Pros and Cons of Going OTA - Page 39 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #571 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-09, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by memphis 77
well i have had both rogers and bell , and subscribed to specialty chanells and tmn etc , i will only miss the dvr that bell has. I understand that chanell master makes a dvr so maybe when i get the new tv i'll also get the dvr.
Hmmm... Interesting. I was previously only was aware of the US HD TiVo. This seems like a simpler and less expensive solution. Anyone have recent experience with it, in terms of programming?

I've recently signed on for another 1-year contract (30% discount) on Rogers, but I'm finding I'm watching it less. The channels we'd miss on OTA are Discovery HD, Space (which isn't even in HD yet on Rogers), and Food Network.

In the meantime I already have a antenna mount on my roof and I'm by the lake, so I should be able to get decent reception. I'll lay some better RG6 cable (currently old RG59) and get a new antenna (currently a small ?busted? omnidirectional that's missing its amplifier) for testing purposes. I'll test over the course of the coming year.

It will be especially interesting to test now that everything's going digital in a few weeks, and some of the problematic channels will be getting revamped.
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post #572 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-09, 03:23 PM
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poutanen, a lot of PBS programming is available online. PBS is also available with FTA satellite.

At 20 I had a good mind. At 40 I had money. At 60 I've lost my mind and my money. Oh, to be 20 again. --Scary
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post #573 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-09, 03:52 PM
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I prefer to use OTA AND Cable ... if the price is right!

My OTA reception for NBC Buffalo is spotty at best. I have to be watching it live and be willing to move my indoor antenna when the signal starts to break up (this makes taping shows from NBC with the timer feature of my OTA box and VCR less reliable than Cable TV). I only get FOX Buffalo occasionally and PBS Buffalo only comes in clear when I don't seem to care about the programming that's on at that time.

I don't have an HDTV, so I love being able to watch CTV etc. in widescreen mode (on my 4:3 Tube TV) via OTA, so I don't lose part of the picture when CTV SD (etc.) via Rogers Cable shows the same programs in cropped 4:3.

If Canadian TV stations would stop airing cropped full screen versions of TV shows and movies on the SD versions of their channels, I would watch even fewer OTA broadcasts. I realize that the HD versions of the channels show the widescreen versions, but now that widescreen is more common than 4:3, I'm hoping that all of the 4:3 cropping on the SD channels will be gone after September 1rst (though I doubt I will be so lucky).

I don't know what deal lizardwolf got with Rogers, but my $10.13+tax deal for each month of over 100 channels is a great deal for "new" subscribers. I also get to keep the digital box after the year contract is up. If I cancelled the deal early, I would have to pay Rogers $20 a month for the unused portion, so why pay more to cancel something that is a steal of a deal anyway? That's why I doubt lizardwolf got the same deal as I did.

My Rogers package includes: E!, NFL Network, the many different Canadian channels from the different timezones, Rogers On demand, the main US channels and a bunch of other channels not available via OTA.

I also got Super Channel, TMN and Playboy free for 2 months (which is available as a promotion for most or all of Rogers subscribers) and there are some limited free previews for other channels that pop up each month.


- Avoiding Simsubs

- NO Full screen cropping on my 4:3 Standard TV (unless I choose to change the aspect ratio through my digital to analog converter box to 4:3)

- Better sound quality (louder) and perhaps slightly better picture (though with SD, the picture difference between Digital Cable is very minor in most cases).

- Extra channels not available through Cable (even without the Tropo)


Cable TV Cons:

- Simsub errors and lost minutes of programming due to CRTC simsub guidelines, or Mediastats' programming errors that the Rogers staff fails to catch ahead of time.

- High Regular Prices, often even with negotiated prices (means I will cancel after my year is over).

- The new search feature of the Rogers digital box still fails to find all the programming that I'm looking for, even when I can find it with the standard programming guide search or simply by browsing through the guide.

- Digital audio and picture sync problems that are not always fixed (even without using the digital box when possible, other TV sets and complaining to various people about it):

a) The Women's Network (ch. 27) has been out of sync (even without using the digital set top box) since I got Rogers a few weeks ago. Sometimes the audio and video are only a millisecond out of sync, but other times it's a full second out of sync (even for the commercials). Calls to Rogers' Tech support and a email to W have failed to fix the problem. It's a good thing I rarely watch that channel.

b) OWN (Oprah's Channel) - Love Story movie was out of sync for both showings, but the rest of the programming was not out of sync.

c) YTV (ch. 25): All widescreen versions of iCarly have tracking bar at bottom of black bar for the entire show. No other widescreen showings of other YTV shows seem to have that problem. E-mail to YTV failed to do anything. The YTV On Demand showings are shown as Full Screen cropped versions (just like the DVDs).


Note: When out of sync problems occasionally occur with OTA broadcasts (due to weak signal), I simply change the channel and then return to the channel I was watching to get the audio and picture back in sync.

