Category Archives: Opinion

More Things To Consider Before Cutting The Cord – Part 3

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Now we’re beginning to get down the nitty gritty part of the decision making for ‘cutting the cord.’ This may very well be the part that separates you from the ‘pay TV’ person and the ‘cord cutter.’ What is it that makes this particular part of this discussion one of the most important determining factors when considering ‘cutting the cord?’ Hopefully that will be obvious when you’ve finished gathering the information available in this chapter (article/podcast).

Almost everyone that has been using a pay TV service provider for any length of time at all has favorite programs or channels they like to watch that are not provided by the local broadcast stations. That means some decisions will have to be made before making the final decision to ‘cut the cord.’ Most importantly it comes down to two questions you have to ask yourself:

·         First – Can you live without them or are they so entrenched in your life that you absolutely have to be able to watch them?

·         Second – If you can’t live without them, are there other ways of receiving them that are less costly than through a pay TV provider and without having to mortgage the homestead to get hold of the equipment to do so?

The answer to the first question here is the easiest to answer. If you can live without them it is easy enough to do so and you won’t need to keep paying for them. Not only that but there are likely other ways to get the same information if it is just information that you want or gain from those channels. However, it may require a little more effort on your part. Things like news, recipes and other types of information can generally be gained from sources on the internet like print media, YouTube or Vimeo videos and others. If it is only entertainment you seek or gain, well, that might be a little different and it may or may not be available to “simply enjoy” depending on your technical and computer prowess.

If you absolutely can’t live without them, there are generally other ways of receiving them. What complicates this question somewhat is how you decide to receive these programs or, at the very least, the information or entertainment you get from them. Since you cannot receive them from an antenna that only leaves one real alternative and that would be to receive them from some source or other via the internet. (Well, that is “IF” you would rather watch them rather than read them.)

Therein is the complication and the thing that warrants asking another question along with this one. Is your present internet service being delivered with enough download speed to handle the extra load of possibly live streaming of the programming or downloading it with minimum wait time and/or buffering for maximum viewing pleasure and minimal frustration?

If you don’t know the answer to this question I think it would be a good idea to check on what the download speed is you are receiving from your internet provider. If you are paying for minimum speed – like 3 mbps or less – you may find it will work but it will likely be very frustrating watching anything of real interest to you because of frequent interruptions from buffering.

If you watch videos from the internet on your computer and constantly see a spinning ball or a screen that says, “buffering” and have to wait for it to catch up to watch the next buffered segment, your internet speed is probably not fast enough for pleasurable viewing of streamed content. If it is not fast enough for that, it means extended wait times for you to be able to view streamed or live streamed video content as well as other types of content. Just remember that video files, especially in HD, are very large even when compressed. What allows you to watch them without waiting so long over an extended download time or frequent buffering is the available download speed you have at your home or other viewing location.

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t mind waiting for things to download and I don’t mind waiting for my streaming content to buffer so I can watch it,” but believe me when I tell you, all of the interruptions and waiting will grow old pretty quickly. I’m not saying you need to upgrade your speed before you decide if you really want to ‘cut the cord’ but if you do decide to cut it and you find some of the frustrations I just mentioned creeping in to your life, upgrading to a higher speed for your internet service is relatively easy and generally not all that expensive. The dividend an upgrade in speed will pay in lack of frustration alone will be great.

Remember this important point if you do get an upgrade in speed. All of us adapt to changes in speed in different ways but it does appear, at least from my viewpoint, we “get used to” the extra speed fairly quickly and even the faster speed seems slow to us after a period of time (and from my view, that time is generally brief.)

Since the only way for you to receive those programs you can’t or don’t want to live without is from a pay TV provider or the internet and you’re trying to stop paying so much for being able to watch TV, you may ask if that means you have to watch those programs sitting in front of your computer or your tablet or smart phone.

The good news is, no, you can watch them on your computer, tablet or smart phone or you can watch them on your larger screen TV. The bad news is you have to have a way to get the information from your computer to your TV. I won’t go into that in this article/podcast but, the good news on the bad news is, there are a number of ways to do exactly that. Another good thing about all this is that you shouldn’t have to call in your computer guru to be able to watch internet delivered programs on your TV.

If you remember, earlier in these article/podcasts I talked about how technology is advancing at an accelerated rate and fortunately for many non-techies, the ones responsible for making the technology available to us as consumers are making it easier and easier to use. Viewing programming in this way hasn’t quite gotten to the point of the ease of use of a Cable, Satellite or IPTV set top box. (Examples of IPTV would be services like Verizon FiOS, ATT U-verse or Prism and others.) It also hasn’t gotten to the point of easily just flipping through channels on a TV without a set-top box like “in the old days.”  It has, however, become much easier than it used to be and that is good for everyone, particularly those that would like to cut the cord and reduce the cost they pay to watch their favorite programs.

Yes, there will likely be a slight learning curve and things might work a bit differently than many are used to but if patience is observed it is going to be worth it all. It will definitely be worth it to take the time to learn a few new things without getting totally frustrated and giving up. The important thing to remember from this article/podcast is the importance of download speed and how it can positively affect your viewing pleasure. If you have minimum speed, you will likely be more disappointed or frustrated than those with higher speed.

Another thing to remember is that your internet service and the speed it is delivered at now becomes the cost of delivering some of your programming to you. Previously it was probably part of your “pay TV” package but is a service many will find hard to live without. (Well, that is unless you desire to totally go off the grid.)

So… what will you need so you can more easily watch internet delivered programming from your computer or some type of streaming box or attachment on your TV? Well, that my friend is what is coming up in the next article/podcast and there are some good things and some not-so-good things you need to consider if you’re really serious and want to ‘cut the cord.’ Believe me when I tell you, we are just beginning to get to the good stuff…

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© September 3, 2015 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, The Norman TV View, Norman-TV.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

All music used is Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

More Things To Consider Before Cutting The Cord – Part 2

 

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If you’ve made it this far in this discussion and you’re still interested in finding out more about “Cutting the Cord”, here is the next important thing to consider while determining whether or not it is something that will work for you and whether or not you should continue toward that goal.

