Tag Archives: airplay

How to watch NFL without cable

Football season can be very demanding for sports fans, so preparedness is crucial.  A good game plan is required to ensure no action is missed.   For a “cord cutter”, the inevitable question arises, how can I watch NFL without cable?  No worries, I’ve listed out a few plays that will have you warmed up and ready for the bone crunching entertainment!     As  we’ve said before, no solution is perfect, but watching sports without cable is totally doable.

Typical antenna installed at chimney

Typical antenna installed at chimney

The Antenna Play

Your first play for watching the NFL without cable starts with a basic HD antenna.  Choosing the best HDTV antenna to start with helps ensure this effort provides good results.   These antenna are not terribly expensive, and once properly installed, will provide you some of the best quality images you’ll see anywhere.  Typically much better than Comcast or DirecTV can provide.  You’ll be pleaseantly surprised how good the picture quality is, and the price is hard to beat!  I’ve installed entire systems for less than 50$, your mileage may vary.

The NFL Sunday Ticket Play

Your second play for NFL without cable works on games that aren’t on your local broadcast stations, like those on Sunday. Currently, DirecTV offers the NFL Sunday Ticket as an ad-hoc service, meaning you don’t to be a subscriber to get this package.  The Sunday Ticket gives you live access to every out-of-market game, every Sunday!   Here’s the catch!  DirecTV states “It’s available to anyone that cannot get DIRECTV at their residence due to line-of-sight issues.”   Hint: This is easily overcome for most folks, especially those that live in apartments or condominiums that don’t allow balcony or roof attachments for dish mounting (in spite of FCC regulations deflating this position).   DirecTV is not interrogating subscribers on their reception capability when signing up for the Sunday Ticket App, they just take your money and give you access.

While the price is a little steep at $250.00, I appreciate the fact that they’ve reduced the package by $100.00 from last year. As an aside, I’ve heard multiple reports that the price is negotiable ($200), so don’t hesitate to ask for a discount.  The same subscription also allows you to view the games on your PS3, so at least the money has dual purpose, if you have a PS3 at the house.

What about picture quality?

Picture quality is outstanding on the iPad!  On occasion, I experienced a slight degradation in quality, but it seemed to only be intermittent, and not very frequent.  Overall, I’d say the stream is very watchable and provides a good user experience.  The user interface is easy to navigate and obviously customized for the online viewing experience.  I imagine at some point they will rework the app to include more stat’s and hopefully some fantasy football league data.

Airplay button

The AirPlay button

That little square with an arrow pointed up is the AirPlay button.  And if it worked all the time, it would be great!  Unfortunately, streaming these games to your TV using AirPlay is getting very mixed results from folks. Apparently the NFL has blocked AirPlay streaming from within the App, but some users are reporting AirPlay Mirroring to work. Mirroring requires the use of a special cable that connects your iPad directly to the TV using an HDMI signal. While the quality should be good, I don’t think the screen resolutions will match up properly, so you may have only a small portion of your TV screen showing the game. I’ll be picking up a cable to try this out for myself.

Also worth noting is that the iPhone 5, and it’s counterpart, iOS 6, are in no way compatible with the NFL Sunday Ticket version 1.8.1.   Actually, any device running the new iOS 6 breaks the app.  If you have an iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, or iPad, DO NOT upgrade your device to iOS 6, or you will be left in the cold waiting on a new release of the Sunday NFL Sunday Ticket App.

If you have comments or suggestions on using the NFL Sunday Ticket App, we would love to hear from you. I’m especially interested to hear about successful use of AirPlay to view Sunday Ticket on a TV.  Drop us a note in the comment section below.

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AirPlay to Xbox

What is AirPlay?

The Apple iOS/OS feature AirPlay allows users to stream video, audio and pictures from one device to another wirelessly, anywhere on the same network.    Apple tweaked the existing AirTunes protocol in 2010 to include video  and pictures in addition to audio, coinciding with the renaming of AirTunes to AirPlay.  Apple has since begun licensing AirPlay  to 3rd party manufacturers, increasing the number of AirPlay options in the marketplace.  This development is in addition to unlicensed development by folks like the XBMC Dev Team and others.  All of this means AirPlay is a must have in your media distribution tool-kit.

AirPlay ScreenShot

AirPlay screen

How does it work?

The Apple protocol, AirPlay, consist of two components.  A Media Pitcher and a Media Catcher.  The Media Pitcher prepares the media for transmission and sets up the stream.  The Media Catcher receives and presents the media to the connected device.    The two devices work together to stream and present media across a network, wired or wirelessly.  So, that football game your streaming on your iPad can be beamed to your TV using AirPlay.

The list of partners Apple has formal integration with is healthy, including top brands like Denon, Marantz, B&W and JBL to name a few.  While others work is less formal arrangements to  research and reverse engineer the inner workings of the AirPlay protocol.   All of this developer and manufacturer attention means the market is recognized and the technology is here to stay.  This is good news for those of us that enjoy beaming our content all over the house using a mis-match of hardware.

xbox

AirPlay and Xbox

Xbox’s running XBox Media Center (XBMC) have long been an integral tool in the “cord cutter’s” arsenal.  XBMC is a cross platform entertainment media hub, similar to Plex Media Server.  This media hub  dynamically indexes and presents a rich visual interface that allows users to browse all of their media using a remote control for interaction.  XBMC makes streaming our content across networks simple and beautiful.   Now with version 11 of XBMC, AirPlay is integrated and takes “in home media distribution” to a new level!   This current release allows your Xbox running XBMC to act as a Video Catcher, playing streams it receives wirelessly from your AirPlay device!   While the support is not complete, and a work in progress, the current implementation is stable and supports video, music and images on most all platforms, including Android!

The Future of XBMC and AirPlay

Who know’s what the future holds for AirPlay and Xbox.  What I know is that wireless transfer of media in-home is here to stay.  Apple recently included AirPlay in their OS and iOS updates.  The XBMC Dev team is actively meeting to strategize future releases.  Given the activity on both sides, Apple and XBMC, I’m expecting solid progress and additional integration.

Tell us about your experience with Xbox, XBMC and AirPlay in the comment section below.

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