Cord still cut

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Rolling into week 2 4 of not having cable TV. I don’t miss it even a little and I haven’t heard any complaints about it not being there from my housemates. And, at this point, I would grade the experience a solid C. A solid C that I just increased to a B+.

The biggest hurdle so far as been the Adobe Flash Player on older Apple hardware. Trying to use a first gen Intel Macbook as a home theater PC (HTPC), as it turns out, doesn’t work that great. The CPU gets hammered, there isn’t enough graphics power and it’s a little low on memory. Any video playback was poor, especially any web based video. Just not enough horsepower to get the job done.

Enter the Macbook Air. There are a pair of them in the house of the 13″ screen variety. Small, light and wicked fast. And, as it turns out, quite the video playback machine! With the correct cable connected, it will drive the 45″ LCD television in our system, at 1080p, no sweat! Even when I tried Hulu and Youtube, playback was smooth, the sound was perfect and the video output was clear and crisp. On HD Youtube videos, they look as good, if not better, than cable even did.

The next step is to streamline the setup and make it easier to operate. Currently using Plex to manage our content that is stored on an external USB drive, but Plex is installed on the machine the drive is not attached too. Makes performance a bit rough sometimes, especially when a computer goes to sleep.

Also rough when using the Macbook Air is the lack of a remote. You kids out there probably don’t remember, but there was a time when televisions did not have color screens or remote controls. Actually, that’s not 100% correct. The _kids_ were the remote controls when Mom or Dad wanted the channel changed. TV watching was almost an aerobic activity!

This system will be a work in progress until it’s not. Ideally I would like to add a Mac Mini or build my own home theater PC running any number of linux distro’s. The trick would be to make it quiet and small enough to fit in my home entertainment system, and not run at a bazillion degrees.

Stay tuned.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at donburnside.com, host at whiteroofradio.com and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.

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