How to get FREE HD! - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:36 AM
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Default How to get FREE HD!

HD is kind of expensive eh? Too few people realize they can have it absolutely free.

Every TV station is required by Federal law to broadcast a concurrent digital signal along with their analog one. All the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW) and PBS transmit in HD. There are also other channels that ONLY exist digitally, although these are rarely HD.

So what do you need to see them? You probably have everything you need already. Aside from an HDTV with a built-in ATSC tuner (all of them sold in the last few years have been required to have them), just a pair of rabbit ears.

Of course there are "HD Antennas" on the market, but don't be fooled. They are just plain, ordinary VHF/UHF antennas.

Digital Over The Air (OTA) signals work just like digital cell phones. Information is broken into bits and transmitted in packets. Although this is more efficient and can hold a lot more information, it has its quirks. Typical side-effects are audio sync and freezing. Depending on where you live, the decoder chip you have, etc. these can be problematic or nonexistant.

I have found that the best way to combat this is with:


http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...entPage=family

This antenna is only $50 and come with a remote for tuning, which is a damn cool feature. Along with station presets it can virtually eliminate tuning problems.

Depending on your area, you may have a lot of channels out there. Some of these may not even be on cable. I've heard that in New York they have like 30 free digital channels! Not counting a couple of religious ones, I believe I have 13 here in Madison, a city of about 900,000 people. I believe my stations broadcast over several counties as well. I've heard that people living in between Madison and Milwaukee get BOTH city's channels.

No more cable problems, no more cable bills. You don't have to worry about static, the cable going out, etc. OTA signals actually look better than the same channels on cable because they aren't compressed down to squeeze in 100 other channels.

Keep in mind that the digital switchover is in February and stations will be boosting their signals then so if you are having any problems now, they should go away soon.

People tell me I'm missing out on good shows. They'l tell me about Nip/Tuck or Sopranos or something. Well, big shows like that are on DVD too and I can watch them in order. While those people are paying upwards of $100 a month for a couple of shows stretched over a year, I can netflix the whole season (even in HD) over a few days for almost nothing.

The money I save not paying for things I don't want to watch goes into me renting/buying things I KNOW I want to watch, and that feels like a better use of my money.
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:42 AM
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:11 AM
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Been getting OTA HD channels since 2005. Gotta love not having a cable or satellite bill. More money for buying HDM.

Just using a $25 powered antenna.

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Old 06-20-2008, 01:21 AM
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Personally I have gotten both and prefer Cable simply for the choice of channels that I get. With OTA we are only able to get a "limited" amount of channels, sure you may get 30, but most if not all are one of the following NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, or a local channel. If you want ESPN, Sci-Fi, USA, or any other "premium" channel you have to pay for it. I dont mind paying for the HD content I get as many of the shows I watch are on cable and not on network TV.

BTW most companies offer the local channels for "free" if you have a QAM tuner in your TV. WHile not totally free it is another method to get HD content without having to pay for an HD box\extra programming.
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Ph8 View Post
Personally I have gotten both and prefer Cable simply for the choice of channels that I get. With OTA we are only able to get a "limited" amount of channels, sure you may get 30, but most if not all are one of the following NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, or a local channel. If you want ESPN, Sci-Fi, USA, or any other "premium" channel you have to pay for it. I dont mind paying for the HD content I get as many of the shows I watch are on cable and not on network TV.
Understandable. The only channel(s) I thought I wouldn't be able to live without was ESPN. Got Sirius to cover my ESPN needs.
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:35 AM
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BTW most companies offer the local channels for "free" if you have a QAM tuner in your TV. WHile not totally free it is another method to get HD content without having to pay for an HD box\extra programming.
I don't think I'm following you here. You're saying the cable company offers the local channels to you free....if you can tune them in yourself?
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:35 AM
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Understandable. The only channel(s) I thought I wouldn't be able to live without was ESPN. Got Sirius to cover my ESPN needs.
I have Sirius too, but its not for sports .......I dont have anything against people who want Free HD though, some people just dont watch TV enough to warrant it. I love seeing Golf in HD via ESPN and the Golf channel, not to mention Boxing, MMA, Weeds, ect ect ect. The new series on Discovery "When We Left Earth" is also a sight to see, if people are waiting for it on Blu-ray they are going to be surprised to see how good the footage looks its AMAZING....
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:39 AM
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I don't think I'm following you here. You're saying the cable company offers the local channels to you free....if you can tune them in yourself?
Most current HDTVs come with QAM tuners, all you have to do is scan for them as every provider puts them on different channels.

For instance in my area we have Cox, if you have basic cable and and HDTV you can get the HD versions of the Locals (NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, CW) without a box and at no charge. Most cable companies do this, its just that they dont tell you HOW to do it. They want you to pay for the Box to get the other cable HD channels they offer.
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:44 AM
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Most current HDTVs come with QAM tuners, all you have to do is scan for them as every provider puts them on different channels.

For instance in my area we have Cox, if you have basic cable and and HDTV you can get the HD versions of the Locals (NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, CW) without a box and at no charge. Most cable companies do this, its just that they dont tell you HOW to do it. They want you to pay for the Box to get the other cable HD channels they offer.
Ok I see what you're saying. I guess I would suggest that they are included in the basic cable price and not "free".

In fact I think there is a relatively new law which states they have to give you access to local channels with every package.
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Old 06-20-2008, 02:08 AM
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Ok I see what you're saying. I guess I would suggest that they are included in the basic cable price and not "free".

In fact I think there is a relatively new law which states they have to give you access to local channels with every package.
You are correct as far as the law goes I think...

In the end though its a matter of what you want as fr as content goes from TV. If all you watch is the locals then an antennae is all you will probably need. If you watch more cable, then you are going to pay for it.

What people have to remember with OTA HD signals is that you have one or you dont. There is no "in between" and you can have the same bad things happen if the station itself is having the issues. As I always say though people should research their choice before making it.
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