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September 27, 2018

A Tale of Two Antennas – The Cord Cutting Saga Continued

Old antenna  New antenna
Way back in 2011 I blogged that I bought an antenna for over $200 and was about to start watching free local TV channels over the air. The satellite dish was toast. On the left above is the antenna still not installed. The DIRECTV dish, service now provided by at&t, is still in use.

A couple of things happened along the way. The times I tried to mount the antenna I had only limited success with the heavy thing. Mainly Mary and I started a new company, NG Advantage LLC, and things got busy.

But I’m retired again and still want to get rid of the dish.

DIRECTV service costs over $150/month. We get almost all of our entertainment from Netflix or Amazon Prime so don’t need the satellite for that. Local news and PBS and BBC via PBS are available over the air as are some of the shows we watch mainly on CBS. We can’t get CNN (which I rarely watch anymore) or Fox News (which balances BBC) online except story-by-story, but we’ll learn to live with that.

Antennas have gotten much simpler because it’s easier to process the new digital TV signals than the old analog ones. On the right above is the new antenna. It and ones like it are widely available for about $25. It can hang on a wall or preferably a window. Even a software guy can mount that.

You don’t need a complicated antenna like the one on the left unless you have to rotate your antenna to look at broadcast towers which are located in different directions or you are very, very far away from towers. In our case ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and Fox are all in the same place on top of Mt. Mansfield 9 miles away and in clear view of our house. The Federal Communication Commission has a web page which shows you where your nearest towers are located and what signal strength you can expect for each network. Below is our map and the description of the signal for our CBS affiliate WCAX.

Los Wcax

Over-the-air broadcast theoretically has better picture quality than cable or satellite because it is not compressed; I’ll let you know if I see a difference. There are also extra channels available over the air. For example, our local PBS station has not only the main station available on cable and satellite but also PBS Kids, PBS Plus (“more local programming”), and @create. Don’t know anything about any of them yet.

This has been tested but still not installed. I’m waiting for the Amazon Fire TV Recast, which will serve as the over-the-air DVR and serve the stream to all my TVs, tablets, and phones but won’t ship until November. We’re not planning to start any new companies before then (or ever).

 

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