TV programming doesn’t come from a cable box in your living room anymore. Well, it can, but it’s such a small piece of the pie these days. Tablets, smartphones, Xbox, laptops â€“ these are the devices that are gaining ground in the way we view content. If you’re someone who craves media on the go or in every room in the house, you’re limiting yourself by relying on the living room TV.
Become a Streaming Guru
With services like Amazon Prime, Netflix andÂ HuluÂ Plus, you canÂ still get your shows;Â paid streaming subscriptions are better than they’ve ever been, whether you use them to complement or replace cable. But if you’re only watching them on your laptop, your experience isÂ incomplete:
- Services like Netflix have apps for almost every platform imaginable, including iOS, Android, Windows phones,Â Blackberry devicesÂ and almost all tablets.
- Premium networks like HBO have streaming services (HBO Go) that run on your mobile devices the same way Netflix does.
- Satellite and cable providers allow you to access content and even set and watch your DVR from a mobile device. Cable companies likeÂ AT&T U-verse at Cable.tvÂ have apps for the iPhone and Android that give you a few viewing options with your subscription.
AirPlay Your Home
AirPlay is the technology that lets you stream media from an Apple device to a media center (Apple TV, television, receiver, etc.). Now that MacIntosh’s entire new software lineup is AirPlay-capable, this is the perfect time to set up your home to play all your media stored on OSX and iOS devices. Despite the word “official” being used to describe the destinations that accept an AirPlay connection, you can use your Windows PC, Android phone and XMBC media center to receive content from Apple devices. Here’s how:
- For Windows: Download a free utility called Shairport4w. It’s a portable application that’s sitting in your system tray and tricks iOS into recognizing it as an AirPlay destination. Unfortunately, video isn’t included so you’re restricted to music with this option.
- For Android: An app called AirBubble allows you to set up an Android phone as an AirPlay destination. This is another option limited to audio.
- For XMBC, Boxee and Plex: If you know your way around Python scripts, AirPlayer allows you to send video (yes, video!) from an iOS or Mac device to any hub equipped with one of the three media servers listed. If you’re big on downloading movies and TV shows, this will probably be your most ideal option.
Revive the ‘Relics’
Remember Google TV? Not many do. The multimedia platform was a bit of a mess when it released several years ago, but it has since matured. Lifehacker lays out the best ways to take advantage of an oldÂ Google TV right now:
- Like a Roku or Xbox 360, it handles all the standard streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go.
- You can install media servers like Plex to stream all your content from your PC.
- If you don’t use Google Music, you should. It backs up almost all of your music from iTunes or other library into the cloud, which can be fully accessed from a Google TV.
- Chat programs like IM+ can be installed.
Probably the best thing about Google TV is that it goes with cable, not against it. It’s perfect to use to watch cable or satellite television.