Remember last time I talked about the need to know what your expectations are and exactly what you should expect to receive from an off-air antenna if you eliminate your “pay TV” provider. Just to review, “pay TV” means you pay a Cable, Satellite, Telephone or some other type company for the privilege of watching your favorite programming of all types using their equipment and delivery method. The ones that deliver the programming are generally called re-programmers and you and they are somewhat bound by the pricing dictated by two things. First of all, the re-programmers have to make a profit and that is affected by the second thing – what the programmers charge for their services. When you add it all up, that is what determines how much it costs you to watch your favorite programs on your chosen provider.

The programmers tend to offer more than one channel in a package they provide and try their best to make their package appealing in one way or another. That can mean they want to be in the most popular tier so they will have maximum exposure to the people that desire to have their programming delivered by their chosen provider. That tier is generally called the “basic tier” and usually does have many of the most desired channels.

It also seems to be common practice (once again this is my opinion) for the re-programmers to have a very popular channel or two in the next tier up so they have some leverage over the consumer to up sell them to that higher tier or package. It is my opinion that is just one of many reasons why all of us have to pay for so many channels we seldom or never watch when we use the “pay TV” services. To make their packages appear to be a great bargain, they offer many channels in a tier or package which makes it look like a great bargain to the consumer. At the very least, it forces them pay just a little more for the next higher tier for that one channel or two that a number of them want to watch and can only get if they also include the extra tier with the extra channels.

If you’re wondering what my purpose is and why I mention all of these things it is because of this next important point that needs to be considered in your quest for possibly being able to “Cut the Cord” and still watch TV without all the extra expense. It actually involves the consideration of two things:

1. What are your favorite programs and are they available from your local and network affiliated broadcast stations?
2. Are you a person that likes to watch a lot of sports programming and do you follow one or more of your favorite teams with special programming packages that allow you to watch their televised games whenever they play during their particular seasons?

Without trying to go into a long drawn out dissertation in discussing your favorite programs and what channels they are on, let me try to simplify it as much as I can. If you’re favorite programs aren’t on your local broadcast stations, you won’t be able to receive them by an antenna. In fact, if you can’t receive them with an antenna you may or may not be able to receive them ‘legally’ by another source either.

You see, at the present time, to view certain programs through the internet on your computer, tablet or Smartphone requires you to have an account with one of the pay TV providers to be able to watch them. Although this is changing in some instances, it isn’t happening all that quickly and it may be a while before many of the most popular become available and, when they do, they will probably come with a fee attached for the privilege of viewing them. I will only mention a couple of them here but just look at what CBS and HBO charge if you want the ability to watch their programming in an “on demand” basis. Using them as an example of cost, if all of the Networks and most popular channels follow their lead, there will be absolutely nothing saved to be able to watch them in that manner. In my opinion and considering the cost of just these two, it could cost as much or more to watch your favorite channels as it does from a pay TV provider.

Taking a quick look at following favorite sports and sports teams means you won’t be able to watch them unless they are being broadcast by your local broadcast stations. That generally rules out broadcasts coming from ESPN, FOX Sports channels, NBC Sports Network and others like them. It is true there are special packages available to watch certain things but for the most part, it is still considered “pay TV.” If you’re trying to save money, this may not be a viable option for that.

This may be only my opinion but, have you noticed the networks are covering more of the popular sports genres on their special sports channels? This has become particularly evident to me this year in following NASCAR. Admittedly, I am an avid NASCAR fan and I particularly like to follow them on a weekly basis. There was a definite difference between the coverage last year and this year by FOX Sports. Some, but not all, of the races they covered this year were on the local FOX affiliate. The others were on their sports channel, FOX Sports One. It was a noticeable difference from last year’s coverage between the two, at least to this avid NASCAR fan. The rest of the season is covered by NBC Sports and so far all of the race day coverage has been on their NBC-SN channel, (NBC Sports Network.) If a person wants to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup racing on a regular basis and can’t afford to travel to all of the tracks, this almost forces them to have a “pay TV” service that carries these channels.

I am sure this has a lot to do with marketing, and profiting from, their sports channels and I am equally as sure it works. What saddens me is that it is more a way to make their sports channels appear more popular than they might otherwise be. I’m sure this will change someday but for now, it is the way things are.

Just as a quick review, if you are looking to ‘cut the cord’ and your favorite programs or sports and sports teams are not carried by your local broadcast stations, you will not be able to receive them with an antenna. There are other options available for receiving them but not all come without expense and not all may be feasible for everyone wanting to ‘cut the cord’ depending on how proficient a person might be using internet technology to do so. I’ll talk about in the coming pages (article/podcasts) but if you do determine to go the antenna and internet route to view your favorite programs you really need to consider what I’ll be talking about next…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 28, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, The Norman TV View, Norman-TV.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music used is Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

More Things to Consider Before Cutting the Cord – Part 1

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So… you’ve pretty much made up your mind you want to “Cut the Cord” and eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, what it costs you to watch what you like to watch on your TV? You’ve finally decided that paying for a lot of channels you never watch isn’t such a great deal after all and the price for watching the things you want to watch has skyrocketed over the last few years. It may sound strange but you’re joining an ever increasing number of people that feel the same way or are just plain tired of paying so much for what is generally called, entertainment. For some, the expense is just no longer affordable and they have to cut the cost to make ends meet. For others, the cost compared to value really doesn’t appear worth the expense anymore.

Okay, I admit what I’ve said so far sounds just a little like I’m being negative and that may be somewhat true. Even though watching TV for many has become quite expensive, they just consider it to be what it costs for them to view their favorite types of entertainment. They reason they don’t go to the movie theatres anymore and it is just a fraction of what it would cost to watch the same movie in a theatre. The only thing they sacrifice by watching it at home is that great big screen and possibly the expensive sound system. Even with that being said, it still appears that more and more people want to cut back on what they spend to watch TV but just don’t know exactly how to go about this thing called “Cutting the Cord.”

