TechnoMagicians Blog

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – Arthur C. Clarke.

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HDTV Over The Air

December 3rd, 2008 · No Comments

Since I rarely watch any TV I’ve cut my cable TV down to the most basic package but even at that I’m wasting some money since I watch maybe 10 minutes of any real TV a week.

So I decided to checkout what I can get with an HDTV over the air (OTA) antenna and a capture card. With a really simple Phillips Silver Sensor indoor antenna and a Hauppauge WinTV HVR 950 USB tuner I was able to grab about 8 stations broadcast out of Toronto. Signals from Hamilton, Buffalo and Rochester stations were too weak to lock onto. But I suspect with a better antenna and possibly an amplifier one could likely tune them in.

This type of setup looks promising and it might in the near future eliminate my cable TV bill completely.

This technology has kind of come around full circle since I was a kid with the old analog antenna’s and terrible fuzzy reception on most stations (those too young probably have no clue what I’m talking about). Its pretty impressive really and the quality of the broadcasts are absolutely superb. I have a friend who has compared the channels received over the air vs cable TV and confirms that they are much clearer than cable. This is due to the fact that the over the air signals are not compressed like they are over cable TV.

Here is a quick screen cap of the software running on my laptop:

WinTV HDTV Screenshot

WinTV HDTV Screenshot

There are some great sites to checkout:

  1. TV Fool – great tool to see what channels you might be able to pickup in your area.
  2. List of stations that are broadcast from Toronto/Buffalo areas.
  3. FCC list of stations broadcasting or pending approval.
  4. Some OTA forums.

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