Thinking of cutting the cord

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by one.person, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. one.person

    one.person New Member

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    May 16, 2008
    I have a TivoHD that I upgraded some time ago with a 500gb drive that we are quite happy with. I am guessing it is somewhere around 5 years old at this point, but it is rock solid and does everything we need.

    That being said, due to various reasons, we just feel like we aren't getting our money's worth out of our cable TV subscription anymore. The shows my wife watches are largely on major broadcast networks, and I find myself watching stuff from Netflix or on DVD/BluRay when I have time.

    My main question is this: we have a collection of copy protected shows (we are on Cox where almost everything is copy protected) that my boy likes to watch that have been recorded over time. If I yank the cable card and tuning adapter, cancel cable, and hook up an antenna, will these shows still be watchable?

    A few other related questions: What is the actual procedure for reconfiguring the Tivo for antenna only recording? Do I just shut it down, pull the cable card, hook up an antenna and do something like guided setup again?

    Is it possible to have an antenna and cable running at the same time on a TivoHD? Not that I couldn't hook the antenna right up to the TV to get a feel for signal quality...

    Thanks in advance, I have benefited enormously over the years by lurking here.
     
  2. teasip

    teasip Member

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    I'll take a stab at this one. I DO know that if you change the input mode on the TiVo from "cable" to "antenna" that yes, you will have to re-run guided setup so that it can find and map your local OTA channels. With regard to the material that you've already saved to the HD I don't believe that you would have any trouble watching it simply because your cablecard allows you to receive the decoded signal from the provider and then record it to the TiVo hard drive. Once it's on the drive you should be able to watch it (I think).
     
  3. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    First, congratulations on your long trouble-free service. I also have an HD and I've had so many problems just with my tuning adapter in only 2.5 years that I'm continually tempted to cut the cord just to be free of it. This is with Time Warner cable.

    All you do is re-run guided setup if you want to switch to OTA-only or to OTA-plus-cable. The HD will definitely do any combination. I have an antenna connected and use the OTA versions of channels when possible. This was done initially just to establish a contingency plan in case I decide to cut the cord.

    Two good resources for assessing your OTA situation and antenna requirements are antennaweb.org and tvfool.com. They give roughly equivalent info although I prefer the first one. The three big questions are:
    1. Can you use a directional antenna (i.e., are all the transmitters in roughly the same direction from you)? Directional antennas give better performance for the same size and cost compared with omnidirectional ones.
    2. Do you need to receive any VHF stations? If not your antenna can be much smaller.
    3. How far away are the transmitters? If they are all within 10 or 15 miles and in the same direction, and all UHF, you can get by with a small $20 indoor antenna (my case) Otherwise you have to spend more.
     
  4. one.person

    one.person New Member

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    May 16, 2008
    Great! Thanks for the quick replies. It sounds like this will be pretty painless. The shows that are recorded to the Tivo are not critical to keep, but we would prefer to keep them on there to be able to watch later if possible.

    I also appreciate the tips on antennas. I went to antennaweb.org to check out my situation. The vast majority of the stations are all in the same direction at roughly the same distance from me (~12mi away). Slightly over half of the listed stations require a "yellow" antenna, which I take to be pretty good news overall. There are 5 or so that are labeled "green" as well. Honestly, if I reliably get 5-6 core channels in the "yellow" range it should easily cover our needs. I have never heard of the majority of the stations on that list, so they would just be icing on the cake.

    Perhaps I will go out and pick up an antenna this weekend and just play with it. It sounds like I can just hook one up, run through guided setup again and choose whatever option there is for both antenna and cable, and get a very good feel for what it will be like. Any recommendations for a decent "yellow" range antenna, or any antenna makes/models for that matter?

    Thanks again
     
  5. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon New Member

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    Jan 15, 2012
    Congrats on your new-found freedom! OTA HDTV is the best deal in HDTV service that there is.

    My HD TiVo boxes have been purring along nicely too, and just yesterday I finished configuring both of my TiVos to antenna-only operation. Looks like I made the right choice too!

    Repeating guided setup is the way to go for reconfiguring your TiVo to antenna only. One thing I noticed was that it worked better the first time, when I had unplugged the cable connection before running guided setup. I forgot about it on the second box, that was still recording a cable program when I turned in for the night after calling my now-ex-cable company and terminating our business. (I love firing corporations! :D) The only real difference was the presence of that "NOANLG" channel 1 and a vestigial cable channel that I was able to clear. Since there's no telling how much secret data TiVo keeps around, I prefer to be thorough in clearing out the old setups.

