Cable TV – Keep or Cut the Cord?

Dan Rayburn does a good job expressing a view explaining why $65 USD a month is a good deal for TV content.

He points out that two tickets to the movie theater cost him $28. for he and his wife. His position that pays for almost 2 weeks of cable I cannot with.

And it looks a bit like comparing an apple to an orange. Sure they are both healthy food choices.

And having seen True Grit in the movie theater, I cannot compare that to any screen I could see in a home. The theater was a richer experience, period.

On the other side of the coin, I am a bit skeptical of his claim that buying online would cost the same. Quoting his thoughts: “Netflix, Hulu, MLB and bought two shows a week on iTunes, that would cost almost $64 a month”.

Sad to say he does not break out what MLB costs. Netflix is less than $10 a month. Currently it is about $15 a month if you want DVD’s mailed to you along with instant download.

A Netflix family can support the young ones off at a dorm room in collage. How does cable do that?

Here’s the real kicker. Not a word was spoken about OTA (Off The Air) programming. Unless someone slipped some LSD into my coffee on Sunday and slipped suggestions into my brain, I saw the Super Bowl on Fox TV. That was F.R.E.E.

Beyond Fox, I get ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, WB, and a host of independent stations. It’s isn’t FREE, its paid for with ADS. What is the difference between ads on YouTube videos, and broadcast TV?

Ads are embedded in YouTube, while they are linear in the new version of plain old TV. If I really hate ads, I can stream OTA to a box or computer and buffer a few minutes (or hours) and fast forward through the sponsorship. Personally, I don’t. Who is selling what is something I at least keep one ear to, if not my eyeballs.

Mr. Rayburn takes on streaming issues, and says that cable has plenty of HD content. Well sir, it seems to me that OTA has a great deal of HD content. I will grant you older material on PBS is not HD. Older content from *anybody* is not HD.

The counter to OTA is all the hassles and possible safety issues of installing an antenna. The images of getting on a roof, possibly dropping an antenna mast on high-voltage power lines turning the installer into a piece of fried bacon come to mind.

That is so last century.

“Installing” an antenna is something GrandMa can do, if she can hang a picture and get someone to screw the cable into the TV set. There is a little discussed type of antenna that works for a large number of folks called a “smart antenna”.

The biggest trick is to find how the user gets the best signal. This involves hooking up the antenna to the set and doing a channel scan while the antenna is flat, say lying down on top of a book shelf. Then stand it up so it is vertical, and repeat the process. Go with whichever gives better results.

The antenna is considered smart because it electronically adjusts itself on a channel by channel basis to go for the best signal strength while avoiding reflections of the same signal.

If a person is a bit more ambitious, an indoor/outdoor antenna may prove even better. I used to refer to my antenna as a “Barbie doll” antenna. Well, it turns out that is a lie.

The iconic doll is just over 9 inches tall. My Barbie doll antenna is a little under 8 inches in height, and less than 11 inches with its “mast”. Weight for either comes in about the same as a Big Mac.

There is no electrical issues from thunder storms. It is an all plastic body. I haven’t bothered to cut it open, and it appears that the creator took some metal foil and shaped it inside the plastic body. The plastic is UV immune and of course, waterproof.

Installation involved a bit of silicon from a small tube, gluing the base mast to the rail on the patio. Once it dried, I put the antenna on, and rotated it while listening to the signal strength meter from the TV. Once I found the optimal position, I tightened the large thumb screw.

Total cost for the antenna and 100 feet of cable was less than the monthly cost of cable. That is with tax and shipping.

Both my Barbie doll antenna and most of the smart antennas are both UHF and VHF capable.

So what am I missing besides a cable bill?

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