Truth be told, it is very possible to watch a lot of programming without the expense of paying Cable, Satellite or other providers but there are several things to consider before actually doing it. What follows is a short list of questions you need to ask yourself before actually taking the big step of “Cutting the Cord.”

• First – You absolutely need to know what your expectations are for viewing your desired entertainment on your TV or TVs in your home without that entertainment being delivered by a Cable, Satellite, Telephone or other type company.
• Second – What are your favorite shows and are they generally available on your local and network affiliated stations? Do you watch a lot of sports programming or do you expect to be able to watch certain favorite teams throughout the different sports seasons?
• Third – If you expect to use programming delivered by the internet, will your presently delivered internet speed be fast enough to handle the extra load of live streaming of programming without a lot of frustrating buffering?
• Forth – When you get rid of your set top box which allows you to view the programming from any of the providers, is your TV capable of processing the programming available to you without that set top box?
• Fifth – Do you record some or much of the programming you regularly watch for viewing at a more convenient time according to your schedule?

This list is by no means all that needs to be considered but is definitely a good place to start. If I tried to cover each one of them in just one article/podcast, the importance of these items might easily be lost simply because of information overload. That would defeat the whole purpose in writing and talking about these items because it is more desirable that you better understand this process before taking such a step rather than after.

I recognize and I am willing to admit some of you may know more about this process than I do but judging from some of the calls I get and questions asked about off-air reception and “cutting the cord”, many do not. My intention is to make it a bit simpler for those that aren’t as computer and technology literate as others and don’t fully understand all this new “stuff”, how it is being combined with the old way of watching TV and the way I think things are heading in the not-so-distant future.

Admittedly, some of this is speculation on my part and some of it may or may not happen the way I believe it will, but, you can rest assured, changes are coming to the way you watch TV and your favorite programming. Some of the changes are already here even though some don’t use or know how to best use them as yet. The biggest concern I have is just how fast those changes are going to happen. That’s why I want you to stay informed and not be intimidated by them. Hopefully, by visiting this site often and taking advantage of the information it contains, you’ll be better able to do that.

Now that I’ve said all that, I want to take on the first thing in the list above here and now. That’s because I think it is the one that takes the least explanation, but is the probably the least considered and understood part of “Cutting the Cord.”

Let me ask you a question… Do you really understand what is available to view through off-air antenna reception in your area? Most people don’t really understand or separate in their thinking what is actually the “local” broadcast programming from what is called “cable” programming or “pay TV” and that is part of what needs to be understood before making a final decision about “cutting the cord.”

Over the years of receiving programming from what are commonly called “cable programming” or “pay TV” providers like a Cable, Satellite or a Telephone company, many people no longer separate the two in their understanding of what they like to watch and where and why it is available to them. Unfortunately, with some of the advertising abundantly available through different types of media, the issue has been somewhat confused. Some actually think all or, at least, most of their favorite programs are available to them ‘if only’ they had that new indoor antenna they see and hear about in those advertisements. (I talked about this in the previous article/podcast, “New Indoor Antennas – Don’t Be Fooled by the Advertising.” You may want to check it out again to refresh your memory.)

I won’t take the time right now to talk about those new indoor antennas and how they may or may not work for you but you do need to understand what is and is not available from an indoor or outdoor antenna for you to watch.

In think the easiest way to describe what is available from an off-air antenna is in this way. Take all of the channels included in your programming package from your “pay TV” provider and eliminate all but what are considered to be your local broadcast stations. That means no ESPN, no Fox News Channel, no CNN and definitely no specialty channels like HGTV, Discovery, Disney or Hallmark. That only leaves your local broadcast stations which in many markets means, ABC, CBS, NBC, local FOX, PBS, the CW, possibly several Spanish language channels and maybe a specialty channel or two like METV (Memorable Entertainment TV.)

That’s it – Only what is being broadcast in your area from you local broadcaster’s transmission towers will be available for you to receive from your antenna without cost. (Remember, without cost means you don’t have to pay to watch them but you will likely have to invest in some equipment to be able to receive them, like an antenna of some sort or converter if you have a very old TV.)

Of course, whether or not you can receive any or all of them depends on several variables that I won’t go into in this article/podcast but will try to cover more fully in another one soon. At any rate, this is important to remember and does have to be considered if you are contemplating “cutting the cord.”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 14, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, The Norman TV View, Norman-TV.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music used is Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Thinking About “Cutting The Cord?” Three Things To Consider Before You Do…


imageSo… You’re thinking about cutting the cord? Well, there are several things you need to consider before you actually do. In fact, you may be someone asking; What does “cutting the cord,” actually mean. That’s a good question and for those of you that might be asking, it means getting rid of “paid programming” from providers such as a cable company, a satellite company or some other programming provider. I won’t be talking about any particular delivery system in this article although I will mention certain ones in articles planned for the near future.

You may be wondering what the reasons are that many people are considering cutting the cord and going back to what some would call the “old days” when it comes to watching television? Well the easiest and most often heard answers I hear are probably; “because it’s just becoming too expensive” and “I pay for a lot of things that I don’t even watch.”

These days, I often have people ask me what they can actually receive from an off air antenna because they are considering “cutting the cord” and reducing their cost for watching television. Usually, they’ve had people tell them they can receive almost everything off of an antenna or over the Internet that they now receive (and pay for) from their present programming provider. Although that is at least partially true, it is by no means what they have come to expect over the years of using either cable or satellite for their viewing pleasure.

Now, don’t misunderstand, those days are coming but aren’t here yet and the chances of them being delivered for no cost are fading also. (I talk more about that in a future article or two.)

