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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger
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    How difficult is it to watch TV over the internet?

    My wife and I are moving to a different house and I am trying to figure out the cheapest and easiest way to get television reception.

    In our current (rental) house, an outdoor antenna receives 5 - 10 local stations, including the major networks, and this is just what we want. Ease of daily use is also important. With the current system, we press one button to turn the TV on, and then enter the channel number.

    We are NOT interested in installing or paying for cable/dish systems with a hundred channels that we will never watch. In addition, every cable/dish system that I have seen has two remotes with lots of confusing buttons, many of which don't work anyway. My mother-in-law literally has a card of instructions to turn the TV on. That makes no sense.

    But the house where we are moving does NOT have an outside antenna. We could add such an antenna for a one-time charge of around $1000. As mentioned above, we are not interested in cable/dish systems.

    Is there a better way? Specifically, can we watch TV over the internet? For example, I have seen Roku and Boxee boxes in Walmart. Can these devices access/receive local TV stations over the internet? Do these systems work reliably? Are they easy to use, or do they require several remote controls and lots of button pushes to make anything happen? If these systems DO work, then how much bandwidth/speed do we need?

    Thanks for any suggestions or advice, especially if you routinely watch TV over the internet.

  2. #2
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    For local you've already got it; strongest VHF antenna there is pulls in some of the best free HD signals there are. Almost nothing on the Internet is standardized as far as viewing mainstream movies and shows goes. One pretty much has to figure out what they want to watch and then find out what services and devices support those. Roku is a good place to start, the devices are simple and have a wide variety of streaming options including Netflix and Amazon on demand. I don't think there is any outlet for local stations other than as a part of a satellite/cable package.

    In general, to be steady and at the lowest quality requires about 1 megabit/second connection, stable. Better results with 3 or more and really good results with 6 or more megabits/second steady.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, F. U. N. for your response. By "strongest VHF antenna" do you mean an outside antenna like I mentioned, or is there some indoor antenna option that might work? (Our current outdoor antenna does include UHF also).

    Thanks

  4. #4
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    It depends on how far away the signal sources are and if in two or more directions, requiring a rotating mast. We are right about at 50 miles away from our sources and with digital as you probably know, the signal is either there or there is nothing; it does not degrade into more and more snow with distance.
    So we get about 80 percent of the stations at that distance and the rest are dark with a UHF only antenna about 15 feet in the air and inline amp. I erred earlier in saying VHF; digital is best received on UHF. Ours is about 6 feet long and is peppered with all those shorter, more concentrated elements with two more fold out arms peppered with even more elements.

    I don't think an indoor antenna would work very well unless the local station transmitters were all very near by. Some of the indoor ones claim to receive up to 25 miles but I wouldn't trust that until it was tested. Generally cut that distance in half I think. More with a lot of obstructions between transmitter and antenna.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    I picked up this antenna from Costco and it picks up a station in HD 50 miles away. Its omnidirectional and picks up stations in different directions for me without repositioning.
    http://www.winegard.com/flatwave/costco.php
    I don't get cable in HD so I use this antenna for the locals in HD.

    Jerry

  6. #6
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    Thanks, jwitalka, for that suggestion. This is apparently an INDOOR antenna, is that correct? I see that the specs say that it receives both UHF and VHF, so that's great.
    I would appreciate any other suggestions of good antennas or other ways to receive broadcast TV.

    Thanks

    Roger

  7. #7
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    You probably don't have any VHF stations anymore, I think the government reclaimed that bandwidth and sold it off to telecommunications companies. I'm a bit skeptical that it could pick up digital 50 miles from the transmitter but if it works it works.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    It's basically an indoor antenna but I have it hanging in my attached garage. We still have one VHF channel here in the Twin Cities. The antenna picks it up but its pretty snowy. It doesn't have anything very interesting anyway. I was surprised it picked up the one channel 50 miles away myself. Its also in a different direction from the major channel antenna farm. I pick up over 50 channels with it but a lot of them are religious channels.

    Jerry

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by F.U.N. downtown View Post
    You probably don't have any VHF stations anymore [...]
    That's not necessarily true. The OP can check antennapoint.com to find out what channels are being used in his area. Here in Northern California there are several stations, including ABC and PBS, still using VHF frequencies.

