- wonder who watches all of the 700+ channels that you get from your cable provider?
- wonder why you are paying more than $50/month for all those channels, when you only watch a handful?
- find yourself channel surfing, just because you can, not because you know what you want to watch?
- feel like you are not getting the most out of your TV?
- feel like you can’t wait for Google TV or the Boxee box to improve your television experience?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I have a few tips for you. There have been times when I spent an hour flipping through channels, not really watching anything in particular, and later feeling like an idiot for having wasted my time. All this while I just accepted that cable TV as a given, an inevitable companion of our internet service provider… until I met a few friends who were perfectly happy without any cable service.
With that inspiration, I started looking around for a better TV experience. There is so much content available online (and good content!) that I wasn’t really worried about lack of material to watch. Both Google TV and the Boxee box seemed very promising (not to mention, the new Apple TV). There were two little problems:
- Neither Boxee box nor Google TV are here yet, and
- All of these devices have very very limited functionality. They address the problem of Internet TV, but I don’t want to use my TV to just watch TV. I want it to become a hub for all my media. I want to access my local music, photos, videos and more.
So I did what any self-respecting geek would do — I built my own media center PC. It runs Ubuntu; it hosts all my media in a single location; it serves as media server and storage server; and it serves as a compute server when I have to transcode media. You can find all the gory details in this guide: HOWTO Build an Ubuntu based media center.