Leaf HDTV antenna = HDTV for free!

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You know we’re always coming up with new and creative ways to help you set up or maximize your home entertainment system on the cheap. Think Geek just presented another free tv hack to the masses — Leaf. With Leaf you don’t pay for cable, or you could keep paying for cable and use Leaf to get access to tv in more rooms.

Check this shit out:

Leaf Paper Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna
Leaf is a way for you to enjoy TV without paying a cable bill (or expanding to a new room without paying for an additional cable box). The patent pending Leaf indoor television antenna is a paper thin antenna that connects to your TV and mounts on the wall, enabling you to receive free over-the-air broadcasts.

If you’re ready to make the leap away from cable or satellite, give Leaf a try. (You can set it up as “Video 2” on your TV and compare the picture quality! Many channels look better over air) Don’t pay for hundreds of channels you don’t watch when you can get the essentials on your own terms. Hooray, technology!

The paper-thin panel is also reversible — black on one side, white on the other — so you can pick the side that matches your space the best (or hide Leaf behind some artwork: it will still work!). And it’s only $40!

And just for LULZ: A customer asked “Would this work in Australia?” And someone else responded “Yes, but you’ll have to flip it upside down.”

Seriously though, I’m considering this for my home. Anyone have experience with something like this?

Comments on Leaf HDTV antenna = HDTV for free!

  1. We don’t have this one specifically, but have used a digital antenna with great success. I am not sure how this one will work, but the one tip I can share that might cross over is that we hung ours from the ceiling above the TV for the best reception. I’m not super tech savvy though, I am the crazy lady that screams for one remote and blows in the DVD player like it is an old NES.

    • I think the product description on Think Geek is worded a bit misleadingly. You won’t get free cable channels (that would be awesome, but illegal). I think it’s basically an HD converter box (except, flat and sleek). A few years ago public TV channels in the US started being broadcast differently. You get basic public broadcast channels (NBC, ABC, Fox, etc.), but they’re broadcast digitally in HD and you need a device like this to receive them. It’s the rabbit ears of our generation.

  2. I have this set-up in my living room and bedroom. I found a couple of these flat indoor antennas on Amazon for about half what is quote herein. My set-up is as follows:

    Old school TV with flat antenna and digital converter, plus streaming DVD player. Result: All broadcast TV is free (There are about 30+ channels of broadcast TV nowadays, including exclusive kids channels, retro TV channels, international channels, public channels, DIY channels, etc. Everything you pay for on cable, you can get free over the air!). In addition, I can watch Netflixs by streaming through the DVD player.

    The converters and TVs were free on Craigslist. [Craigslist lists at least two or three old school flatscreen TVs for free every week. Peoples be crazy with all their throwing out of perfectly good stuff just so they can “upgrade” obsessions.]

    I haven’t missed cable at all. Not one little bit. Even cable exclusives like True Blood or Boardwalk empire (which I didn’t get with my cable subscription anyway), I can just watch on my computer, so — to my mind — it just doesn’t make sense to pay for cable.

  3. I feel like there’s a little marketing confusion here… I’m going to put on my Amature Radio Operater hat (callsign KD2ADP) and lets talk about radio waves and antennae.

    First up, this is just an antenna. It’s got a nice design so you don’t have rabbit ears in your kitchen, but ultimately it’s an antenna. It won’t have any effect on your cable TV subscription.

    If it’s been a while since you looked at broadcast TV, a lot has changed! TV is now broadcast over ATSC, aka “digital broadcast.” You’ll need a special *tuner* in your TV, which any TV purchased after March 1, 2007 is required by law to have.

    A lot of antennae are marketed as “HDTV” antennae. So what makes an antenna an HD antenna? It depends on what radio frequencies (TV signals are sent via radio wave) you can pick up with it.

    The short answer is: you need a UHF / VHF antenna, and any Weird Al fan knows those have been around for ages.

    RF is the lowest frequencies (Radio Frequencies), followed by VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency). Antenna designs vary, and antennae are usually designed for specific frequencies (also called bands). Most if not all digital channels in the US are on VHF/UHF now. Most quality TV antennas can carry both.

    What this means in layman’s terms is that there is nothing “special” about an “hd antenna,” it’s just a VHF/UHF antenna which you might even already have. Or you might not – really old antennae are really only set up for RF signals. Remember when TVs only had a dial that went from 2 – 14? Oh, you don’t? Well now I feel old. Well, that’s RF.

    There are good antenna designs and bad ones, so if the rabbit ears you’ve been using aren’t cutting it you may need to invest in a better antenna. And this under-cabinet mounted one from Think Geek is sexy looking! But if you’ve got an antenna lying around, give it a shot first. You might be surprised how many stations you can get with it.

