A Bit More About Cutting the Cord

Lava 2605 antenna image

outdoor antenna box imageNearly everyone seems to be cutting the cord and getting rid of the satellite dish these days. If the government actually builds out a 5G network which really does reach every square inch of the country instead of these “nationwide” maps with massive holes in them, everyone might be able to do it. No, I don’t generally watch TV over the Internet. Occasionally I’ll watch a short YouTube video but that is about as far as it goes.

We have a timey-whimey thing going on here too. I’m writing this post the first week of February, but you won’t see it until June. About one year ago I wrote this post about getting rid of satellite or cable television. I had purchased a Lava 2605 antenna (see featured image) and a Homeworx digital signal converter. The television in my bedroom is old enough to think all digital signals are cable, so I needed a converter. It’s a 26″ LG flat panel and there is nothing wrong with it so I don’t see a reason to upgrade. Until I decided to get rid of satellite I never knew it couldn’t handle digital signals which weren’t cable. Mostly I watch DVDs. That’s the other reason I got rid of satellite. I don’t want to watch more television, I want to watch less.

Now, when you look at that featured image you see the flimsy antenna, a controller box which goes inside your room and a remote. The controller powers the antenna so it can rotate and actually work. It sends the current back up the coax antenna cable. The picture really cannot convey what a flimsy feeling puddle of plastic and pop can thin aluminum the antenna is. It takes an odd sized pole so I had to buy one to adapt from a regular television tower to this thing.

Why am I talking about the flimsy antenna? Because that is what I expected to fail, not the control box which sits inside my house and is only turned on when I’m inside watching television. It was still lighting up, just not working. The “help text” on the manufacturer’s site always blames the cable. The want you to go through the arduous task of stringing new cable from the top of the tower to the box.

A bit of Web searching shows these control boxes fail inside of two years like clockwork. I got almost one year to the day. The cheapest price I could find on a replacement was $14.95 plus tax, shipping and handling. I paid about $25 for the entire antenna package when I bought it new.

Homeworx digital converter imageOne thing had always bothered me with this arrangement. No matter how I adjusted the picture settings on the television or the digital converter, the left side of the picture would always get trimmed off. Part of me blamed the converter. I mean it was supposed to be able to pause live television and record. I hooked up a really fast 1TB USB drive and only got pause to work a couple of times. The record feature was really kind of stupid. You couldn’t record one channel while watching another. Besides, I never really figured out how to play recorded shows. The 4″x4″ user manual wasn’t very instructional, but it only had a scant few pages so was a quick read.

The picture problem was really annoying. Watching Channel 7 news, you know how they have those text sound bites at the bottom to introduce the story in case the sound is down/off? Well, the first word or two would be cut off. If I didn’t have the sound up I had to guess what the current story was. Some times it would chop the top of Cheryl Scott’s head off which was a bit freaky to watch while I was really trying to get the weather.

So, I poked around on-line and found another, roughly $24, antenna. The box for it is the featured image. I bought it from Jet.com and I don’t believe they even listed a brand. It just claimed to be a 150 mile HDTV antenna.

Bucket truck image
Bucket Truck

Given you are reading this in June you cannot clearly imagine just how cold it was the day I got out my bucket truck to replace the antenna. Even with yellow cloth farmer work gloves on my fingers felt frost bitten by the time I got the bucket high enough to remove the old antenna. I was kind and gently put it into the bucket for safe keeping. I mean, there was a chance this antenna would suck worse and I would have to get a replacement control unit for the original antenna.

Why do it in such cold weather? The ground had to be froze enough to back the truck across the grass. Otherwise I had to have no television until summer or I had to buy a replacement control unit.

I gotta say, the picture quality is astounding. This is a massively better antenna with respect to picture quality and picture size. I can now leave the television picture aspect at “set by program” and see the first two words of the story sound bite and it doesn’t chop Cheryl (or anyone else) off when giving the weather. Well, doing anything which required standing.

Having said all of that, I do need to point out one minor flaw. When you go for range you narrow the width of the reception. With the sucky Lava antenna I could manually tune to where Comet TV came in clear and still pick up Chicago ABC 7 clearly. Can’t do that with this antenna. If I watch Comet (and who doesn’t?) I have to turn the antenna to watch the news.

Oh, here is the link from Jet to what I bought. I see now it is an Ematic.

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