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Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Posted by paulsm (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 25, 12 at 23:07

Comcast provides roughly 60 channels of programming content between the 1 and 100 numbers. After deleting the channels that I have no interest in there are only 3 entertainment programs that we watch. This is in addition to 4 national news programs and two local news programs. Also, there is the issue of MLB and football programming. So to cut the cords to cable I would like to be able to continue to have access to these programming contents.

Using the bulk cable prices I have a cost or budget of 516 annually to work with. My objective is to replace the garbage from Comcast with quality programing content at the same or reduced cost. At this time there is not a complete one button answer to achieving a high quality viewing experience. But this is not a major problem and actually reduces to some very simple procedures. To start with...

High speed internet... It is necessary to have this in place. I went with the AT&T uverse 3MB wireless system. Movies download and start playing in about 5 seconds. I have never yet had any kind of interruption or breakup of pictures. My cost for the first year is 14.95 per month or 180 on an annual basis. This leaves me with a budget of 336.

Television... I added a Roku box to the Sony flat panel LCD that we have. The Roku box looks back to the wireless computer setup which I have in another room for its high speed connection. Roku gives you access to many channels of programming. The cost of the Roku is a one time charge of about 60 dollars. There are no reoccurring costs. Some channels on Roku do ask either for a subscription or a cost for certain content. This is the A La Carte approach which I have always advocated. No content is jammed down my throat as with Comcast and billed for it whether I like it or not.

Some Channel Notes on the Roku

Netflix Channel... Netflix is one of the most popular channels available on Roku. The quality of their movie base is excellent and they are constantly adding to it. Comcast can not hold a candle to it. The library of television programs is on a delayed basis. You have to give up the approach that you simply must watch a particular program at 8pm on a Thursday night. With Netflix you can watch it when it is most convenient for you. The cost for Netflix is 8 dollars per month or 96 on an annual basis. This leaves me with a budget of 240.

Pandora Channel... The quality of this channel is what you would hope for. You can access almost any CD and any artist you want. You can build a library of quality music. The only problem I have with Pandora is that I have not been able to figure out how it works and how you build a set
of music or preferences. The music available on Comcast doesn't come close to this quality. In addition, there are other music channels. MOG is another good music channel. They charge about 4 a month. It is easier to work with than Pandora. I have subsscribed to this channel for an
annual cost of 60. This leaves me with a budget of 180.

Radio Channels... There are a ton of these. You can listen to almost any radio station in the country. You can even listen in on the communications for departures and landings between planes and the control tower at Ohare and other airports. Almost every emergency, fire and police communications in the state are accessible.

Hulu Channel... For those who like to watch a lot of TV programming this channel has a ton of them. All are on a delayed basis. The cost is eight dollars a month. As I only watch 3 TV programs I did not add this channel.

Religious Channels... There are a ton of these. Every faith and denomination.

Amazon Channel... This channel has a true A La Carte pproach. The TV programs are generally available within 24 hours. The average cost is 2 dollars per show. If I feel that I have to watch my three channels as soon as they come out I will pay for these programs. I am using an average number of episodes for each series of twelve. So twelve episodes at 2 each times 3 is an annual cost of 72. This leaves me with a budget of 108.

Variety... there are so many more channels covering almost every subject under the sun. Tons of content to select from.

Over the Air TV... Networks are still broadcasting their content over the air. I have tested about 5 small indoor antennas in the 10 to 15 dollar range. I am currently picking up about 6 analog channels and 35 digital channels. Almost all of these channels are HD and they are free. I set up channels 2,5, 7, 11, and 17 in a favorite status to simplify the selection process. I still need to pick up channels 9, 13 and 37. With one antenna I was able to pick up channel 9 but not with the current antenna I am using. It is a simple hook up to the tv. You then run the channel locater program and then leave the antenna in back of the tv. A roof top antenna is the best solution for this content. Although I have not looked at the particulars yet my assumption is that this could be a wireless setup.I don't know what the future of this access is. There is a company with 25 million in venture capital who has started up in New York city. They place antennas around the city
and then place a couple of thousand small antennas (about 1 inch high) in each large one. When you subscribe to their service (12 dollars a month ) they assign you to one of the small antennas to handle the broadcast of all over the air programming. Five of the major networks have filed a lawsuit against them. Where this goes is an open question
right now.