Although it’s true it is possible to see certain things off of antenna and other things off of the Internet, most people that ask are not always prepared, nor do they fully understand, that some of the things they want to watch most may not be available and the process for viewing them may not be as easy to use as their present delivery system. That’s why I always ask them what their viewing habits are and often their answer is a mixture of programs available only through their cable or satellite company or available from cable or satellite as well as from antenna.

Unfortunately, we haven’t reached the point of “à la carte” viewing in the television industry, at least not yet. Although some things are available to be viewed in certain ways by the computer, Smartphone or other device, many are surprised to find that it’s not like watching the broadcast they’re used to watching from their cable or satellite provider.

I have even had people call me up wanting me to install an antenna and after asking a few of the above questions. I explain to them that they may not be able to watch everything they are used to watching. Often they say they don’t care about that they just watch the networks. Although it doesn’t happen often, sometimes they call me back asking how they can receive certain programming that is available only from a cable or satellite provider. They usually don’t like the answer I give them and either decide to do without that particular programming or return to their original provider at least in a reduced cost way. Sometimes they add it by some other means, although their options can be somewhat limited and they keep the antenna for use in reserve or on their non essential viewing areas.

At this point in time, there are two things that are most desired but not available through an off air antenna. Those would include what are called cable news such as CNN and the Fox News Channel and things like certain sports channels such as ESPN, Fox Sports and others. (Oh and one that is extremely popular in this area of Florida where I live is the Golf Channel.) Although it is true there are ways to receive these channels in some form or other through computer, it is generally not in the form that the person wants and likely has a fee attached in some form or other.

So here are three things that need to be considered before actually taking the leap of “cutting the cord” and going to a different form of programming delivery. (Usually people desire to make a change that comes with little to no cost other than the equipment required to receive it.)

• First – what channels do you watch the most? (More simply stated, what are your favorite channels?) Not everything is available by antenna over the air that you may be wanting to watch. If you watch mostly movies and “network” programming (by network I mean things like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS etc.), “cutting the cord” just might work for you. If you desire things like the regular programming from CNN, Fox News, ESPN or other sports channels, you really need to think it through before taking the leap.

• Second – How do you intend to receive that “free” programming? Will it be via antenna and off air broadcast only? Will it be through the Internet and the availability there or will it be through both of those particular mediums? Along with all of this, you need to know whether or not your television has the capability of receiving off air broadcast without a digital to analog converter or whether you will need one. It would also be good to know whether or not you plan on recording programming for viewing at a more convenient time.

• Third – What are the acceptable options for you to replace certain “cable” programs? Are they available to you through your Internet provider in a way convenient for you to watch and is your internet service at the speed necessary for “reasonably good viewing?” (In this case, what I mean by “reasonably good viewing” is, able to watch with no, or minimal interruptions for reloading (or buffering) as the computer folks like to say.)

(Let me mention right here and now that no matter what you’ve been told either through printed media or through commercials on television or elsewhere, an indoor antenna may or may not work for you at all. Although I’ve already talked about that in the article “Don’t Be Fooled By The Advertising” I will also be talking more about that later.) I often find many people have their Internet delivered at the minimum possible speed for a price they’re willing to pay. If you plan to receive more programming via the Internet, investing in higher-speed may be necessary, at least to minimize your frustration levels.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 18, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Norman TV & Video Systems
The Norman TV View, Norman-TV.com
All audio and video productions by www.Podcastnorm.com
and PodCastNorm Productions
All music Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart
(Royalty Free Collection) unless otherwise stated

Just Want to Watch Television? Revisiting The Changes To The Way We Watch Our TVs…

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So much has changed over the last few years in the way we watch our entertainment on our TVs and other devices, I just had to take the time to include this update and rewrite of an article I did a while ago. The Original title was, “Just Want To Watch Television? There’s A New Day Dawning…” It is definitely a new day that is dawning on us and you need to be ready for the changes that are already here and the ones that are coming.

Press Play Below to Listen to the podcast version of this article

(Well, at least that’s what this old TV guy thinks anyway.)

I’ve been watching and experiencing the changes over the last several years and I really have to say things are only going to change more and the changes are going to happen even more quickly than ever. The problem with change is that so many don’t want to make the changes necessary at first. Then those changes become something that the consumer doesn’t have any choice but to make and that is when frustration can set in. That’s just a normal problem of dealing with changing technologies – we all have to either adapt or abandon it all together.

So, go ahead… think back just few years… Do you remember when Cable was new and Satellite was just beginning (and expensive?) You know, people had that big dish in the yard (usually 10 ft across diagonally or larger, in this area), and people wondered why anyone would need more than 5 channels? (Even at that, if people got more channels than their neighbor from their antenna, they would brag to everyone about how many channels they got.)

Well… maybe that’s going back a little too far.

How about, you used to get 36 channels from your cable company and wondered why anyone would only want to watch just the locals on their TV while you could get CNN, ESPN, HBO and a bunch of other channels (whether you watched them or not.) You know; it took a couple of minutes to scan through all of the channels you were getting instead of a few seconds?

Well… I’m sure you know what’s happened since I wrote those words just a couple of short years ago and it is happening again. New methods of delivering programming are becoming visible all the time and, honestly, it is becoming even harder to keep up with all of it, (even for those of us directly involved in broadcast and reception and all of the technology that goes along with it.) It is no wonder, at least to me, that people – at least many of the older ages – are not only frustrated but also confused with much of what is going on in this new day that is dawning.

All of these changes raise more than a few questions, like:

  • What do you really know about watching TV from the internet on your TV (as opposed to watching it on your computer screens)?
  • Do you know what ways of receiving programming are available rather than just Cable or Satellite?
  • Have you purchased a TV lately and found it has an ethernet connection as well as wireless capabilities and USB ports, possibly an SD card slot and a whole host of ways of inputting programming to watch and you have no idea what they are?

Well… if any one or all of the statements above leave you with confused looks on your face and a lot of questions you’d like to ask, then you know exactly how confused many  people are these days and you don’t need to feel alone (or dumb as some of my customers have bluntly stated to me.)