Bottom line: The high cost of Cable TV and the annoying audio/video sync and simsub problems that happen on different channels each week (as well as some remaining for far too long without any hope for a fix) will most likely make it much easier for me to cancel Cable TV after my year is up. I will miss some of the channels, but at least I won't be bothered as often by the out of sync audio/video problems and cropped 4:3 versions of widescreen programming (hopefully the move away from OTA analog broadcasts will make 4:3 cropping less frequent on Cable TV SD broadcasts in the future).
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post #574 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-14, 11:51 PM
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Location: Wayne, MI (between Ann Arbor and Detroit)
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I was born in 1984 so I got used to cable early. We had OTA on second and third sets, but they only received about ten channels (eight in Detroit, plus CBC and barely TVO in Windsor) with rabbit ears, so it didn't appeal to me. All were on cable anyway. In fact, we were one of the few SE Michigan cities that had TVO on cable.

We moved to a different house near the end of 1997 and there was a delay with getting the cable installed. I found a cheap set of rabbit ears that probably came with the TV and used OTA for a while. Picked up maybe 13 channels, some very snowy, but it held me over for a while. It was one of these nights that I was picking up stations from Cleveland on a tropo event that perked my interest in OTA. The internet helped as well.

Eventually the cable came and OTA slowly went away... until I purchased an amplified indoor antenna. Reception improved on the OTA channels to the point where I was at maybe 15 or so. I found an A/B switch and connected one side with cable, the other with the antenna.

Around 1999 or so, I somehow convinced my parents to put up an outdoor antenna with the line going directly to my room. That really opened my eyes, as I could now somewhat pick up Toledo and Sarnia. Alternate NFL games were an excellent benefit!

I moved out on my own in 2003 and had a dish installed on my apartment balcony, but since local channels were extra, I brought along the ol' amplified antenna. Eventually in around 2006 I dumped the dish and went solely OTA.

I bought my house near the end of 2007 and one of the first things I did was have a giant antenna with rotor installed on the roof. Being closer to Toledo than before, those stations boomed in almost like the Detroit locals. I didn't even think of going to a dish or cable.

Being in a sweet spot for DTV, plus the fact my antenna was recently raised to 40 feet about the ground, I am now at roughly 50 channels from five different markets, all of them free! I get an all movie channel, Universal Sports, an all kids channel, a music video channel, and many more via subchannels! There is always something to watch.

I will admit, I do miss sports, as the Detroit MLB, NBA, and NHL teams do not air any of their games OTA anymore, but that's where a friend's house and the sports bar come in handy.

The only thing I need now it to convince myself to buy and HDTV so I can really experience the picture quality of OTA digital. Probably before Christmas.

I hope my personal experiences shed some light on the beauty of OTA!
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post #575 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-17, 04:56 PM
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Being in the US, of course I have different options and challenges than my Canadian friends...

I have been paying $100 for SD programming, no movie channels, but loads of junk. Here on satellite you have to pay for your locals, and being in a smaller market they are heavily compressed and sometimes drop. Not to mention rain fade.

I put up a Double Bay Gray Hoverman I built out of wire and PVC from plans on the internet and was delighted that I could pick up two markets, both 50 miles South and East of me with the antenna and no rotator up at 30 ft. on my ham tower.

I use a computer and TV cards to record everything OTA, have the computer autoflag and delete commercials and transcode and be available on my Rokus.

90% of what we watch was on Network television anyway, and we actually get much more local channels than we did due to carrying regulations, plus on SD they didn't give you the subchannels.

No rain fade, no fees for the DVR (in the computer)... Netflix streaming is great for $8 a month to catch up on older tv and movies, and there is plenty of free streaming stuff available on the private channels on the Roku (even Food Network and HGTV stuff).

Three of the four programs we do watch on Pay TV are available free on the websites for those networks/shows. The remaining show is available to purchase day of for $1.80 on Amazon and stream.

You do have to actively search out this content to watch it, but even the gold standards of pay tv have deteriorated into something awful. How is an exterminator an Art or an Entertainment. Extreme Couponing? Tattoo shows? Is this why I am paying $100 a month?

With the way the economy is, I am going to pocket the change. The wife is on board (she said we should use the money we would have paid for Disney World Vacations ). Also, the picture quality is miles better.

Con - We don't watch sports, so not for us - but it would be for most. We get espn3 from our ISP (a co-op here, no data caps) so we actually get more interesting sports than what would have been available...

Setting up the HTPC and getting a front end and all of it together wasn't EASY... it was educational, but it did take effort.

It will also take effort to stumble upon programming we like. But, that is part of the fun Also, more effort to actually get the programming legally for free. Again, part of the fun.
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post #576 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-17, 05:35 PM
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We have SD satellite. I've been playing with OTA digital but can't get enough reliability (with indoor antennas) to go OTA only. I'm not into sports, which seems to be the primary weakness with OTA, so it really doesn't make that much difference to me. And as for shows on specialty channels, many of them now stream their better shows, and many of those wind up syndicated to OTA stations, so it's possible to supplement what would be missed. Although the picture quality of HD OTA is spoiling me.

