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When Broadcast is Better than Cable

…you cancel the cable.

We finally got our digital converter box. The results are spectacular. Not only do we get a much clearer picture, we also get more channels.

Because we got the $40 coupon, we only paid a few bucks for our inexpensive digital converter box. There are some pricey ones, if you want loads of features, we got one which fits our basic needs.

We also bought some inexpensive rabbit ears because our antenna was pretty sucky.

For maybe $20 bucks, we’ve eliminated a monthly bill.

When Micah called to cancel the cable tv (though not internet!), the representative asked him why he was canceling. I couldn’t help giggling when he said “Now that we have a digital converter box, we’re getting more channels with a much better picture than Comcast was giving us. So we’re not using cable anymore.” Apparently, she had no response and simply processed it.

Even if she’d offered us free cable, we wouldn’t have taken it. The quality is simply astounding. You can apply for a coupon here to get $40 off your digital converter box. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up canceling cable too (if you haven’t already).

When will you need a converter box? The transition will happen on February 17, 2009 in most areas. If you don’t have a converter box by then, you won’t be able to watch tv without buying cable, satellite, or a box. But many stations (especially in populous areas) are already broadcasting digitally so you can use it right away.

{ 3 trackbacks }

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October 27, 2008 at 10:00 am
To cable or not to cable? « Treading Softly
October 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm
We’re canceling our cable (and still watching our favorite shows) | Sense to Save
November 2, 2008 at 12:01 pm

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

SavingDiva October 23, 2008 at 10:41 am

Thanks for the reminder! I just requested a coupon. I will have to use money from my entertainment budget for the month to pay the remaining amount for the box.

Nick October 23, 2008 at 11:08 am

Yay for digital converter box! I remember when we got ours months ago and I first plugged it in. It felt like we’d gone from regular to HD television, and we still have a plain old tube TV. Goodbye TV snow!

QL Girl October 23, 2008 at 11:09 am

lol….I bought my converter box a few months ago but I haven’t installed it yet!! My excuse is I can’t access an outlet close enough. I’ll do it soon though.

My parents installed theirs though, and even my BF was impressed with the quality, and he’s a total TV snob!! (He says we’re getting HD over the air.)

Alex October 23, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for the reminder and the coupon link, didn’t even know about that.

You can find some great deals on rabbit ears and converter boxes through some of the deal sites around the net.

Money Funk October 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm

so, you get more channels than the 2-13 with the digital convertor box? we are locked into our digital for 2 years, but that might be an option to consider afterwards. hmmmm? cuz I really hate the direct TV bill.

Aaron October 23, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Can you use the government coupons if you buy from amazon? I don’t think they are on the list. We ended up getting an AccessHD 1080D and are pretty happy with it so far. It’s really shocking when you first hook it up how clear the digital signal really is.

mrsmicah October 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm

@Aaron, I think it depends on the converter box. Some Amazon listings have spaces that allow you to use coupons and others don’t.

Aaron October 23, 2008 at 5:09 pm

That’s cool, I just wasn’t sure if any of their retailers were on the approved list or not.

Kacie October 23, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Which channels do you now get with the box?

mrsmicah October 23, 2008 at 5:55 pm

@Kacie, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, some random sports channels, all 3 CWs (CW, CW Washington, and CW Baltimore), couple craft channels. ABC family…I’m not sure what else. Several versions of PBS. Pretty much the only channels we watch are CBS, FOX, & CWW/CWB.

fern October 24, 2008 at 11:18 am

So let me get this straight…if you buy the digital converter box, which i hadn’t planned on doing cus i have basic cable, i can DO AWAY with paying for cable each month?

Please confirm. I had no idea, cus right now, i HAVE to get cable just to get the major network channels. A plain old antenna doesn’t do a thing. So instead of paying $15 a month, i won’t need to do that anymore with the box?????

I thought the box was just something people with old TVs and no cable hookup needed. I didn’t realize the box would make cable obsolete if you’re willing to settle for the basic channels, which is all i get now anyway.

mrsmicah October 24, 2008 at 11:22 am

@fern, Yep. I think cable companies want us to think it’s just for old people so more people don’t realize what they’re missing out on. In our case, we had to also buy rabbit ears. It completely replaced our $15/month package. It doesn’t replace more elaborate packages, but it’s fine for us.

fern October 24, 2008 at 11:55 am

So by rabbit ears you mean just the antenna that goes on top of the tv. Do you have to have an outdoor antenna mounted on the roof or can you get by with just the rabbit ears?

