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Old March 4th, 2009, 01:23 AM   #1
Alex
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The Television Thread!

I was just scanning through the off-topic section, and realized that we haven't had a real television thread yet. What self-respecting internet forum doesn't have a television thread? We need to fix that!

I'll make this a two-parter; first how we like to watch TV, then what we watch. Any and all TV topics are fair game here, and we can always split things off to separate threads if it becomes necessary at some point.

First, Annie and I are tech-weenies. Me perhaps more so, but she'll admit to it as well, to a point. When DVR's were first starting to make news back in '98, we started thinking that there was a way out of our carefully constructed VCR taping schedule. I traveled quite a bit, so a lot of this fell on Annie to replace the tapes, and it could not have been clunkier. We weren't even into that many shows, but we hated missing the ones we liked, so we were pretty good about the system. As clunky as it was. (one tape per day, labelled by day, replaced each morning so the programmed recordings for each night would have enough space, the better shows recorded at LP instead of EP, all that crap).

So a DVR sounded great! But hard drives were still expensive, and initially Tivo wanted $999 for a 14-hr DVR (with a 15-GB drive in it). Neat toy, but too expensive for the benefits it provided. That 14-hrs was at the worst picture quality as well, at best picture quality it was more like 1/3 of that. But technology moved, as it always does, and by the middle of 1999, Tivo dropped the price on their 30-hr unit from $999 to $399, and that was the time we jumped on it. Friends at work were also into it, and within a few weeks I had upgraded it to a 60-hr unit (with a 2nd 30-GB drive, which probably went for $200 or so). Annie and I loved it! We were able to record much more than we could on the VCR, never had to switch tapes, but most importantly, we could watch whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted! (As long as we had enough storage). It was only a short while after that when we added a 2nd Tivo, so we could record 2 shows at once. That truly freed us from every needing to watch live TV; and we haven't since. It's been 10 years at this point. Sometime around 2001 we switched to a pair of DirecTV/Tivo combo boxes, and I also upgraded both of them to their max supported capacity at the time, and each of those had 2 tuners of their own, so we had 4 tuners to record, along with enough drive space that we could go for months without watching things if we wanted. Those boxes were nice as well because they record everything at the exact same quality of the original DirecTV signal; there's no re-encoding or compressing. Basically it just writes out to disk what it would be sending to your screen anyway, so there was zero picture quality difference from live to recorded, for the first time. (Because even at the highest quality on the analog tivos, the picture quality wasn't as good as live. Much better than a VCR, but still not picture-perfect). At that time we started recording shows during the year, saved up entire seasons, and then watched them in summer when nothing else was on. It was convenient, and also even better for some serial-type shows, where we could watch 2 or 3 in a row if we were in the mood, rather than having to wait until the next week for a cliffhanger.

The only problem with all of the above was that none of these devices were HD. HD is one of those things that really sucks. Because if you don't have it, you don't know what you're missing and you're perfectly content. But then you see it, and you realize "oh crap". I used to like this SD picture. I used to be perfectly happy with this SD picture. But now I know it's crap. The issue was that when we started realizing this in 2005, there was still no viable way to record HD in a way that would allow Annie and me to continue to never worry about live TV, and catch up weeks or months later whenever we had the time. At that time the HD DVR's from DirecTV were a joke, with way too little capacity, and even hacked and upgraded, that version of the HD DirecTV signal (mpeg2) was quite large, and it would be prohibitively expensive to have enough drive capacity. HD programs would take about 7 times the amount of storage that the SD DirecTV programs need, which is quite a multiple. So I hemmed and hawed and didn't do anything. We were going to wait until a solution presented itself. Our TV, one of those high-end Sony Wegas, 36", 200+ lbs, wasn't HD and we weren't in any rush to get rid of it, even though it was already approaching 7 years old at the time. It even broke on us, and we had a couple circuit boards replaced in it for a decent chunk of change. Not because I was so enamored with keeping it, but since I still didn't have a viable option to move to HD, so we punted again.

