I recently re-acquired my little Sansui TV (long story) and decided to forego cable and see how I’d handle life with just a Roku 3 (and Netflix, HBOGo and Hulu) and an over-the-air antenna. I had heard that sometimes you could have good luck and pull in all the local stations in 1080p high definition, without having to have a large antenna or move it all around the house. So I went down to Wal-Mart and picked up the RCA ANT1450BR and gave it a shot. ($30 at Wal-Mart, quite a bit cheaper at Amazon – click link below for current pricing.)
Connecting the antenna was quite simple, even though this antenna is amplified and thus has an additional step in the process (connecting the amplifier to the antenna before connecting the antenna to the tv). After re-scanning the channels, I found all the regular local stations, plus an abundance of Spanish language stations. Initially I had the television and desk in the center of my room, away from any windows, but the reception was still pretty good. Since the signals are digital (at least on the stations I watch) you don’t get increased fuzziness, the picture just actually goes dark with a “Digital Signal Strength Is Low” message. When that happened, some movement of the antenna was required.
I eventually moved the desk over closer to the patio door and there are now very rarely have reception issues. The antenna is very light, reasonably small, and easy to move (I don’t have mine mounted, it just sits on my desk next to the television). I can watch every network show in very high quality HD – for free! Not a bad deal. Not having a DVR is cramping my style a bit (I know there are ways to set up a makeshift DVR on my computer, but so far haven’t worried about figuring that out) but I’m getting by. If you are thinking of cutting the cord (ie ditching cable), I highly recommend checking out this antenna (or other similar offerings) first to confirm that you live in an area with good signal strength. I am lucky to get great reception and have been somewhat stunned by how easy (and free after the upfront $30) it was to get all the local programming.
Once the NFL season starts, I will likely have the urge to get cable, at least temporarily. But I’m a 49ers fan, and they seem to play most of their national games on Sunday night (NBC) so I suspect I can make do by heading to a bar for the handful of Monday (ESPN) and Thursday (NFL Network) tilts.