Do you remember broadcast TV? I mean literally pulled out of the air by an antenna? Those of you under thirty years old probably don't. Personally, I didn't get cable TV until after college when I lived on my own. My father was too cheap to pay for it. This was all back when TV was on the NTSC standard.
These days I'm the maximum cord cutter. I buy internet service and stream several services through apps on streaming devices to cobble together a collection of I don't know how many channels. That's not even getting to all the on-demand content those streaming services provide.
Anyway, recently Comcast/Xfinity had an outage in my area that lasted about 21 hours. It was the longest I'd experienced in my life. I'm not so weak that I can't live without TV, but I wanted to be able to get the news and weather. Days after the outage, I had forgotten about it. My girlfriend, however, had not. She was determined that we have an alternative. So she bought an HDTV antenna.
That was new to me. In college, I started in electrical engineering, so I understood the idea. There weren't a lot of powered antennas when I grew up. So I thought it was going to be crappy reception of a handful of channels. I was shockingly wrong.
I hooked this thing up, told my TV to scan for channels, and damned if it didn't find 28 HD channels (No one broadcasts NTSC/analog TV anymore). And the picture quality was astonishingly crisp. There was no static snow, no vertical/horizontal hold weirdness, just really good picture and sound.
So, yeah, yay team, but practically speaking, who cares? Well, in the ever-changing streaming landscape, one of the hiccups I have run into is local channels. Everyone will sell you the marquee networks, but if you want local channels, it gets ugly and sometimes expensive. You typically pay extra to get access to local channels. Another hiccup I hit sometimes is Spanish content. I've been studying Spanish informally for years and like to listen to Spanish TV to keep up with it. I love to have it on in the background while I'm working in my basement shop. So, the Spanish package from your cable provider? Usually another pile of money, but not anymore. I get Telemundo, Univision, Unimas, and LATV over the air for free. Though, part of the bounty of Spanish TV is because I live in Pueblo Colorado.
Other than sharing my astonishment at being so ignorant of what so-called HD TV was, I was encouraged by the potential cost savings. Now I can get my local channels and a good deal of Spanish over the air for free. The only thing is that over-the-air channels don't come with digital DVRs. But people still buy DVR boxes--standalone DVR units (remember Tivo?). Cue the SouthPark 'Member Berries.
I feel old.