Some recent posts on Facebook from my favorite Holtkamps got me thinking seriously about getting rid of our TV service from Verizon.
It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with them or anything. I really don’t have any complaints, and in fact, our TV, internet, and phone services have been pretty reliable I think. It’s just that between all our services with them we shell out around $350 a month. The bill is so complicated with all the services we get from them I honestly don’t know exactly how much our TV service is, but I think it’s in the $100-150 range.
So anyway, long-term cost savings, combined with my nerdiness, has got me thinking about how to set up some sort of system that would replace our current one for TV service, plus do a few other things. Here’s my initial thoughts, in bullet point format:
- Set up a centralized server with multiple, redundant (RAID) drives to store all sorts of files. I’m thinking something along the lines of the LimeTech RB-1200 computer, though I’d probably custom-build my own system instead of buying a pre-built one. The computer would serve two main functions
- Media server — to hold our libraries of videos, music, and photos
- Backup server — to backup our computer systems on some sort of regular basis
- Get three “satellite receivers” for the three TVs in our house. I’m debating whether I should get something like the Apple TV or Roku 2 XS OR build something more custom. It’d be hard to get under $100 with something custom, though. And we’re talking three of these things.
- Whatever I get would need to be able to connect to the aforementioned media server AND be able to connect to online services like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. If it does that, it should probably also be able to stream music and display pictures, too.
- Even if I go with one of the cheaper solutions, and especially if I do something custom, I’m considering software. Right now I’m contemplating XBMC, which looks very powerful, customizble, and add-on-able.
- The other important aspect of the server is the backup capability. My ideal setup would be something Dropbox-like, only my files would be getting backed up to my server instead of Dropbox everytime they’re modified. I don’t know how difficult that is to set up, so at bare minimum I’d want to set up some sort of daily or weekly backups of our computers. Ashley has a ton of pictures and I’m pretty sure none of them are backed up. I’m pretty sure she’d be really sad if her computer died.
- Lastly, moving back to the media server bit — I think it should be possible to set up the server to be able to broadcast the media files to the internet if I so choose. Slingbox does something like that. But I think if I’m building a standalone server like this, I should be able to configure it to do the same kind of thing, right? Maybe. It’d be awesome to be able to pick up my phone and stream movies and TV shows from my media server at home.
I figure I can get this whole thing set up for somewhere between $600-1,000. If we’re paying $100-150 a month right now, you can see it’ll pay for itself in under a year. I’ll get some really awesome new features in the process. And I’ll get to have fun figuring it all out. Seems like a win-win-win.