Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

oldtv   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable CompanyFor the past year or so, it has been a dream of mine to develop some sort of home entertainment system that can replace cable television – the holy grail of free TV watching on the Internet. For some people, such a proposition would be easier than for other people.

For example, in my family we only really ever watch a few of the major networks, such as CBS, NBC, A&E, Discovery and of course the kids love Nickelodeon. In this case, all I’d really need to do to replace our cable TV needs is install a system that lets us watch episodes of our favorite shows when we feel like it.

There are still a few major drawbacks to getting your TV entertainment from the Internet. It’s a given that you have to wait for the latest episodes, so don’t expect to be able to follow the conversations around the water cooler about last night’s episode of Dancing With the Stars.


On the other hand, if you really only watch TV occasionally and for a select few television shows that you like, paying a monthly fortune for cable seems unwarranted.

In this article, I’m going to propose a setup that makes use of an Internet TV app Aibek mentioned briefly before called Miro. The setup has Miro installed onto a PC or laptop connected to a large flatscreen monitor (which will be our new “television”), and then I will transform my Android phone into the remote control with an app I reviewed before here at MUO called Gmote.

If you don’t have an Android phone, check out Karl’s article on configuring a PC remote control for Windows Mobile or install an app for your own mobile device that provides remote control over the PC via your home network.

Setting Up Free Remote Control TV Watching on the Internet

There are two major worries people have when they consider switching over to free TV watching on the internet. The first is that the video streams for all of your favorite shows are scattered throughout the Internet. Yes, there are full episodes available, but you have to go to the website for the show in order to watch it.

The second potential problem people worry about is resolution. Most streaming video doesn’t have the rich clarity and definition of digital cable television. However, if you’ve ever downloaded a television episode over high speed Internet, you know that while the image isn’t perfect, it is usually good enough – especially when you watch the screen from a little bit of a distance away from the screen. Once you finish this setup and test it, you’ll find that both of these worries are pretty much resolved – especially considering that your television entertainment will be free.

The first step is to place your television up with the laptop or desktop tucked away in an obscure spot. You won’t need to access the “media server” because your remote control will do everything. Then, download and set up Miro onto that PC.

miro1   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

When you first install Miro, you’ll see that there is already a decent mix of content for free TV watching on the Internet, video feeds and even a torrent search.  Now, the point of using Miro is because it functions very well as a central collection point for all of the video sites and video feeds that you want to have access to. Miro will remove the necessity to go digging all over the net for your favorite TV shows – just find them once and add them into Miro as a new video website or feed. In my case, I love the show Paranormal State, so the first thing I do is go over to the video section of A&E to get the site URL.

miro2   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

The A&E video page has links to full episodes of just about all of its major shows. Many people simply don’t realize how much video content is available out there on the Internet for absolutely free. Honestly, there’s so much content that once you get rid of your cable company, you’ll find that you haven’t really lost much, but you’ve gained a great deal (like money, for starters).

miro3   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

When you find the network’s video page, just copy the URL and then go to Miro and go to Sidebar -> Add Website. Once you add the URL for the video page, you’ll see the site page show up right inside the Miro application.

miro41   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

Here, you can see where I’m watching an episode of Paranormal State from within the Miro app. Even though you’re inside Miro, the “maximize” button still works, so you can still watch the video in full screen mode.

miro5   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

Along the left menu bar, you can see that I’ve added all of my favorite station websites, from ABC and CBS down through Nickelodeon. In the video window, you can see where I have the selection of full episodes of the popular show Mythbusters. On this screen alone, there are almost four hours of great entertainment for free – why pay for cable?

miro6   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

My favorite part of Miro is the ability to add video feeds. Doing so sets up Miro as a “feed-reader” for the latest video content on your favorite video sites like YouTube or Hulu. To get a feed, just go to the site (like Hulu above) and choose the feed link that you want. Want to keep an eye on the newest movies added to Hulu, the most popular YouTube videos or Google videos? Just copy the feed link and in Miro go to Sidebar -> Add Feed.