    It still irritates me that those stations essentially pulled a bait-and-switch during the digital transition several years ago. During the transition period many of them added a UHF channel and simultaneously broadcast analog on VHF and digital on UHF. For about 2 years they broadcast PSAs about how some users would need to upgrade equipment and periodically ran a live test, cutting off their analog signal and saying, "If you still see us, you're okay." I'm about 50 mi from the transmitters so I upgraded to a good UHF antenna and everything worked perfectly with only the UHF antenna.

    Then the cutover came when all analog broadcasts stopped, and lo and behold some of those dual-signal stations dropped their UHF channel and moved their digital signal from UHF back down to VHF where their analog channel had been! Of course, my new UHF antenna didn't pickup VHF from 50 mi away, and because those "you're okay" tests had been successful for 2 years I had long ago disposed of my old VHF antenna. None of them ever warned that their digital channel was going to move later on.

  10. #10
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    Some stations opted to remain on VHF and the FCC will not let them change now.

    A good outdoor antenna, properly installed, even if you have to pay $1000, will save you money in the long run - in less than a year if cable costs $85 or more per month.

    You did not say how you were going to get the internet at your new location. To watch streaming video you need a broadband connection.

    You can only get local channels if they stream their programming over the internet. You might be able to get the network (ABC,CBS, NBC, Fox) feeds online.

    I agree with you on the remotes although most cable and dish remotes can be programmed to turn the TV on and off and adjust the volume.

  11. #11
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    How difficult is it to watch TV over the internet?

    For me it is nearly imposable.
    There is too much interesting stuff on the 'net while TV is mostly mind numbing garbage.
    I get distracted and eventually turn the TV off.
    Do you "Believe"? Do you vote? Please Read:
    LEARN something today so you can TEACH something tomorrow.
    DETAIL in your question promotes DETAIL in my answer.
    Dominus Vobiscum <))>(

  12. #12
    Silver Lounger Banyarola's Avatar
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    Well, I'm getting ready to dump Satellite. I can watch everything satellite has on netfilx..

    The only problem I have so far is trying to figure out how to watch Foxnews live..Once I can I will cut the cord...
    "If You Are Reading This In English, Thank A VET"

  13. #13
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    Another thing to consider is that most new TV shows are available for free streaming on network web sites 3 days to 2 weeks after they air. I've been considering giving up cable for a while now. We have a ROKU and a Netflix account which we like a lot. I don't think its a huge leap to drop cable. If I can only convince my wife...
    Chuck

  14. #14
    Silver Lounger Banyarola's Avatar
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    Well doc, I would drop it in a second if I could get Foxnews streaming live but they don't stream from their site unless you are a cable or satellite subscriber...

    And you're right about netflix...They have everything on that I have on satellite and it's only 7.95 a month.

    I have a netflix account..

    One of the things that really has me ticked off is that Directv now is putting the commercials on most channels at the same time so you can't even switch channels without their being a commercial on...

    They stink!
    "If You Are Reading This In English, Thank A VET"

  15. #15
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    We dropped our satellite service a little over a year ago. Our bill kept growing over the years until it got to over $100 a month. I bought two Tivo DVRs, 2 ROKUs and connected all of them wirelessly to our home network. I joined Netflix and Hulu Plus and already was an Amazon Prime member. With the Tivo subscriptions the total is about $40 a month. I have an outdoor antenna and get 13 local channels in HD. Combined with the Netflix, Hulu and Amazon shows there is no time that I can't find something I want to watch. In fact there are so many Canadian and Austrailian, and British TV shows that you can't find anywhere else that I will never run out of new things to watch. All the old TV shows are available also. Plus with Vudu and Amazon I can watch any movie available at the rental stores without having to leave the house. Crackle is another free movie channel on ROKU, with movies from the Sony Entertainment empire. I wish I had made the switch a year earlier. We don't miss Satellite at all. You will however need a good internet connection. You could skip the ROKU and use Netflix, Amazon and Hulu directly from the TIVO, but I love the ease of use of the ROKU.

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