OK, so we think we have it figured out! We’re gonna do this in 2 phases, starting next pay day.
Phase 1 is a minimum initial investment. Most of the costs go to change fees charged by the evil cable company. The sunk costs will be $118, for a year of Skype, and fees to disconnect our HD digital cable, and upgrade our Internet connection to the ‘turbo’ version — which should guarantee good telephony connections and IPTV download rates. We’ll recover these costs in less than 2 months of monthly fees, which will look something like this:
Basic Cable – $12 (max)
Internet – $55
IPTV purchases – $10
Blank DVDs – $10
This allows us to record a wide range of normal, time-filling television, plus purchase a couple good shows that we want to both time and place shift. During Phase 1 we’ll be able to watch recorded content in the living room or the bedroom, but downloaded content only in the bedroom or on the iPod. Its not as elegant as the PVR — the DVD Recorder is kinda user abusive — but elegance comes in Phase 2. The total monthly costs will be $87 max, saving us $63 a month — enough for a Gym Membership (with pool) which was our original goal.
Note: this also means we won’t have a home phone number any more. We can call out, but if you want to get in touch with us, call our cell phones and we’ll call you back. Or, you can install Skype yourself and we can talk for free!
Phase 2 we’ll do when we get our income tax back. Having Benjmain before the new year turned out to be quite the blessing because the estimator says we’ll be getting a nice chunk back. At this point we’ll invest in some media connecting hardware. I took a look at the AppleTV tonite and I was very impressed by the elegance of the UI, but disappointed by the quality of the video — although there are rumors that HD will be added later. The XBox 360 route offers HDTV now, which makes it slightly more appealing. The homebrew solution offers no method of obtain HD content (save for a CableCard approach, which would save us no money).
Once Phase 2 rolls out, we’ll probably slightly increase our monthly expenditure — maybe by another $5 – $10, but we’ll have a sizeable library of our own digital content, plus the stuff the torrents supply me, plus whatever is available in whatever content provider we decide on. This phase is a hardware investment only — a purely sunk cost, but I think it’ll be worth it. We may be among the first to go this route, but I have a feeling this concept is going to take off and there’ll be a lot of content out there pretty soon…