Drawbacks... My cost of 14.95 per month for the high speed internet is for one year only. The second year it jumps to 38 per month. The internet charge from all providers is outrageous. One way to counter that is for 2 people to share a connection thereby cutting the cost in half. I have a 250 GB download ceiling on my service. Two people using a
connection for anything other than business should have no problem staying well beneath that limit.

Advantages... The difference between this approach and cable content is like night and day. I have a budget reduction of 108 annually while enjoying a much better programming content. This is an evolving situation and these comments are only what I have digested at the moment.

Side Notes...

Roku limits the number of movies you can have online at one time. However, you can go to your netflix channel on your computer and add movies from the expanded data base to your instant queue. This transfers the selected movie to
the tv.

hbogo requires my uverse wireless password. I am not comfortable with giving that to them.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Does anything here give you ideas..

"Most of the television we watch is available free, over the air and in high definition to boot. A simple antenna will get you all of the major networks plus other regional channels. What does that equal? Most key sporting events and every network TV show."

The catch: Your reception depends on how close you are to a TV tower. Generally, roof antennae fare better than the indoor variety.

See the rest of the article.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203550304577138841278154700.html


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

search youtube for coathanger antenna


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Never heard of it, check this out!

A Stealthy HF Coat Hanger Antenna

http://www.kr1st.com/hfcoath.htm


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

A good article Zep :~) The price is right and technical requirements are minimal it seems.

I suspect he is rather more than just a television junkie regarding knowledge though. I wonder what those other 5 wires control? One looks like a ground wire (third from the left)


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

To say that I am disappointed in the quality of the responses to this post would be an understatement. Disgusted would be a more accurate description.

There were many different aspects to look at in this situation yet instead we had a few comments on a side issue of minimum value... a coat hanger antenna. No comments on other players in this field like Walmart, blockbuster etc or plus or minus points on the extent of Netflix's database etc or the role that Roku is playing plus many other issues.

I expected a heck of a lot more from this crowd and it was not forthcoming. Too bad I guess.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

I for one seldom watch TV, so this thread had little or no interest to me even though I read it thoroughly. For TV (or entertainment) fiends, there seemed to be some good ideas. Not for me.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Paulsm wrote:- To say that I am disappointed in the quality of the responses to this post would be an understatement. Disgusted would be a more accurate description.

I read your piece as more of a blog than a plea for help. You seem to have researched the issue quite well. Having skimmed through a second time I fail to find a question mark following any comments you made, thus the blog aspect.


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Update - RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

A couple of interesting items I have discovered about the Roku box.

One - You can go to the computer and on the netflix website select particular channels to add to your instant q. They will then display when you bring up your wireless network with the netflix channel.

Two - Private channels are allowed on Roku. This greatly increases the selection process and opens the door for making cutting the cord to cable so much easier.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the trend to move away from cable. What they offer these days for a lot of money is pure garbage.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

In the original post, I got the impression that MLB & football were important to you...but you never mentioned them again. Now that baseball is in full swing, how is that working out for you? I don't know how much baseball you watch, but I watch a lot-most of it thru FS Detroit & FS Ohio. If I cut the cord I would lose that, and I'm going to make a guess that none of that content is available on the alternatives you mentioned. Am I wrong? I also watch a lot of college football, most of it on ESPN/ESPN2 and I would also lose that if I cut the cord. If not for sports, I might be willing to not only cut the cord but forget about the alternatives as well. With the current level of program quality and the amount of ads we have to endure, watching television is almost not worth it anymore.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

I think the most common cable alternative people use is one of the satellite providers, Dish or Direct. Many phone companies also offer a TV signal.

Everyone has different spending priorities. I hate cliches, but for the same money as that daily coffee at Starbucks or for what people pay for their cell phones, you can have cable or satellite service.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Or search youtube for how to make a digital tv ccoat hanger antenna.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

I use a Roku with Netflix and Hulu Plus.
Hulu Plus has a lot of shows that are web only. So I plan on
hooking up a computer to my TV and watching them that way.
My TV has a VGA input to use it as a 42inch monitor.

I can offer a posting I copied from Facebook.
It was started by my computer guy.