Now, once you have all of your video websites and video feeds configured in Miro, the final step to enjoy free TV watching on the Internet is to install your local remote control software. In my case I’m using Gmote, so I’ll install the desktop client software and the mobile app to my Android phone. Now, whenever I have my entertainment system booted up I just have to launch my mobile Gmote app and I have a touchpad I can use to control the mouse on the “television” screen.

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And don’t worry, if you tend to watch a lot of television and run out of full episodes to watch of your favorite shows, why not “channel surf” the Web 2.0 way – click on the Miro Guide and just start searching or browsing for the videos that are available there.

miro9   Build A Remote Control Internet TV & Drop Your Cable Company

While taking that major step of turning off cable television can be a difficult decision, in the long run the cost savings combined with the enormous volume of video content available on the web, makes that decision a lot easier. Why not set up your own Internet TV system and try it out for a while? Maybe, after a week or two, you’ll find that you don’t even miss cable at all!

Do you have your own method of organizing shows and watching free Internet TV? Share your insight and experiences in the comments section below.

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29 Comments -

nicbot

…Sure, if you’re single ;)

Binding the main remote to a phone sounds good in practice, but for a multi-person home it is not practical. Anyone with a significant other can attest to this.

Also, Miro looks ok, but with all that’s out there how does this trump Boxee, XBMC or WMC? All are amazing options, some better for internet TV some for local content, all look better than Miro (interface)… so I guess I’m not seeing what Miro would offer that could replace these tools.

dostadawg

fyi these artiles are not written for everyone..different strokes for different folks, but like the author said the other options have been covered before on here and if you googled much alot of other places.

he has written his articled based on his experience plain and simple, plus its nice to keep it short and to the point on one item and not go on and on for pages trying to cover everything..It might not related to you so be it no need to knock him. Idea to keep in mind if your comment doesn’t add anything of substance to the post keep it to your self. :-)

sorry if sounding to harsh and blunt. :-)

nicbot

That’s great Dostdawg, but a)I feel my comment added substance in the form of question. And b) This is the interwebz, you’re not the boss of me ;)

Is it so wrong to ask what this could offer to either better or add upon an already HTPC saturated world. Most people will have one of ‘the 3′ programs running on their HTPC and a short comment on if, how or when it will integrate with your existing HTPC setup seems logical does it not?

Furthermore, without negative(ish) feedback how do we expect things to ever get better? I’m not saying the author did a bad job, this article is well written. I just think (>IMO<) it could have gone just a bit farther, that's all.

enough.

Ryan Dube

Hey Nicbot,

Thanks for your comments and good points! The one thing I will say is that the Miro is 100% free – no hardware or software purchases required, and no limitations on content, you aren’t tied to just Miro’s listings – you can add in feeds from everywhere. I’m sure some of the other solutions may allow this, but are they all free and just as flexible?

As to the remote option, theoretically you could configure it to work with multiple mobile devices. Whoever it’s agreed is in control of the TV could connect with their particular mobile device. The hard part, I suppose, is deciding who’s going to be “in control.” :)

-Ryan

nicbot

“no hardware or software purchases required, and no limitations on content, … I’m sure some of the other solutions may allow this, but are they all free and just as flexible?”

…umm, really dude?? Google much?

Sorry if that’s harsh, just seems odd coming from this site.

Ryan Dube

lol…not harsh, just rude. I wasn’t attacking your comment by the way, I was just hoping you might be willing to provide specific examples of similar free products out there. Also, what specifically do you have against Miro? Just because I reviewed it here doesn’t mean there aren’t other options – but I am curious why you dislike Miro so much that you don’t feel it should even be covered?

nicbot

Sorry, I guess I need to clarify my comment…

I wasn’t baggin on Miro at all, I’ve never even used it and from first glance it looks like it could have its niche. And For what it’s worth the article was well written.

I was merely commenting on your apparent lack of knowledge of ‘other solutions’ (Boxee, XBMC and WMC). Not that the entire world is privy to such things, I just found it odd that a writer for a “leading web technology blog” seemed to not be. No mention of any of those 3 (the big 3 IMO) seems weird in this day and age when talking about HTPC related software or material.

I may have misunderstood your reply and I apologize if I did.

