Pros and Cons of Going OTA - Page 4 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #46 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 57
Don't forget about HD specialty stations though. In a few years there'll be a lot of HD specialty stations and you can't get those OTA. Sports and Movies are the "big drivers".
After our first year on BEV with all channels activated we decided to cancel almost all specialty channels. Like you said, we had more than enough TV so we scaled back after the novelty wore off and the evidence of wasted time on specialty channels mounted. I do not begrudge anyone subscribing to them, so all the power in the world to people who want them, but I suspect that there are many people who would not hesitate to forego some of them as they switch to free DTV OTA. The 500 channel TV universe really sucks when you get past the top 30 or so. I've GOT to get TSN-HD again now that the CFL season is about to start.
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post #47 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by robcreaser
Yes but Blockbuster should be able to deliver a better HD movie viewing experience than the current TMN HD offering in less than a years time. Then the only "big driver" will be exclusive live sports. How long before Rogers or Bell will need to take the Leafs "off line" on order to maintain growth/gain share.
Cue the ominous music, but I don't think advertisers would allow their consumer market to be arbitrarily cut in such a way. Very good point though, and I agree about the video rental option too.
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post #48 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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To be fair, here's a "con" about OTA, and I'd really like to hear from people who have figured out how to deal with it:

Situation: a home with an antenna mounted on a rotator in which the downlead from the antenna and/or preamp runs into a distribution amplifier so that TVs throughout the house will get signal.

If the house is located in a place where TV signals are at widely different azimuths, such as a house in Hamilton picking up Toronto and Buffalo stations, what happens when Mom wants to watch a show on the Home Theater system from a Toronto station and rotates the antenna there while the teens want to watch a show in the rec room from a Buffalo station and Dad wants to watch a show from Kitchener? (Silly me, at my house Mrs. Stampeder always wins, although she's figured out over the years how to make me believe that I won.)

So, there we have a "con" about OTA, albeit a much less expensive one than having the "pro" of CATV or DBS digital receivers in those other rooms. Comments?
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post #49 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 01:07 AM
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Additional CATV digital STBs are selling for $50-100 with $100 credit, so essentially the cost is pretty small (for non-HD). If you're talking HD, then the cost is indeed higher. My understanding is that OTA STBs are not that cheap.

For your conundrum, I guess a second antenna?

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post #50 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 57
Additional CATV digital STBs are selling for $50-100 with $100 credit, so essentially the cost is pretty small (for non-HD). If you're talking HD, then the cost is indeed higher. My understanding is that OTA STBs are not that cheap.
Not that much different once you factor in no monthly receiver fees for the OTA gear, and an initial price difference that is reasonably close.
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post #51 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 07:59 AM
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One item on the horizon for Cable is a multi-room PVR, which would help for people who require more STB for various TVs.

I guess another OTA "problem" is if you've got an OTA PVR setup (I believe there's one for about $1000 or so), how do you know where to point the antenna if you have a "directional" issue?

Would the OTA STB have a memory for rotor postion? I suppose you wouldn't be able to watch one channel and record another if they were in different directions, if these have two tuners. If only one tuner, then it's not such an issue, but you still have to ensure proper antenna direction. How is that done for various channels?

The Cable STB with two tuners can record 2 programmes and allow you to watch a previously recorded programme.

...just another thing NOT to worry about with Cable...

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post #52 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 08:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57
Why do you think people who get their signals via Sat or Cable would even "bother" with OTA?
Allow me to put it this way. I live in Toronto. I subscribe to Bell ExpressVu. I receive network feeds from 2 markets, Boston and Seattle, as well as WGN Chicago, WPIX New York, WSBK Boston, and KTLA in Los Angeles. So right there I have 2 markets along with some other mixed channels. But what happens when you put up an OTA antenna? BAM! Third Market.

-Alex
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post #53 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 08:59 AM
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I just got an HD TV this week, and I've already solved the issue for myself.
I've had ExpressVu for a number of years. 2 recievers so far. I see the price of the PVR just came down to 299.
I looked at what they offer in HD, and decided its not worth it. I'll get all the HD i need OTA. The only specialty channels they offer that i can't get OTA are sports and discovery.
If i want movies, the DVD player works pretty good. Someday we'll get a portable HD format.
So, for now i'm sitcking with free HD-OTA and 100+ SD Channels for 50 bucks a month. The kids made me give up the muscic package for kids package so the little ones can watch cartoons all day.

Dish network has a new PVR that will record HD and/or SD. I suspect it will be available from expressvu by xmas. That might make it worth it.
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post #54 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 11:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57
But, if someone already has gone to the bother of getting Cable or SAT, which 90% of Canadians have, then they are not going to "bother" buying a digital STB, cable, antenna, mast, etc and spending a day or two installing them, integrating this all into their existing hardware, or have someone do all of this for them at a cost of say $500-1500 including equipment (depending on STB, antenna, PVR capability, mast, etc).

It's a lot of effort and a fair bit of $...
I thought exactly the same as you last fall, that the cost of an OTA installation would involve a tower, rotator, antenna plus a lot of wiring. You're quite right, it would have cost over $1000. I decided it was too much money and trouble and gave up on the idea of HDTV OTA.

However, there is another solution I'm about to go to, which can work for some people. Oddly enough, the origin of the solution appeared right on Digital Home Canada, beginning with jeneral's thread about his OTA experiences with a $60 Radio Shack antenna in Mississauga.

It turns out you can buy an ATI HDTV Wonder for about C$200. The thing that amazed me was that for almost all of the GTA, the included (cloned?) small Silver Sensor antenna is able to pull in all the Buffalo HDTV transmitters. A small indoor UHF antenna appears to work in Mississauga, central Toronto and all the way north to Markham.

