Are you ready to ditch your cable bill? Do you want things back the way they were before the digital transition, meaning you would be happy with just the free, over-the-air, broadcast channels?
There is a way, depending on how close you live to broadcast towers, to watch over-the-air TV for free. The number of channels you get depend on where you live.
Some people can get all of the local broadcast channels and more. While others are limited to a few off channels, channels you’ve probably never heard of.
Before we go any further, check DTV.org to see what channels you might receive.
The channels highlighted in green are the ones you will most likely get. The ones in yellow are maybe’s. And the ones in orange brown are the channels that have the weakest signal. The ones in red are the channels you can’t receive.
What you need to get over-the-air TV:
If you have a TV with a built in HDTV tuner (newer TVs), then you won’t need the digital converter box.
Be sure to double check your connections to make sure that everything is compatible.
You can find a basic HDTV compatible antenna for about $10 while the Mohu Leaf is $35-$40. The difference is the Mohu Leaf is paper thin. It’s literally a laminated piece of cardboard with a S-video cable attached to it. One side is white while the other is black to match your decor.
Pros of the HDTV compatible antenna is that it’s cheaper but bulky. The Mohu Leaf is sleeker, takes less space, and can be taped to a wall or window. They both worked the same for me, getting more or less the same quality signal.
- Connect converter box to TV.
- Attach HDTV compatible antenna or Mohu Leaf to digital converter box.
- Position antenna.
- Set the TV to air mode.
- Select channel 3.
- Scan channels through the digital converter box. When it’s done, it will let you know how many channels you got.
- If you’re not getting a lot of channels, reposition the antenna and re-scan the channels.
I have tried both the HDTV compatible antenna and the Mohu Leaf. I got similar results with both. Although I did like the Mohu Leaf better because it takes up less space.
I must admit, the anticipation of seeing what channels we could get was an unexpected thrill. I felt like I was on Wheel of Fortune, spinning the wheel to see how much money I could win. When we did the channel scan, I would chant “big money, big money”.
After the scan, we got 6 channels and 2 radio stations but none of the major broadcast stations. I guess we live too far from the towers. We did get this interesting cooking channel that features Ming Tsai’s show.
My dad who lives in within 5 – 10 miles from the broadcast stations, gets all of the broadcast channels plus some Chinese shows, which he primarily watches.
He’s actually the one who inspired me to try this and set me up with all of the equipment – HD ready TV, digital converter box, and HDTV compatible antenna.
Sadly, the converter box died so we’re back to just watching shows on Netflix and the Internet. I thought I would miss cable because I was such a TV junkie. But I’m ok, surprisingly.
Here’s another site with more info on what kind of antenna you need, depending on your location.
Do you watch TV free? How do you do it?