If that is the case, the next few articles here at the Norman TV View will, hopefully, bring you up to speed and remove much of your confusion and help explain where it is all headed, unless you want to keep on paying a lot of money for things you never watch.

You see, I am one of those that thinks the way programming is delivered to our TVs and other devices needs to change. Bundling of services is what most providers use these days to make their offerings look more affordable to the average consumer. Bundling means they offer several services over the infrastructure they have in place to deliver their service. In this instance, I’ll use my own household as an example.

Although there is nothing wrong with bundling programs and services together, it has become very expensive to watch TV, have a decent internet speed for doing the many things we do online now and also have a phone service of some sort.

As I just mentioned, at my house we have 200 plus channels of HD and SD programming, an internet download speed a little faster than some (10mbps) and a land line telephone that is never answered. The reason we never answer it is because we have tried all of the ways available to keep those obnoxious telemarketing and appeal for money calls to a minimum and none of them work or at least hardly work at all. The only reason we have the telephone land line is because we have DSL internet service and 99.9% of the calls we receive on that line are from telemarketers or, worse yet, politicians wanting us to waste more money for them to get reelected (and believe me, they don’t get a dime from us.) Besides, we only give our number to people that need to get in touch with us via the phone and now they do so through our cell phones. (We have much more control over those calls and which ones we will answer.)

Since they have added fiber to our area, we now have faster internet speeds available and the service has become quite a bit more reliable whether we talk about consistency in speed or how it works mostly trouble free compared to the way they used to deliver it. They added the ability to receive TV programming service to their package and it works well to. I have to admit, even I was surprised how well it has worked for us over the last couple of years. Still, my biggest complaint about any “pay TV service” is having to pay for so many channels we never watch.

In my humble opinion, when it comes to the TV service, that is where all of the programming providers need to make changes in how they deliver services their customers want to watch. Although there have been some changes to how those services are packaged and delivered, it is and has been a slow process. Of those 200 plus channels we have to pay for, we only watch 12 – 20 channels with regularity and we hardly watch any of the others. That is why so many people want to “Cut the Cord” when it comes to their TV entertainment.

Even though the providers tell us we are getting a great deal for all of those channels, it isn’t a great deal for consumers and there are a number of reasons so many of the older generations are wanting to join the younger generation in “cutting the cord” and are doing so in increasing numbers or, at the very least are trying to. The problem is, many don’t understand what they might not be able to receive when they actually do.

You see, technology is changing whether or not you keep up with it. No matter what you think, and how positive or negative you feel about it, it’s going to continue to do so and the only encouraging news I can tell you about it is, fortunately, they are making it easy for the consumer to use so you don’t have to be a “Geek” to watch what you want when you want. (Now, come on, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to learn something new along the way.)

Over the next several articles, I want to give you some usable information so you can begin to understand more about this new technology and the delivery of information and programming to your television (and not just your computer screen…)

If you thought  Digital, HD and 3D was the the biggest and best thing to happen for the viewers of content of all kinds and the end-all of the changes that are coming… think again… Trust me when I tell you, those are just the beginning. So tune in right here next time to the Norman TV View and find out more.

Remember, this is just the beginning of several articles on the newer modes of delivering programming to you…

Next time, we’ll talk about some things you may, or may not know about your TV (especially those new ones…) and what some of those new inputs, ports and slots you’ve never heard of before do for you.

See ya next time…
Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© July 3, 2015 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, The Norman TV Vantage, Norman-TV.com, Rusty Norman and Norman TV & Video Systems
(All audio and video productions by www.Podcastnorm.com and PCN Productions)

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Rusty Norman – PodCastNorm 

All music Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart (Royalty Free Collection) unless otherwise stated

 

New Indoor Antennas — Don’t Be Fooled By The Advertising

Press play button below to listen to the podcast version of this article…


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How many times have you been fooled (or perhaps better stated, at least slightly mislead) by advertisements you’ve seen or heard on your TV or radio? Advertisers really do know their craft don’t they? It’s true, they definitely know how to make just about anything sound like the greatest discovery since… well… (you can insert the greatest discovery you know of at this point.)

I’m sure you’ve recently seen the latest advertisements on TV (or possibly seen the ads in your newspaper or other publications) that talk about how much FREE STUFF you can watch with a simple off-air antenna. Well, it’s just my opinion but, “Don’t Be Fooled By the Advertising.”

Some of the latest antennas to hit the scene are being hailed as a way for you, the consumer, to watch a lot of free movies and other types of programming without having to pay a fee. Trust me, they do work but may or may not work for you… AND you really need to look more closely at the way they are being advertised.

I found out about these latest “new items” a year or so ago when a customer of mine called me and asked me about one he had received information on. When I answered that I knew nothing about it, he mailed me the ad from the paper and asked me to check it out for him. He explained he was going away to a summer home and would like to stay in touch but didn’t really want the expense of paying for cable or satellite. He and his wife wanted to use this item if it would work for them in the location they were going to. Naturally, I told him I would be glad to check it out and happy give him my opinion.

Well… after I received the ad from him and saw what it said this item could do, I have to admit it “sounded” very good (at least from the way the ad read) and I was intrigued enough to research it further.

I quickly discovered the ad was talking about something I had seen before and it was actually nothing new; it just had a different look – it was packaged a bit differently.

What was it that was not-so-new about this antenna? Well, it was a glorified UHF rabbit ear antenna. Actually, years ago we called them UHF Bowties and they usually clipped on one of the VHF telescoping ears either built in to the older TVs or later added by the consumer and the two together allowed the person using them to receive both the VHF and UHF Analog signals from their local broadcast stations. Although rabbit ears worked, they didn’t always work that well and reception was often limited by where the TV was situated in the home and how far away the broadcast towers were from the consumer’s location.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these antennas don’t work… I’m just saying the advertising is a bit overstated on what it delivers, at least in my opinion. I have to admit, the advertisements DO make it sound good but let’s look at what they are really telling you about this device and what it can do.

