Now we come to the final chapter in the Cord Cutting saga. In part 1, I hope I cleared up any confusion you may have had about why you or anyone else would want to abandon a cable or satellite subscription. As mentioned, although we all will have different reasons for doing so, I believe the greatest of all reasons is simply content. Specifically, the ability to choose what to watch, when you want to watch it and (in most cases) free of commercials.
In part 2, I provided some insight into the type of equipment you will want to purchase to make it all work. As I mentioned in that chapter, you may find better, more robust, and faster equipment. I just wanted to present what I chose, especially from a cost-conscious perspective. The way I see it, at the pace of technological growth these days in the gadget-sphere, there really is no need to dip into your kid’s college fund to have an awesome, Cord-Cut set up.
Finally, in part 3, I gave you what I feel are the key apps to bring it all together. Once again – you may come across others that blow the ones I mentioned out of the water. If so, please feel free to share! As with all things tech-related, I’m always on the lookout for ways to do things better!
In this final chapter, I’d like to offer some suggestions for getting the best out of your cord free lifestyle, specifically using the apps/services I suggested. I’m basically going to walk you through the setup steps I took to achieve the best television viewing experience for my family. Of course your family will have different viewing habits and tastes, but I think these tips will be helpful for you to get started – you’ll just need to tweak them a bit to fit your and yours.
A. Television Shows
**WARNING** – this section details the use of torrent downloads. Be sure you fully understand any laws that may impact your individual downloading and use of torrents, as well as any impact on data usage these downloads may have on your specific internet plan with your ISP. If you are any way in doubt, the safest thing to do is to simply skip this section. I take no responsibility for any negative impact that may occur from following this procedure.
First, start by downloading/installing BitTorrent. Of course, there are other torrent tools out there, but I personally choose to use BitTorrent.
If you are hesitant about Cutting The Cord because there are television shows you simply don’t want to miss, remember that I mentioned the website showRSS. Granted, showRSS does not have EVERY show available, but the list is pretty impressive.
The UI is pretty straight forward – simply select the show you want from the drop down, then select “Get the public feed address”. You will then need to place this feed address into BitTorrent by selecting Add Torrent. The cool thing about BitTorrent is that you won’t need to copy/paste the address from showRSS – it already recognizes that link once you select “Get the public feed address”.
It’s a good idea to Add Alias to the feed that you add to BitTorrent to make it easier to recognize in your feed list. Once you have your feed entered into BitTorrent, you will also want to right-click on either the main “Feeds” header, or on one of the feeds in the list and select “RSS Downloader”. From that screen, you will tell BitTorrent where to save your shows (as you see in my example, it’s my external E:TV drive), as well as select the alias you entered from the “Label for new torrents” drop-down. This helps keep things nice and simple to find, in case you need to go into that drive to look for something specific.
Also, I found that it’s a good idea for organizational purposes to go into the “Preferences” menu and tell BitTorrent to save all torrents in my external media drive as well. Otherwise, you will find that it saves the torrents in your “My Documents” folder, and the actual shows in your media drive. This may not be a big deal to you, but I’m a bit picky about keeping things together! Once you have all of your shows set, you’re done! As each show becomes available, BitTorrent will download them and place them into your specified location.
Next, simply launch your Plex Server, right click on the tray icon, and select Media Manager. Under “My Library”, select the “Add Section” + sign. Select the type as TV Shows, then select “Add Folder”. From the “Add Folder” drop-down, select your media drive and navigate to the folder you told BitTorrent to save all of your shows in (as mentioned above, mine are saved in E:|TV), then save.
Restart your Plex server, and that’s it! From your Roku, launch the Plex channel, and enjoy! Of course, you may have also noticed the Movies section in Plex – you will follow the same procedure as you did to TV Shows to tell Plex where to stream your movie collection from. Plex has a beautiful UI which includes show art, complete descriptions, as well as show theme music.
B. Steaming From Tablet / Phone
With the recent launch of Google’s Chromecast, one of the most talked about features is the ability to “cast” video content from your tablet and / or phone. This is an awesome feature, but don’t worry Roku faithful – you can do this too! There are several apps in the Google Play store to use to make this happen – I test drove a few and finally settled on PlayTo.
As you may also notice, this app also works for GTV as well as Apple TV. For Roku, simply install the PlayTo channel from the Channel Store. Then, download the app on the devices you want to stream (or “cast”) from, and you’re all set. So, how does it work? Simple!
First, you will want to tell PlayTo where to stream (or “cast”) to. Simply select the small, TV icon in the upper right corner. PlayTo will recognize your Roku (or, each on if you have more than one) on your network. Check the box to remember the device selection, then tap the actual device to save and close the menu.
As you can see, you can also customize the name of the device you want to stream to in case you have more than one – just to keep things simple!
Let’s say you’re watching a YouTube video on you’re Nexus 7 and you want to watch on your Roku. As in any other situation in which you want to share a YouTube video (i.e. – to Google Plus), simply select the Share icon on your device.
From the share options presented, select PlayTo –
Your video will stat to play through your Roku! And, without selecting the actual PlayTo Roku channel – it merely serves as the network connection between your device and the Roku. PlayTo also allows you to play any audio, video, or photos stored on your device through your Roku. It also includes an extensive online selection of content that you can stream from your device to your Roku. Have DLNA or any other devices containing media on your network? Select “Home Media” and PlayTo will recognize that device and the media that is able to be streamed to your Roku!
Finally, don’t forget about the Roku app itself. It serves as a remote, and offers a Play To Roku feature, but it only streams music and photos stored on your device.
Don’t forget to explore the Roku Channel Store. The usual suspects are there – Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon – but there are many more awesome channels as well.
And, that’s it! I hope that the steps I’ve provided from Part 1 thru Part 4 will help in your decision as to whether or not you will “Cut The Cord”. Or, if you already have, I hope I’ve provided some information that may help better your experience. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to let me know!