I dumped cable several years ago and use a digital antenna with my Panasonic Smart TV to watch all local channels (ABC, NBC, MeTV, etc.). I also have a subscription to Netflix. Everything was going great until MeTV moved Perry Mason to 9:00AM Eastern (from 10:00AM). That threw me off my morning schedule.
Due to a momentary lapse in sanity, I considered getting basic cable with a DVR, which would have given me a $30 monthly bill. Fortunately, I found a solution for a one-time payment of $29. It works perfectly with equipment I already had.
At this writing, this solution does not work on Smart TVs.
Test the Signal. Based on your home’s location such as the proximity to the towers, trees around, etc., you may get lots of channels, a few, or none. This site supposedly allows you to find out, but it didn’t work for me. It said no channels were available in my Zip Code, but I have plenty. My advice is to buy a good antenna, run the scan, and test it yourself.
iView Digital Converter Box. This converter box is designed to record programs that it receives through an HD antenna. I thought I’d be able to use the converter box on my Smart TV, but that didn’t work (others have reported that they’ve been able to get it to work on a Smart TV). Fortunately, I have an old analog color TV that works great. (This unit also works on HDTVs, but I wasn’t able to get it to work on my Smart TV. Others reported success with that, however.)
Here is a newer version of this converter box, but it still doesn’t offer the weekday recording option, and it costs a little more (I unplug my external hard drive on the weekends so it won’t record). Reading through the reviews, the only improvement is the layout of the remote control (which needed that!).
Digital Antenna. The above image shows an antenna plugged into the iView Digital Converter. I also connected an external hard drive to the converter since it doesn’t provide storage. I have two antennas, and here is a link to the newest one.
External Hard Drive. I’ve scheduled the recordings of Perry Mason at 9:00-10:00AM and again at 11:30PM-12:30AM. There is no option to choose weekdays, so I had to choose daily (I hope a future software update will add weekday option). I have the 1TB hard drive, and here is a link to the newer 2 TB unit.)
Extra USB Cable. I like watching the show on the big screen (my Smart TV) so I have to unplug the external hard drive from the iView and plug it into a USB port on the side of the Smart TV. My TV is mounted, so this isn’t convenient. I bought the extra USB cable that works with my hard drive and leave one in the iView and one in the Smart TV. No more fumbling to reach the USB port.
On my Smart TV, I simply plug the external hard drive into the USB cable that I leave in the TV, open the Media Center, go to Videos, and click to play any scheduled recording.
The iView Digital Converter box has other functions such as pause when playing. Check out all the details and reviews on Amazon.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Or if you have alternate solutions, let us know.