Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Making Do: Yankee Thrift in the Florida Panhandle

Another problem has been solved at Blew Inn.  The issue of television at our retirement cottage has been a potential budget-buster.  Local cable provider Cox has the go-to solution for TV in our area but the pricing is astronomical in view of our limited usage.  Finding a workable, budget-friendly solution to the problem was a conundrum.

The Slingbox setup at our home in Houston has always been the key to enjoying the premium TV services we pay for in Houston pretty-much anywhere:  Tokyo, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, etc.  For an investment of <$300, the Slingbox hardware integrates our home TV with our home network and assigns it an IP address.  The Slingbox software on our iphones and ipads allows us to control the home-based hardware and watch remotely anything we could watch at home.  All that's required is a high speed internet connection (a speed sufficient  for streaming video.)

My initial thoughts in Pensacola were to employ the hotspot feature of my iphone to allow our ipads to control Slingbox, as we do on layovers.  The strong Sprint LTE signal at Blew Inn is certainly sufficient for supporting this approach but Sprint has recently eliminated the option of unlimited hotspot data usage from its user plans.  We are now capped at 6GB per month (not enought for daily TV consumption) and even that is a hefty $50 fee.  After considering other high-speed options for our area, I started thinking more about Apple and the myriad solutions they provide for their products.

Since the data usage on our iphones IS unlimited with no additional charge, they are the key to solving the problem of large monthly fees.  After doing a little research at the online Apple store, we solved our problem with a $49 "Lightning to A/V Adapter" plus a $10 HDMI cable plus a surplus 26" LCD TV that we brought with us from Texas.

With virtually NO "tweaking" and a one-time investment of $60, we had a perfectly acceptable (actually, quite elegant), cost-efficient solution.  

Apple + Slingbox = Affordable Home Entertainment!

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