One of the first things I noticed about their description of what you could get by using this “New Antenna” was stated in such a way as to make you think it was all because of a new ruling. The ads state something similar to, “because the Federal government had “mandated” that Digital broadcasts be delivered in a way that a consumer could receive them without cost, there were thousands of “movies and other programs” a person could now watch without having to pay what cable or satellite would charge them for watching them. (In other words, if the consumers had the equipment that allowed them to receive the broadcast signals, they could not be charged for watching them. They also make it sound as if you are able to receive these many “movies and other programs” without cost while others are paying exorbitant fees to watch the same thing.)

Trust me when I tell you… there is nothing new about off-air broadcasts except that we now enjoy the advantages of digital signals as opposed to analog (at least for the present time.)

To be honest with you and fair to them, their ads do tell the truth. The stretch comes because they know they are talking to people that really don’t understand the difference between “Off-Air” broadcast TV and “Pay” TV or have had their signals delivered either by cable, satellite or some other means for so long that they don’t remember the “broadcast signals” have been, and are, available.

It has been my experience, when people think about watching “Movies” on TV, they’re thinking about things like HBO, The Movie Channel or Showtime and like channels. They relate their understanding of what they hear or see in the ads to how they generally receive these offerings from Cable, Satellite or some other form of delivery that they have been paying for.

It is true they can receive movies and other programs from their local broadcast stations, and have always been able to, but not “PAY” offerings like HBO, Showtime and the others delivered only by pay TV services.

What the ads for these glorified rabbit ear antennas are actually talking about is the movies and programs available from the local broadcast stations that can be, or are, received via some form of antenna from their Local Broadcast station’s towers but not those “Pay TV” channels that are generally delivered via a different source rather than being able to be received by antenna.

Of course the new advantage they talk about is the new “Digital” signal delivery that is much clearer than the old “Analog” signals. These signals have always been available for reception via antennas from the Local Broadcast towers in Analog, and now in the Digital format, but so many have been receiving their programming from some Cable or Satellite provider, and paying for that service for so long that they have forgotten the Local Broadcasts are available from antenna as well as from their “Pay TV” provider. To hear they might be able to receive something similar without payment is music to their ears, especially in these days of paying for so many channels they never watch to get what they do want to watch along with the continuing tough economic times.

First of all, let’s be real. There are many places a set of rabbit ears will work to receive the off-air broadcast signals and do a very good job but only if, they can deliver a decent signal at a usable strength.

Depending on the strength of  the old Analog signals, they would show pictures in differing degrees of good to bad reception and possibly along with a thing called “Multi-Path” (or ghosting as it is referred to by many familiar with the “old days.”) In comparison, Digital broadcast signals either show you a clear picture or they don’t and often the “new antennas” will deliver some, but not necessarily all, of the available channels in your area. It is a matter of signal strength and that signal needs to be at a certain level to show a picture.

Digital signals are also susceptible to Multi-path but it may show up as things called “pixeling” or “freeze-framing.” (In general, these symptoms describe themselves.) Of course these can be extremely frustrating, especially when a person is trying to watch their favorite programs and that is why good reception of the digital signals is a must to most consumers that are used to other forms of signal delivery.

Generally speaking and in my professional opinion, an outdoor type antenna will give the best reception of these local “off-air” signals but also remember outdoor antennas can be somewhat susceptible to the same problems I mentioned above. Just remember it’s not like the old days… the antennas don’t have to be extremely large and they don’t necessarily have to be as high as they used to. In fact, they can sometimes be mounted in your attic or elsewhere and work quite nicely. In my experience, many of them work better with amplification of some sort (especially depending on whether you want to distribute the signal to multiple TVs), but generally, things are much simpler in these “digital” days once you receive a signal of proper strength to deliver to your TVs.

(I promise, I’ll talk more about antennas in another article, soon.)

In the next article I will be talking about a few things you need to think about before you actually decide to “cut the cord.”

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© June 23, 2015 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, The Norman TV View, The Norman TV Vantage, Norman-TV.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PCN Productions

Norman TV & Video Systems: A History – (Updated October 9, 2014)

 

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Hello again… my name is Rusty Norman and I am the owner of Norman TV & Video Systems. I am so glad you’re visiting the site today and I am here to tell you I have some exciting things planned over the coming weeks, months and, yes, even years and I can’t wait to get started. In fact, I am working on several new aspects for the near and distant future and hope you will become a regular visitor to my site.

Before I move on to other things, I guess you would like to know more about my company (and me), especially if you are not familiar with Norman TV and Video Systems.

We have actually been around since early1973. That’s when we were simply called, Norman TV and located on Fort Myers Beach. That is the year my dad bought the business from the man he worked for about 10 years. Before that time it was known as, Chase TV. At that time I was going to college at FSU in Tallahassee, FL. My dad and my mom had a couple of employees and pretty much ran the business in that way for the next 12 years.

During that span of time, before and after I departed FSU, I was head mechanic at an AMF bowling establishment in Fort Myers, FL known as Miracle Lanes. Even though it is no longer in business and has been torn down, I started working there in 1969 and worked there until 1985 when I went to work for my dad at the store on Fort Myers Beach. Unfortunately, my dad died in January of 1990 and I had a big decision to make over the next few months.

Simply because of the way times change, our sales and service business on the Beach had become much too seasonal and suffered a little because of that. This had been going on for five or six years. Add to that the fact that the owner of the property we were on (and the building we were in) decided to increase our rent by almost double. That was bad enough but, they also wanted to cut the building in half and rent out the other side. To me, that meant they had just increased our rent almost 4 fold. There was no way we could justify that expense to stay in our storefront so my mom and I decided to close the store front and I took over the business from my mom in July of 1990. (Honestly, she didn’t want to continue in the business any longer – her heart just wasn’t in it any more especially since the death of my dad.)

