A week and a half ago, I received what seemed to be an unremarkable marketing email from a company pushing its product. I say unremarkable, because I receive a couple dozen of these every week. Every company claims to have the best product and typically these emails go to 1,000 people in hopes that a few dozen will write about the product. However, this one was kind of different. Rather than suggest I write about the product, the representative asked if there some way to pass the message along. Is short, they put the ball in my court.
I suggested that they give me one to try and one to give away to readers. The product is the Mohu Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna. It effectively does the job of the old rabbit ears, grabbing over the air signals bringing you free television.
Cutting Cable Television
I've been writing about getting rid of cable television since February of 2007. I have had a follow-up article more recently: Cutting the Cable TV (Part 2). I also have reduced my cable bill and looked into buying a cable box.
Though I write a big game, I haven't been able to follow it up with action. There have always been a couple stumbling blocks. I like football and baseball on ESPN. My wife likes the Travel channel on the weekends. However, watching these cable channels amount to just 1% of our television watching time. It seems terrible inefficient to pay $60 a month for 10 hours of television of a month.
Another piece of the puzzle is getting reception for free television. I bought an HDTV antenna in 2007 to see what channels I could get. Turns out we didn't get much... just one of the major networks. I ended up returning the antenna and getting my money back. The experiment was a failure.
Enter the Mohu Leaf
The Mohu Leaf arrived in the mail yesterday. It might be the least breath taking piece of electronics I have ever come across. It looks a little like a laminated sheet of 8x11 paper with an cord coming from it. If it wasn't for the cord, I would have thought it was kind of insert to protect the instruction booklet. I took it to the upstairs bedroom and plugged in it. The cord is just a standard coaxial cable. I simply unplugged my Comcast and plugged this in instead. I then taped it up wall, set the television to "air mode" and did a channel scan. Three minutes later the scan was done and I had ironically
I was floored by the number of stations available. The HDTV signals were gorgeous - easily as good as the cable television version.
Matt, a reader who read this article, bought a Mohu Leaf had this to say:
"I bought a Mohu Leaf after reading this article. I bought it even though I already had an HDTV antenna....we cut our cable last year. We live about 15-20 miles from the bulk of the broadcasting stations and my previous antenna (bought at Best Buy for a pretty penny) only picked up about half of the channels. I'm happy to say that after installing the Mohu Leaf, we now get about 40% more channels....almost every channel available OTA. I think this is a great product, and I'm not easy to please."
I can't say whether that's a typical result, but we are two satisfied owners.
Cutting the Cable Television (Take 2)
With a working HDTV antenna in place, we are significantly closer to cutting the cable. Streaming Netflix and Hulu as well as MLB.TV (which we need to pay to see the out of town Red Sox anyway), with over the air major networks fulfill just about everything we need. That includes ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars (on Hulu), which my wife got me addicted to.
There are still a couple of gotchas. Just because you can cut the cable, doesn't mean you should. For my wife, having the option to watch cable is valuable. Just knowing that the Travel channel is there means something. She said she is not quite ready to move away from cable, but that maybe a trial wouldn't be a bad thing.
The other gotcha is the use of our DVR. It seems like years since I've seen a commercial other than the truck and beer ones during sporting events. I've hooked up a computer to our television, but I'd need to investigate a replacement - possibly something from Hauppauge. That and it would be nice to not have a keyboard and mouse on the coffee table. Perhaps I need something like the Boxee remote.
So it's still a work in progress, but at least one with great potential to save money.
Win a Mohu Leaf (or just get a discount)
Let's get to the fun stuff. As much as I'd like to keep the second Mohu Leaf for our other television, I promised I'd give it away. So here's how it's going to work. Leave a comment between now and Sunday evening (March 20th) at 11:59PM PT if you are interested. Make sure you use a real email address, so I can contact you if you win. Those who give an interesting story on why they want a Mohu, impress me with their set up to cut the cable, or anything else interesting and related to getting free television legally, may get additional entries over the person who responds with, "I'd like to enter."
For those of you aren't feeling lucky Mohu has set you up with a $4 promotional code to use on buying on. On Amazon, buy the Mohu Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna with the promomotional code "lazyman1" for the discount.
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