To plunge into cord-cutting, or wade in?

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Some people like to jump into the lake and get it over with. Others, like me, wade in slowly so the shock isn’t so bad.  I took that kind of approach to cord-cutting, making use of an HD antenna and Roku box along side my cable box as I pondered whether to cut that cord.  After a few weeks, I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to go at least one month cable TV free.

About 6 weeks ago, after learning I could get local network TV over-the-air (OTA), I went to  antennaweb.org upon recommendation from a friend, to determine whether I needed an indoor or outdoor one (the color codes you get when using it only denote the type of antenna you should use, not a red-yellow-green quality). I learned an indoor antenna would work.

I got the Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Amplified Razor Thin HDTV Indoor Antenna and it is currently stuck to my door wall (ask me if I care what it looks like). It can go on a wall behind a TV or sit on a table. I found if i moved it a few feet on the door wall, I lost a few channels and gained others.  I was so pleased with the quality of  picture on the 9 HD channels I got after auto-programming (with the included amplifier plugged in), that I just stopped watching those channels on cable.  I settled on that particular indoor antenna after seeing 4 star ratings by well over 1000 people at Amazon – a good sign.  Don’t get something with a 5 star rating, with 6 users. Look for 4-5 stars, and lost of raters.  I’ll make a post or two dedicated to antennas and what I learned, so this post isn’t all I have to say about the subject.

One thing I will say, is that on windy days, I get signal interruptions.  I don’t know if a stronger antenna would correct this or not.

I wondered why the quality of picture was better OTA than it was through cable. After some quick searches, I learned that the signal is compressed when it goes through cable, but the digital signal OTA, is uncompressed. Quality degrades slightly with compression.  It’s not uncommon to find others saying the same thing if you search online, or just talk to friends who have made the leap. I took this snapshot with my iPhone about an hour ago  because Tornado warnings were issued west of Detroit.  This is one reason I like having access to network TV – when something local is going on.  I can use weather apps, but appreciate the expertise of meteorologists in interpreting radar and other things.

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Within days of getting the antenna, I picked up the Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (original), which was reduced in price with the release of the New Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (4230R) With Voice Search. Nota bene: I didn’t really care to have voice search.

I was pretty amazed with the Roku. If I kept cable, I’d still have a Roku streamer just for some of the interesting things it offers for free, and convenience of watching things like YouTube content.  I’ve tried watching YouTube on my Blu-Ray player, smart TV, etc, but it was a pain that was quickly dismissed as I returned to my laptop to view stuff. Not so, with the Roku once logged into my own YouTube account with things I’ve saved like playlists.  It’s as convenient as using a cable remote.  I could watch Netflix on the Smart TV or DVD player but,  here again, the Roku fires up fast, and in a click, I’m there.

Within two weeks of having the Roku, I began researching the various ISP’s to see who had the best deal in my area. I was still toggling back and forth between cable TV, the OTA, and the Roku, but with each day, I was naturally watching cable less and less.  After making a couple of calls to two main Internet providers in my area, and settling on one, the appointment was made for a new installation.

There are many details I want to get into from antenna info to Roku apps I like, and a trial I am doing with a cheaper Amazon Fire Stick in another room.  I could have gotten a Roku stick, but thought it might be good to try a different platform, especially since it was on sale, and about $13 cheaper.

So, my point is, if you aren’t sure… just get your feet wet by running an antenna and a streaming device along with your cable.  As I mentioned in my last post, I’m bent on Roku above all other platforms mainly because they have the edge on apps.  Roku is to other streaming devices what iPhone was to the first generation Android. The latter was cheaper, but had a fraction of the apps. The Roku 3500R Streaming Stick (HDMI)
is cheaper than the Roku 3 box. There are other Roku boxes too. Compare them for your needs at the Roku site.

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