I second the vote for over the air if that is an option where you are.
I had basic rabbit ears, but upgraded because I was tired of loosing ABC
and Fox during recordings. I now have an outdoor antenna and amplified
splitter that serves 3 TVs and my computer. I have a separate amplified
indoor antenna that serves our living room TV. Two of the TVs are old
analog with a converter (the kind that was "free" with the coupon when
analog broadcasts were going away). If you have ok reception of enough
channels, this may be good enough for some of your locations. I would
expect you could pick up one of the digital converters pretty cheap from
someone that has since upgraded to a newer TV or get a new one for under
$30. I'm fortunate to be in the Los Angeles area and while I'm 36 miles
from the major transmitters, get over 100 channels (includes
sub-channels). I mostly get another channel at 60 miles in San
Bernardino and surprisingly pick up some San Diego TV in on a side-lobe
(90 degrees off of where the antenna is aiming).
If you are not aware, you can go to http://www.antennaweb.org/ and put
in your zipcode to see what is available over the air. The better your
antenna and location, the better your results.
Another option is to get a box like a Roku (mentioned as a widely known
model, but I have no specific experience with it). I have a 4 year old
Sony Media Player. It plugs into the home network or can connect
wireless and pulls content from my PC or the internet and outputs to the
TV either as RF or A/V. The newer ones have HDMI and may drop the older
connections, so just make sure it can output in a format you have
available on the TV. My Sony box is about the size of a paperback, but
I think the newer devices are like a deck of playing cards. These
devices can also stream over the internet from free sources or connect
to Netflix and pay services for more content.
My Windows 7 PC has a dual tuner card and records my TV for me - think
Tivo without file protections or restrictions. With kids, I seldom get
to actually watch live TV, so this works out great. I use Windows Media
Center, so it is all free and I can watch on any computer or on the
living room TV with the box.
I also have a plug-in for Firefox called Download Helper that can save
video from places like YouTube. I have DSL, so can't always stream good
content, so I just download it and watch the file on my computer or the
living room TV with the media player. There are some great
documentaries and programs that you can grab then watch when you want.
With all this, you should be able to have things to watch on at least
some of the TVs without a cable box.
On 12/29/2014 1:55 PM, Jim Juhas wrote:
> The shop content for this is that I presently have TVs in my work space.
> My cable provider has announced the move to "all digital" requiring one
> of their boxes at each TV, regardless of the TV's digital cable
> readiness. I have coax to multiple locations in my house and shop and
> don't want to rent ANY boxes from them, let alone the seven I would need
> for this, plus in at least one location with a 7" screen, a corner in
> our kitchen, the box will be bigger than the digital TV. Are there any
> alternatives? Is there a digital equivalent to the old analog block
> converters? Or will my digital TVs actually still see the digital
> signals, just not at the same place on the "dial."