Consumer Reports: Get free HDTV with an indoor antenna

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Are you still holding onto your cable TV subscription? Consumer Reports says you might be able to get free HDTV by using an indoor antenna. (WLS)

Are you still holding onto your cable TV subscription because you can't live without your local channels or ABC7? Consumer Reports says you might be able to get free off-air HDTV broadcasts by using an indoor antenna.

With Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services letting consumers stream their favorite shows, sometimes the only thing holding folks back from breaking up with their cable TV provider is access to local news and sports. But for a one-time cost anywhere from 10 to 80-dollars, Consumer Reports says a digital TV antenna might be a solution.

"Once you buy the antenna, the programming you get is free. So you get all your basic local channels and you don't have to pay anything. That's really appealing to people who are spending more than $100 a month to get a pay TV package," Consumer Reports Electronics Editor Jim Willcox said.

There are more benefits to an HD antenna.

"Sometimes cable channels are compressed. You may find that the pictures that you're getting on your TV using an over the air antenna are better than what you were getting with cable," Willcox said.

But the number of channels you pick up and the reception quality with a HDTV antenna will depend on a few factors.

"To be able to get decent reception, you have to consider how far you are from a broadcast tower and also the geography of where you live, whether there are obstructions like mountains, hills, trees, those kinds of things that could interfere with your signal," Willcox said.

Consumer Reports says antennaweb.org and tvfool.com can help give you a clearer picture of what kind of reception you can expect.

Consumer Reports also suggests trying your HD TV antenna in a few different locations in your house to get the best reception. You may see a better picture or more channels moving it near a window or higher on a wall.

Remember to let your TV rescan for channels periodically; you might get a new station or two.

Roku is trying to make this whole experience more seamless by offering a "smart guide" that integrates streaming options such as Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix with live over-the-air broadcast TV into a single DVR-style programming grid.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org

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