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Summary:

Joey Celis has been without cable TV for two years. He also doesn’t get any OTA broadcast TV due to reception issues. So how does Joey watch TV? One word: Apple. A combination of Apple TVs and Mac Minis helps him to watch everything he wants.

joey celis

What’s it like to cut the cord from pay TV? What’s working, what’s missing, and what kind of equipment does the best job replacing the cable box? In our new weekend series, we’re asking cord cutters to tell us about their experiences. This week’s featured cord cutter is Joey Celis, who canceled cable two years ago and now uses two first-generation Apple TVs and a Mac Mini to watch television.

In 2004-2005 I purchased a plasma TV, and I upgraded my basic/extended cable package to the digital package with a handful of HD channels. (We live too far away to receive OTA TV.) It was a few weeks later that I discovered WMV HD files that had samples you could download and play along with full 5.1 audio. After I hooked up my laptop to the TV and home theater receiver and started playback of other content, I started researching different front ends to run on the laptop.

After going through a few different ones (Windows- and Linux-based), I grew to like MCE 2005. Installed with various codecs, this became the hub of all our TV viewing. Soon this grew to more MCE 2005 around the house and a centralized server with the then-beta and relatively unheard of Silicon Dust dual-QAM network tuners. A few registry hacks on the MCE 2005 allowed it to record shows over the network to the server so that all MCE 2005 can access the content.

Joey's Mac Mini server, complete with 4 Firewire drives.

In late 2008, I looked over the logs of the shows my family was recording and discovered much of what was being watched could be found through online services like Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and Netflix. After some research, the decision was made to replace all the MCE 2005 computers with Apple TVs and replace the server with a Mac Mini to serve content to the Apple TV via iTunes. In the same swoop, the cable TV package was withdrawn and replaced by the fastest Internet package that was offered.

Just the other day I installed remoteHD’s Apple TV files to allow my first-gen Apple TV to support Airplay. Now when my daughter is watching something on YouTube on her iPod touch, she can send it to the TV.

Will we ever go back to cable TV? No. Why should I pay for channels and shows that I don’t watch?

Joey Celis is a Las Vegas-based photographer who used to blog about his home media adventures for Hack a Day. Check out more of his photos on his website, follow him on Twitter, or ask him a question about his experience going all-Apple in the comments.

Want to share your own Cord Cutters survival story? Then send us an email (cordcutters (at) gigaom.com) or get in touch with us on Twitter. And while you’re at it, also check out the latest episode of our weekly Cord Cutters web series:

Images courtesy of Joey Celis. Used with permission.

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  1. This is great. I’ve cut my cord 3 years ago and haven’t missed it . I’ll definitely give it a spin.

    I do want to be able to get Netflix on my old ATV as well. Any suggestions?

    If I put a program to ‘jailbreak ‘ my ATV to get Netflix, can i put this RemoteHD program as well, with any conflict?

    Thanks for the answers.

    1. Atul,

      The way that most get Netflix on the original ATV is by installing a browser (Firefox) and the Silverlight plugin (this along with RemoteHD requires your device to be patched). However, the playback performance isn’t that great.

  2. The one thing I don’t understand is why would you buy shows from iTunes instead of just recording them through MCE for free? As long as you have internet from the cable company you can still receive local channels through QAM.

    1. Not everything we wanted to watch was available via the local clear QAM channels.

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