Feature photo by schmilblick

El Techie is going to be a weekly column here on Gozamos. Feel free to send any questions you have my way. Ask me anything, from the latest fancy iPhone to the best way to organize your life with a simple txt file. And for full disclosure, I’m a huge Apple Fanboy. So send your questions to abraham@gozamos.com and enjoy!

Cut the Cable!

Cable and Satellite TV is a thing of the past. It’s a dumb box that costs way more than my iPhone data plan, which is also too expensive. If you have a fancy new flat screen TV, then you are in luck! Your options are limitless for consuming all the wonderful free content that the internet has to offer. There are many great ways for getting your news, TV shows and sports fix. It might take a bit of investment at the beginning, but in the long run, you will save a ton of cash.

The Hardware

Option 1: The Mac Mini is one of the most brilliant products Apple has created. The base model is $700 which is way more expensive than its lesser counterpart, the AppleTV. The newer generation Mac Mini even has HDMI ports to plug straight into your TV. This is your portal to the world! I currently use an older first generation Intel Mac Mini, and it chugs along just fine. I advise you to look around on Craig’s List to see if something pops up at a good discount.

Option 2: The Dell Zino HD was called a “Mac Mini Killer” because of the amazingly low base price, at $249. While I’m a sucker for the beautiful OSX, Windows 7 is a very polished and solid operating system. Once you start customizing it to compare to the specs of the Mac Mini, the price starts to rise up, but at it’s still a great start!

Option 3: Your laptop and or any other old computer you have laying around. There are many was to connect older hardware to newer equipment, even the old Tube TVs. Depending on your computer’s monitor connection, you can usually get almost any adapter to make the connection. You have to deal with your laptop or a noisy older computer that might distract the programs every time you want to watch TV, but hey, it works!

The Power

You can get a wireless keyboard and mouse from Logitech for dirt cheap nowadays. Or, you can pony up $70 each for a fancy Apple Keyboard and Magic Mouse. There are also many great options for remote controls from Logitech that would get the job done, especially when you use a Windows computer. I actually get by with one wireless mouse, the Apple Remote and the onscreen keyboard. You can also use your iPhone to type on the screen with a variety of applications.

The Services

Netflix: It’s a must. Sure you can rent DVDs, but the gold is in the extensive TV show library you can get via their streaming service. The streaming movie collection isn’t bad, but not very satisfying. There are rumors that they are going to release more movies soon!

Hulu: While they only have the most recent episodes of certain NBC, ABC and FOX TV show, the quality is great and you can even subscribe to your TV Shows and make a great playlist to rundown once or twice a week. CBS shows can be watched on their own streaming service at TV.com. A major disappointment was the removal of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report from Hulu; while you can still catch them on ComedyCentral.com, it is cumbersome and not as easy to use.

iTunes: Most prime time TV shows are available at the $2.99 price, and it’s convenient and easy to use. You can give yourself a budget of $20-$30 per month and still come out winning.

DVD: While physical media will be the Dodo bird of the 21st century, you can still run out to Best Buy and get several seasons and queue them up for your leisure and convenience. I also recommend renting from RedBox for $1 per day. Just be careful — I sat down to watch the Sopranos one summer break, and did not get off the couch for 15+ episodes. You can always sell them back or even trade with your friends. It’s still legal to do that, right?

Sports: MLB.tv is pioneering the way live sports coverage is rolling out, from your desktop, to its great iPad App! Univision has been streaming all the World Cup Games. You can catch other live sporting events over the air antenna.

The Low Road: While I can’t condone any illegal activities, there are many, many ways to get almost all the content that you’d like on the internet. There are several links that you can follow to learn a bit more about that. Sometimes you want to pay for good content, but there is not way to purchase it and hand over your hard earned money, but that’s just old media not keeping up with our rapidly evolving content consumption.

The High Road: Podcasts are an amazing way of consuming quality content that most people don’t know exists, but in many ways are just as good as any other TV program, if not better. Podcasts can hit a niche market, everything from cooking, to tech, to even sky diving. Here is a quick list of everything that I enjoy — it may skew a bit on the geeky side, but please browse around iTunes and see for yourself!

Got a question or need some help?

If you have any questions, tech problems, or want advice on how to simplify your life with awesome gadgets, send me an email at abraham@gozamos.com.

Update: A $10/ month Hulu Plus service was just announced!

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