Could a basic antenna replace your expensive TV provider?

Where’d those TV antennas go? They’re still around. Antennas are actually still a way to get a slew of TV channels at next to no money. In some cases, better quality than cable or satellite — and a great way to begin “cutting the cord.”

Are you ready to stop paying the sky-high bills that cable and satellite companies — think Comcast/DIRECTV — charge you monthly? Tired of paying for channels you don’t watch, paying for equipment rentals, constant increases in your bills? First — as this is meant to be a multi-part series — we’re going to dig into your basic over-the-air TV signals using antennas — how people once watched TV before we had cable and satellite companies. There’s a diverse offering of channels flying about over our heads still, and all one needs is a very small, cheap, basic piece of equiptment.

Times have changed since you had to climb up on your roof risking life and limb to install those old-school lightning rods you may have had grown up with (yes, I’m dating myself). And with a small indoor antenna you won’t be held hostage when you hear that Comcast/DIRECTV/DISH-etc., may dump one of your favorite local channels.

Your cable and satellite companies don’t mention that they shrink their signals — compression means a bit less quality — to save themselves some money. But the compression does add up, and it makes a difference to those that truly appreciate an ultra-high quality picture.

The gateway to TV channels over the air for most folks is to purchase a very affordable digital leaf antenna. Leaf antennas are normally very small and flat plastic like material that won’t take up much room — and anyone can set one up. In fact, all you need is a little line-of-sight to the great outdoors to receive channels in the Colorado Springs area which will get you digital TV signals along with some VHF channels and such. The digital channels are your best quality signals offering real high definition (which you will receive) but beyond that there are still the small mom and pop channels which won’t have the same quality but offer you some more viewing options. In the right circumstances even Denver stations can be picked up. Local news, network shows, sporting events and more in high-definition — even some throwback TV shows on some those VHF type channels. Check it out for yourself with if you have doubts, just enter your address.

Pretty good for no charges outside of a cheap TV antenna, lest you are located deep in a canyon or something along that line. I have leaf antennas in spots that have no line-of-site and I get a plethora of free TV.

Leaf antennas are available online and electronics stores/ Personally, I cringe at the idea of spending more than say $20 for one. (Please don’t get snowballed into spending too much.) The unassuming devices end with coaxial cable like the ones you see running into your home from Comcast, or perhaps your satellite on the roof. Plug the coaxial cable into your TV just like your cable/satellite TV and you’re done. Set up from there is a cinch.

For most modern TV’s:

  1. Plug the antenna in and turn your TV on. (As for positioning the device, I like to get it a view of the outside if I can; focus towards the east if possible.)
  2. Grab your TV remote, hit the “menu” button and run the setup to scan the TV/over the air channels — it will run though everything it can find a viable signal on.
  3. You’re done, channels are set on your TV now. If you get stuck, refer to your TV manual.

Settings on leaf antennas typically include “amplification,” that allows you to add power in the hope of bumping up a TV signal. In theory, you would pull in a few more channels, though, I haven’t had a positive experience and frequently see reviews agreeing that it’s a gimmick.

So, now you have your local news, weather, your big league shows such as The Big Bang Theory, and flashbacks like The A-Team, and many more back on your TV. There are a ton of ways to add more channels/shows you may desire, a topic for later in the series, as over-the-air TV may not be enough for everyone. In the meantime, grab an antenna for when you do decide to kill off your cable/satellite contract — they’re handy for additional viewing on top of your regular providers, too.

Now you’re well down the path of “cutting the cord,” at least having another option/backup to a cable TV/satellite provider.

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