I’m a penny-pinching luddite–I refuse to pay exorbitant monthly charges for unsatisfactory goods. This is why my home theater is an absurd Rube Goldberg machine of adapters and proxy devices. In theory, I’m saving money, though I’ve made no actual calculations.
It’s true that when you go cheap, things become more expensive in the long run, but the deviant thrill of gaming the system adds value. There’s empowerment in grasping the reigns from our corporate masters and taking true ownership of one’s equipment. I may have a jury-rigged monstrosity, but it’s mine.
My efforts do bear fruit: I’m getting only the media I desire through the most comfortable position of consumption (my living room couch) at the cost of minor inconvenience. The machine works (typically) and when it fails, I needn’t contact some remote, outsourced service agent–I’m right there to fix it immediately.
I believe that it’s less a question of why and more a question of “Y”. It appears to be a dude thing. Men may have an exclusive gene to tinker and tweak to the point of impracticality. Anyone can be an engineer, but the average man is more likely to monkey with a device, if for no other reason than to see what it looks like broken.
Women–strangers–are visibly embarrassed when I describe my designs to them. Their immediate reaction is, “Why don’t you just buy one? It’s simple and it works better.” Their words are wise and true. We tend to get lost in a fog; more engrossed in the challenge than true accomplishment. Our capacity to resist defeat is vast and silly.
Here’s my current setup:
For broadcast television, I only have a $15 digital antenna…cuz the only shows I may watch over the air are Judge Judy and People’s Court.
Along with being my Netflix receiver, my PlayStation 3 works in tandem with my desktop PC to bring me the lion’s share of my entertainment. Through PS3 Media Server, I can play most media files from my PC. I also subscribe to PlayOn, which delivers just about any streaming video service to my TV, including my favorite channels on Blip.tv.
The PlayStation 3 has Hulu Plus built in, but it’s an inferior product to the free web-based service. It may carry more episodes, but a fraction of the titles. Again, I rely on PlayOn to catch up on Hell’s Kitchen, Community, and 30 Rock.
I recently installed a new video card for my desktop with two DVI ports, so I’ve connected the second output to my TV. Now all forms of media are unlocked to me! I’ll be able to enjoy my PC games from my couch soon, once I work out controllers, keyboard, etc, that will reach.
The pattern is unending. I may be case for convergence, though I stand firm on my position of component hardware, à la carte programming, and cheap shortcuts.