Filed under HDTV
I have decided to make a *big* switch in my life. For the first time since I was in college, I am not paying for TV. I'm now using an antenna ("rabbit ears") to watch TV.
I was using a bastardized version of DirecTV for apartments via AT&T Home Entertainment. It is the same programming as DirecTV, but with a few differences.
One difference is AT&T customer service is *terrible*. When I called about setting up HD programming, I was told I could not get HBO or Showtime in HD (not true). I was told that one of the few HD channels I could get was MSNBC (not true). I was told I could not get the local channels in HD (not true).
Another difference between DirecTV and AT&T HE is support for DVR's. AT&T will not provide you with a DVR, you must get one yourself. They also will only support you after you follow the instructions on this web page. I used the directions to setup my NTSC dual tuner TiVo with success.
Since I was getting HD channels, I needed a new DVR that could record HD. I bought a DirecTV HR-20. I followed the instructions on the web page and all I got was an error message: "no signal found." AT&T would only help me via email on the issue. I was getting about a 4-5 day delay between emails. None of the emails helped me. Most ended with, "Please consult your DVR manual. We consider this issue closed." After nearly 2 weeks WITHOUT service, I decided I needed to get away from these people. Why am I paying them more than $110 a month when I can't get any help and my service wasn't even working?
Going without service made me realize something...I really do not need all those channels. Most of the TV I watch is on the local channels or on DVD via Netflix.
One of the great things about HDTV is over the air (OTA) reception. Before cable, we all got our TV via rabbit ears and it looked terrible. HD is different. You basically either get a perfect picture, or you don't get anything. Another nice benefit of OTA HD channels...most broadcast in 5.1 surround sound, just like you get with DVD's.
I am able to pickup all the local channels in HD: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, CW (which hosts The Tube on a sub-channel) and about 4 others.
So there are some big holes with my plan. I'm a big Mavericks fan, and only a handful of games are on the local channels. Most are on Fox Sports Southwest. I also don't have ESPN anymore, which means no more Monday Night Football...although I have class on Monday night, so it really isn't a problem.
There are a few things I can do. If there is a game I want to see and I don't have a channel for it, I'll just plan on going to a sports bar to catch it. When the Soprano's come back on, I'm going to watch those in the community TV room or just wait for it to come out on DVD.
I still need to get a DVR for the local channels. I returned the DirecTV HD DVR because it will only work with DirecTV service. I'm planning on picking up a Media Center PC, probably this one when it comes out (which should be sometime in October).
Another benefit of dropping satellite/cable...I only have a few channels, but most of them are HD channels, so I spend most of my time with HD content.
One channel I now get OTA that I didn't get before is "The Tube." This channel is like MTV in its early years, but better. It is all music videos with no commercials. The video quality is pretty poor (you can see a lot of compression artifacts), but the music comes out as Dolby Digital 5.1. The music selection is all over the place...I saw Duran Duran with "The Reflex" and that was followed by a Harry Connick Jr. video about hurricane Katrina. It is a great channel to leave on when you aren't really watching TV.