Want to Ditch Your Dish or Cut Your Cable and Save Money?
Oh, How I Loved My Cable TV
I am a movie buff, a crime TV fanatic, a politics junkie, and an obsessed CBS fan.
Up until a couple of years ago I couldn't even think of not having my cable TV service. The very thought of no cable TV sent shivers up my spine. How would I handle not having 120+ channels to choose from? Or not having my DVR service?
My decision to cut the cable happened because of a number of unaddressed incidents with my cable TV provider. I was paying at minimum $100 per month for expanded basic service for 2 TV's with no extras.
The final straw for me was when I was put through what I can only describe as the month of horror at the hands of my cable company. My cable company, who shall remain nameless, tipped me to the point of no return. No return to cable TV!
Loyal Cable TV Customers Being Rewarded? I Think Not!
My cable bill would creep up $5 or $10 every so often, a little at a time, just enough to aggravate me. I would call to object and express my dislike because my services were worse with more downtime and I was being charged higher prices for their lack of quality service and customer service incompetence.
I had been a loyal customer since this particular cable TV service was introduced many, many years ago and I always paid my bill a week before it was due. Did I get a loyalty discount? No. What I did get each time I asked for a better deal, was a nasty representative telling me the great bundle prices being advertised were only for new customers. Feeling like the lonely step child I decided I had had it. I was done with them and soon they would be done with me.
Beautiful OTA HD Reception
Where to Start? Cut the Cable or Ditch the Dish, Then What?
So, first things first. I knew if I cancelled my cable TV I had to have something to replace it, but what?
Knowing that most of the other cable services or dish services were not going to work for me because it seems that you get a great price in the beginning but after the first year you pay dearly.
Bound and determined not to let the cable and dish providers lay claim to a chunk of my monthly budget ever again, I thought, what about an antenna?
So before I cancelled my cable TV I started my research on the different antennas available in the marketplace. Online shopping is great because you can read a full description of the product along with customer reviews on their success or failure and then make an informed decision.
Which TV Antenna Is Right for You?
Now I did make a couple of mistakes while choosing the right TV antenna for me. I ended up purchasing a total of three antennas over the first few months of being a cable orphan.
Being a novice at this, my first choice didn't work out very well. It was the type of antenna that is what I would call 'flimsy', the kind that you tape to your wall. It did get decent reception but in the morning I would wake to no TV reception because the antenna had fallen off the wall in the middle of the night. Once I realized it wasn't right for me, I returned it to the store.
Whenever buying electronics or any large ticket item I always ask, "If this doesn't work for me, can I bring it back?" As long as the company has a decent return policy, I figure no harm done.
So back to my selection. I wanted an antenna that was more substantial. Maybe one that I could sit on a shelf or in a closet out of sight. I also wanted as many channels as I could possibly get. Remember, I was going from 120+ channels to who knows how many?
After some research I found that there were many good antennas out there. Each person needs to make their choice based on a few things as described below.
Do Your Homework First and Cut out the Leg Work
The most important thing when purchasing an antenna is the reception. One of the things to consider is how far away from your home are the TV Broadcast towers?
There is a website that can help you find out where and how far your TV Broadcast towers are in relation to your location. It is called OTA (Over the Air) Broadcast. Go to the site and put in your zip code and a map of all the TV Broadcast towers in your area will come up. It will give you the longitude and latitude so you know where to direct your antenna and the approximate distance to your home.
Antennas are designed for distance and direction. The more powerful the antenna for distance, the stronger your signal. So distance is the first thing to look for when making your decision. Do you need the TV Broadcast signal to go 35, 45, 55 or more miles from your antenna?
The second thing to consider is, is it a directional or omni-directional / bi-directional / multi-direction antenna?
Directional antennas are when your reception is being picked up from the towers in the direction of where the antenna is facing only. Although your antenna would be miles away from the tower your antenna would need to be facing and picking reception up from that tower.
Multi-directional - omnidirectional - bi-directional antennas receive broadcasts equally well in all horizontal directions in a flat, two-dimensional plane. So that means your reception will likely be better from the surrounding TV Broadcast towers even if the antenna is not exactly facing that broadcast tower.
Amplification is an important consideration when purchasing an antenna. If you remember back many moons ago, rabbit ear antenna were just that. They had two tall ears and you had to keep messing with them to pick up a couple of stations and sometimes all you got was snow. With an amplified antenna, it does exactly what it says, it amplifies the signal for better and clearer reception.
And lastly, do you want an indoor or outdoor antenna? Are you in a house with easy access to the roof or attic? Or are you in an apartment or condo and need an indoor antenna?
All new antennas receive high-definition broadcast so that's one less thing for any of us to worry about. You would be amazed at what an OTA HD picture looks like.
I found out a little secret about the quality of OTA HD reception which is better than cable TV or dish TV picture quality. Cable and dish have to compress huge amounts of files in order to give you 120+ channel choices and when they compress the files it skews the picture and it is not as clear as it could be. OTA HD reception doesn't compress files so you're viewing clear, crisp pictures that are just outstanding!