But by the fall of 2006, things started to come together, and I realized it was then time to make the switch. I had a couple weeks off that December, and was able to get everything up and running in a way that would keep us able to do everything we were already enjoying with the existing setup. First we needed the large TV, and we ended up with a 50" 1080p DLP from Samsung. Next I configured a reasonably capable new PC that would sit in our rack right next to the TV to record HD. I put two HD-tuner cards in it, and I set up Windows Media Center. The tuner cards were hooked up to a new HD antenna just sitting on our roof, and they worked great! Perfect quality HD from all the major networks (and some minor ones) for free. Just like the DirecTV/Tivo combo boxes, these HD-tuner cards had no encoder, they would just write the incoming signal right out to disk, so once again there was zero penalty from watching something recorded or live, the picture quality was absolutely identical. And was now in HD! I set up a new remote so everything could be controlled from a single remote, and also networked the computer so it could use extra drive space on other pc's in the house as overflow if the space got low on its internal drives. And we kept the 2 DirecTivo's hooked up to the new TV as well. Everything on the networks we recorded on the media center PC, and the few things remaining on cable (HBO, Speedchannel, ESPN, etc), we recorded on the DirecTivos, with the caveat that none of those on the Tivos were in HD, as those were still just SD devices hooked up to an HD TV. Turned out that most of what we recorded was on the networks, so it wasn't that big a deal to not have HD for a small portion of our shows.

And that's about it! In the last 2 or 3 years we've made some upgrades, but they were minor in the scheme of things. The media center PC is now running Vista media center, which despite its poor public reception had some nice new features for the media center capabilities which we appreciate. Also on the backend all of the video is now piped to a 3 TB home NAS in our office, rather than being stored locally on the PC itself. I also replaced the tivos with a pair of DirecTV HD-DVR's, now that they've become more reliable and more economical. We still record most things on the PC, but the DVR's give us overflow on both tuners and space. The second DVR is pretty much dedicated for motorcycle and car racing. All of them are still controlled with just 1 remote, which makes using the whole system easier than it would ever be otherwise. We have a slingbox connected to the system that was useful when I was travelling; when we wanted to I could watch the same thing that Annie was watching while I was several time zones away, and we could be on the phone at the same time talking about it as if we were still in the same room. Neat gadget, but since we both stopped traveling as much, it hasn't gotten much use in awhile.

So I guess that's how we watch TV. We absolutely never watch anything live, even if we're watching something the same day it's on we'll start it late enough that we can zap the commercials without catching up to live. We always have hundreds of hours more stuff stored up than we'd ever be able to watch, and our problem is always just finding the time, rather than not being able to record what we want initially.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 01:36 AM   #2
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So what do we watch? Well, I guess there are the shows that you're comfortable telling other people you're into, and then there are those that you're not.

Some of the ones that we both like are Big Love, Damages, Chuck, Lost, Weeds, and Two and a Half Men. Some of the ones that Annie likes that I don't watch are all of the Law and Order spinoffs, CSI, Numbers, Psych, and Monk. If she's watching one of those and I'm in the room, usually I'm reading motorcycle magazines. She also records a number of home-type shows like Design on a Dime, Designers Challenge, things like that. Some of the ones that I like that she can't stand are Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, and yes, I still watch Survivor. I'm lame, I know.

We also record all the typical motorcycle road-racing series (AMA, WSBK, MotoGP), as well as some of the auto racing series (F1, SpeedGT).

Some weeks we have a bunch of time to catch up on what's recorded. Some weeks we have zero time and watch pretty much nothing. My schedule over the past few months means I have more time to veg in front of the TV if I let myself, but I try not to gorge.

So what do you folks like to watch? What neat show do you enjoy that none of your friends know about? What show are you embarrassed to say you're still into?
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Old March 4th, 2009, 03:52 AM   #3
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chuck, two and a half men, big bang theory, lost, top gear.
thats what i watch. motogp not so much, it have gotten kinda boring.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 04:52 AM   #4
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Love the tv box.

