Author Topic: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?  (Read 13849 times)

Canadian Nicole

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Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« on: September 18, 2014, 07:27:20 PM »
We enjoy tv but are looking to cut costs.   We already have netflix and are thinking of cancelling cable and getting a digital hd antenna to get some local channels.   Does anyone have experience with these or recommendations?    Thanks!

Will

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1967mama

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2014, 12:18:32 AM »
+1 for tvfool.com

Also, we have an antenna that looks very similar to the Costco/Amazon one linked above and it works great. We get 4 or 5 HD channels but some people get many more -- it totally depends on your location, elevation, obstructions nearby, etc. Picked it up at a local electronics shop (like Best Buy, Future Shop, Radio Shack, The Source, etc)

One day I'd like to get a rooftop one for a stronger signal pickup, but not right now .. too much $$$. Hair is on fire, ATM (sigh).

Forgot to add: start out by trying the cheapest one. If it doesn't work, after moving it around to multiple locations, return it and try the next level up. We were satisfied with the signal from a $20 device, even though there were $80 ones available. YMMV
« Last Edit: September 19, 2014, 12:20:35 AM by 1967mama »

Runge

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2014, 07:09:24 AM »
+1 for tvfool as well. You'll really need to find out where your local stations are broadcasting from. If they're all clustered in the same direction, then you'll be better off buying a directional antenna. If they're spread out all around you, then you'll need an omnidirectional like the one posted up above. (At least I think it's an omni)

For me, all mine were clustered in the same direction and about 40 miles away. So I got a directional one. Specifically this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024R4B5C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and it has worked out wonderfully. It's designed to be an ourdoor one, but I put it up inside the attic, and I still got great signal.

Sylly

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2014, 09:30:46 AM »
+1 tvfool.com

When you look to buy your antenna, I recommend buying it from a place with easy return policy. In my recent attempt to be cable free, I tried 5 different antennas only to discover walls and hills suck. So all 5 went back, and I've given myself a year to look into a higher-mounted outdoor or attic-mount one.

yyc-phil

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2014, 10:28:09 AM »
I should have waited a few days for this thread to pop up. I never had cable, and we recently cut our home internet, and while we rarely if ever watch TV, I wanted to check out some of the news channels, so I ordered this antenna from Best Buy.

http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/digiwave-digiwave-bmx-hdtv-digital-antenna-ant4500-ant4500/10237749.aspx?path=c6591a76b9d5cd2f25c86af82ee7f38ben02

Hopefully this will work. It is the cheapest one I could find, which is never a guarantee of quality, but the few reviews seemed positive so I will test it. I will report back here when I get it.

Spork

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2014, 10:37:07 AM »

As has been said:  It depends on where the towers are (unidirectional vs omnidirectional; near vs far) and where you're planning on installing it (indoor vs outdoor).

I have this one: http://www.amazon.com/Winegard-MS-2002-Antenna-without-Cable/dp/B001DFZ5HO/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1411144446&sr=1-1&keywords=omnidirectional+outdoor+tv+antenna

I used to have it outdoors... but when I built my house, I moved it into the attic.  It seems to work fine.

...and don't be fooled by the term "digital antenna" or "hd antenna" ... they're all "rf antennas".

seattlecyclone

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2014, 10:38:46 AM »
With the old analog stations, small differences in reception could be noticeable through bits of fuzziness and static. With digital, you pretty much either get perfect reception or you get nothing. What this means for you is that antenna quality really only matters for people on the edge of decent reception range. People who are closer to their local transmitters will find that every antenna works equally well.

Deepsouth

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2014, 12:03:21 PM »
Make sure you check the channels you can receive first with the antenna.  There is a website that will let you know.  Do this before buying.  We get 30 stations on antenna from our house.  Our condo, in a more metro area, gets 0.  Verify then buy!  GL

hybrid

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2014, 12:17:11 PM »
I have Mohu indoor antennas on both of our TVs and found that their power-amplified antennas worked far better than a standard antenna. I've had them for about a year now and all they do is work great.

The vast majority of the most popular shows in the US are available OTA. Live sports is the one drawback, but eh, I adjusted quickly enough.

http://www.tvb.org/media/file/TVB_VidLytics_Report_Wk31_p2.pdf

dodojojo

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2014, 12:33:46 PM »
The HD receiver in your tv makes a big difference too.  Up until this summer, I had an old tube tv with which I had to pair a HD receiver/converter.  The HD receiver/converter then was connected to a cheap antenna.  I received all the channels available to me within 20-30 miles of towers.  I also almost never had to tweak it as leaving the antenna in one position would get all the channels.

I replaced the tube tv with a digital flatscreen this summer so I got rid of the HD receiver/converter and plugged the same old antenna to the new tv.  Technically I still get all the same channels, but the TV's HD receiver isn't as good as the standalone HD receiver/converter.  So now I have to tweak the antenna as the channels change.  Which makes flipping through channels a real pain.  I'm not sure if upgrading the antenna is going to make much of a difference.  I've read that an antenna is only going to do so much--a lot of it is down to location (relative to towers) and the receiver. 

Bob W

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2014, 12:52:12 PM »
Put it in the attic or top of house for best reception. 

Then there is always this to consider --- We went without cable for 6 years or more.  On our last move we only received 4 channels,  3 of them PBS.   

We canceled our Netflix as the went to 20$ for the mail option.   