David's Computers
Now that i' ve cut the cord on satellite, I'm using my old iPhones as tv receivers to watch tv shows recorded to my Mac (TiVo-like). I found a cool app called Tango remote to control fast forward, pause, play, and volume. Works really well.

David's Computers
Its a cheap Chinese built antenna. (Supersonic sc609)Which of course I sell at the store. I sell them for $40, but can be found on the web for lots of different prices. It is rated for 120 miles, It has a small power amp and outputs to 2 tvs out of the box. I've spent hours testing this setup and found tons of tweaks to perfect the signal. It almost doesn't matter what antenna you use. You can NOT install any of them on this side of the mountain without an amp. Walmart sells the amps for $24.98. I then split the signal coming out again to however many tvs you have. (I used the existing wiring that was originally installed in my house for cable tv and connected the output from the amp to the input on the splitter.) The most crucial part of the install is the angle at which you mount the antenna. Almost all tv stations in Chattanooga are between 168-172 degrees on a compass, so that is where you start (point the front of the antenna there) then do the tilting. Almost all antennas are designed to be mounted at 90 degrees. It does not get enough exposure to the signal at that angle even with an amp. I have found the angle that works for me is to tilt it back about 45 degrees then tilt to the right at 45 degrees as well. I found a website that graphs this signal ratio pretty well. www.tvfool.com

(Wish I had found it before all this work, but that's the way it goes.) These angles vary depending on where you are. Most tvs have a strength meter so you can perfect the exact angle to your setting. Hope this helps. I have less than $100 in my setup and it can be done for less. Best part no monthly payments!!!

David's Computers
The antenna does not have to be anything HD labeled by the way. They all pick up HD, even the junk ones. (So please don't spend a lot.) The web based stuff I'm talking about is using devices like a Roku, Apple TV, Boxee Box, Google TV or a App based Bluray player. This gets you lots of alternatives like Netflix, Hulu, etc. Use the web to pick-up the slack. I use an HDHomerun as well to channel this tv signal to all my computers, which then makes every computer (both my Macs and PCs) into dvr systems just like I did with DirecTV.) This box cost around $120 and was outside the scope of the antenna project. It's cool anyway. It is a cheap way to have dvr for the system since you already have a computer.

(name deleted for privacy)
Sounds a lot like what we have but...we are going to have to get an amp. We have trouble picking up 9.1 and 9.2. It also shows a 53 but nothing comes in. I'm wondering I we need to go higher with our antenna too? FREE HD is wonderful!

David's Computers
It's the angle and the amp both. I'm in a hole where I live. My antenna is only about 15 feet in the air. The angle allowed me to pickup those channels and the amp improved the quality of all the signal. I set my parents up with this and we are picking stuff up from North Georgia. Their antenna is strapped to the front of their porch about 8 feet off the ground. I expect to pick up even more when I put it on their house.

David's Computers
Oh yeah here is the list of channels I'm getting: 3.1, 3.2, 9.1, 9.2, 12.1, 12-2, 45.1, 45.2, 53.1, 53.2, 61.1, and 61.2.

(name deleted for privacy)
We can't get 53 yet...it says it's there but just black...but we get a bunch of 23 channels that we don't really watch.

Here is a link that might be useful: www.tvfool.com


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

While I enjoy a wonderful country life, it does have its downside.

My only source for high speed internet is satellite. With that comes the bandwidth cap of 10G a month. With 5-7 users in this house - that eliminates any video streaming.

We do have a 30' high tower mounted TV antenna that gets a pretty good digital signal, but during periods of bad weather (and sometimes good weather) we get no signal at all.

We also have our TV package delivered via satellite, which also drops its signal during periods of bad weather.

Our budget for these services is significantly higher. $600/year just for the limited internet service alone.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Although I have an indoor antenna hooked up (a cheap one) I really have not proceeded any further with this. I can pick up the channels I need for baseball with this and perhaps even for football. More and more of the games shown on free antenna tv are now being slowly moved to cable only where they generate more income for the baseball association.

Lately I have been focusing on downloading youtube and other videos and then transferring them to the roku box. There is a free site that all you have to do is play the youtube video and then copy the url address and paste it into the space provided by the free site. They will download the video to your computer.