I like watching;
-The Simpsons
-Top Gear
-Skins (British show about teens, drugs, sex, relationships, school)
-Two and a Half Men
-Prison Break (till it got axed )
-Underbelly (Aussie Gang-based drama)
-AFL (Aust. Football League)
-News & Current Affairs

But I'll probably watch anything that I find remotely interesting if I've got nothing better to do.

Also, I'm embarrassed to tell anyone that I LOVE cooking shows, shows such as;
-Anything involving Jamie Oliver
-Ramsey's kitchen Nightmares
-And them "Lifestyle shows" which also include a few recipes here and there.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 08:31 AM   #5
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I like a lot of the stuff on TruTV (formerly CourtTV):
-COPS
-Most Shocking
-Most Daring
-Beach Patrol

Some of my favorite animations:
-Family Guy (which can be a little too much some times)
-The Simpsons

Also, I'm into American Idol. :/ My favorite part is definitely watching the auditions and such, but I get into the competition as long as there's someone worthy of paying attention to.

As for the misses, she enjoys all the dramatic shows that I can't stand:
-The Bachelor
-The Hills
-Some show about the "American teenager"
-Another show with one of the girls from the Hills...

^YUCK!!^
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Old March 4th, 2009, 09:31 AM   #6
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I don't really watch a lot of 'live' tv... Commercials annoy me. Especially now that the pharmicutical companies have discovered 60 seconds (give or take) of bliss. Nah... What I watch comes up on On Demand or I just wait for the DVDs I don't think my life should be run by a plasma screen so I have no TV Schedule and can do what I want when I want and not feel bad about missing this episode or that episode..

Some favorites -
Pretender (number one favorite though no longer airing, I have it on DVD and can watch it at any time)
*CSI (Vegas and NY is interesting Miami not so much)
*NCIS
*Numbers (though I can't understand half the stuff Charlie says)
(*on demand)

Some stuff Phil DVRs that I like
House (though we have all other seasons on DVD and will own the new ones when they come out)
Mentalist (I am surprised I like this one)
Good Eats (Food Network show. Good for the science of cooking)

Ones we are waiting for DVD
Bones
Monk
Dead Zone
Heroes (Still haven't watched season 2 yet)
Avitar: The last Air Bender (One day I will own them all. So far they are expensive!)

Ones I would watch if I catch them on
Two and a half men (that is just funny)
How I met your Mother
Man vs Wild
Survivor Man
Dirty Jobs (that man will do anything!)
How its Made
Hannah Montana (yeah yeah you know you watch it)
Suit life of Zack and Cody (followed by Suite life on Deck)

Shows Phil likes that I refuse to watch: (Luckily not that many. He has more TV/Movies that he doesn't like that I watch)
Scrubs (I don't know why but this show annoys me)
Dexter (Again... though I think it's my hereo complex and the good guy shouldn't be killing the bad guys)



I am also a fan of Anime and while there is some good shows airing on tv I hate dubed stuff I prefer subtitles so I usually buy all my anime... Every once and a while a good show with a good dub will come on. But again that is On Demand.

I do have a huge DVD collection... So really there is always something to watch that does not require commercials. I go to great lengths to avoid them. Great lengths. (Of course the DVR is nice because you can fast forward through them...It still gets annoying)
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Old March 4th, 2009, 09:47 AM   #7
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We have been clean and sober TV wise since 2000
No reception... It was hard unhooking....real hard....

But we do rent DVDs and such and sometimes get whole seasons at a time. Currently we just finished Arrested Development season 2. It takes us a couple of months to watch because we usually only watch one at a time and then the TV is off. We would get NOTHING done if we had reception. Racing, old Spencer for hires, Lucy gilligan... just melt into the abyss drooling....
> on the other hand I want to get the True Blood series.

