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Free. Legal. HD.

With the digital transition, you can get up to 20+ free, local over-the-air (OTA) TV channels in Solano and Yolo Counties, and most of them in high-definition (HD).

What Kind of TV Programming Can I Get?

With OTA TV, you likely will have access to all of the major networks including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, Ion, My58, Univision, Me-TV, LiveWell Network,  and other stations. Watch the same TV shows on those local networks as you do now, but for free!

You do NOT get the national cable/satellite networks like Fox News, MSNBC, The Food Network, History Channel, etc., but you can watch many pre-recorded episodes of those networks online via Internet TV (iTV). The other drawback is that you do NOT have live access to EPSN or NFL Network programming like MNF and TNF. But you will get those on your local OTA network if it's a home team (e.g., 49ers or Raiders). You can also subscribe to many sports events (including MLB, NFL, etc.) via a subscription online.

Hate Commercials? Want to Record Shows? Get a DVR

Want to record shows for later viewing? Need to pause or rewind live TV? Then you might want a DVR.

You only have a few options, but the brands include:

  • TiVo Premiere (one-time cost plus $15/month subscription). Very easy to use.

  • TiVo Roamio (one-time cost plus $15/month subscription). Very easy to use.

  • Channel Master CM-7000
    (Getting harder to find, but available on eBay/Amazon; one-time cost plus $0/month subscription. Get the DVR NOT the converter box)

  • Channel Master CM-7400
    (Getting harder to find, but available on eBay/Amazon; one-time cost plus $0/month subscription. Get the DVR NOT the converter box)

  • Rumor has it that Channel Master is working on the next generation DVR!

All have TV Guides, good DVR features and are user-friendly for setup and use. The TiVo Romio and Premiere costs about half the price of the Channel Master DVRs, but TiVos requires a $15/month subscription fee (else you can pay a $500 lifetime subscription).

NOTE: Only the TiVo Premiere works with OTA antennas (not the TiVo Premiere 4 or TiVo Premiere XL4 or earlier series DVRs). The TiVo Roamio is another good choice for OTA antennas.

Titan TV Guide

If you don't need a DVR, and your TV doesn't have a TV Guide built in, you can jump on the Internet and go to Titan TV and setup the online TV Guide for "Broadcast" and "Sacramento-Stockton Metro" area.

Plus, if you are looking for a particular TV show or movie, you can use Titan TV's "search for programming" feature to see when it's on and on what channel.

If you have a smartphone, you can even download the TitanTV app.

Where Do I Start?

CHECK: The first thing you want to do is go to the FCC DTV website or TVFool.com and plug-in your street address. That will give you an idea of the channels you can get.

BUY: Next, buy a TV antenna! It's about $55. We've tested TV antennas and have found the following to work well for Solano and Yolo Counties:

The RCA ANT751R Outdoor Antenna Optimized for Digital Reception (shown above) for Solano County and most Yolo County customers aiming for the Sacramento broadcast towers.

Alternatively, the Winegard HD7694P High Definition VHF/UHF Antenna if you want to hang it in your attic.

Tip: DO NOT go overboard on the antenna strength or start off with amplifiers and signal boosters. Adding too far-reaching an antenna or adding amplifiers might actually make your signal worse! Start off with the basic antenna and only amplify the signal if you find you need to. Else you'll get interference, distortion, and other poor picture quality effects.

DIY INSTALL: If you have an old, unused satellite dish on your roof, just take it down, hang the TV antenna in that spot, point it toward the Sacramento coordinates from the FCC DTC website (Step 1), and connect the coaxial cable from the old satellite dish to the new TV antenna. Since the cabling and antenna arm are already installed from the satellite, most of the hard work is already done.

Or you could install the antenna in your attic and run cables from there.

If you have an active satellite TV subscription and don't want to remove the dish until you have tested the OTA TV antenna, then just mount the OTA antenna to the satellite mount (below the dish) or on a pole, and temporarily use the coax cable from the dish for the antenna. Remember to disconnect the coax inside from the dish DVR.

CONNECT UP: Inside the house, run a coaxial cable from the wall jack to the back of your TV. Set the TV to "antenna" and scan for channels. Then adjust the antenna for the best signal strength for the channels you want. You may need to repeat the aiming and scanning a few times. We found that Fox 40.1 is the hardest channel to get, so find the BEST signal for Fox 40.1 and the rest should be fine.

If you have a newer TV, it's likely a digital-ready TV. If you have an old-school, analog TV, you will need a digital-to-analog signal converter box. The one I tested is a Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Box (for Antenna Use).

Tip: The higher the TV antenna, the better the signal will likely be (like ≥9 ft).

Need help setting this up? Hire local handyman, Phil Whitmore, at N-His-Service Handyman (707) 365-5139. He installed his!

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