Being single, i’d have to pay someone to mount a rooftop antenna, and then i’d have to worry about grounding it so lightening didn’t strike it, all of which suddenly made me less excited.

Also, does it matter what kind of tv you have? I have a newer TV about 3 years old but i don’t know if it’s “digital ready.” or maybe that doesn’t matter….

mrsmicah October 24, 2008 at 11:58 am

We just have a rabbit ears antenna that sits on top of the tv (or in this case the tv cabinet). No outdoor antenna. Some of the newest tvs don’t need converter boxes, I believe, which is what they mean by digital-ready. That’s what the converter box is for, converting the digital signal to something our tv can understand. Our tv is probably 5 years old.

Frugal Dad October 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm

This was a great post–and as “basic cable” subscribers I’m stoked at the idea of canceling yet another bill! So, if we have “digital-ready” televisions already, what type of antennae do you recommend?

mrsmicah October 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm

@Frugal Dad,

I’d recommend looking at basic rabbit ears. A lot of them pick up pretty much everything that’s out there and are designed so nicely that they’re respectable in any living room. But double check it does tv signals, since I’ve run into a few radio-only ones.

fern October 27, 2008 at 4:29 pm

I really think you should check out They go into quite a lot of detail about the 3 basic types of TV antenna and how to pick the one that’s right for you, based on which channels you watch most often.

klcthebookworm October 28, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Oh, thanks for the how to pick a TV antenna link, fern. I’m waiting for my coupon to arrive. The problem I ran into with rabbit ears is my house has a tin roof and aluminum siding. The TV signals would not get through. Now when my great-grandmother lived in the same house, she had an outdoor antenna and got broadcast TV fine. But one of the occupants between her and me got cable and sold the antennae for scrap. I can’t afford cable, the rabbit ears didn’t work, so I’ve been stuck.

That One Caveman October 29, 2008 at 3:37 pm

I’ve been strongly considering dumping cable, myself. They don’t provide me much value and I only watch a small handful of channels beyond what’s offered for free over the air. I bought an externally-mountable antenna and I look forward to hooking it up soon to see if I can safely drop cable.

jp December 10, 2008 at 11:08 pm

the cable companies are running these ads to say sign up for the swith to over the air digital knowing you can get the digital channels with an antenna (outdoor). these guys are sneaky

SKO January 8, 2009 at 5:23 pm

I have three analog televisons. I got my first Insignia and put it on my newest analog. I received 9 stations after only having one previously (no cable)!! I used a $34 RCA rabbit ears antenna.

When my two coupons finally arrived, I decided to get two more converter boxes, one for a TV on the north end of my house and one for a spare. I also decided to get a new digital TV for my bedroom (center of the house) figuring my reception would be even better with a “native” digital set.

Here are the results: The brand new digital TV (built in tuner…..Westinghouse 19″) got only 1 local digital channel! No matter what room I put this TV in or what antenna I used (I have a $34 RCA rabbit ears, a $50 RCA Flat antenna and a cheap $12 DTV compatible antenna), the result was the same.

Since I had three converters, I decided to see what would happen if I put my “spare” converter box on my oldest analog TV in the bedroom where I wanted to use the new digital TV. The result: 5 digital channels with the converter box on a 15 year old analog TV!! Didn’t matter what antenna I used…..same result. Four more than the brand new TV with the built in digital tuner!

Can anyone explain to me why a new digital TV gets less digtal channels than analog TV’s with a converter box attached? We’re talking the same house, same rooms, same floor. I lost an entire nights sleep experimenting with this. I’m baffled by it and so is Best Buy!!

I ended up returning the new Westinghouse flat screen tv. If I can get more than one channel using a $20 converter box and my old TV’s, why spend $300 on a new digital TV!

I live in a rural area, about 25 miles from the closest tower.

Joe Blow September 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm

I cant get fox 55 even though i did the automatic setup

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