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Cable and satellite TV bills are high. There are few in Canada who haven’t felt the pinch of paying for access to hundreds of channels in order to watch a fraction of that. Depending on where you live, you can gain access to some of the most popular network channels in both Canada and the United States. With the right gear, you can also watch those channels throughout your home.

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Big networks, like CBC, CTV, City and Global (NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX in the U.S.), all broadcast their respective channels free over the air (OTA). A digital antenna can pick up those channels freely like an old pair of rabbit ears, except it’s easier to lock onto channels unlike the old analog days.

Philips Amplified Indoor/Outdoor Antenna

With the weather warming up, you may want to consider installing this antenna outside. Location and placement do matter though, as you’re naturally looking to aim it where you can catch the most channels. The best way to do that is to try it in a few different positions around your home to see where you get the most clear channels. 

It is weatherproof and can be painted to blend with your home’s colours or to make it less conspicuous. If you’re in a condo or apartment, or would prefer not to mount it outdoors, you can put it up somewhere indoors instead. Ideally, you want to put it by a window so that it has a view toward where the signals are coming from.

Tablo

This set top box is an interesting fusion of OTA TV and the Internet. Basically, you plug in the digital antenna directly into the Tablo, which scans for whatever channels it can bring in, and then lets you stream them live on any compatible device. The baked-in software organizes all the shows and movies in a guide so you know what’s playing and when. You can also browse by show or movie in a user-friendly grid layout.

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Tablo has two tuners built-in with DVR capabilities, enabling it to stream one channel live, while recording another at the same time. It doesn’t have any internal storage, so you would have to use an external hard drive and plug it into one of the two ports in the back. Bear in mind that the drive should be empty because the Tablo does format it when you first set it up (which erases everything on it), and that it can’t be larger than 2TB.

It’s also important to note that the Tablo doesn’t need to be connected to your TV — nor does it even have to be in the same room. You can set up the Tablo in one room where it’s better suited to pull in more channels, while you watch it somewhere else.

Google Chromecast

The Chromecast makes it easy to do that. Using the free app for Android tablets, you can stream from the Tablo and then cast it over to the TV with one tap. If you have a Chromecast for every TV in the home, you essentially have access to the Tablo throughout the home. However, you can’t stream live to more than one simultaneously, unless one of the streams is of a previously-recorded program.

Of course, you can also make use of the Tablo app for iPad to stream to a TV using AirPlay with an Apple TV. The same goes for the Roku, which has a dedicated Tablo channel.

The free apps for Android phones and the iPhone (and iPod Touch) are actually Web apps that use your phone’s mobile browser, but you download them directly from Google Play and the App Store, respectively.

A great option for cutting your cable is taking advantage of the free over-the-air broadcasts, and a Tablo-based system with an indoor/outdoor antenna is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to do so. Add Chromecast or the Tablo app on your platform of choice and your system is easy to use and easy on the pocket with no monthly fees.

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Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada, CBC.ca, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.