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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pop Quiz:

What's the best possible broadcast signal you can receive on your HD TV?

A. Over the air.
B. Cable.
C. Satellite.
D. Turning it off and going to work in the garden.

OK, the last one doesn't really count. From among the first three you may be surprised to learn that it's the over-the-air signal that is best. The others are compressed to fit into the pipe of the cable or the relay through space. The regular broadcast from some big mountain or tall building near you comes with no compression; you can get the full feed.

And guess how much it costs?

Fruugalist readers are starting to figure this one out...

Remember Free TV?

That's right, it's free, and you might be surprised to learn how many channels you get for free.

There's all the big networks, and all the local stations. And because there's more room in the airwaves using this newfangled technology, the broadcast stations can produce extra stations, and they often do. Here in Denver our local NBC station has a weather station and a sports station. We are lucky to have two different PBS stations, and both of them have two extra broadcast channels that go along with the regular, so if you ever want to watch a documentary or a building show, you almost always can.

Now to make this work you will need an antenna, but they aren't much and you might have one already that will work fine. Unless you live in the faraway tundra, you probably get a signal that will work with an antenna that costs less than $40. Plug it in to even a non-HD set and you will be amazed at the improved quality of the picture.

And as for not having all those cable channels?

Hey, we are about living more and spending less, and cutting out the cable really does allow you to live more, especially with the longer days and the more horrible fare coming on the tee-vee in the summer. You will also be shocked at how much less you feel a need to buy stuff because you won't be hammered by ad after ad after ad. Nobody can be immune to a barrage like that.

So cut that cord, baby!

Thanks for reading, and we'll see you back here tomorrow!



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FRUUGAL LIST

You're not the only one getting tired of paying through the nose for cable. There are a lot of folks coming up with ways to help. Like Saveology, which allows you to enter your zip code and search all the best local promotions and deals in your area.

They'll also give you quotes on insurance, credit cards and moving costs. We don't know how robust it is, let us know if you try it!

An alternative to cable is watching TV on the internet. YouTube and Hulu offer network shows the next day for free but you do have to watch the ads.  We just heard about a service called TVU Network which offers live TV from around the world, mostly commercial free.

FRUUGAL POSTMAN

Author Neil Postman's amazing book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, will change the way you think of television forever.

He "...posits that television is the primary means of communication for our culture and it has the property of converting a culture's conversations with itself into entertainment, so much so that public discourse on important issues has disappeared."

If you really want to live more and spend less, this is an excellent place to start.

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