Weekly column: Antenna for HDTV, Monoprice iPod/iPad accessories

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Q.  I have a second home in South Florida and am considering getting rid of my cable service there to save money, since I am not there all the time.  For a long time I thought you had to have cable to get TV anymore and thought rabbit ears went out 30 years ago, and now people are talking about using them to get HDTV.  I figure the local channels will be enough for the time I spend there.  Is it hard to get TV with an antenna and will the picture look as good as it does as with cable? I currently have a high definition cable box with a 720p Panasonic plasma HDTV.

-Donald Carl, Milwaukee, WI

A.  There is a good chance the picture quality will actually be better than what you are getting now.  Most pay TV companies, both cable and satellite, take the original feed from the network and compress it before rebroadcast so they can fit more channels on their system.  If you get the signal with an antenna you are getting it in the original, unaltered form for the best possible picture quality.

Digital TV is very easy to receive, especially in Florida’s flat terrain.  Just connect the antenna, set the TV to receive signals from “Air ” or “Antenna” and run a channel scan.  You may find a few extra channels as a bonus as many local broadcasters have two or three channels on the digital band.  For example, where I live the NBC affiliate also broadcasts RTV, or Retro TV, and a weather channel on separate subchannels.

Holiday product highlight:  This week’s holiday product highlight goes out to those of you looking for a stocking stuffer for an iPad, iPod or iPhone lover.

Monoprice.com has made a lot of friends nationwide by selling top quality high-speed HDMI cables for $5 or less, compared to the $50+ often charged in stores.  It is a lot nicer to get your 3 HDMI cables for $15 instead of $150 or more! They now sell accessories for portable devices and the same high-quality, high-value equation still applies.

Want a USB dock for your iPad, iPhone of iPod?  Only $9.52.  How about a high transparency screen protector for an iPad?  They are $1.27 each.  An iPad case with integrated stand?  Yours for only $8.48.  A silicon case?  A mere $3.29. A sharp, modern folding adjustable aluminum stand?  That will be $10.08, please.  Radio alarm clock iPod/iPhone docks are $29.68 and $49.28.  If you have priced accessories in stores before, you know what a deal these prices are.  On the site there are a lot more products for Apple and other brands so be sure to check it out.

If you are shopping for someone who has all the accessories they need, consider a gift card to the iTunes store to help them buy more music and apps for their favorite device.  It is sure to be appreciated and used in short order. If you like game a few of my favorites are RC Plane 2, a flight simulator with great graphics, pleasant music and lots of airplanes, any version of Monopoly, and Battleship, which has been updated for the 21st century with animations and superweapons that can sink a ship with a single hit.

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