This $9 Gadget Might Save You From Cable Bills

by golbguru on January 18, 2007

I have mentioned earlier that my brother (Mr. G) moved into a new apartment shortly after his graduation. Last couple of weekends we were trying to help him set up his new den. G is single, but behaves as if he is married to the television…so it was one of the first things he wanted. We spent hours looking in major retail shops to find his “perfect match” and finally zeroed in on a decent sized flat screen TV (nothing fancy…no LCD, projection, plasma or any such stuff).

We took the new TV to G’s new apartment, switched it on and ran an auto-scan for available free channels. To our dismay, it detected only 3 (useless) channels with decent reception. At this point, G started contemplating on getting a cable connection (or a dish network) in a few days, which would have cost him a minimum of $40 a month. Meanwhile, we decided to drive down to Walmart and get this $9 gadget for the time being:

antenna1

Yeah… that’s a cheap in-door antenna. We auto-scanned for channels again after plugging in the antenna and to our amazement, this time the TV picked up like 30+ channels, some of them with exceptional video and audio clarity. In fact this thing turned out to be so good, that G has decided not to subscribe to cable anytime soon. :)

I understand that results will vary with your geographic location and your proximity to “urban” areas…but $9 is not too bad for a trial (well this one was $9, but most antennas are priced between $7 to $20). Give it a shot, if it works, it will be worth it’s value in a few days.

Brands are not really important when you look for these; I have used RCA and Phillips in the past, on separate occasions, and both have worked very well. Update: Btw, these are marked as “HDTV Antenna” or “Off-air HDTV Capable” and other similar terms.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeremy 01.18.07 at 8:30 am

Can’t argue with that. We use an indoor antenna very similar to that for our HDTV needs. We live so far out in the sticks that our cable doesn’t even offer HD channels, and T’m not about to switch to a dish. We live about 30 miles from the closest stations and we pick up a ton of channels.

All the local HD channels, and most offer simulcast subchannels in SD with different content, so we get quite a few good channels.

Unfortunately for us, the antenna did not cut down on our cable bill. We need cable in order to get high speed internet out where we are, and it is clearly cheaper when you have cable TV as well. That combined with the fact that most of my television watching comes from the food network, science channel, history channel, TLC and fox sports for hockey the basic plan simply won’t do. Thankfully some good negotiating skills can cut the bill drastically.

But for people who watch primarily the broadcast networks nothing beats a digital tv of some sort with a little antenna. You will find a wealth of channels that come in crystal clear and likely save you a lot of money over cable or a dish.

2 jim 01.18.07 at 2:10 pm

I have a lot of friends who use the HDTV antenna, a far cheaper solution than $5 or $10 a month, with great success.

3 Lazy Man and Money 01.18.07 at 2:35 pm

Hmm, I was at a friend’s house this past weekend and he said he gets a better HDTV picture with the antenna because the signal isn’t compressed like it is for some cable TV stations.

That certainly has me thinking about it.

4 Jeremy 01.18.07 at 3:39 pm

Well, it all depends on the feed provided by the cable and the OTA broadcast. In my case our local NBC is awful OTA with compression but the rest of the stations are great. But a friend who doesn’t live too far away and gets the same station via cable it is noticeably better.

Generally speaking though you will find that an OTA broadcast will be compressed less than a cable or satellite alternative but it will vary by station and provider.

5 golbguru 01.18.07 at 3:55 pm

Our local NBC also sucks, but recently we have figured out at certain times of the day the antenna needs to be oriented in certain direction for clearer reception. :)

Earlier, we just used to fiddle around arbitrarily with the antenna and stopped fiddling when the picture was clear.

Btw, for channels that are already appearing very clearly, the direction usually doesn’t make any difference.

Also, the antenna shown in the image above has some “fine-tuning” capability. Initially I dismissed it as some stupid toy; however that thing did make a difference in the picture quality.

6 Yan 01.23.07 at 6:51 am

Never worked for me. ABC is the only channel I can clearly get on indoor antenna. Not a problem for me though, I don’t watch TV anyway.

7 Lisa Knight 01.24.07 at 8:16 am

Just surfing Festival #58.

We used to have one of these, when we didn’t have the dish. But, I can honestly say that 90% of our TV watching is not the major networks. Dh has to have hockey & the kids revolted when we dropped boomerang, they’d mutiny if we dropped the rest of their channels!!!

8 Martin 02.07.07 at 5:51 am

This is very interesting as I pay over $50 a month for my cable. My only question is what are the 30 channels? My daughter will need Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and the Disney Channel.

Is there any place online to look for the available channels in your area?

9 Adi R 08.18.07 at 12:35 pm

I have been trying to get our antenna working for years. Although antennaweb.org site says we should be getting here many channels at HD quality, I can barely see one, and that’s with hiccups.
So, we are forced to stay with cable, though basic cable, which is only about $19 a month.
I wonder if anyone figured out which good antenna works that’s worth the money, all the expensive ones are usually just as crappy.

10 emobile_developer 07.08.12 at 11:27 pm

Nice and interesting stuff guy. I really liked you way of explanation. You married your brother Mr. G with TV really funny. Anyway, a gadget is truly awesome. Instead of paying $40 a month, it is worth to pay $9 for such gadget. In this term, you saved $31….Thanks for sharing.

11 Hair Care Products 08.27.13 at 1:22 pm

I think it is most updated cable in front of us !! It will really be surprise able for us to show something in front of the society !! Thanks

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