    I used to live ~16 miles away from the nearest source of OTA programming. That was just too far away to use any kind of indoor antenna. Your results may vary depending on how well your antenna can "see" the broadcast locations. No directional antenna is perfectly directional. Most have at least some off-axis gain. You can use this to your benefit by aiming the antenna at or near the weaker stations, and rotating it slightly in either direction to get the green stations to come in at the best signal strength.
     
  6. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    semi-coastal NC
    You don't have to have a TiVo to hate TWC.

    But it helps.;)
     
  7. appleye1

    appleye1 Active Member

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    Jan 26, 2002
    Back From...
    As I think someone else mentioned, tell us if any of the channels you need are VHF (channels 13.x or below). There are a lot of good UHF antennas out there but they won't do you a lick of good if you need to pick up a VHF station.
     
  8. Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Well-Known Member

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    AR
    I am another happy cord cutter, left DirecTV in 2009 after 12 years. TiVo with OTA, Blu-ray, and Google TV is my solution. I was able to modify an inexpensive Eagle Aspen Dtv2Buhf to work for my single UHF station here in Little Rock.
     
  9. teasip

    teasip Member

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    Aug 24, 2002
    The only thing holding me back are the weekend sports (college football specifically) though I do have the minimal FiOS packaging to receive ESPN/FSSW. If it keeps going the way it is then I may not need that either (not renewing my college season tickets to have the privilege of sitting in direct sunlight in 90+ degree heat to watch a poor product after traveling 200+ miles). Thank goodness for newspaper blogs where one can pull back the curtain and show the wizard for who they really are.
     
  10. Aero 1

    Aero 1 Active Member

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    Aug 8, 2007
    dont confuse the guy, virtual channels 13.x and below can be uhf channels or vhf channels. its the real radio frequency channel of 13 and below thats VHF. radio frequency channels 2 - 6 are lo VHF and 7 - 13 are hi VHF.

    real channels do not have a .x at the end, thats only for virtual channels to be displayed on the tv or device.
     
  11. teasip

    teasip Member

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    Aug 24, 2002
    Aero 1, in your sig you have noted access to ESPN3, which I presume would be via FiOS or another comparable ISP. If one is paying full, non-package pricing for internet access doesn't it basically defeat the purpose of OTA only since the TV package is a minimal cost addition?
     
  12. Aero 1

    Aero 1 Active Member

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    Aug 8, 2007
    it is fios internet, but if you have tivos, fios local package is not a minimal cost.

    since fios is all digital, their local package (only ota channels) is $20 or so (fios doesnt bundle internet and local tv package, you need their other tiers for a packaged price). since tivo doesnt map clear qam channels to the guide, those channels wouldnt have guide data, and most of the tivo features would be useless. so, in order to get guide data for the $20 package on fios, you need cable cards. a fios cable card rental is $4. i have 3 tivos, that would be $35 extra just for tv on top of the $55 for internet.

    not worth it, i get great reception and about 60 channels with my antenna. it feeds 3 tivos, 4 tv's, a boxee box tv tuner a dual hdhomerun and as an fm antenna for my two receivers. i couldnt do that all that easily with a fios basic package.

    besides, i dont pay for my internet connection, work does ;) my monthly entertainment cost is only $8 for netflix. i dont count the cost of amazon prime streaming since i had amazon prime way before the streaming, besides, i only pay $50 a year for amazon prime student with my alumni email address.
     
  13. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon New Member

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    Jan 15, 2012
    real channels do not have a .x at the end, thats only for virtual channels to be displayed on the tv or device.[/QUOTE]
    That's a good point! That's also why I try to avoid bad habits like using the deprecated NTSC channel assignments instead of the actual frequency.

    To be fair to others, your use of the deprecated NTSC channel assignments, and claim that PSIP channel assignments aren't "real" serves to muddy the waters even more than the wrong but commonly agreed-upon habit of using the deprecated channel numbers as shorthand.

    With ATSC, the PSIP assigned channel numbers are not only real, they are the only valid ones! The dot or dash delimited sub-channel numbers are equally valid. That's the way things work now. Better for those who give out advice to fall in line with the new rules than to leave those seeking answers with more questions and with no more useful knowledge than when they started.
     
