Using TVersity and doing away with cable tv

I’m not sure how I would be able to manage without my 32″ HDTV, Xbox 360 and TVersity. I stream 100% of all TV shows I watch and various other movies. It was a combined reason of not having a cable box in my room and also because I want to watch tv when I want to–not at a set day & time.

TVersity is an application that turns your computer into a media server/hub. I stuck with TVersity because of it having support for my Xbox 360. All I need to do is include a directory on my harddrive with TVersity, refresh it so that it picks up all files and load up my Xbox 360’s “My Videos” and connect to TVersity.

I have been streaming fully now for over a year and don’t have any plans to stop. Sometimes if I’m feeling a little lazy, I’ll rely on Hulu or FanCast but most of the time I prefer to download. Most TV show episodes are released an hour or two after the episode’s initial air time. I frequent warez-bb (and some others) as a lot of the uploaders frequent these websites and keep them updated with their releases. The releases are also awesome quality as I can grab an 720p HDTV version in MKV or I can opt to just grab an HDTV version in AVI. I usually try to grab AVIs so I don’t have to work around the MKV fix since out of the box the Xbox 360 doesn’t support this format.

However, if you are interested in streaming MKVs on the Xbox with TVersity and are using Windows 7, you can use DIVX MKV on Windows 7 which is what I use. You can also read through a thread posted at’s forums. Alternatively, if you have a PS3 and want to stream your media, you can use PS3 Media Server which comes with MKV support right out of the box. Or if you’re using a Mac and want to stream to your 360, you can use Playback. 🙂

Since most of the files go through Rapidshare, I had splurged and bought a premium account. A lot of times the releases will have 4-6 200MB zip/rar files and Rapidshare’s free download does not permit multiple downloads at the same time. It also gives you an annoying time limit for bandwidth usage. It makes sense and truthfully is a fraction of the cost I’d be paying for my Comcast cable tv bill.

Although the one annoying thing after awhile was that most places will not link any of the URLs so I found myself having to copy/paste each URL into the browser.. major pain in the ass! So Steve had suggested I install Greasemonkey and install “Rapidshare Links Checker” userscript. This will turn all Rapidshare URLs into clickable links as well as add an “x” icon for dead links or a “checkmark” for active links. This was such a tremendous help as it seriously does alleviate a few minutes of copy/pasting and only finding out the files were removed.

At one point I needed to download a file that had been split into 26 20MB files.. Not sure why it was split like so but it was.. painful. So I ended up coming across jDownloader, a java app. It allows me to copy Rapidshare URLs (it also supports other upload sites) and the app will automatically detect the URLs and create a group specifically for those files. So if I have 5 URLs for “Friday Night Lights S4 E11” it will create a folder for those specific links. I can then delegate how many connections I want active for the file and specify the download limitations on the files. Once it’s finished downloading it will also extract said files for me so I don’t have to do it myself. Easy peasy baby!

Now while I don’t mind this setup, I’ve actually been contemplating setting up an HTPC instead so that way I’m not relying on two devices but rather just one. It’s not in my budget right now but hopefully in the next few months I’m hoping that I can get started on putting together an HTPC with full BluRay support. I’ve got a NewEgg wishlist setup in case you’re interested in building one yourself or just curious to see what hardware I’ll be using for it. You can also check out Engadget‘s post which features specs to build an HTPC for ~$550 if you’re not keen on the $1,100+ my list comes out to be before taxes and shipping.

So do you download/stream TV shows or do you prefer to catch ’em on TV when it airs by your cable provider?