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We Are Switching to OTA ("Free") TV

May 10th, 2009 at 10:08 am

OTA = Over The Airwaves
This is the "free" TV that is available to anyone with an antenna. This is the type of TV anyone my age or older grew up watching.

A move is such a great way to re-evaluate lots of things in your life. In addition to evaluating what things we really want to keep (as in, "Do I really want to lug this ratty object to the new place, or is it time to ditch it?"), you also start evaluating services and weighing the costs vs. benefits.

When it came time to order utility hookups at our new house, I really started evaluating our "need" for cable TV. In our apartment, cable is included, so we have not been paying seperately for it for 1-1/2 years. When we lived in the Seattle area, we used to have a semi-expensive cable package, because that was the only way for DH to add channels from his native country. Since his country's channels are not available where we live now, he started looking for other ways to watch TV, and now subscribes to a service where he watches TV from his homeland over the internet.

Other than a bit of CNN & CNBC (with a smattering of Animal Planet), the only TV I watch is major networks. So I started thinking that cable was not really necessary. I did some research, and the more I learned the more I liked the idea of living without cable.

In addition to loving the idea of not having to pay a monthly cable bill on top of the $25 we're paying for DH's internet viewing, I really like the idea of better reception. I learned that picture quality is better if you DON'T have cable, and this will especially be true once the switch is made to digital TV (June 12).

DH has been patiently waiting to buy a big screen flat panel TV. I asked him to wait until we had our new house and prices have come down. Once we're in our place, I'll give him the green light to go ahead and buy his big toy. I'll have him get an integrated HDTV one; that means it will already have an HDTV tuner built in, so we won't have to buy a seperate tuner. All we need is an antenna.

I ordered this antenna today: [url]http://www.crutchfield.com/p_209TV55/Terk-TV55.html?o=v&search=antenna+indoor&searchdisplay=antenna%2bindoor&tp=1185[/url]
With shipping, it came to $68.

DH will be installing it in our attic. According to on-line reviews I read, it is fairly easy to install. (It's an indoor/outdoor antenna. I knew an outdoor antenna would not go over well with the neighbors.) I don't know if we will have to buy any hardware for mounting, or if we have all of the tools we need, but even if we do have to run to Home Depot and buy something small, I figure we'll come in at $75 or less total. With cable at $49+tax, we will have recouped the antenna cost in 1-1/2 months or less!

If anyone else is interested in making the switch to OTA TV (and with the digital conversion coming up, can you think of a better time?), these were the sites I found most helpful in researching:

[url]http://www.crutchfield.com/S-IOdgy2Geib8/learn/learningcenter/home/antenna.html[/url]

[url]http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx[/url]

Once we're settled in to our new place, I'll let you know how we like our "new" (actually retro) way of watching TV.

10 Responses to “We Are Switching to OTA ("Free") TV”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    That is the only way I ever watched tv until we moved to the mountains, just using an antenna and watching the basic three channels. Even though cable was available, we did not chose to pay for it.
    When we moved to the mountains, we found we could get absolutely NOTHING with an antenna. I can remember sitting and listening to "Dallas" cause we could not get a picture.
    I think you are doing a smart thing!!

  2. NJDebbie Says:

    I would gladly give up cable, but my hubby and sons would be lost without it.

  3. SavingBucks Says:

    We have had OTA TV for a long time. DH complains about it from time to time but if he had cable/satellite, he would be sitting on the couch more often and doing less. We did purchase the converter box (with the coupon) and were pleasantly surprised with the addition of some free digital channels! There are more stations for PBS and a home (crafting/cooking) channel. Also, a channel that shows "old" movies. And a few more foreign ones as well. Looks like there is enough to keep all of us occupied. Enjoy.

  4. asmom Says:

    My grandma had this when I was growing up and like Ima, the reception was terrible. She got only the local CBS affiliate and PBS clearly and occasionally a very fuzzy ABC affiliate. Needless to say I did a lot of reading when I went to visit Grandma! I hate to admit it but I am not evolved enough to go without TV now. Good luck!

  5. scfr Says:

    I should have added that I did not have cable until after I got married. When I was single, I had a little old rabbit ears TV. Really, cable was for my DH (although I did take advantage of it when we had it). Now that he can watch TV on the internet, and pay just for what he wants (TV from his native country), there's really no need to pay for a bunch of unwatched channels.

    With the antenna, I'll still be able to get ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and FOX.

  6. frugaltexan75 Says:

    You'll probably have better luck getting all the network channels with your antenna since you're in a house. I can get NBC and Fox, plus a few other non-network channels - but no ABC or CBS. It's okay though, since I don't watch anything other than LOST anymore, and that can be seen on the internet. Smile

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    Wow, I got a very similar antenna, but from RCA.

    Yeah, I switched a couple of months back, and it's been working out fairly well for me. I've got about 3 channels, with 2 being digital. The digital channels are as good as can be expected, though of course, nothing truly beats real cable or even satellite in terms of image quality.

    Still, for someone like me who doesn't watch too much television anyways, it's quite good.

    Also, very wise about waiting to buy HDTVs. A modern one should have a digital tuner built-in, but even now, it's something one has to check to be sure....

    My HDTV is technically marketed as a computer monitor, but is one of those rare ones that have a built-in digital tuner, and is 1080p to boot. It's only 24", but for one guy, that is plenty good, and after tax, I paid less than $500 for that.

  8. Analise Says:

    Thanks for the info... this is something to consider when we move permanently to ID. We do not currently have cable or satellite in ID... just the old rabbit ears that probably won't work for long.

  9. monkeymama Says:

    I did not have cable until marriage either. It's a dh thing. Though really he didn't have cable until marriage either.

    My roommates had cable in college but I did not participate. I couldn't afford it. Nor did I have any time to WATCH it. I was never around - always working/at school, so it wasn't an issue. Not like they were worried I was cheap and watching it on the sly.

    There's nothing wrong with rabbit ears! I think my generation has lost sight of what a luxury cable really is.

  10. LuxLiving Says:

    Did you know you can use an old VCR as a tuner for reception of analog channels?

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