My .02

Ryan Dube

No problem – thanks for the clarification. Yes, I suppose I was so focused on covering Miro that I failed to do a full review of all of the more common solutions (which have almost all previously already been covered on this leading web technology blog, I might add…)

Next time I do cover such topics, I will keep your advice in mind and try to make sure to cover the more common/popular solutions in the introduction.

Thanks for your 2 cents! :)

-Ryan

Stephanie

I LOVE the Common/Popular inserts/reminders!!! The Only thing I Love MORE is: here’s the Easiest to the Expert How & What To!
You guys are great. I do my best to understand… You help me a LOT.

Cliff Aubrey

I like it but is there a version for the Mac, and could you send it to a Apple tv?

THX

Ryan Dube

Hey Cliff – yes, scroll to the bottom of the download page and you’ll find a version available for Mac or Linux/Ubuntu as well. Not familiar enough with Apple TV to answer the second part of your question though – maybe other readers may know?

nicbot

That’s great Dostdawg, but a)I feel my comment added substance in the form of question. And b) This is the interwebz, you’re not the boss of me ;)

Is it so wrong to ask what this could offer to either better or add upon an already HTPC saturated world. Most people will have one of ‘the 3′ programs running on their HTPC and a short comment on if, how or when it will integrate with your existing HTPC setup seems logical does it not?

Furthermore, without negative(ish) feedback how do we expect things to ever get better? I’m not saying the author did a bad job, this article is well written. I just think (>IMO<) it could have gone just a bit farther, that’s all.

enough.

Keith

Maybe I missed something in the article(READ IT TWICE) but where did you hook up you laptop to the TV and what cable did you use and what if you don’t have a tv tuner card built into your laptop. This whole thing seems a little loose on the details.

nicbot

This is for web content. It assumes you have no cable TV and just internet, hence the last half of the article title, “…& Drop Your Cable Company”.

A tuner card would be for piping cable or OTA television into your PC/software.

You would use a standard svideo or DB9(VGA) cable to connect your laptop to your TV assuming your TV has those standard connections.

Hope that helps.

redhead

Hi Keith. The reason you missed what you are looking for is because there is NO TV involved. You watch the TV on a flat screen monitor. In the 5th paragraph the author says…
“The setup has Miro installed onto a PC or laptop connected to a large flatscreen monitor (which will be our new “television”)”
Hope this answers your question.

Menkara

Mmmmm…. then what’s this mean? “The first step is to place your television up with the laptop or desktop tucked away in an obscure spot”

Ryan Dube

Menkara, that sentence came after I’d already defined the word “television” in this case to mean a large flatscreen TV monitor. So to answer the question – the setup would be a flatscreen computer monitor connected to a PC or laptop, with the PC itself hidden away.

steve2222

Hi, before I go to the trouble of downloading and installing this, will it work outside of the USA. Or will copyright restrictions prevent me accessing the free content from major USA networks here in New Zealand ie do the network’s websites block access from IP addresses outside of the USA?

Ryan Dube

Hey Steve,

Before downloading, try visiting the network websites first and see if you can view some of the videos there. This app essentially lets you view the sites through the app, so if you can access it directly then the app won’t have a problem. Good luck!
-Ryan

steve2222

Thanks Ryan,

As I suspected all sites are blocked:

“Sorry this video is not available in your country/area”

So probably it is only going to work in the USA

Ryan Dube

Man…that’s just not fair. Sorry to hear that – we’re going to have to look into putting together a free solution that works everywhere in the world…

nujmape

i see all attached to miro but i dont know how to get URL for the add website. can you help me

Jeff Page

how do i “Subscribe to comments via email” without leaving a comment myself?

Ryan Dube

Hey Jeff,

Looks like you might have just subscribed with a comment? I believe if you just select “Subscribe to comments via email” with out text in the comment box it may work? I’ve never tried it so I’m not 100% sure.

nujmape

i download miro and see all it features but i dont know how to get URL for add website. can you help me

Ryan Dube

Hi Nujmape,

Just click on Sidebar – add website and then type in the URL of the website you want to add. You do need to search for the sites in a regular browser first so you can find the URL of the video page for each TV network. Hope that helps!