On other other addiction side we are Connected at all times on the net. yikes.
We did rent watch Two movies this weekend. that was a fun and rare!!
Hell boy 2 and the Changeling which I recommend but is emotionally intense.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 10:07 AM   #8
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Burn Notice, Psych, Fort Boyard (French show), House
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Old March 4th, 2009, 11:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zartan View Post
Currently we just finished Arrested Development season 2.
One of my favorite shows ever. Ann couldn't stand it. Rumor is that there's a reasonable chance for an Arrested Development movie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by athimmel View Post
Burn Notice
Haven't seen this show, but have seen the ads for it from time to time. What's it similar to? Is it a comedy? drama? a little of both?
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Old March 4th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #10
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Burn Notice is unique. It's about a spy who has been burned from the agency and stranded in Miami. He does odd jobs to help people in trouble while trying to find out who had him burned. He is assisted by a long-time friend (played by Bruce Campbell) and a former-IRA former-girlfriend Fiona. It's a lot of action and a lot of humor. The narration by the lead character and the graphics identifying certain people are great. Give it a try. Season one is available on DVD right now. Tomorrow night is the season finale' of the third season.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 12:50 PM   #11
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Re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, I'm addicted to it, and it gets DVR'd, I have had DishNetwork for years, 'cept when we live in VA, we cable for 2 months then canceled it and went with an antenna for the 3.5 years we were there, (couldn't have either of the dishes because of the area we lived in and there were ALOT of trees so we couldn't mount it around back. SWMBO only watches the old shoes, Bewitched, Andy Griffith, Designing Women, Golden Girls, Lucy etc, and Family guy, if there is one on somewhere, she is watching it. And Futurama.

Me, I also like the Two and half men, along with jr, and Fraiser, sometimes
BUT, I don't really watch a whole lot, I used to and when I was laid up after surgery, I watched a lot of History channel and Discovery, Modern Marvels, how it made, etc.

If it is something that I really want to watch, I dvr it and watch it when I get around to it.

nb
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Old March 4th, 2009, 01:00 PM   #12
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Uhh... Alex, you are really into your television stuff. I don't think I've ever seen a TV post with that much detail before.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 01:07 PM   #13
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I have got a DVR, HD is really just starting to come out here. and record the most important stuff (Numbers, Bones, Cold Case, Mythbusters, Formula 1 (Which I am going to in Australia this year! YAY!! )

I also aquire the latest HD shows such as Prison Break, Knight Rider 2008, Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicals from the net

Then I also watch Dirty Jobs and a lot of other stuff on Discovery Channel if it is on, which I don't record.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 05:55 PM   #14
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lets see - for me its House, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Scrubs, Speed Channel, any history channel and any discovery channel

all in hd on my 50in panny plasma
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Old March 4th, 2009, 05:55 PM   #15
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oh and Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series - its awesome
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Old March 4th, 2009, 07:11 PM   #16
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Hmm... It's weird but when I'm home I only use my TV to play Wii games if there's anything I want to watch I usu see it on my computer at websites like Hulu.com

Sometimes I'll purposely visit my friends to watch the following programs on their TVs:

Scrubs, The Office, CSI: MIami, Family Guy and Futurama. Also the History Channel and some college or pro basketball/football if it's an important nail-biting action game.

Dunno, but I feel a bit strange watching the tube on my own, feels awkward like going to a movie theater alone.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 07:23 PM   #17
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Dunno, but I feel a bit strange watching the tube on my own, feels awkward like going to a movie theater alone.
lemme know... I'll come watch TV with you.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #18
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You'll fly to NC? Awww how sweet of you!!
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Old March 4th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #19
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Quote:
One of my favorite shows ever. Ann couldn't stand it. Rumor is that there's a reasonable chance for an Arrested Development movie.
haha! TR and I do the chicken cluck dance at each other to get the others goat ..cluck clap!!
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Old March 4th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #20
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I have a 32" Samsung LCD TV and Tivo HD. I dont think i'll ever go back to non-recorded TV.

