TV Without Cable: January Review

In January I spent $61.94 on video, all of it from the iTunes Store.  Compared to a baseline digital cable rate of $70.00, I've saved $8.06 year-to-date.

Most of my expense this month was for a season pass of 24, which at $48.94 gives me a discount of about $3 versus buying the episodes individually.  I'm surprised and disappointed that I have to manually download the next new episode when I'm at home.  The "automatic" portion of the season pass simply sends me e-mail urging me to download the next episode.  I would prefer if the episode were already downloaded by the time I got home.

Although January's Macworld Expo showcased the new Apple TV set-top box, I was really hoping for a revised Mac mini.  I would rather have an actual computer with a remote control interface than a stripped-down box that must synchronize with something else.  While I wait for next-generation media boxes to hit the market, I'm still using my three-year-old PowerBook G4 to stream media from my Dell desktop.  iTunes' streaming works, but I've had a few cases where switching away from iTunes causes playback to stop entirely.  I must then restart playback and manually fast-forward (at a rate of about 10:1) to the point where I left off.  That iTunes can't remember its place on streaming video has been an annoyance.

My other TV selections were chiefly from The Office (US version), which is still great in its third season, and from Heroes, which I'm beginning to find tiring and tedious.  All the real action will only take place during sweeps months, so I might as well skip Heroes until something interesting will happen.

Useful site of the month: Comedy Central's video player, called "Motherload," streams a lot of the original programming including every segment from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  I don't have to drop $2 or wade through all the other segments to watch, for example, an interesting interview.  There are some 15-second commercial spots but those are perfectly fine with me.

(Note: All prices in this article include taxes.)