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Hello,

This may not be in your area of expertise, but I'll give it a try, bec. you have helped me tremendously in the past.

Just bought a new house, having HUGE trouble figuring out TV/Internet situation.

I want to keep cost as low as possible. I'm not even into TV that much, but now that you can watch whatever Comcast channels that you subscribe to on your smartphone, I guess I'll get a pkg. (only service I know of that does that). If I'm going to get cable, I guess I at least need to get a pkg that has the channels I like (network ch's, +Military ch.; History; Bio; Natl Geo; Home shows/DIY, etc). THEN, though, I'm paying a ton of money.

PLUS, I need Internet access (wifi), but I don't need supersonic speeds, also don't want turtle-slow speeds.

My questions are,

What if I got a huge (one of these sleek, flat) antennas? I live in a somewhat rural area. I hooked up $7 rabbit-ear antennas to a new Samsung flat panel, & did an Autoscan - it pulled up all 4 networks (abc, cbs, nbc, fox) and tons of other weird channels, so I thought, if I hooked up a really good antenna (indoor OR outdoor - in fact, the people who lived in the house bef. Me left their big Direct TV dish - bigger dish than ones I've seen on rooftops, in back yard on a thick metal pole in ground - they got that, I think when Direct TV was only carrier out this way). But if I put a big antenna either in or outside, would I by chance, be able to pick up any, or some of, or even ALL of these channels that I want? (They all broadcast in HD, too). Then, I would just need to get internet access.

I've seen the "one-time-purchase", "pre-programmed," or "pre-loaded" cable boxes for sale on ebay, etc., that you pay around $200 for, and have cable (every channel you can think of), but I don't want to have to worry about a knock at the door... because surely that's not legal...uh...right??

And, say I do get a Comcast package. Well, I would like to have it in my bedroom & maybe office, also - which they would charge MUCH extra for. Is there any way, short of running wires everywhere, to "borrow" the signal in the other rooms, without a detectable degradation in quality on any of the TV's?

I guess what I'm basically asking you, is if it were you, and you wanted a good many cable channels in more than 1 room, and additionally needed internet wifi, how would YOU do it, if you wanted to keep monthly costs as low as possible? (I don't mind buying expensive equipment at the onset, if I need to - such as antennae, cable box-contraptions, etc..). I do need to keep it fairly legal, though.

I made the question sound real complicated - I really would appreciate just ANY advice that you could give me. There are so many ways to do things these days, so many 'hacks' and 'tricks' - just any info that you might could give me, would help me VERY much!

Thank you a lot,
Mike

(PS - The zip is three 9 zero 4 seven; we now have access to ATT U-Verse, xFinity, DirectTV, most everybody. Also, I have iphone & ipad, & Win 8.1 ultrabook w/tv tuner. I know that now, there is a lot of TV access (?) somehow, on those devices, also.)

Answer
From the top:

- An antenna would not accomplish what you want, as a good number of the channels you've mentioned are premium cable offerings, not broadcast television. With an antenna you will receive traditional NBC/CBS/Fox/etc networks as well as any regional broadcast channels.

- The hardware on ebay is not legal to own or operate, and is also not likely to work either - digital cable services are "keyed" in that Comcast (or whatever service provider) has record/data of the specific equipment on your installation and it is associated with your account.

- You will need to go with whatever service provider (Comcast, DirectTV, etc) that provides the programming package you want, however the additional lease cost for a second cable box shouldn't be that dramatic (if memory serves it's only around $5-$10 per box). If the price excess is due to having to install cable wiring in the house, that's another story (having the "line service" feature on the account may offset some of that expense).

- Receiving specific programming online may be possible, but you would need to know specific programs that you're interested in watching, and then looking them up via online services like Hulu, Flixster, Funimation Elite, etc (depending on how many different programs you watch, this may be quite a lot of research). As to whether or not this would be more affordable depends on if your desired programming exists all on one service or multiple services (each with an associated monthly fee). However all of this will hinge on having Internet service - which can come from Comcast, AT&T, or so on. I would suggest shopping around for the best price-per-bandwidth service for your specific area.

- Wi-Fi and other networking connections can be provided by your equipment (or equipment that you purchase) - you simply need whatever modem device from the ISP (and in general I would accept the ISP's modem as they will support it, versus if you go with your own modem you're left supporting it) and that will connect to a router. In general I would suggest Netgear equipment - specific components that you need will depend on how many devices you need to connect and what kind of coverage for WiFi you need (in general I'd buy a single router and then if you have coverage issues address them at that point, versus trying to pre-empt any problems).

If you have any further questions or need clarification, feel free to ask.

-bob  

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Bobbert

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Questions regarding HTPC integration to home theaters, and general purchasing advice regarding home theater and audio systems, including headphones. Please no car audio or over the top PA systems.

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General enthusiast, ~10 years as an audio and electronics hobbyist

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Engineering student, various DIY experiences, personal hobby

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