At that time, it was hard to find an affordable storefront, good help and be able to afford to pay them year round so I decided to become a mobile repair company and try to service our regular customers, both residential and commercial, in that way. It was a busy time for me and I worked many hours since I was by myself. I used to get up early in the morning and work on TV’s that I had to bring in for repairs, by 9-10am I was out on service calls and deliveries and back generally somewhere between 6-8 pm. Then I would work on the things I had either brought in earlier or from that day, eat supper with my family go to bed and start all over again early the next morning.

That worked for a while but I admit it did wear me out, particularly during the busy season. After a time of a few years, once again the changing business climate caused me to re-evaluate where my strengths were.  Even though I remained as a mobile service TV and electronics repair company, I slowly switched over to mostly signal delivery and maintenance of distribution systems for properties like hotels, motels, private schools, residences both large and small, which I had already been doing along with the other parts of the business. In 1997 I started branching out into the smaller satellite services like Dish Network and DirecTV, in particular maintaining the previous MATV (Master Antenna TeleVision) systems my dad had previously installed and updated some of those systems to SMATV (Satellite Master Antenna TeleVision.) I also worked with other types of properties as well and installed many satellite, antenna and satellite/antenna head end systems for commercial and residential customers and others.

Since most of what I did and do is on property, I used to recommend a couple of friends of mine for TV service. Unfortunately, they closed their doors in July of this year (2014)  and I really do not recommend other repair services locally because I don’t know them well enough. I can still diagnose TV problems but since most repairs on the newer sets are relatively expensive and generally require shop time, I do not make a habit of recommending all that many repairs anymore. With my friends out of the service business, I don’t make recommendations for other repair places but that doesn’t mean there are no other servicers available but I am not familiar enough with them and cannot comfortably make recommendations so I don’t.

Just because I don’t service that many TV’s these days doesn’t mean I have lost touch with the newer technology. I do try my level best to stay up to date on the new technology and still do preliminary diagnostics on many TVs especially in the places where I perform the services I offer with people and companies I have dealt with for years.

So what do I mean when I say I have switched over mostly to signal delivery and maintenance? Well, I mean I work with and on systems that deliver programming to your TV, Radios and “other types” of reception equipment. To clarify, that means satellite, antenna and streaming media products, some of which I will go into more detail in articles in the future, hopefully a minimum of once a month and sometimes more often. I even work with and on that type of equipment in RV’s although I do put certain limitations on the work I will perform.

What are some of those “other types” of equipment? Well, to get the best answer to that question you will need to visit this site often. I know you will find things of interest here on a regular basis when you do…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 9, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, The Norman TV Vantage, Norman-TV.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Three Reasons I Like Portable Satellite Dishes

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In my recent journeys through RV campgrounds for service calls and differing problems for satellite reception, I’ve been asked what I think of the newer Portable Satellite Dishes and I just couldn’t let the opportunity to comment on them go by. I’m sure you’ve heard of them, seen advertisements and pictures of them and some of you likely already have them.

I’m sure you know, RV’ers have yet another option for getting their satellite signals. If you haven’t checked on them yet, you just might want to… You’ll never know whether or not they’ll work for you unless you do.

Three reasons I like the newer Portable Satellite Dishes…

Although I intend to say more about these portable satellite dishes in future articles, Let me just offer my opinion and three reasons why I like them. Remember this is only my opinion and there is other information I will cover in future articles that you do need to know about them. Okay, here are my top three reasons…

1. These portable dishes give you versatility. Since permanently mounted domes can’t generally be moved when you have blocked or limited reception of your satellite signals (that is, unless you move your whole RV) the portable dishes allow you the ability to move the dish quite simply by repositioning it to an area that has an open shot to your satellite locations in the sky.

2. They are now more affordable than they used to be for how easy they make setting up for your satellite reception. They aren’t cheap, but compared to the dome on the top of your RV that you can’t easily move, they are well worth the expense. (Some may find they would rather have the portable unit instead of a permanently mounted unit. Just remember, if you decide to go with one of these and you’ve been used to watching TV while traveling down the road, you may or may not be able to do that with many of these.)

3. They simplify setup and don’t take up much room in storage for travel. Usually, setup is fast and easy. Once you are familiar with these portable units, you won’t want to have to go to the trouble of putting a dish and mount together and find the Azimuth (or compass heading) and elevation every time you stop. Instead, with an automated portable satellite dish, you just have to find your best location, hook it up, let it run through its programmed setup which only takes a couple of minutes and you will be watching TV.

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Well, that’s it for this time but, there is still much you need to know about the satellite system in your RV. Yes they have made them very easy to use but there are still some very basic things you need to know, (because the RV manufacturers don’t generally tell you a lot about how to use them.) Next time, we’ll be talking about some real life reception problems and how to solve them…

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Just so you know, I will soon have a book available (it will first be on Kindle) and it will be called, “Understanding Satellite Reception – For RV’ers (So You Can Enjoy It Rather Than Fight It)” – by Rusty Norman. I think you will find it to be full of simple, straight forward information that will help you enjoy your satellite system more and work at it less…
I’ll let you know how you can get your copy, soon…

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See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 16, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, The Norman TV Vantage, Norman-TV.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Some Basic Satellite Reception Problems In RV’s

p-1600-1200-b4ff46f1-2592-4a45-8c6f-6fcd83676af6.jpegIn my recent journeys through RV campgrounds for service calls and differing problems for satellite reception, I’ve often been asked to help customers align their portable satellite dishes or asked why the automatic Dome on top of their RV doesn’t get reception. Whether you’re new to RV’ing or an old pro, I’m sure understanding the satellite technology has thrown you more than one or two curve balls. Some think receiving signals from a satellite is much like receiving signals from an off-air antenna, meaning “close” should be good enough. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth and neither off-air or satellite reception is like it used to be.

Portable Satellite Setups are Common to many…

This isn’t really new information and portable satellite reception isn’t new either. Many of you have set up your own dish on a tripod or some other type of mount to get satellite reception in your travels. Although you may not have much trouble now (because you’ve had a lot of practice) your first time or two was probably a struggle.