I watch:
-The Daily Show
-The Colbert Report
-The Office
-Entourage (on DVD, I dont have HBO)
-Top Gear (not on TV since I dont have the SPEED channel, but I've watched the first 4 seasons in the past month, probably my fav show at the time)
-The Simpsons (own all released seasons on DVD)
-Family Guy

More generally, I watch
-Stand-up on Comedy Central, and some of their other shows
-Almost anything on the History Channel
-Many shows on Discovery Channel
-Almost anything on SPEED Channel when I have access to it
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Old March 4th, 2009, 10:00 PM   #21
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I dont think i'll ever go back to non-recorded TV.
I can't imagine going back. The thought of having to make sure you're home in time, or done with chores in time, just to make sure you get to watch something that you'd enjoy, seems like the dark ages at this point. A few years back I gave Tivo boxes to a number of family members, must have bought 6 or 7 of the gadgets. What I couldn't understand is that a number of them just didn't get it. They happily used the tivo to record things from time to time, but by and large they still watched things live. They didn't get that they didn't have to do that anymore. Spent a bunch of time trying to show them how they had the freedom to record whatever they wanted and watch whenever they wanted, and skip commercials as well. Some said they just liked watching things live, and some in fact continue to do so today. (though some have since relented.)
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Old March 5th, 2009, 03:21 PM   #22
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Yeah, i know what you mean Alex. I bought a Tivo for my parents for christmas since i noticed they were revolving their schedules around the TV schedule. I still dont think they have really caught on to how much they can really use it. They still watch live TV and record the show they are watching in case they fall asleep. I purposely wait for the next day (or, really, whenever i feel like it) to watch shows just to avoid commercials.

Alex, have you ever had quality trouble with Tivo? Almost once a week I turn on my TV and the screen is blank. I can watch recorded shows, but it seems the buffer has frozen and the only way I can see live TV again is to restart the DVR (a 10 min process). This is not that bad but when i dont catch it in time, I ended up with a whole recorded show that is only a black screen.
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Old March 5th, 2009, 03:49 PM   #23
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Hi Nick -

I'd recommend putting the Tivo on a UPS. Frankly, I'm surprised that consumer DVR's work as well as they do. They are basically computers, with standard hard drives running continuously 24/7/365. They are rarely plugged into functional surge protectors, let alone a UPS. In most cases they are plugged into the same exact outlet that the TV, stereo, and the rest of the AV equipment is sitting in the TV room (which is likely not rated to handle all of those at once, and when one of the larger pieces of equipment is switched on, there is an immediate effect on the other devices on that same outlet).

For best reliability, plug them into one of these and they will last for years with minimal issues, well past the time you'd want to replace them for ones with better features anyway. That Amazon price is pretty high ($60 or so), and you can likely find one locally that will do an equivalent job in the $40 range. Our UPS's trip at least once per day, and sometimes several times a day. Put that amount of power fluctuation into a hard-drive that's running continuously, and periodic glitches along with an early failure are pretty much guaranteed.
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Old March 8th, 2009, 10:56 AM   #24
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Well I'm late into to the TV posts, but our TV and tivo for that matter is usually filled with whatever is on Noggin or Thomas
None of us actually watch the TV that much, it's usually just on...
Things the adults in the house like to watch areL
Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
Two and a Half Men
Worst Week
NCIS
The Unit
Knight Rider
Real World
Grey's Anatomy
Ghost Whisperer
Top Gear
Hell's Kitchen
Top Chef
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:29 PM   #25
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I forgot about Worst Week, I do like that show. After I saw the pilot, I wasn't sure if there was actually enough material for more than a show or two, but I've been pleasantly surprised.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 03:35 AM   #26
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wife and i do our fair share of tube watching. we got us a 50-incher...ANYWAY...we recently got the ROKU box from Netflix. for a one-time purchase of this box at about $90.00 that streams video via your internet connection, and a netflix account, we can go online and access a poop-load of movies (lots of older titles), set up a list and watch at will! i am impressed with the quality of the streaming vids this thing puts out. we're paying $17.00 for the type account she signed up for, and the streams are free.

so...we've been watching House by the seasons as we're newcomers to that series. we do NCIS the same way...we love Lost, Sci-fi's Battle Star Galactica. i watch alot of History channel stuff along with Nova on PBS. we both absolutely hate reality based stuff, and i like to watch that late night guy who's on after Letterman...Brain farting his name...


