There has been a lot of talk over the last little while about the new skinny cable packages that the CRTC made the cable companies implement. I was interested in what the plans would be because it would have been simple to go from the rather large SaskTel MaxTV subscription we had to a smaller one, but the reality is, as we have all found out, the new skinny packages are all, to be blunt, crap. The extra fees for a PVR and extra channels really make the new plans useless or in some cases more expensive.
While we didn’t pay hundreds of dollars a month for our MaxTV subscription, the reality is we don’t watch a lot of what we were paying for. The kids tend to watch a lot of Netflix and YouTube and a very small amount of cable or broadcast TV. In fact the shows we watch are all on CTV these days anyway. At one time the kids watched a lot of DisneyXD and Family Channel but it has been awhile since they even switched the TV over to MaxTV. After talking about it a little bit and looking at what we watch we realized we only really watch a few shows on TV and all of them are on CTV. That made the decision to cancel our MaxTV subscription easy.
The switch had been really easy actually and I don’t see is going back to MaxTV or to Access cable any time soon. I asked around a little bit and after some research ordered a Winegard FL-5000 FlatWave HDTV Indoor antenna and a Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box from Amazon.ca. After doing some testing with the antenna it quickly became obvious I was not going to have much luck getting CTV to come in over the air in the basement, where our main TV is. I then proceeded upstairs and hooked the antenna up to the small TV we had upstairs. After a few adjustments to the antenna position I easily had a crystal clear picture of both CTV and CBC. This was not totally unexpected, since I had read to get a decent signal for CTV in Regina would require getting the antenna up around 10 feet off the ground. Looking at where I finally settled on the antenna placement it is roughly 10 get off the ground.
Now I just had to find a way to get the signal from the antenna into the basement where the main TV was. Luckily the previous owners of our house had run cable into every room on the main level and after a little exploring and checking it appeared all those lines were still intact. I hooked the antenna up to the cable line and hooked the corresponding out up to the Homeworx PVR in the basement.
We now get both CTV and CBC in full HD on our main TV and with the addition of an external hard drive I was not using we can record or favorite shows in full HD. While the Homeworx PVR is not as user friendly as the previous MaxTV PVR we do get several advantages. First the shoes we record are in full HD and the subscription and PVR we had previously was only standard definition. Second, I can easily disconnect the external hard drive, sneaker net it into my office and copy the recorded shows onto my computer so we can stream them easily using our Chromecast to any TV in the house. Third, I am not paying an extra $9.99/month for a PVR.
I had hoped that we would also be able to pick up GlobalTV over the air, and occasionally we do get a beautiful signal for Global, but it seems to be hit and miss. I could spend more time adjusting the antenna to pick up GlobalTV since the signal is so close to being clear, but after looking at the shows available on GlobalTV I decided to not bother. Perhaps that will change of they get a show we really want to watch.
Overall, I have been very pleased with our cord cutting experience in Regina. The quality of the signal of CTV and CBC over the air is exceptional in our area and i really can’t see a reason to going back to cable. Perhaps if any of us were huge sports fans my feelings would be different since there are little too no live sports on over the air stations in Saskatchewan. The next project is to install a Plex Media server so we can easily stream or recorded shows to the TVs in the house.