I use a computer as a TV so it's easy to record shows. (I strongly recommend the Hauppage cards for the remote.) I do tend to find with my current setup that it's easier to record off-air than off satellite since I have to program both the satellite box and the computer.

The big downside of satellite lately has been that a lot of the specialty channels that made satellite so attractive have disappeared to be replaced with cheap generic channels filled with reruns. Remember Lonestar? Or Drive-In? Even Scream has become the more generic Dusk. Yet once you start paying for a package you have to actively change it which means getting rid of other stations you've gotten use to.

I could see the justification in a movie channel if you're using it in place of movie rentals. But they never seem to air enough good movies to make the cost worthwhile. And I'm really behind on my movies lately; there's tons of big films I haven't seen.
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post #577 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-18, 01:24 PM
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Explaining to all the neighbors I've been up to on the roof. And all the usual questions like:

What are you doing?
How much did you spend on your antenna? (nothing)
How many HD channels you are pulling in.
Really? you can live on < 100 channels?
Could you pull in Discovery (or insert what ever kind specialty channels)

At which point I drop the cost of cable bomb. And how my kids don't watch that much tv, and they knows nothing of Hanna Montana...

Then I get branded as TV geek and I become the goto person for anything AV related....

I did help some people do a "Cord Cut". Which is very satisfying!
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post #578 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-20, 11:35 AM
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Location: North of London, Ontario
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Pros- I get about 7 OTA Canadian channels only and dont need any more (still watch too much tv anyways). I have been in electronics since the 70's and truly believe that if you want to give me commercials , then TV should be FREE. In fact when cable just came out I think their main pro was no commercials, I see what happened to that!
Cons- Some channels where I am north of London are still analog but I am trying to broaden my reception to get the digital signals.
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post #579 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-23, 05:59 PM
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Location: Midtown Toronto (OTA) LG 32LD400, MythTV
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Glad to say I'm OTA

Sometimes when I tell people I've gone OTA they ask if I miss channels like Discovery and History.

I found my answer today as I walked by a series of posters advertising History Channel.

Pawn Stars, Ax Men, American Pickers, Swamp People and Ice Road Truckers. What the heck do they have to do with history? Why would I pay for a bunch of second rate reality series (an oxymoron I know) when for free I get the award-winning science and history shows on PBS and TVO?

Antennas Direct C2V antenna pointed @ curved building NE. DB4e pointed SSE. Cable free since May 2011.
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post #580 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-23, 06:50 PM
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The quality of production and the format of shows like Nova, Nature, Independent Lens, Frontline, POV etc. is far superior to the sensationalist, 7-min (because ad-interrupted) chunks of shows on Discovery Channel et al.

If everybody realized the superiority of public television programming, some specialty channels would be in serious trouble.
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post #581 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-25, 10:27 AM
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OTA with a DVR and channel guide?

I've been with Shaw Direct / Starchoice since 2000 and am considering going OTA due a steady reduction in HD PQ over the years. The only thing holding me back is a perceived lack of recording options. I use a DVR to record all my programs and watch nothing in 'real time'.

Do the antennae companies have DVRs and if so which one would give me full sat like DVR functionality, ie channel guide, 30 skip ahead, etc? If this type of product exists then I'm going OTA.

P.S. not interested in recording to a PC....

Dave B Sony 4k XBRX55900A, ShawDirect HDPVR,
ChannelMaster HDPVR, Oppo BDP103 Onkyo TX-SR605 AVR
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post #582 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-25, 10:45 AM
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There's a whole long thread on this topic ATSC DVR & PVR Recorders (other than CM)

IMHO a PC is the best solution, espeically if you have any interest in watching other things like video files, ripped DVDs/BRs, Netflix, other online streaming, plus it gives the flexibility to copy files to other media (like mobile devices).
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post #583 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-25, 11:11 AM
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schoenby, that was one of my biggest surprises when I made the switch a few years ago. I figured I would miss the discovery channel, TSN and Speed channel the most.

Well Nova and Nature are far better than anything the Discovery channel offers and ad free, getting Football games from the states without sim-sub'd canadian ads is better than TSN, and I guess I do miss Speed channel. With all the money I save I could go see a few live races every year instead.
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post #584 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-25, 02:11 PM
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I live near the US border and get great reliable OTA- TV.

I live in Canada where the Canadian OTA-TV spectrum is being systematically depleted with this digital transition.

3D SSH III with ZZ4 refl.
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post #585 of 705 (permalink) Old 2011-08-25, 02:20 PM
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Thumbs down

CON: Crappy 480i SD signals on Canadian OTA repeaters.

At 20 I had a good mind. At 40 I had money. At 60 I've lost my mind and my money. Oh, to be 20 again. --Scary
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