Video for the 21st Century
Santa was kind enough to bring us one of the new 4th generation Apple TV boxes this year. We’d considered it a nice potential add-on, with some streaming video options plus the added benefit of streaming music through the home theater speakers downstairs. Thought it could be fun so we told Santa about it; but it wasn’t so essential as to spend $150 ourselves. Instead within two weeks we dumped our DirecTV and switched completely to streaming (with a backup antenna for the local stations).
It came down to money and how we watch video. We didn’t watch that much live anymore, generally DVRing the shows we liked and watching them at our convenience. Live TV was reserved for background noise. And for DirecTV and Netflix we were paying roughly $100 per month or $1200 per year. We kept Netflix, grabbed an HBO Now account ($4 per month cheaper than DirecTV charges for HBO access) and picked up Hulu and CBS All Access accounts. We can watch any show we used to watch within 24 hours of its broadcast debut, and greatly expanded our access to old shows, back catalogs, and some new-to-us shows I’d never heard about. I don’t know what’s different in the box, but the steaming has fewer stalls and issues than DirecTV or our Roku boxes ever had. Even if a source doesn’t have a specific Apple TV app any content that we can watch on the iPad or iPhone can be steamed to the home theater over AirPlay (we watched the Rose Parade that way, wirelessly streaming the KTLA coverage through an iPad to the big screen).
The big technical change that seems to make it work is Siri. “Find Russell Tovey” leads me to both Being Human (UK version, of course) on Hulu and Looking on HBO (but unfortunately not his Doctor Who appearances). The box doesn’t waste my time trying to sell me apps I don’t have (glaring at you, DirecTV), but knows what I do have and shows me the included options, whether they’re currently free or need an additional payment (rent or buy).
The total cashflow out comes to $37 per month. Several very good apps have no monthly charges at all (yay PBS). We could save about $750 per year, or blow it all on PPV and iTunes purchases. I can imagine a betting line on whether I’ll blow most of that on the back catalog of Teen Wolf in some moment of weakness. I think the total package will probably shift a bit over the next year as new apps appear (Amazon Prime?) and CBS will either have to expand their offerings or get to a more competitive price point.
While it’s been great for the first two weeks, I can’t wait to see where streaming video and a la carte channel subscriptions go over the next few years. It’s certainly one of those areas where I think things are only going to get better for the consumer.
Started off the New Year with our traditional romp at Del Mar. It was their 30th annual Penguin Plunge, and our tenth. Had a great time (plus cocoa and donuts).
Hope y’all are starting 2016 as well as we are.
I’ve been down with a respiratory thing for two weeks now, so behind on a lot, but Darth Santa did get his annual excursion to mingle with the little folk, and I’m finally posting some pictures. This year we went to San Diego’s Natural History Museum, with a stop outside the Globe Theater on the walk over.
All of our Darth Santa goodness, old and new, is over in the photo gallery. Have a very Merry Sithmas.
Preparing for the War on Christmas
Decorations are mostly up, and so far (knock on wood), Onofre is not making an issue about having an eight-foot tree littered with shiny objects in the living room.
Started the baking yesterday after I found these:
Tasty goodness after the jump. (more…)
Haven’t been around here much lately. Busy in real life, compounded with limited online presence due to some computer issues. Computer issues seem to be resolved now, which leads to a big welcome to the Howling Point network to Fleetwood, a shiny new MacBook Air.
D23 v. ComicCon
Had a good time at the D23 Expo up in Anaheim over the weekend. If it was my only convention-type event over the summer I would have said great, but following in the heals of The Con, aka San Diego ComicCon, I had to accept that it pales in the comparison. It suffered the fate of an event that couldn’t live up to its media hype.
It is what it is: a fan event for a single entertainment conglomerate. It lacks the diversity of thought and has none of the small press and independent artist exploration opportunities of ComicCon, and was in a relatively sterile corporate neighborhood.
That last part was probably my biggest hang-up. Over the years I’ve been repeatedly told that this is one of the events that makes Anaheim a contender to take ComicCon from San Diego. ROTFLMAO. It has parking – gotta give it that. They need it because their local public transit was clearly not up to the task (looking specifically at you, Anaheim Resort Transit). But that part of Anaheim lacks the flavors and diversity of dining in San Diego’s Gas Lamp, and if D23 was an example of what Anaheim would do to support a Con like San Diego’s ComicCon, the answer appears to be nothing. No restaurant tie ins. No off-site events. Not that you want to go outside because access to the building was limited to a few select (and understaffed) doors, resulting in excessive waits every time you needed to enter or re-enter the Anaheim Convention Center building itself.
But once I accepted the differences, it was a good time. The tie-ins for Star Wars Battlefront (the new game) and Alice Through the Looking Glass were first-rate. The panels we were able to attend, and particularly the retrospective on Disney’s Silly Symphonies hosted by Leonard Maltin and accompanied by a live 32-piece orchestra, were great.
One last rant though to certain vendors, and you know who you are: if you sold something at ComicCon as a ComicCon exclusive, don’t just put them on the shelf again for D23 (or any fan event for that matter). At least have the class to cover up the “Exclusive” label.
Summer, Phase Two
Randy’s back in school, but the weather outside is still very summer. Turned off the phone and went down to the cove this morning for a swim and photo shoot with the marine life. Beautiful conditions, even if there was a bit of a crowd. Said hi to a friend. Had a lot of fun with the GoPro. More photos cross-posted from Instagram after the jump. (more…)
Between Pride and the San Clemente Surf Festival this was supposed to be a very busy and very photographic weekend. Instead I’m waking up to thunder, lightning, pouring rain and two terrified dogs.
Kayaking for Freedom
Watched this year’s San Diego Big Bay Boom fireworks show from kayaks off Coronado Island. Easily the best seats in the house, even if they were slightly damp.
Beating the Heat
Craving something cold, so this is today’s effort to beat the heat.