Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cable revisited

A few days ago, I noted that although we now unexpectedly find ourselves with cable TV service (after Cablevision made us a bundle offer we couldn't refuse), I didn't expect to use it very much. The main reason I didn't see much benefit to cable is that I've become accustomed to watching TV on my own schedule through the magic of the Internet. When we tune into Hulu or visit one of the networks' sites, we can select any available episode of any available show and watch it then and there. After a few years of this, I didn't think I could go back to being limited to whatever happens to be on at a given time.

Well, it turns out that I don't have to...exactly. Perhaps because I'm not the only person who dislikes being tied to a schedule, Cablevision offers a service called "TV to Go," through which we can watch any network that's part of our cable lineup through—yes, you guessed it—the Internet. When I first visited the TV to Go website I had a little trouble figuring out how to scroll through the network sites, but eventually I got the hang of it and managed to click on a link for HGTV, which took me to the HGTV website and popped up a list of shows. Once I selected a show and an episode, I just had to sign into my Optimum/Cablevision account, and bingo, the episode started playing—just like it does when we watch a show on Hulu. (I imagine I could also go directly to the HGTV website, or another network's website, and log in from there.)

Of course, in order to watch this way, you need a way to get online. But fortunately, we already have a way to hook up our TV set to the Internet: our little media computer, the very same one we've been using up until now to watch TV for free. So it looks like we might actually get some use out of our cable service after all—but ironically, we have less reason than ever to actually turn on the cable box. Doing that can only give us the shows that are on right now; going through the Internet instead can give us any show we like. So it looks like the cable service is really more of an upgrade to our media computer than an alternative to it.

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