A/V nerd-dom

So what inspired me to start blogging again?  I wanted someplace to put together my thoughts on a new HD antenna.  (Yeah, I know, that’s just so HOT!)

We cut the cable cord late last year.  So much of what we were watching was on network, our cable bill was about to go up (we were on an awesome promo rate), and there was something very satisfying about being able to say adios to Comcast. But first, we made sure our set up would allow us to continue to enjoy our favorite shows:

  • HD TV, 37″ (this was actually the first proper TV we ever bought, in 2010)
  • TiVo HD (love this thing — I think the TiVo paid for itself when we did have cable by allowing us to avoid all sorts of Comcast fees — and works with Amazon and Netflix)
  • DVD player (5 disc changer, because we like to marathon through TV series so it’s nice to be able to pop in an entire season at a time)
  • Receiver & speakers (Chris really wanted a decent sound system, so we invested a few years ago)
  • HD antenna (cheapie from Radio Shack, purchased years ago when we previously cut cable)

What was missing?  Well, I thought about an HTPC since I had quite a bit of video on my computer (legally acquired folks — I’m married to the anti-pirate).  And we’d talked about Blu Ray for years for HD video, but we have so many DVDs that the thought of the cost of conversion is quite intimidating.  Also, since the TV is under 40″, everything I’ve ever read on A/V systems suggests that 720p HD would be virtually indistinguishable from 1080p/i.

Which lead us to… the Apple TV 2.  So much cheaper than an HTPC (much as I’d like the opportunity to nab a Mac Mini), easy access to HD movies and shows (thanks to iTunes), and we could purchase the few cable shows we do watch (Burn Notice, White Collar, and Archer).  And it turned out that Netflix on the ATV2 is nicer than on the TiVo.  There’s a part of me that wishes I could cut out a box, but overall I’m happily surprised with how well the TiVo and the ATV2 work together in our tech system.  (I also have to admit that I’m spending more on iTunes video than I thought I would…)

So this set up has been running for a couple of months now.  But the bad weather here this past week has lead to iffy antenna reception, which had lead me to thinking maybe it’s time to upgrade the antenna (which is butt ugly anyway).

We’re lucky to live in a major metropolis: we pull in a ton of OTA channels (over 40).  Even discounting the informercial, religious, and Spanish stations, we still receive a ton of interesting programming for free.  (Especially since we pull in three different PBS stations: I do love our bits of socialism.)  But there’s been a lot of pixelation lately (stupid snow/rain) and I like the excuse to tinker with the system.

Not to mention the opportunity to research a new toy!  There’s all sorts of antennas: DIY (which is not happening, as I finally admit we have the crafting skills of a 2-year-old), flat, bow-tie, rabbit ears… and those are just the indoor solutions.  Since we’re now apartment living (I’ll probably get around to blogging about that), an outdoor roof or attic antenna was not going to happen.  And I like making the living room as pretty as possible, so that ruled out the truly atrocious antennas.  But the whole point of getting a new antenna was to improve the signal strength reception so that a bit of snow wouldn’t cloud up Benedict Cumberbatch’s lovely face, so function does matter more than form.  (Sigh.)

So I purchased this:


Top reviews at Amazon, easy to hide, not terribly expensive.  I hope this works.

And no, I’m not sure if we’ve saved any money this way…  But I’m having fun and I don’t have to deal with Comcast, so I think this is an improvement.

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