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Old March 9th, 2009, 06:53 AM   #27
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Saw Burn notice! Loved it! I caught a few episodes of season 2 on On Demand and had to go out and buy the first season! It was very good!
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Old March 21st, 2009, 09:02 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex View Post
Hi Nick -

I'd recommend putting the Tivo on a UPS. Frankly, I'm surprised that consumer DVR's work as well as they do. They are basically computers, with standard hard drives running continuously 24/7/365. They are rarely plugged into functional surge protectors, let alone a UPS. In most cases they are plugged into the same exact outlet that the TV, stereo, and the rest of the AV equipment is sitting in the TV room (which is likely not rated to handle all of those at once, and when one of the larger pieces of equipment is switched on, there is an immediate effect on the other devices on that same outlet).

For best reliability, plug them into one of these and they will last for years with minimal issues, well past the time you'd want to replace them for ones with better features anyway. That Amazon price is pretty high ($60 or so), and you can likely find one locally that will do an equivalent job in the $40 range. Our UPS's trip at least once per day, and sometimes several times a day. Put that amount of power fluctuation into a hard-drive that's running continuously, and periodic glitches along with an early failure are pretty much guaranteed.
Thanks, i had never thought about that. UPS's are probably very good to use on desktop computers too, right?
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Old March 21st, 2009, 10:29 PM   #29
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Absolutely.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 01:09 AM   #30
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LOST fan here.

I like to stream hulu to my flat screen in the living room through a PS3. Some times I even use this setup to entertain guests with youtube. Heck Im typing this right now from the couch. Laaid baack.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 03:19 AM   #31
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Thanks, i had never thought about that. UPS's are probably very good to use on desktop computers too, right?
have two of them in use at the house as we speak
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 07:30 AM   #32
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I rarely watch TV unless its to watch a movie on DVD (which I am addicted to)
the only series' I watch are Bones (even in repeats) and Legend of the Seeker ...
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Old March 28th, 2009, 06:06 PM   #33
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My all-time favorite show that I will absolutely NOT miss: Terminator, The Sarah Connor Chronicles! Every Friday @ 8pm Eastern on FOX...

I can't wait until Salvation comes out! Whooo hoooo

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Old March 28th, 2009, 08:12 PM   #34
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There's no cable in my room, so I usually watch lots of DVD's or I stream on Hulu from my Mac to my 46 inch plasma.

On DVD, I watch:
House
CSI
Dexter
Friends
The Shield

On Hulu, I stream:
Lie to Me
Legend of the Seeker
Dollhouse
CSI
House
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show

And when no one is watching TV in the living room, I'll watch:
Top Chef
Iron Chef
Law & Order: SVU
NCIS
Anything on the Military channel, Nat Geo, History channel, Discovery Channel
How It's Made
Unwrapped

I have a pretty large DVD collection. I often used to buy movies gthat I had never seen that just looked interested. I worked at Blockbuster and then Best Buy for a long time, so I always bought when movies were on sale. I'd say half of my movies have never even been opened. So when there's nothing on Hulu, I just watch a DVD from my own private collection. I don't really miss having cable. I definitely don't miss the cable bill...

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Old March 28th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #35
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TV? What's that?
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 01:18 AM   #36
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Top Gear - Bbc

How I Met Your Mother - Cbs

Chuck & The_Office - nbc

Eli Stone - abc (Got Canceled, those ba5tards) - just curious to see if anyone else watched this

Psych - USA network
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 01:31 AM   #37
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"No TV and no beer makes Homer go something something.."
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 01:33 AM   #38
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"No TV and no beer makes Homer go something something.."
wat
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 02:49 AM   #39
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 03:15 AM   #40
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lol, yes Steve - you're 100% correct. It makes Homer go Leg humping..
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