I have looked at a number of sites that allow you to play these on the roku box but I think the most simple way is to use the usb port on the roku. I assume that roku then gives you the ability to set up folders with either videos or pictures. Shutterfly allows pictures only on the roku box. My current roku box does not have the usb port so I will have to upgrade which is a reasonable cost.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Cable Alternative.
Construction Time - 1-Hour
Cost - Zero
Works -Like a Charm


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Got one of these too?


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

I have enjoyed the disucssions here. I am on the quest to find what I will be able to do in my new RV. The main issue will of course be first getting a wifi signal from something. I do have an ATT air card which has a 5GB cap, I have my cell phone but have the minimum data plan on it currently and they do not offer an unlimited.
I have a zyxel portable router that can make a hotspot from a wifi signal.
11n-compatible Wi-Fi router supports DSL/Cable and 3G connectivity, and a unique failover capability; should your wired connection be interrupted for any reason, the MWR222 will automatically switch to a 3G/4G wireless signal via the users Mobile Broadband Adapter modem.
So now I have the ability to have enough wifi in the RV to use any of the devices I want to use.

but I need to search out other cheap(ha!) sources to obtain an internet signal on the road. I know some places we will stay do provide free wifi and using my own portable router will make that wifi secure, but for those places out in the boondocks that don't provide wifi, I will need some kind of access. My ATT air card at 5GB cap sure won't allow much streaming of anything.

Any thoughts?
I have been looking at Roku and other boxes and with the usb port I definitely could download plenty of my own content to have available to view for the times I am not able to gain decent access to anything.
The RV does have a roof top antenna and it is wired for cable for when we are at a site with cable.

I do have direct tv at home and I know they do offer an on the road version to be able to use you current direct tv account with RV direct tv equipment, no idea of additional costs.

the zyxel I have
MWR222


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Yes, the USB port on the ROKU will let you view video, pictures, or listen to music. The video has to be in a certain format but there is a free program that will do the conversion for you. I have hooked up a flash drive to my ROKU box and even an external hard drive.

Pooh Bear

Here is a link that might be useful: What media file types does the Roku 2 USB Media Player channel support?


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

You don't need a Roku box if you're looking to play content from an external drive. Many DVD/Blu Ray players have USB inputs (as well as with internet streaming), and some TVs have it built in too. Also, PS3 game consoles offer many of the same capabilities.

I mention these only because many people may not know that what they already have can do these other things. It's not necessary to buy something additional. Unless you want to, in which case, that's another approach.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

With Netflix and Hulu and some TV via my computer I seldom use any of the players and boxes anymore.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Forgot to mention in my post of Thu, Aug 16, 12 at 13:54, immediately above, I think, that I use a 32 in TV as a monitor on the computer that I use for Netflix, Hulu and the like.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Raven, when we used to travel with our RV, we took one of our Dish Network receivers with us, and for $5 per month additional, could use it on the road and get all our normal satellite programming. You can do the same with Direct, so contact them and find out exactly how you can do this. If you're paying for TV at home, it makes sense to use the same while on the road. Oh, you will need a dish to set up and point in the right direction, but this was no problem at all. You can find used dishes lots of places, and it doesn't even have to be the same brand, at least that was our experience. We've stopped RVing now, but I think the basic things still apply. You will notice lots of RVs with dishes set up. Some even have them built in on the roof in addition to the regular antenna.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives-more

Also, Raven, you will find that most private campgrounds offer wi-fi either as a "freebie" or for a very nominal fee. However, if you visit state and national parks, you will need to rely on your air card, assuming that ATT has a good signal in that area. Often in the boonies you might just forego internet for a while. There's so much else to see and do anyway, I never wanted to sit inside the RV when I could be out exploring. Of course, bad weather is another story!


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Thanks, I think I will go the direct tv route since we have it at home and can easily take along a receiver. I do have to get an HD direct tv dish. If we do that and keep the Internet use more limited I think we can get by with the plan we have. Or I could increase the cap on my smart phone for data and use it as a hotspot.

I am sure I won't be spending much time online while traveling but email and some searching will be essential.


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RE: Wireless Network - Cable Alternatives

Thanks, I think I will go the direct tv route since we have it at home and can easily take along a receiver. I do have to get an HD direct tv dish. If we do that and keep the Internet use more limited I think we can get by with the plan we have. Or I could increase the cap on my smart phone for data and use it as a hotspot.

I am sure I won't be spending much time online while traveling but email and some searching will be essential.


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