I’ve been on the edge of severing ties with my cable subscription for a number of years. I hadn’t done it because while the AppleTV/iTunes/Netflix/Hulu combo provided me with more than I could ever want/watch in terms of programming, there was the occasional concern that there’d be some live TV programming that I wouldn’t want to miss.

This concern was alleviated by Aereo, which grabs free over-the-air HD signals from the networks (and a few other stations), and allows you to watch live or record on your computer or mobile device.

It works swmimmingly, and for $8/month, it’s a good bargain.

So…cable cut. No regrets. Plow the “saved” money into higher speed internet (they’re going to get you one way or the other).

However, while AppleTV is great for zapping a signal to your TV via AirPlay from your iPad or iPhone, if you are watching something on your laptop, getting this signal to your TV used to require a complicated set of chords and adapters. Newer versions of Macs have built-in AirPlay functionality, but if you’re running an older Mac, you’ll need an app called AirParrot. This will mirror the audio and video from your Mac on your AppleTV.

So, there you have it, the recipe for cutting your cable, while still having access to all the programming you could want. :

AppleTV: $100
AirParrot: $10 (only necessary if you have a late-ish Mac)
Netflix: $8/month
HuluPlus: $8/month
Aereo: $8/month

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NOTES:
1. Many could probably get away with either HuluPlus or Aereo alone, and not need both.

2. If you’re a big sports fan, you might still want/need cable; as Aereo doesn’t have ESPN, etc.

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We recently moved into a new house. I hooked up the cable modem and Airport Extreme router, which, in our previous houses, had been an adequate system in terms of being able to provide a decent wireless signal, and connect a few AppleTVs (on the wireless network), which streamed movies without inordinately frustrating load/buffer time.

Our new house is bigger and has some some brick walls. This led to shoddy service in various rooms, and made streaming movies via AppleTV impossible (“Your movie will be ready to watch in 14 hours”).

I scattered an array of Airport Expresses around the house in order to extend the network. This helped a bit, but not a lot.

I had heard about powerline network adapters, but had never used them. In short, you connect an ethernet chord from your modem into a connector on a box that you plug into a wall outlet. Doing so shoots internet signal through your electrical circuits. You then plug a second powerline network adapter into another outlet (in a room that doesn’t have good wireless), and – via ethernet – plug in whatever device you want to provide internet (an AppleTV, for instance) or another wireless router…or both.

I did just this.

The cable modem is upstairs on one side of the house. I plugged an ethernet chord from it into the Linksys Powerline Network Adapter, plugged it in the wall socket, and then plugged a second powerline adapter into a downstairs room on the other end of the house. This adapter has four ethernet ports on it. I plugged one into an AppleTV, one into an AirportExtreme router, and one into a Sonos Bridge.

The AppleTV now streams instantly; no buffer/load at all. I created an entirely new wireless network from the AirportExtreme, and now there are no dead zones. The Sonos works flawlessly (but they always work flawlessly).

This approach is absolutely the way to go for fast connectivity in challenging environments. It’s vastly superior to extending a network via a bunch of Apple Airport Expresses.

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