And the Runner-Up Antenna Was?
As previously stated, I first purchased a flat, flimsy antenna that didn't do so well on my stucco walls. Next I bought an RCA Slivr Amplified Multi-directional indoor antenna. It had a range of 50 miles which was pretty good. It worked well and was very inexpensive at approximately $35.
Once I hooked it up and saw that it worked and I was able to receive about 18 - 20 channels. I high-tailed it to my cable TV company and returned all of my leased equipment back to them.
Then I went back to the store to get another RCA Sliver for my bedroom TV. Well you'll never believe what happened. My channel line-up was different from the bedroom to the living room. I was receiving most of the same channels but there were some that I couldn't get in the living room and visa-versa. Some of the channels in the living room I couldn't get in the bedroom.
The reason being? Each antenna was picking up additional and different broadcast towers because of their placement in my house.
However, that minor disappointment was no big deal. I was very relieved that I had TV to watch and was so excited because I didn't have a cable bill anymore. So I decided to leave things the way they were and address that issue at a later date.
For about 3 months I timed my schedule to watch certain shows in the living room and others in the bedroom according to which TV station they were being broadcast from. Not a big deal, but I secretly wished I could get all the stations on both TVs.
After some additional research, I found exactly what I wanted in an antenna. This has all the features that I needed and will most likely be with me for a very long time. I'm very happy with it. As we all say, "You get what you pay for." This antenna is no exception with a higher price tag of a little under $150 but well worth every penny to me.
Now, for the big reveal. Drum roll please!
ANTOP Outdoor / Indoor Digital Smartpass Amplifier HDTV Antenna 80 Miles Multi-Directional VHF/UHF High Gain Reception with Tools-Free Installation and 40ft High Performance Coaxial Cable.
I know, it is a mouthful. I chose this for all the reasons in the description. It had everything I wanted along with an 80 mile radius. Because I wasn't sure if I might someday want to mount it to the side of the house, I went with the indoor/outdoor. However, I ended up placing it in my bedroom on a bookshelf so it doesn't have to be outside in the elements.
Easy Installation and Hook-Up
Installing this antenna was a breeze. For a single TV hook-up, attach one end of the antenna cable to the antenna and the other end of the cable to your TV ANT/IN on the back of your TV. There are step-by-step instructions included with most TV antennas so don't worry too much about installation.
Because I wanted to use this one antenna for 2 TVs, the hook-up was a little different.
I had the existing cable that was run originally for my 2 cable TVs so I decided to use that cable line.
I placed the antenna in between the best broadcast towers in my area according to the map from the OTA HD site. You can find that location by using the compass on your smartphone, and yes, you have a compass on your smartphone.
I attached a coupler/or splitter to the Antop antenna coaxial cable at the end. Then used the one cable going to the bedroom TV and the other cable going to the living room TV. Of course this will be different for everyone but you can use the existing cable that was installed by your 'previous' cable or dish company.
So using the existing cable from your cable or dish provider saves work, time and money. No need to do any drilling of holes or running new cable.
Oh, one more thing. Plug it into a wall outlet for the amplification.
And presto! So by connecting both TVs to the one antenna I have all the same channels and same beautiful reception on both of my televisions.
Once your antenna and TVs are all hooked up. Use the menu on your TV remote and go to channel line-up and scan. Instructions are usually in your user guide for your television and are also included in most antenna user guides.
Once that finishes you'll see how many channels you can get. If it's not sufficient, move your antenna closer to a window or change the direction and re-run the scan again. This is the only part of the process that will require a little patience.
Once you have your channels scanned. Sit back, listen for the 'cha-ching' of all the money you're saving and enjoy your FREE HD TV stations.
My Free HD Channel Line-Up
3 - WHYY Channels
2 - NJ TV
4 Shopping Channels
4 Religious Channels
ABC (but not really clear)
Worried About Not Enough Channels to Watch?
After my giddiness subsided from my FREE TV, I realized that there were many channels, mainly cable channels, that I used to watch that are not included in my OTA antenna channel line-up.
So what did I do? I bought Apple TV for $149, subscribed to Netflix for $10.79 per month for access to thousands of movies and TV shows. I also subscribed to CBS All Access for $6.47 per month, which gives me access to all my CBS shows the next day, just in case I fall asleep before my show is over. So who needs a DVR? Not me!
My total monthly outlay to watch all daytime, prime time, anytime shows, hundreds of movies, documentaries, some sports and politics is $17.26 per month, a savings of $82.74 per month from what I was paying to my cable TV company. And do I need to mention, no headaches or aggravation.
The best thing of all, I own my antenna and my Apple TV. I can also subscribe and unsubscribe from any of the streaming services without a penalty and as often as I want.
There are many cable channel networks like CNN Live, Sports Channel, Discovery, Bravo and others that for a small monthly fee you can get unlimited access through your streaming devices.
I'm hoping to post an article on my experience with Apple TV and a couple of other streaming TV devices and services. So stay tuned!
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Irenevosburgh