TV, the old way

Heading back down to Florida for a few months, we decided to completely cancel our $100+/month Dish Network TV service at home; down here at 8002, we’ve been receiving some (very) basic TV through the cable, at no cost (!), but having got used to DVR functions, we almost never watch TV here since we have to watch it “live”, when it’s on, and including all the adverts.
To solve this, we ordered a TiVo; many years ago (in the 1990s!) we had TiVo, then we had DirecTiVo; switching to Dish Network we quickly learned that not all DVRs are the same – the Dish implementation is awful, compared to TiVo, so we looked forward to returning to TiVo, and all the newer features included now. Unfortunately today’s TiVo does not play with the basic TV from cable. TiVo demands use of a “cable card“, even though our TV has no trouble. And Brighthouse Networks want at least $40/month to give us a cable card.

So, after some hours of thinking, more hours of driving, and many more hours of climbing, squeezing and struggling, we got an “old fashioned” (and huge) HDTV antenna installed at the back of 8002, and cabled to TiVo …

Seriously, this thing is huge – at least 12′ from end to end; luckily not too heavy.

So finally, we got TiVo working. It found the local ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX channels (really we only care about CBS – NCIS, Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest); TiVo found many other channels including Spanish language, religious (loads of those round here), and a fabulous PBS channel offering heaps of British TV oldies on Saturday night (when we first got it working).

In truth, TiVo is a bit of a plus and minus affair right now; the fact that today’s TiVo refuses to decode what my four year old HDTV can handle, is disappointing and resulted in $120 and many hours of work to install an antenna.
Now that TiVo is working though, it’s clear that the program search and guide features are a huge improvement over Dish Network that we had in Gloucester.

Again though, TiVo sold me on all the “bonus” features like Amazon Video, Netflix, YouTube … well it seems that my Amazon Prime account is not supported (I’d hoped to access the free Amazon Prime programming); Netflix takes maybe 20s to load and looks nothing like the rest of TiVo, and YouTube – wow, that is the most clunky and awful interface ever invented; I just can’t believe anyone is prepared to offer it in today’s market.

I’ve clearly been spoiled by Apple TV, which puts effort in to making the Netflix and YouTube interfaces look like they belong with the rest; TiVo apparently doesn’t care at all, they just wanted to put the label on the box and sell you something disappointing. Happily at least, if I ignore all those extras, then the basic TV search and watch features are very good!

This TiVo experiment will run throughout our winter stay at 8002; it will be interesting to learn if we choose to give $100+/month to the TV services when we go back home, or it $15/month TiVo, $8/month Netflix, and an HDTV antenna, is enough …

4 thoughts on “TV, the old way

  1. So it sounds like it supports broadcast ATSC but not clear-qam that most cable uses for basic. Do you also have to re-aim that directional antenna depending on channel? I doubt the tivo handles that too. Well the good news is you’re getting the least compressed highest quality picture now 🙂

  2. Yes, Josh, “clear QAM” was what the TiVo support people said.

    At 8002, most TV channels transmit from between 59 and 63 degrees, some 40 miles away, so no rotating needed.

    I told Margaret that you’d have enjoyed the Patriots game last night down here, because of the picture quality 🙂

  3. Robert, we do have Apple TV down here, and will use it for Netflix etc. But it doesn’t give me free TV, and it doesn’t do Amazon.
    I’d hoped that TiVo + Amazon Prime might offer more than Netflix alone, but TiVo doesn’t make it work successfully.

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