We now have cable and I can literally feel it suck the life out of our family.   Wife upstairs watching CSI,  me in the living room watching history channel and kid in his room on Disney.   

One suggestion is to ditch the Netflix and rely on free library videos and an occasional Redbox.   If you only receive a few channels you'll be good,  I promise. 

My dream is to ditch the TV entirely or at least only use it for an occasional video or video game night.

Do the math --- $75 a month on cable is $900 per year.   Over the next 30 years that will equate to something like $130,000 compounded.   That buys a nice house in my area.

You decide TV or 130K?

financialforager

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2014, 01:43:05 PM »
Putting your antenna high up in the attic is key. You should get more stations. Make sure you have a long range antenna, with a plug in power booster. I get about 30 stations. I have written a article on my site on how mine is setup. Good luck.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2014, 01:45:46 PM »
We lived in a small town with the TV channels fairly far away, and had a pole-mounted 25- or 30-foot antenna. It was great! We actually had Dish at the time and were able to DVR the local channels, too, through a complicated workaround. We even had a "Channelmaster."

The whole thing was like $300 or $400 installed, but obviously it would have paid for itself quickly if we were cutting cable altogether.

Kaspian

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2014, 01:51:38 PM »
Check your local dollar stores first to see if they have one.  Squwakfox did a write-up about her good experience with a $3 antenna.
http://www.squawkfox.com/2014/06/24/tv-antenna/

I personally bought an RCA HD antenna with rabbit ears from Amazon for $14.  It picks up HD and analog channels.  We only get 1 HD but 3 analogs in my area.

orbix

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2014, 01:52:03 PM »
I'd like to put in a solid recommendation for the RCA ANT751R- it's extremely well-reviewed pretty much anywhere you look, and can be mounted either outside on a roof or in your attic, depending on how much you're trying to pick up and how close the stations are to your house. It runs around $70, and can pick up just about anything.

The only caveat I have is that in our case, our TV is in the basement, so the cable run from the antenna to the TV is pretty substantial. I ended up needing to add an antenna amplifier ($25 at Radio Shack, amazingly enough) to get things to come in consistently, but it's been an excellent solution ever since. Hook it up to a media PC with a dual-tuner and you can get 4+ football games in HD every weekend, complete with DVR and everything. :)

DoubleDown

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2014, 02:01:59 PM »
If you live in a major metropolitan area, I second the suggestion to try $10 rabbit ears first. I've tried every fancy antenna on the market, and none of them work any better than cheap rabbit ears from Radio Shack. We live close enough to broadcasters (no more than 10-15 miles from most) that a fancy antenna performs no better than a low-end one.

Or, you could buy a few different antennas, try them all out, and return the ones you don't want to keep.

Rage

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2014, 02:08:02 PM »
Consider cancelling cable and then waiting a few months to see if you miss TV before buying an antenna.  There's this phenomenon I've noticed where sometimes when you go without some things you find you don't miss them and don't even want them in your life.  I've found this to be the case with cable/TV, gas lawn mower, many "handy" kitchen appliances, etc.  After a while you'll start to wonder why you ever wasted time/money on something stupid.  Slowly you'll start to develop a condescending attitude towards those who still think they need the stupid thing.  This is how I'm feeling towards you right now.

Just kidding. We got an antenna so we could watch parts of the Olympics.  Put it high in the attic.  But don't let it suck your life away.

Canadian Nicole

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2014, 03:49:16 PM »
Wow!   Thanks so much everyone for all this great helpful info -I'm a newbie to the forum and I just love what a supportive and helpful community you all are!   My hubby and I will review all these suggestions and hopefully we'll soon be cable free!   :)

Exflyboy

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2014, 09:44:56 AM »
I'm constantly amazed at how people throw $100 a month away without even thinking about it.. That's $1200 a year.. If I paid $1200 on car insurance I'd be shopping around immediately!

I've never had cable and whenever we house sit I channel flip and convince myself every time there is no way the extra benefit adds anything to my quality of life.

The other day I' talking to a guy that spends $160 a month on his family smart phones and thinks he's doing great, he also lives paycheck to paycheck.

Never fear questioning the status quo, I get teased at how cheap I am with my $10 rabbit ears to pick up PBS.. Yeah and my house is paid off and we have a 7 figure stash.

Rip that cable out immediately, you'll be much happier seeing your monthly bank balance grow.

Frank

NinetyFour

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2014, 09:54:03 AM »
Lots of PBS content is available free online.  That's how I have watched Endeavour, Sherlock, Call the Midwife, Downton, etc.

I wonder why they call it TV Fool...

tccoastguard

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2014, 10:20:13 AM »
I actually went one step further three years ago and bought a TiVo to hook up to the antenna. It was $500 for the box and lifetime service as opposed to paying $20 per month. This gives me DVR for the five main channels I watch programming on.  A bit of extravagance but worth it for our family because we're often not around when shows are on. It was a good compromise and much cheaper than cable with no recurring costs.

DarinC

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Re: Digital tv antenna to replace cable?
« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2014, 11:18:40 AM »
Roll your own antenna. I've got a couple pieces of copper I used to mimic (I hesitate to say make) a GH antenna, and the reception is fine 98% of the time. Occasionally, I can get stations from San Diego, which is 80 miles away and behind a mountain range.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/design.htm

Edit- I really want to try this antenna.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=187282
« Last Edit: September 20, 2014, 11:29:53 AM by DarinC »