Antenna: Young people might not believe it, but there was a time when this was the only way to get television. A preponderance of broadcast stations enables most residents to get a variety of TV offerings with a low-cost antenna. You can even make an HD antenna out of coat hangers.
Internet: Recent televisions with built-in online connections can get a lineup of Internet-delivered programming. Offerings vary by television brands, but some online programming is free. Hulu, for example, offers some free shows, with others on its paid service. Netflix streams unlimited movies and TV selections for a monthly fee.
Set-top boxes: The Apple TV box, which costs about $100, allows you to stream programming gotten for free or fee through Apple, or from services such as Netflix and Twitter. With the latest Mac operating system, it also can display your computer screen on the TV. Google TV—which comes via boxes selling for $100 or $200, and is built into some premium TV models—also allows the streaming of free and paid content and displays the Web. Not surprisingly, you can do a Web search via Google TV.
Satellite: This is not a cheap alternative, but satellite-delivered TV does offer some services not available elsewhere, including the NFL network from DirecTV. And Dish Network has its controversial Hopper DVR that cuts out commercials.
Phone company: Also not particularly cheap, but major land-line phone companies often offer TV service, too. It’s usually offered in package deals that can include phone, TV and Internet. (Many cable companies offer similar packages.)
©2012 Los Angeles Times
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