I’m one of those people who gave up cable / satellite TV a couple years ago, moved to Netflix/ iTunes/ Hulu / Amazon and claim to have never looked back… Except of course I do look back; I look at sports which I’ve been relegated to leaving the house for [hey, it's a great way to find motivation for a long gym session] and even those couple of network shows I follow here and there. Streaming is getting better, Sunday Night Football was all online this year, CBS has their shows up the next day but we’re not there just yet.
So when I wandered into Costco last week and found a mountain of antenna labeled devices that looked nothing like the giant Antenna I remember from when I was a kid, it got my attention.
The product I’m talking about is the FlatWave Amped HD Antenna FL5500C by Winegard. Google the name and you’ll find a couple sites selling a similar model [Costco has it's own bundle] but not much in the way of reviews or discussion. Still the box said indoor design, HD quality and for under $50 bucks I figured why not give it a try… worst thing I’d have to go back to Costco and that’s kind of fun anyways.
So I threw it in my basket and took it home for a test ride…
Install is as simple as the box promises with a few cosmetic hiccups that may or may not get to you: One side of the antenna plugs into your both TV via standard coaxial cable with a few feet of spare length and a power outlet [or USB if your TV has a port]. From there you have a healthy XX foot cable to let you drag the Antenna out to your nearest window or visible high point. Functionally that’s the setup, aesthetically the idea of an exposed cable isn’t ideal and for some reason while the antenna is super thin, the adapter at the bottom is equally thick on both sides making the antenna bubble out a bit. Not a huge problem but something you’d think they could design better.
The last step, before you attach the Antenna to your window with two stickies half the size of a penny [hint: buy more] is to try a few spots to see where you get the best signal. Living half way up in a 6-story building and facing pretty much nothing but walls I figured it was a gamble for me to get anything but my TV [modern HDTVs all have tuners built in] found over 100 HD channels in just two tries. Lots more than I expected and effectively all the major networks plus a whole bunch of odd shopping & local stations.
As for the signal, some channels are garbage but most of the big names come in with HD that’s just as good as any box.
Of course there’s still the downsides of an Antenna… No guide, no ESPN / History / Discovery, weather issues [not a big deal in Southern California] and who knows how it would work in a less urban place, but for my use, I get the games, a couple local shows and you can’t beat the price.
Until streaming gets real-time programming this is picking up [or adding to your wishlist], especially if your local Costco has it.