  4. You will not get cable channels (i.e., Discovery, CNN, National Geographic, History Channel, ESPN, etc–basically, anything you need to pay a cable or satellite company in order to actually see) with this device. The description on the source website is very poorly written and allows readers to infer that they could get cable for free. The only channels you will get for “free” with this device are broadcast channels, such as NBC, ABC, Fox, and any additional stations broadcast by local affiliates or PBS…which are free anyway. Basically, this is just a really fancy digital antenna, no different from ones you can already buy at Best Buy or Wal-Mart, except for its design and higher price (my digital antenna cost about $30).

    The description on ThinkGeek does not explain how this is supposed to “supplement” your tv channels if you’re already paying for cable, so I’m a little confused about that.

    But yeah, you won’t get actual cable channels for free. You will get broadcast channels, which are free BECAUSE they are broadcast, and which cable companies are required to carry as part of their service (and which some people therefore think are cable channels).

    • I think by “supplement” they mean “You can continue to pay for cable in your living room, and set this up in your back bedroom so you get the basic broadcast channels in there”.

    • Some cable/satellite packages don’t include stations such as your local network affiliates. Maybe it means “supplement” like “hey, you can get your local channels with this antenna while still paying for your cable channels, too.”

  5. We have DTV converters hooked up to the TVs in our bedroom and guest room. I like being able to watch the news while I get dressed in the morning, but that’s pretty much all we use it for. It gets about 30 channels – news, weather, local arts station, things like that. When the FCC made the switch to digital broadcast, there was a program that helped folks get free or discounted converters (since they would have been unable to get reception without one). Not sure if programs like that are still in place. We still have cable on the TV in our living room.

    The thing that was a game changer waaay more than a DTV converter for us was getting a Roku. Super easy to hook up to our TV and ta da! instant streaming of all my Amazon Prime stuff, Netflix etc. Some new TVs have wireless internet connectivity built in, ours isn’t that fancy so we got the Roku.

  6. I agree with everyone who is saying you won’t actually get cable TV channels. However, you will get free broadcast stations (there are actually quite a few of them, at least here in NYC!) and generally they come through pretty well. It’s still an antenna so you still have to adjust it sometimes, and if there is a thunderstorm sometimes the signal isn’t so great. But! You pay for it once and you get TV for as long as it keeps working, which is pretty sweet and a good investment (as long as you aren’t a TV addict, I guess!).

  7. Holy Jesus how confusing. We do not have a tv and I do not want one in my house. I take that back. I totally refuse to have one, ever, for any reason. Once in a great while we want to watch something on tv though (Olympics? Current true blood season?) and would prefer to use our giant computer screen to do so. How?! The above tech commentary could be written in Italian for all I know.

    • The only way to get broadcast TV stations over the air on your computer is to use what’s called a TV tuner card. This allows your computer to pick up radio signals. They’re available for both desktops and laptops, and the good ones are around $60 to $100.

  8. You must’ve read my mind! For the last week or so I’ve been researching cancelling cable and I JUST SAW the Leaf like 2 days ago. I hate that I’m so hesitant about giving up Cupcake Wars, and Sons of Anarchy starts in just 12 short days! How could I POSSIBLY give up cable now?!

  9. We, sadly, live in an area of poor reception – I’d love to save a few bucks and stop paying for broadcast basic cable. Check online to see what channels get good reception where you live, an inside antenna might not be enough if you get poor reception.

    • this exactly! i would *love* to just buy an antenna for “local” channels, but since my “local” channels broadcast from a neighboring state, i can’t pick them up. bummer.

      so, advice: if you live in a rural area, you can check online and see which channels you can get with an antenna before you buy one. do this.

    • Checking what reception you can expect to get seems to be really important. I bought one of these only to discover that all our local channels broadcast from 40 miles away or more when the range of this antenna is only 38 miles. I find this strange, since I live in a very urban area I would have expected that this would not have been a problem.

      I’m returning it now. Anyone have any suggestions for a slightly stronger indoor antenna?

      I was hoping to use this to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade broadcast (which you can’t get on the internet, except for a web cam type thing with no sound) but now I’m out of luck. It is rare that I want to watch TV, but sometimes it is useful.

  10. We have a pair of old school bunny ears in the back of our fancy pants HDTV. My huz thinks it’s totally ghetto fab to have a super high tech 46″ HDTV with bunny ears with tin foil hiding behind it. So of course, I LOVE IT. The glory of HDTV is that the over the air stations either come in, or don’t. There are no fuzzy stations. We get about 13 channels (10 on cloudy days). I cant seem to get NBS and ABC at the same time, so I watched the Olympics, then had to adjust the angle to watch Greys Anatomy. This device looks cool, and my huz would love it, if only to ditch the $5 radio shack purchase (tin foil and all).

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