Today's media rooms and home theaters have become more important in giving consumers what they want, coming a long way from traditional film projectors and DVDs. From Internet TV to Blu-ray disks, you can enjoy your favorite TV shows, movies and sporting events in a variety of ways. For example, if you're a fan of AMC's critically acclaimed 1960s drama Mad Men, take a look at the variety of ways you can watch episodes as well as access other media content.
Blu-Ray & DVDs
Season 3 of Mad Men was released on DVD and Blu-ray in March 2010, and the box sets for Season 1 and Season 2 were released in July 2008 and July 2009 respectively. One big benefit of owning this hit show on disc is that you can watch it however you'd like — on TV or on your computer, whenever's convenient for you and wherever you'd like, even if you don't have access to the Internet or cable.
One of the easiest — and certainly most conventional — ways to watch Mad Men at home is through a cable service provider. Companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable transmit radio frequency signals, bringing your favorite programs right to your television set. Of course the biggest advantage to watching a show on cable is you get to see it when it is first broadcast without having to wait. But with the rising costs of cable TV subscriptions and the growing popularity and convenience of watching TV shows online — and on demand — the cable industry is working on additional ways to deliver its valuable content.
While cable is a very popular choice, there are many viewers who opt for satellite TV instead. Critics of cable insist satellite offers a better deal — more channels, more HD offerings and better service at a lower monthly cost. And satellite is available to virtually anyone, while cable providers sometimes have limited service areas.
If you don't have cable or can't be home every Sunday night to catch the new episode of Mad Men or whatever show you like, check online. Apple's iTunes service, a free application where you can purchase and download music and videos to your computer, offers episodes of Mad Men.
Want to catch up on the last season of Mad Men but don't want to buy the DVD set? Netflix is a subscription service that streams a variety of TV shows and movies on the Internet and sends DVDs by mail. For a monthly flat fee, subscribers create an ordered list of DVDs they want mailed to them, which they can keep for as long as they'd like with no late-return fees. Netflix also has many shows and movies available to watch instantly on your computer or large flat-screen TV, a staple in many media rooms. Using game consoles such as Xbox, Playstation 3 and Wii, users can connect their Netflix accounts directly to their TVs to enjoy many available titles. Photo courtesy of Netflix
You don't need cable or a computer to watch entertainment on demand. Apple TV lets you watch everything from TV shows and movies to podcasts and YouTube videos on your TV. Just plug in the Apple TV digital media receiver to your TV and you can instantly browse a massive selection of shows and movies, all available in HD. While you might not be able to watch the latest Mad Men episode at the same time it airs, you can purchase the episode, or a season pass, and watch it on Apple TV just one day after it runs. Photo courtesy of Apple
Google TV is a brand-new software platform that allows for the smooth integration of TV and the Internet. Essentially, it works with your existing hardware — your cable or satellite box — and works much like a Google search. That is, you can move easily between TV channels and websites, videos, music and photos online. You can go from watching Mad Men on AMC to browsing fan sites and IMDB on the Internet during the commercial break. Photo courtesy of Google
Introduced in May 2008, Roku is a digital video player that instantly streams content from Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand directly to your TV using integrated WiFi. And the Roku platform includes more than 40 additional channels, such as MLB.TV, UFC, Pandora, Facebook Photos and more — with new channels added every week. Photo courtesy of Roku
Boxee is a unique open-source media center that brings all the media in your home to one place. It works as an application that plays content from your computer, TV and other devices in your home, as well as pulling content such as TV shows, movies, photos and music from across the Web. But instead of having to look for these different types of content, Boxee brings it all together on your TV screen. Photo courtesy of Boxee
The VUDU player is a revolutionary set-top box that connects to your TV through a broadband connection, providing viewers with instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows. The VUDU box does not require a computer or a cable or satellite box. Using the box alone, you can browse a wide selection of shows and movies and rent or purchase them on the spot. Photo courtesy of VUDU