For me, that changed everything. Instead of paying $1000+ plus a lot of trouble for a tower installation, just buy an HDTV Wonder, put the little antenna near a window, and you have all the available HDTV OTA channels.

I'm paying about $45/month for Rogers cable. So if you already have a PC and 20" monitor, paying $200 for an HDTV Wonder means you'll get a fast payback on the expenditure.

But I think everything depends on your personal taste on how you choose to receive content.

For me, it's OK to use the Internet to read the news, since I don't think there's a 24 hour OTA news channel (too bad about ABC News Now). I don't watch many movies, so lack of OTA PPV isn't a factor for me personally. For the occasional movie like Revenge of the Sith, I use legacy HDTV PPV, I go to a theater and buy a ticket. ;->

So I think OTA HDTV using an HDTV WOnder is an option for someone who isn't a heavy TV viewer, is situated in a favourable signal reception location and doesn't mind watching TV on a PC. For me, it came down to a value decision, was TSN, CNN and Discovery Channel worth $500/year? But it was a close decision.
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post #55 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 11:57 AM
 
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That's what I did. I drove to the US one day, picked up an ATI HDTV Wonder and brought it back here. Total cost: US$165 + CDN$30 for duty. The antenna that it comes with, aside from not being amplified, is the best indoor antenna available and it easily picks up all of the Toronto and Buffalo stations. Then I can use my DVD burner to watch anything I've recorded from my computer, on my TV.
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post #56 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation About the PC equipment posts

This thread has started to enter that gray area that separates the OTA Forum from the good threads in DHC that deal with PCs and Linux boxes as multimedia and Home Theater devices.

In that regard, I appreciate the comments on the ATI HDTV Wonder PC cards and congratulate you folks on the successes, but I'd like to step in at this point and move this thread back towards conventional OTA viewership involving HDTVs and Home Theaters. Your results are welcomed and encouraged in the stickied threads here, of course, no matter which kind of gear you're using.

cheers,
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post #57 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 12:56 PM
 
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I see HDTV as an addition to cable or sattelite and not as the sole method of accessing TV, at least for most people. Personally, I'm comfortable watching all of the local stations from Buffalo although I would like to receive another city's network affiliates just so there is a selection of shows to watch depending on what that channel syndicates. But the reality for most people is that they love cable and the specialty programming that it offers. Many channels on cable just run shows that are now only shown in syndication (TBS Superstation, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central) but some also have original programming (Discovery Channel, TLC, Biography). Unfortunately, I'm not interested in watching crap about animals, or 1001 reality shows about fixing or cleaning, or learning about dead people (Please don't criticize my programming choices. I like what I like and if you disagree, then too f***ing bad!). But because many people love what cable or satellite has to offer, I doubt that they're going to be giving up the channels they've enjoyed for so many years, just for a few channels that are typically sold as an add-on to satellite for 5 dollars/month. OTA should be sold as an add-on to any satellite or cable receiver. It should be used to receive a few extra channels for variety with syndication or as an extra region in timeshifting.

Anyways, there will always be people who can live with the 15 channels they receive OTA, like me, but most people will always want the 100s of cable channels they're used to. And yes, HBO is still better than anything we receive in Canada but it doesn't matter how good it is because we can't even get it.

-Alex (I want my [Real, Non-Canadian] MTV)
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post #58 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57
I guess another OTA "problem" is if you've got an OTA PVR setup (I believe there's one for about $1000 or so), how do you know where to point the antenna if you have a "directional" issue?
Yup, that'd be an offshoot of the "many tvs" OTA problem, but the Channel Master 9521A rotator has an "automatic" feature. Any owners that can verify using that? Also my DVR is a Toshiba RD-X32 so its SD, but it has lots of inputs that my OTA tuner can feed DTV through. Eventually it displays at 480p so I can live with it. I bought it so that I wouldn't get tied down with just a BEV PVR and no alternatives.

Let's distill this issue then: OTA DTV with good quality gear is terrific and free after the one-time purchase costs, and usually has better PQ than CATV/DBS. Bearing in mind the "cons" in the "many tvs & dvr but only one antenna/rotator" scenario above and the fact that some CATV providers actually give excellent HD service, are the "pros" of OTA enough to warrant an installation?

I say yes, by all means, but I advocate a best of both worlds approach. Years ago I told friends that it was okay to switch over to CDs because of the better sound quality and that they could continue to use their phonographs too. We all know what happened to LPs once consumers heard the difference. Unless CATV/DBS providers such as Shaw, *C, and BEV get really serious about their HD quality in OTA areas, consumers have a very high incentive to put up antennas once they see the difference for themselves.
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post #59 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by alex04
I see HDTV as an addition to cable or sattelite and not as the sole method of accessing TV,
I'm pretty sure you meant OTA DTV, right?
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post #60 of 705 (permalink) Old 2005-06-09, 01:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stampeder
Years ago I told friends that it was okay to switch over to CDs because of the better sound quality and that they could continue to use their phonographs too. We all know what happened to LPs once consumers heard the difference. Unless CATV/DBS providers such as Shaw, *C, and BEV get really serious about their HD quality in OTA areas, consumers have a very high incentive to put up antennas once they see the difference for themselves.
This assumes that the difference between OTA and Cable/Sat is comparable to the difference between LP's and CD's. I highly doubt that; I have Rogers cable, and the HD picture I get is just fantastic. On this size of TV, I just don't really see that much room for improvement in terms of picture quality. Perhaps OTA _might_ be somewhat better, but I don't really see that it could compare to the difference between LP and CD.
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