I used to pay $50+ a month for Cable/ Satellite. First to Verizon, then to Dish. I consider Dish to have better service than Verizon (Customer service and programming) but every 6 months or so I would have to call Dish support to have a tech fix my satellite due to natural causes (Rain, Wind, Storms etc) So when my satellite took another dive recently I decided to call it quits.
So I began to gather data on what it will take for me to simulate my current setup, which consists mostly of being able to record shows that I like, which are mostly from channels that broadcast over the air, and be able to get them in HD.
Here is what I came up with. To record the shows I looked into a Boxee tv setup but after reading so many bad reviews, and finding out that the DVR functionality was not ready where I live (Tampa FL) I concluded that it was not the best choice at this time. I then looked into a Roku + Antenna setup. So I picked one up (Roku 3) and it is fantastic for streaming online content, but thats it. It will not intregrate with an Antenna or record anything for you. I did not want to have to switch Inputs every time I wanted to go from live TV to Streaming either. Also, an antenna connected to your TV does not do a good job of giving you a channel line up, or guide that shows you whats coming up next.
Then I found TiVo. I got the TiVo Premiere and it is just what I needed. A device that can receive an OTA antenna input and process that information and display it so that it makes sense to me, in other words, it gives you a nice line up of your programs from the channels that it picks up in your area, depending on the antenna you use. The TiVo took about an 1 hour to completely setup (un-boxing, updates, subscription service, activation..etc) but after that is done it just works. You can record your shows (2 at a time with the Premiere), pause, rewind.. etc. The cost is $15/m but to me it is well worth it.
The only drawback I had is that my Amazon Premiere subscription videos are not available via TiVo. Only Amazon OnDemand, which are videos that are available to rent (usually $2.99 a pop!) I contacted Tivo about this and it was explained that Amazon did not make this available to TiVo. A big let down to hear this from Amazon which is making me consider canceling my Prime Subscription. I will be picking up a Redbox DVD or BluRay instead of using Amazon OnDemand.
Now, here is my experience with Indoor Antennas. I had purchased the Artec HD antenna and set it up on the table where the TiVo and AV Receiver are and did a scan. It grabbed 26 channels. Very good quality but it missed everything below Ch 16 which included the two channels that I wanted the most, NBC and CBS. These channels broadcast in Hi-V and towers are 22 miles away (check DTV.org for this info) from my house and this antenna was not cutting it. I moved it close to a window and re-scanned, same results.
Next one I got was the Clearstream 1 Convertible antenna. I placed it on same location as the previous, next to my window with an open view. This one grabbed 40 channels. Very clear picture and excellent signal strength. But, still no NBC or CBS or anything below Ch 15. So I returned it.
I then found the Mohu Leaf Ultimate indoor antenna. I placed the leaf hanging by the wall above my TV and scanned. It found 55 channels. This time it picked up the missing channels below Ch 16. But the signal for these channels was not optimal and had some interference. I then placed the Leaf flat against my living room window and re-scanned. All I can say is wow!, All channels come in with an excellent picture quality. 55 channels in total, about 10 in HD which include all the major ones like NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, PBS..etc (these are the ones I normally watch).
My only concern was the exposure to the sun. Since it is attached to a window where the sun hits for a good part of the day I was wondering if it would get damaged so I wrote Mohu support and they said that it should be fine attached to the window but to make sure to use the white side of the Leaf and secure all four corners with the attached mounting Velcro to prevent it from curling.
I canceled my Dish subscription 2 days ago. I now pay $15 dollars a months for a feature rich DVR and the ability to use one control and central location for all my TV watching needs. I added Netflix for $8 a month to be able to watch more content when the mood strikes. I did have to invest some time and money on this. Time = a Weekend (All items were purchased at Walmart except the Artec HD antenna). Money = TiVo DVR + Mohu Leaf Ultimate + Tivo Subscription + NetFlix. But my total payment now is $15 (Tivo service) + $8 (NetFlix) = $23. So I have reduced my bill by more than half and I get more flexibility and no contract.
If you are trying to become independent of Big Cable but still want to have some flexibility over when to watch your favorite shows then I hope this review will help you decided which product is best for you and also help you save some time and money.
I wrote this as a product review for Amazon in the hopes of helping others who are trying to do the same thing and are out there looking for some info on which products work best. I heavily rely on other users feedback when buying a new product and appreciate the time people take to leave helpful reviews and feedback in sites such as Amazon therefore I am doing the same.
Let me know if you have any questions on the comments and I will try to reply as soon as possible.