CUT THE CORD- DUMP YOUR CABLE & SATELLITE PROVIDER
SAVE SOME BUCKS, TV IS FREEEEEEE…..
Ten years ago I dumped cable and opted for the free high definition signal broadcast to Southern California from Mt. Wilson and its adjacent peak, Mt. Harvard. Today I’m amazed to find some people don’t know they can get TV signals for free.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
All you need is a Radio Shack type antenna in your attic or on a shelf that’s aimed toward Mt. Wilson. Run a simple co-ax cable from the antennae to the input on your flat screen TV. Turn on the TV, sit back and you’ve got several dozen channels from twenty six stations (some broadcast more than one channel).
WHAT STATIONS DO YOU GET?
Although you won’t get Showtime, The History Channel, The Gardening Channel or Sunday NFL Ticket you will get most of the major network shows from the likes of CBS, NBC, KTLA, ABC, KCAL, Fox, KCOP, PBS (KOCE & KVCR), ION, plus a number of Independent stations, some broadcasting shows in other than English. This means you’ll get most of the top college football games on Saturday, the top NFL games on Sunday from CBS, NBC and Fox including Sunday Night Football as well as Thursday games. You won’t get ESPN that carries Monday Night Football. You will of course get your favorite shows from the networks you receive.
HOW GOOD IS THE SIGNAL?
The picture and sound are superior to what you get from cable or satellite because they are not processed, compressed, uncompressed, scrambled, descrambled and bounced around before reaching your TV. The signal is a straight line from the tower to your set and is super clear. Unlike the old analog signals that degraded as you move further from the source, digital is an all or nothing proposition. You either get the signal or your don’t. So living 70 miles away in South Orange County you’ll experience the same clarity as someone living in East LA five miles from the transmitter. No snow, ghosting or static. Unless you are in a deep valley behind a big mountain a free signal is likely waiting for you to tune in.
WHAT ABOUT SURROUND SOUND?
The sound is first rate. You can listen to it through your TV speakers or from your audio rig. Just run an HDMI or Optical cable from your flat screen “out” to one of the “inputs” on your receiver and you’ll have sound. If the broadcast is in Dolby 5.1 digital surround that’s what you’ll get. Crank up the subwoofer!
WHAT ABOUT MOVIES?
No problem-o. Your computer will need an Internet connection or access to a Wi-Fi signal. Almost all movies ever made as well as many of your favorite TV shows past and present are available through the Internet on demand from Netflix, Vudu, Amazon and other providers on either a subscription basis or pay as you go. I like Vudu, they have a ton of movies, you pay for what you watch and they typically offer three quality levels (standard, 720p or 1080p) at three price points depending on the movie, the speed of your Internet provider, and how much you want to pay.
The movie signals come from the Internet, through your computer and then to your TV. The audio portion is available through the TV speakers or through your multi-channel audio system as described above in “What About Surround Sound.”
You could run a wire from your computer router to the TV but most people opt for wireless. Some TV’s have a wireless receiver built into them. Otherwise pick up a small Roku box from Best Buy ($49), set it next to your TV and plug it into one of your TV inputs via an HDMI cable. You press the Roku remote to select movies from Netflix, Vudo or whomever you choose. It’s that easy!
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO KNOW?
Operating an Audio/Video home theater system requires you understand how it works. You need to know how your remotes work and what remote controls which device to ensure the TV and audio system are set to the correct sources.
For instance, if the TV input #1 is from the TV signal (antennae) and the Roku Movie device is plugged into TV input #2 you’ll need to know what remote controls your TV and you’ll need to know that to watch TV shows you’ll need to select input #1 and for movies to select input #2.
A similar requirement exists for listening to your home audio system. It has multiple inputs and one may be for Blu-ray/DVD’s and another for audio from your TV and maybe others for FM or AM radio or even Phono. Mastering this skill requires that you a). be under 30 years of age or b). have what’s known as the “Guy Chip.” If both a). and b). are absent get yourself a friend with those qualifications.