Entertaining

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 tversity.com’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?

20 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • top class post. seeing as i'm in Ireland i watch most tv shows streaming or downloaded. i've just recently set up my xbox to stream videos from my laptop so this was essential reading. thanks

  • I was reading a post on, I believe, Yahoo that talked about saving money by getting rid of your cable bill and just watching tv online/steaming. I've really wanted to try doing it, but the PC we have in the same room as our (HD)TV is eight plus years old and would not do very well. I would love to upgrade that, but I would need money to do that. 😉

    Looks like you have a nice setup going, but I can't view what you want to get from Newegg because it says the wish list is empty.

    Too bad TVersity is only for PC. 🙁

  • @LamStock – No problem! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post.

    @Vasili – Not sure why the Newegg wishlist isn't working but I'll try fixing that right after this.

    Also, I went ahead and edited my post to include a Mac alternative called Playback. You can use that 🙂

  • We don't seem to have things like that where I am. We don't have Hulu, etc. When I want to watch something, I either go to YouTube, or to the broadcaster's site. Occasionally, like with The L Word, I watch it on Asian streaming sites. Yup.

    I'm not big on TV anyway, so mainly I have big long DVD marathons with shows I think I'd like when they're out on DVD. It makes me a bit late to the fan clubs (i.e. I just finished Glee over Christmas break), but that's okay. 🙂

  • I have satellite TV which comes with PVR (called DVR in most places), and that's really convenient for watching shows whenever I want to. Unfortunately we don't have specialty channels like Showtime, HBO, or even the CW.

    Like Aisling said, we don't have access to Hulu in Canada, so it's sometimes harder to find a streaming version. However, downloading is everywhere — even my dad is getting into it now! 😛

  • that would be a great idea for us. we really need to rid ourselves of cable (and i don't watch much to begin with what with my WoW addiction and all) but our computers lag insanely when we try to stream anything and it's not worth the pain. otherwise, i'd totally go for it.

  • Unfortunately, where I live the only option for high speed internet is through the satellite company so if I don't catch episodes on tv I end up waiting until they come out on dvd and renting them from netflix. I have a tendency to be behind but it's nice not to have to wait a week for the next episode.

  • Interesting setup. I got rid of my TV 5 years ago and now I use Plex, which is a Mac fork of XMBC (inspired by my brother, who uses an old XBOX with XMBC as his media center for years now). I'm very content with Plex, since it also comes with a lot of add-ons like Hulu (which doesn't work here but anyway), The Daily Show, Swedish News, German News, YouTube and tons of other stuff.

  • I don't use cable either. We watch TV through hulu and through different network's sites. You'd be surprised what they put up there. We are not big TV watchers anyway.

    That is a really interesting setup. Very intriguing. Thanks for sharing. It would definitely be the sort of thing we'd set up when we got a bigger place one day.

    By the way, I love your new layout!

  • TVersity! Finally, a blogger acknowledges just how AWESOME TVersity is!

    I can't live without it. Currently I have my computer and PS3 streaming stuff wirelessly at night, before bed. I always put on a TV show or a movie (mostly reruns of stuff I've already seen) to fall asleep to.

    Couldn't live without this.

  • Instead of paying for a premium Rapidshare subscription, I opted for Usenet. Panic.com offers Usenet access for $9/month, which is the cheapest reliable binary service I've been able to find. Using a combination of SABnzbd, EventGhost, and TheRenamer, It takes one click for me to start downloading a show and automatically sort it into the correct show/season folder when the download completes. 🙂

    Then I use XBMC on my media center computer hooked up to the living room TV or Media Center Extender on my Xbox 360 in my room to watch.

  • I've figured out how to view media stored on my PC or other networked devices through TVersity. But what I am trying to figure out is how to stream video from video websites (like CastTV or Watchseries-Online) from the website through TVersity to your upnp or dlna device.

    Is this possible through the free version of TVersity or do you have to purchase the Pro version?

  • My home network:

    1 Computer running windows 7 home premium
    1 Xbox360 20GB (2008)
    32" Sony Bravia TV
    Logitech Harmony 525 remote

    The PC and Xbox is connected to my D-Link DSL-G604T. My PC has a Digital TV Tuner via one of it's back USB ports. The xbox360 uses this through the network to receive the signal and displays it on the Xbox360's own Media Center component. My computer is setup to record shows I am interested in on it's own media center software (comes with Windows). These recorded shows are relayed to the xbox360's media center but the actual recorded files remains on a 1TB drive inside my computer.

    While it's great to view downloaded movies on xbox360, the problem is they don't support captions so I have to use caption programs to import the captions into the movies. The recorded shows mentioned above have them enabled in recordings as well (I'm hearing impaired).

    Very happy with the setup 🙂

  • Thanks so much for this post!
    I have a very similar set up, right down to the warezbb and rapidshare account (as well as a megaupload account), only I have a mac.
    I’ve been using Connect360 for my xbox and PS3 Media Server for my ps3. Sadly Connect360 is picky about it’s files (doesn’t like mkv files and rejects some avi files if it doesn’t like the formatting on them). And PS3 Media Server is just down right unpredictable… sometimes it will connect, sometimes it wont.. sometimes it will freeze up in the middle of a file, or skip around.

    Playback supports both Ps3 and Xbox, so I am totally going to try it out.

    Anyway, love your blog! And thanks again for this post!

  • I have Windows7 with 32 bit and media center and I tried to downlowad tversity and was able to do so, but it asks me for a 8 number setup code and no one knows where to find this. Do you?
    If so please E mail me and thanks in advance.