  14. one.person

    one.person New Member

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    May 16, 2008
    Last night I dug a 10+ year old cheap "rabbit ears" style antenna (with some sort of loop antenna attached to the base also) out of an old box and hooked it up directly to my TV just to see what happened. To my surprise, I picked up 25 channels, only 1 of which seemed to be suffering from low signal issues. That antenna would work fine, the only issue with it is that it is not a very attractive thing to look at. My browsing online turned up the Mohu Leaf, which seems like it could be a decent option for me. I may be able to hide it completely, which would be nice.

    As far as the UHF/VHF channels, I think I do need to pick up both. From antennaweb.org, the networks I care about are as follows:

    PBS, 8.1, VHF
    NBC, 12.1, VHF
    CBS, 5.1, UHF
    FOX, 10.1, VHF
    ABC, 15.1, UHF

    Thanks again
     
  15. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    Any effective VHF antenna is going to be too large to hide easily. That's what the "rabbit ears" portion of your old antenna is. The circle part is the UHF part. This is just physics: VHF frequencies are lower (thus longer wavelength) than UHF frequencies. Antenna element lengths tend to scale with wavelength.

    My experience with OTA is that the signal can be rock solid most of the time but may have occasional glitches, probably due to multi-path, probably caused by airplanes or by vehicle traffic near your location. The quality of the antenna can change the frequency of such glitches, i.e., higher quality antennas can furnish better multi-path rejection. In other words the fact you see umpteen channels that appear solid for a few seconds doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. Ultimately your acceptance may depend on the glitch rate you can tolerate. On my OTA locals the rate varies from channel to channel. The best one glitches almost never. The worst one probably averages one or two glitches per hour. At first this bothered me a lot but I've come to accept it -- not worth fussing with a more expensive or higher mounted antenna.
     
  16. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon New Member

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    Jan 15, 2012
    That loop is the UHF antenna. Most set-top antenna combos of this vintage have telescoping rabbit ears for the VHF, and a loop for UHF. Most of the time they're totally passive, and even have separate leads for the VHF and UHF sections. Depending on age, the UHF or both might use 300 Ohm twin lead. This made perfect sense back when TV sets had separate tuners for VHF and UHF. Not so great for now.

    It looks like you do need one of the few so-called "HDTV" indoor antennas that provides decent VHF support. Or even better a rooftop antenna.

    The Mohu Leaf looks like it's just another magnetic loop design. You can get a similar product for half as much that does the exact same thing. The cheaper one doesn't have the fancy styling of the Mohu, which shouldn't make any difference when the antenna is hidden.

    BTW that "some sort of loop antenna" that you mentioned is a great example of the first and largest commercial production of a magnetic loop antenna for frequencies above the shortwave bands. That bit of bent wire is really as fine a HDTV antenna as you can get after all these years!
     
  17. one.person

    one.person New Member

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    May 16, 2008
    The basic info shared here on antennas and such helps out a lot. I think what I may do for the moment is just hook up this old antenna to the Tivo, do my best to conceal it, and use a dual antenna/cable setup on the Tivo for a couple of weeks to get a better feel for the signal quality over time before making any further purchase.

    Since my TV is on an outside wall on the side of the house that faces the direction from which the signals come, I do have the option of drilling through the wall and mounting some kind of outdoor antenna on the side of my house. It could potentially go up quite high given the 2 story height of that wall.

    If the quick experiment I have already done is any indication of longer term signal quality though, I have a feeling we are going to be quite happy without the additional work and expense of an outdoor antenna though.

    Thanks again!
     
  18. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon New Member

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    Jan 15, 2012
    One thing that might drive you to a rooftop antenna is the fact that people seem to make excellent parasitic antenna elements. There's nothing quite so maddening as missing a key bit of dialog on a time-shifted program, and knowing that it was you getting up and going to the fridge that's responsible for the lost content!
     
  19. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    May 1, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    I've got a Terk VHF/UHF indoor antenna that picks up all the stations I watch. Transmitter towers are ~26 miles from me.


    Of course it helps that I live in a 3rd story apartment.

    ;)
     
  20. ursa99

    ursa99 New Member

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    Aug 21, 2005
    I may have missed something, but.... Are you saying you cancelled your TIVO sub and reconfigured to Antenna only and can now record OTA? If so this is a change from the past practices.
    -Ursa
     

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