How to cut the cable cord and get the best looking TV you’ve ever seen

“If you want to have the absolute best video and audio quality from a broadcast, better than cable, satellite and even fiber, then digital broadcasts provided free and over the air to an antenna is for you,” Anthony reports for iMore. “It gives you everything that is great about digital, and lets you avoid overly aggressive compression at the same time. So, where do you start?

“Back in 2009 in the United States (and 2011 in Canada), analog broadcasts were cut off and replaced with digital signal broadcasts,” Anthony reports. “The change gave the added benefits of a purely digital signal (that is, no more static once a “lock” is achieved), High Definition signals up to 1080i, 5.1 dolby digital surround sound, and multiple channel streams per broadcast frequency, each broadcasting different content. The digital signals that are provided over the air are the least compressed HD signal you can get in a broadcast and, as such provide, the best visual quality anywhere.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
With today’s $99 Apple TV, if you haven’t cut the cord on cable TV, you should – June 24, 2014
Why Apple TV is a cord-cutter’s gateway drug – August 14, 2013


    1. Roughly half the primary (N-1) digital stations in the DC area broadcast in 1080i, while the other half are 720p. The -2, -3 etc stations are typically 480i.

      Of course, there’s nothing preventing a station from running an SD program on an HD broadcast. One of my HD stations will broadcast a given movie in 4:3 format in one time slot, but in another 16:9.

      1. You’re confusing resolution with compression. A program can be broadcast in 1080 (interlaced or progressive, doesn’t matter – interlacing is a holdover from ye olden days that just won’t die a noble death) (1920×1080 29.97) but get compressed to crap and look worse than 720 (1280×720). Cable companies bid for a certain bandwidth, but split that bandwidth into multiple parts so they can have more channels (ESPN 8, the Ocho, anyone?). So a stream that should have been one channel uncompressed is now 4 channels at .25 compression (I’m just making up numbers here – I don’t know how many times they can split, but you get the idea). So ideally, you’re not looking for someone broadcasting 1080, you’re looking for someone broadcasting 1080 unsplit.

  1. The point of the story montex is that all those cable DVR boxes that people use are sending us crappy compressed 1080i video. And for free, you can get something for TV that looks better.

    1. And that is why I cut the cable cord last month. All my content is now delivered by AppleTV and a Mac mini connected to my TV. I honestly don’t know why I’ve been spending $115/mo for something I barely used.

    1. Those with a landline phone are endangered animals and forgot the need to keep up with the times. They are the ones subsidizing telecom profit margins.

      Re cutting the cord: there are a large number of cable companies that are locking large apt buildings into long term contracts where the individual owners have no choice of supplier but furthermore no choice of cutting the cord.

      I am one of those where the minimum agreed by the board is paid directly to the cable company by the management office. I can refuse to use them but I will still have to pay. I wish someone could tell if that is legal or not. I suspect it is legal but clearly this is eliminating choice all together.

  2. I have directv hooked to my 4 yr old Panasonic 58″ plasma. Picture is great. I can record all the shows I like which are on about 7 channels, none of them local channels. Until Apple TV has the channels I like and the NFL package I’ll stick with Directv. As of now I use my Apple TV for Netflix and HBO GO.

    1. I too have DirectTV. I wish I could find an antenna that would pick up the signal but its over 50 miles away and have yet to find one that will work or work well.
      DirectTV gives me the best signal. I went with cable company for a couple days and the image quality was shit and canceled it immediately. DirectTV was by far better but it ain’t cheap that’s for sure.

      1. Residential, outdoor OTA TV antennas are rated for distance from broadcast signal. To get better reception, get an antenna rated for more distance. In your case, one rated for 75 to 100 miles at least.

        I also live about 50 miles from our local signals and have an antenna rated for 125 miles. Reception is great exempt for really windy days when the antenna pole sways. But even then I don’t lose the signal for all stations, just the low power ones.

        FWIW, indoor antennas are only good for a few miles and are designed for urban areas.

        Of course, regardless of the antenna, reception is a YMMV situation as other circumstances (other buildings, terrain, weather, antenna height) also affect reception.

  3. Since I live in the woods, I made an antenna from PVC pipe and copper wire – yep, a full fledged “digital” antenna. Now if there were just some way to get internet via broadcast, I’d be done with Comcast. Forget TV, it’s internet that has us by the nuts.

  4. It’s all great until you realize a few things. Digital over the air is great, when it works. But often it is subject to loss and drop out like anything else. And, since digital is all or nothing, you may find yourself staring at a blank screen.

    Just saying YMMV

  5. But it doesn’t look okay, because the signal isn’t consistent for digital. I live 10 miles from Washington DC, and most of the time I can’t pick up any of the channels except for the analog ones. I bought a $50 antenna that is supposed to be for digital TV. When television signals were analog, they went further and even though they weren’t high definition, at least the picture stayed locked in.

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