Have you sometimes struggled to get Satellite Reception in your travels?

If you have sometimes struggled to get satellite reception at some time or other, relax… you’re not alone. More than one person has struggled to get reception from these type setups and had to ask neighbors in the campground area to help or, as a last resort, have called in people like me to come and check out why they can’t get reception. Unfortunately, when they call me (or someone like me) it is a service call plus parts and sometimes (depending on what kind of problems we run into) there are even extra time-on-site charges. Often, by the time I get the call from a customer, they are so frustrated they just want it fixed so they can “Watch TV” and they don’t mind the cost, as long as it is reasonable and not outrageous. (Believe me, I try to be as reasonable as I possibly can.)

There are generally two common problems with satellite reception…

Without going into great detail in this article, the most common problems I find in these service call instances is usually one of two things. The first is something obstructing the view of the the dish for receiving the satellite signals and the second is equipment failure. The first can usually (but not always) be corrected by finding a clear view to the satellite locations in the sky. The second is not always so obvious and because of different equipment for receiving signals, the servicers don’t always have the proper LNB or something they can substitute to verify the equipment failure although, generally, their meters can test for some equipment failures but not all of them reliably.

Permanently mounted dishes and domes…

Many RV’ers now have automated permanent satellite dishes mounted on their RV’s, made by different manufacturers and are quite happy with the way they work, (or maybe I should say they’re happy with them when they work the way they’re supposed to.) The problems arise when they pull into a location and can’t get reception. Because many don’t fully understand how the Domes work and how much different Satellite reception is than off-air antenna reception, they don’t readily recognize they have an obstruction blocking the reception of their dish. Also, since most of the satellite companies use more than one satellite to deliver their services to their customers, the obstructions to proper reception are even less obvious to the average RV’er.

Understanding Satellite location in the sky and Line-Of-Sight…

It is important to be familiar with where the satellites are in the sky when you travel from place to place. Generally, your satellite receiver can tell you the correct azimuth (compass heading) and elevation (degree of vertical height in the sky from horizontal) if you know the zip code you’re in. If you have a compass or a smart phone with a compass, you should be able to determine if you have an open shot in the sky to the satellite(s) for your provider. Remember, Line-Of-Sight is from your dish or dome’s eye-view not yours.

Let me say right here so there is no confusion. Yes, I do know some of the automatic domes can track the satellite locations as you travel down the road but even they can’t see through trees and other obstructions. (They also have to have time to move when you make sharp turns to retain reception and at times they do get lost (lose their ability to stay on given satellites) and then you have to reset them.)

An actual problem from a service call…

The problem I find most when I get to a site is a tree problem (or at least, some kind of signal obstruction.) Here’s a real life example from one of my recent and more interesting service calls.

I arrived to a site that looked to be open to both of the satellite areas in the sky. (This particular one was a Dish Network system. Dish Network has an Eastern Arc and a Western Arc. In our area we can receive good signals from both, although Dish prefers the use of the Western Arc.) Unfortunately, after checking a few things, I discovered the tree placement on both sides of the RV blocked reception from the satellites simply because of the way the Dome was situated on the roof of the RV. For several reasons, this person could not move to a better location and couldn’t move forward or backward enough to improve the reception. Out of six possible satellites, this person was only getting intermittent reception of one and it was very inconsistent because any light breeze would blow a tree limb and would block the rest of the signal from that one location. This person was out of luck for watching his favorite satellite channels, at least from the installed dome system permanently mounted on his RV.

To get this customer some reception for watching TV, I setup and explained his Antenna system for the local Digital TV channels and suggested checking into a TailGater portable satellite dish since he already had a Dish Network account and also had the proper receiver made to work with it. He did as I suggested and I’ll talk more about this in the next article entitled, “Three Reasons I Like Portable Satellite Dishes.”
See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 1, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, The Norman TV Vantage, Norman-TV.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

A Message To Our Canadian Bell Express Vu Friends…

Sorry to take so long in posting this here, but, sometimes the time does get away from us… (Anyway, better late than never.)

For those of you that used to get Bell Express Vu in our area, you will no longer be able to receive information from that Satellite system anywhere in Florida (and many other locations you might have been able to in the past.) This is because the signal foot print has been moved far North and cannot be seen at all in our location. (In fact, it isn’t available any place we know of in the SouthEastern United States.)

We already know many of you have already discovered this for yourselves but we did want to mention it for those of our friends that may not know about it yet. If you have questions about this, we do suggest you communicate with Bell Express Vu. They can answer your questions, we can’t…)

You can receive DirecTV and Dish Network in our area as long as you have clear view of the Southern to Southwestern Sky, (Dish Network also has their Eastern Arc in the SouthEastern sky.) Most all of the RV Domes and temporary Dishes get them quite nicely. In fact, if you’ve been wondering about those temporary Domes like the Tailgater and the Winegard Carryout, we know they work very well also. (Shaw is also availble but you have to deal with them directly for equipment and services. Our experience with customers of theirs in the last several months has yielded very good reviews from their customers’ experiences with them. In fact, some companies we know of could take a few lessons from their Customer Service Department… but that’s a whole other story in itself…)

As always, you cannot receive very good signal (if any at all) through trees or other obstructions. It does help to know where your satellites are located in the sky, especially with the multiple satellite locations that exist for the companies these days but we’ll let you know more about that in some up and coming articles.

Stay tuned to our site because we have some very good informational articles coming in the next days, weeks and months specifically aimed at reception through the RV satellite receiving equipment of all kinds and your off-air antenna reception in our area. We think you will enjoy them and also find them informative and educational.

Like we’ve always said, this is your place for great information on Antenna and Satellite reception and we intend to make it even better in the near future… Check back with us soon!!! We think you will be pleased with what you find here…

Visit us next week to find out why we like the newer portable Satellite Domes. Get the full details next week, right here at the Norman TV View…