I have had constant rumblings about the cable monopolies. Can I just get HBO or Discovery? No. You need to buy a bundle (i.e. 500 other channels that you will never watch), all for a discount rice of $140 or so. Very efficient product. It is like buying a semi to commute to work a couple of miles a day. They could get away with it because there was no competition. Well, there is a dish with their own bundles and pretty much the same price. There was over the air signal, but it was less than reliable and low quality. Internet still provides some relief, but it isn’t very convenient. I hope they won’t go to the bundle route.
However, in 2009 we all were moved to the digital TV. I suppose this event went largely unnoticed because most people resorted to paying up the cable mafia and not use the over the air (OTA) signals (my old employer was actually making converter boxes for the old analog TVs to receive digital signals. Not sure how many people actually used them). But it apparently brought some significant changes.
It used to be that OTA indoor antenna would provide less than good signal. It had to be positioned exactly facing the transmitter with no obstacles. The signal would fade or disappear. It was a lot of snow, but not a lot of channels.
So on my recent trip to LA i decided to give a shot to an indoor antenna again. We got this DTV flat omnidirectional antenna made by some no-name company (or the name I can’t recall now) on sale at Radio Shack for $39. It had a small amplifier that required a power supply. It was thin and flat and should be hanged on a wall as high as possible. After some channel scanning and fiddling wit the TV settings we got about 60 beautiful HD quality TV channels. Half of them in 1080p resolution, which was better than what Time Warner provided. Sure there were plenty of Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and even Armenian channels (it is LA after all). But there were enough for my parents to watch. And at the sweet price of $0!