A couple months ago, my cable provider, Comcast, pulled the plug on all analog broadcasts. Consequently, the TV tuners in several of my media-center PCs (which I use in various rooms of the house) were rendered useless.
Several companies have promised CableCARD adapters for PCs, but for now they're still vaporware. So how am I supposed to watch TV on my effectively neutered system?
Simple: I'm taking the tuner out of the equation. Boxee is a free alternative to my beloved Windows Media Center, one that's designed expressly for streaming video content from the likes of Hulu, Netflix, and various TV networks.
In other words, it's like an on-demand video server. What's more, it's designed with couch potatoes in mind, offering a gorgeous 10-foot interface you can control via mouse, remote, or even app.
Boxee does more than just stream TV shows. It lets you play the photos, videos, and music stored on your PC, set up and view RSS feeds, browse a huge library of "apps" (which are basically Web channels like Funny or Die, MTV, and Pandora), and connect with your favorite social-media sites to share what you're watching.
I won't say I love everything about Boxee's interface--learning to navigate takes a little practice--but I'm glad I can still watch most of my favorite shows even though Comcast won't let me (not with an analog tuner, anyway).
Has your media-center PC been affected by the recent switch to digital broadcasts? If so, how have you dealt with it? Cable box? TiVo? The public library?