Monday, June 11, 2012

Cutting the Cord

On a different subject completely, we're going back to the future in tv. We set up the antenna on our tv and it works dazzlingly well. It's going to be sayonara, cable tv in our household.

The story is: We had cut back on our Time Warner Cable package about two months ago. We ditched the extra tiers of digital channels and went down to just the basic service.

We increasingly found we weren't watching the cable channels enough to justify the cost. We'd flick through the hundreds of channels looking for something to watch, and end up on Netflix streaming anyway. So why pay $50 a month for something that we used less and less, especially when G could watch episodes of Mad Men (the holy grail of television) on iTunes whenever she liked.

That left us with just roadrunner internet and the basic channels. It was working for us. We liked it.

Then G said why pay $40 a month for the basic channels if we can maybe get that free over the air anyway? That was a very good point (and it pays to listen to your other half). So I looked into it and eventually ordered an antenna, Mohu Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna , from Amazon.

It's small and flat, and fits invisibly behind my tv. I connected it to the antenna and the tv auto-tuned the channels.

Reception is perfect. I had been worried we're so relatively close to the antenna at the Empire State Building that we would have problems, but it locked in without a flaw.

And the huge upside surprise is the quality of the main broadcast channels - CBS, NBC etc - is actually visibly higher than on cable. The cable companies apparently compress their feed, while the over-the-air broadcast is uncompressed.

So it is as if my 1080p set has suddenly had a quantum leap in performance. It's quite entrancing.

Our plan is to rely on the antenna for broadcast channels, and a combination of Neflix streaming/DVD, iTunes and web feeds for everything else over roadrunner. We'lll watch what Apple does later today with their Apple TV service with interest. We'll miss the ability to skip commercials on dvr for now, but we may figure something out.

And in the meantime, we're going to save around $90 a month from our original package. That pays for a lot of ad-hoc iTunes downloads. And it is so nice to take revenge for all those hours spent on hold to Time Warner Cable in the past, and the endless "press 1 for English, press 3 for support.." If you mistreat your customers and keep hiking rates, they're going to remember.


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