50 less than the cheapest X-Box), you can find a media center that'll do the same thing.

    I say this because it's EXACTLY what we're doing. Already canceled the cable. Media center is on the way.

    If you're a real technophile/early adopter, you can strip out the operating system and replace it with MythTV, an interface that mirrors Tivo (which is just a Linux box).

    Think about this for a second.

    With VoIP, you don't need a phone line. Vonage is cheaper than phone service and runs off your Internet connection.

    You can run everything off a broadband Internet connection. Bye-bye AT&T.

  4. What's your gamertag Val?

  5. I had the same reaction when I got my X-box for Christmas. I can't cancel my cable... because I need to have food network on all the time... etc... and actually, I just canceled my netflix for the time being... I tend to reach a saturation point after a year or so, but the options that the X-box gives are pretty great.

  6. Last night, my DVR hiccuped and didn't record Dollhouse. It's not available on Comcast OnDemand or through Xbox Live, so I had to download it from Itunes (and wait till this morning to do it). The Itunes download stutters when played on my laptop, that format won't play on Xbox so I can't see it properly on my big-screen, and my conversion software can't turn it into an avi without losing the audio. So now I am trying to download an illegal torrent just so I can watch a show that would've been so much easier to catch if I had just watched it live off cable.

    My point is that we may not just be there yet, at least not for the majority who are techno-rubes like me. All the pieces are in place, but they won't talk to each other yet.

  7. I'm not much of a gamer but my brother and all of my friends have 360s and as much as I like being able to download a movie and watch it in HD so easily, I wish they'd find a way of adding DVD bonus content to the downloads. There've been some movies I've avoided on the Xbox so I could see them with all the bells and whistles.

    And as a Canadian, I really wish they'd get around to putting TV programs in the marketplace. Not that I'd be able to convince my friends to download any of the programs I'm interested in seeing, but it really sticks in my craw that the 90s X-Men cartoon is on there and it's not available in my neck of the woods.

    Have a good day.
    George Morrow

  8. Anonymous5:43 PM

    I brought up canning the cable for Hulu a while back. Was met with much anger by two older people who do not get technology.

  9. I had a computer hooked up to my TV for about two years and now that just about every show I watch is available to stream (and many in HD)I canceled my cable last week. I just stream everything from the internet.

  10. I'm with mordicai here. Comcast on demand combined with a DVR is brutally wicked. I've found myself using our netflix less and less now that I'm able to watch whatever I want whenever.

    Honestly I feel like the streaming netflix on x-box live blows. out of the 40 movies that were in my que only two of them we available streaming. and both of them are older movies.

  11. Playstation 3 is less popular, but probably is even better for that kind of stuff.

    1. The internet usage is all free

    2. You can watch internet streams through the regular browser no problem. I use Hulu and my son watch a new episode of Peep and the big wide world everyday.

    3. Blu ray works on it, if it ever becomes cheap enough to be worth buying.

    No streaming netflix, but regular netflix is plenty convenient.

    So yeah, we dropped cable and watch our TV on the PS3. Go Future!

  12. Anonymous7:47 PM

    The Wii is probably gonna get in on this by Christmas.

  13. Coincidentally, the 90's XMen cartoon is coming soon to DVD.

  14. Just watch out for the red rings of doom which can come with any Xbox 360. When you see them, the console will stop working. However, Microsoft has always known about this and you can have the console fixed for free.

  15. Not to be a jerk or anything, but it's Ms. Pac-Man (with a period, no "iss" and hyphen). And don't get me started on when people say "Legos."

  16. Downloaded every Dr. Who available, and a couple of movies. Converted easily them with free software to .WMV. Dragged them over to the Windows Media Player 11.

    Went downstairs, fired up the 360, and me and the GF watched Dr. Who all night on my big ol' TV.

    Love that Xbox 360.

  17. I bought an Apple TV last fall and ditched my Direct TV. I only watch a couple shows a week, so buying them from iTunes costs me 1/3 of what DirectTV did. It's paid for the AppleTV by now.