TV on the Internet

A guide to helping make the television obsolete, or at least more friendly to your Netflix

PHOTO COURTESY HULU.COM The alien known as Alec Baldwin sells Hulu on the weekends.

Ashley Goetz

PHOTO COURTESY HULU.COM The alien known as Alec Baldwin sells Hulu on the weekends.

Despite the squeeze from Mr. Dow Jones, some college students are continuing to pay insane amounts out of pocket to one particular superfluous institution: the cable company. One of the simplest ways to save money in these troubled times is to cancel cable services. ComcastâÄôs Digital Starter has an ongoing cost of $57.50 a month, which is an absurd amount for only seven good channels and 150 bad ones. Many people will cry out, âÄúBut what will I watch instead of doing my homework?âÄù The answer is simple: Watch TV on the Internet. There are now a variety of free and premium websites that allow people to view their favorite television shows on their computer for much less than what cable companies charge. The most prominent TV-viewer is Hulu. If youâÄôve been living under a rock for the last two years, Hulu is a joint venture by NBC Universal and News Corp (Fox) that was essentially created to take back the revenue that YouTube was inadvertently receiving from uploaded videos. The streaming video service features recent episodes and fan favorites from NBC and Fox (among others), and is entirely free. Now, as great as Hulu is, there are a few problems that people find irksome. The most common complaint is that Hulu inserts forced commercials, but this happens on regular TV, so it isnâÄôt much of a grievance. Additionally, Hulu does not offer shows from some networks and premium channels, so youâÄôll have to jump over to one of HuluâÄôs equally impressive competitors like Joost or Sling (both of which boast impressive movie selections, too) or just wait until the DVDs come out. But the most common complaint of these TV-Internet services is that you have to watch it on your computer. People enjoy watching TV on their giant HD plasma screens, and why shouldnâÄôt they? A cheap VGA adapter will solve this problem; they run about $19.00 and allow you to directly hook up your TV to your computer with the resolution only slightly diminishing. ItâÄôs not HD, but itâÄôs better than digging yourself into debt trying to pay for cable. Still, those looking for better picture quality have another option. Netflix is a surprisingly inexpensive resource with plans ranging from $4.99 to $16.99 . Netflix also has a deal with Starz and Showtime that lets members watch fan favorites like âÄúWeedsâÄù without buying into the Showtime subscription plan. In addition to being able to choose from a massive library of movies and TV shows for rental, Netflix has the ability to stream videos on your computer and, more importantly, on your television through a Netflix-ready device like the Xbox 360 or the Roku Digital Video Player. Netflix is also working on putting their technology into all new TV sets. LG is leading the charge with a new line of capable TVs and Internet-connected Blu-ray players. The only problem is that the picture quality depends on your Internet connection, so it can range from everything to hyper-pixilated to mind-blowingly detailed. With all these services vying for the massesâÄô attention, cableâÄôs days are numbered. The popularity of online players is on the rise, and ComcastâÄôs subscriptions are declining ; This might be the first death rattle of an outdated system