Sound Recommendation: Antenna is usually a workaround to cable standoff

Q: Did you know that Mediacom subscribers in the Twin Cities have been shut out of watching NBC? Mediacom is in a dispute with TEGNA, and, ironically, this happened after a rate increase. My cost for TV and internet service (I have a dumbed-down package, far from the most expensive) has gone up 100% in less than four years. It is ridiculous that we do not get a major network like NBC, especially after all these price increases.

A: Disputes between media companies and cable and satellite providers are relatively common, with both sides complaining and pointing fingers at the other for their inability to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. It is my experience that the disputes are resolved over time, and the channels return, but it is viewers who pay the price as they miss their favorite programming.

You can watch NBC for free with an antenna, and that is what I suggest you do. If you go to antennaweb.org and enter your ZIP code, the site will recommend the proper antenna for your area, as well as list the distance from and direction to the transmitting towers. For your ZIP code, a medium-sized, directional outdoor antenna will pick up the signal from KARE (as well as the other broadcast stations). This likely will cost several hundred dollars professionally installed. You can try an indoor antenna first. The $119 Antop AT-500SBS (antopusa.com) and $75 Antennas Direct ClearStream MAX-V indoor/outdoor antenna with optional stand (antennasdirect.com) should work.

Given your frustration, it sounds like you might be close to cutting the cord. An antenna pulling in lots of channels will make that a lot easier to do. I have friends who were shocked at how many channels they could get with their antenna, and combined with a few streaming services, they don’t miss cable at all. Just keep in mind that the streaming service subscriptions can add up, but by shopping for bundled packages, you should be able to get most, if not all, of the programming you want for under $50 a month.

Code correction

I received numerous reader e-mails stating the $10 discount code for the StormBox Micro speaker did not work. Tribit has acknowledged a problem with the code, and to simplify things, they have changed it to a $10 checkbox coupon, bringing the price down to $39.99. The deal is available on amazon.com until Jan. 24.

If you did not see the original column about the speaker, it comes with my highest recommendation for its sound and versatility and includes a strong strap for securing to backpacks and bicycle handlebars.

Another noteworthy deal is the ZVOX AV100 for $99, reduced from $169. The AV100 is a tiny version of a ZVOX TV speaker with surprisingly big sound and six levels of AccuVoice boost. If you want a smaller television speaker to use with a bedroom TV or a computer monitor, this is your chance. The promotion is available on zvox.com and amazon.com.

Send questions to Don Lindich at donlindich@gmail.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.

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