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Friday, August 16, 2013

AEREO TV Is Now Available In Utah! A first look at AEREO in Utah.


Aereo has now opened the doors to its "over the top" video service to all Utah residents. It is offering a free month of service to new customers through this link:

For those that don't know about AEREO, it is a service that uses individual antennas and tuners assigned to each subscriber to deliver local OTA broadcast TV channels over the internet. It also provides a program guide (1 week into the future) as well as a cloud-based DVR service that allows you to store 20 or 60 hours of content, depending on your plan. The cost is $8 a month for the 20 hour plan, and $12 for the 60 hour plan that allows watching or recording 2 programs at once.

From Wikipedia:
Aereo is a technology company based in New York City that allows subscribers to view live as well as time-shifted streams of over-the-air television on Internet-connected devices. Immediately following Aereo's launch in New York City the company was sued by a consortium of major broadcasters, including CBS, Comcast's NBC, Disney's ABC and Newscorp's Fox for copyright infringement. On April 1, 2013, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling, finding that Aereo’s streams to subscribers were not "public performances", and thus did not constitute copyright infringement.

Aereo's technology allows subscribers to view live broadcast content and to record it for later viewing. As of October 2012, Aereo can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs  with a compatible browser or iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Apple TV (2nd & 3rd Gen) via AirPlay. A Roku video player can be used also. Monthly plans start at $8 for 20 hours of DVR storage. Aereo provides this service by leasing to each user an individual remote antenna. This distinguishes Aereo from purely internet-based streaming services
I've had AEREO for just 3 days now, and while I'm not an expert on AEREO by any means, here's my first impression.

Here in Utah, the channel lineup is as follows:

2.1 KUTV
2.2 KMYU
4.1 KTVX
4.2 MeTV
5.1 KSL
5.2 Live Well
5.3 Local Weather (They have it listed it as NBC Plus)
7.1 KUED
7.2 World
7.3 V/me
9.1 KUEN
9.2 MHz
11.1 KBYU
11.2 BYU TV
11.3 BYU International (They have it listed as Create)
13.1 KSTU
13.2 Antenna TV
14.1 KJZZ
16.1 ION
16.2 Qubo
16.3 ION Life
16.4 Infomercials
20.1 KTMW
20.2 BIZ TV
20.3 Infomercials
20.4 RED ADVenir
24.1 Estrella TV
30.1 KUCW
30.2 TCN Country

Bloomberg TV is also included. Other channels may be added in the future, but at this time the service is lacking a few local Salt Lake channels. These are mostly LP and Spanish language channels. While other AEREO cities such as New York restrict service to the metro area served, I believe Utah's extensive translator network that brings OTA TV to most residents of the state allows AEREO to provide their service to all of Utah. 

What is there to like about AEREO?
The DVR is one of the things I like about AEREO, along with a program guide that goes out a week. There aren't many OTA PVRs out there, and none of them are really good save a media computer with tuners, and that's just a pain for most people. My $50 HomeWorx PVR does the job, but it's still not a "perfect" solution. It also has the ION channels (Ion, Qubo, and Ion Life) that aren't available in Cache valley. Video is either 480i or 720p, and for the most part it is good quality with minimal buffering and the video is smooth enough for fast action such as sports.

What don't I like about AEREO?
On the basic plan, I can only watch or record one show at a time, so I can't watch one show while recording another, or watch 2 different shows on 2 devices at once. If you want to watch one program while recording another, you need to pay for the $12/ month plan.  Also, it is one show at a time - for example, if I start watching the local news at 5pm, at the end of the 5pm news AEREO goes back to the channel guide. I would prefer it to be a continuous stream, and automatically continue on that channel as it goes to the national news. I can understand how that could lead to someone accidentally leaving it on and blowing their bandwidth cap for the month, but it's really a pain to have to scroll back through the guide to the channel you were watching and start again. I was kind of hoping I could put on Qubo for the kids and have them watch for an hour or so uninterrupted. Instead, I have to start the next show myself. While my 2 year old has mastered Netflix and PBS Kids on the Roku, the interface for AEREO is a little bit much for him. 

Who is a good candidate for AEREO service?
While the channels AEREO offers (Except for Bloomberg) are available in most areas of the state free with an antenna, some people just can't get these channels due to being in an apartment, or due to their remote location or mountainous terrain in the state that blocks signals. In these areas, the only other options are paid TV or FTA satellite. Pay TV will cost you a minimum of $30 a month plus taxes and fees - lets call it $40 a month. And none of these other paid services (Comcast, Dish, DirecTV) offers a DVR with these low price packages. So, if you are on a limited budget and live in an area where you can get internet but no reliable OTA TV, then AEREO may be just what you need.

Who shouldn't bother with AEREO?
If you already have an antenna and are happy with it, don't bother. If you want the DVR functionality, I suggest the HomeWorx HW-150PVR and a USB HDD. If you have a pay TV service that has channels you want that aren't in the AEREO lineup, you'll probably be better off keeping that service. As for me, I am sticking with my antenna and PVR, along with my Roku and FTA satellite system.
While AEREO has been deemed legal for now, lawsuits are ongoing. Courts have decided that AEREO may continue while these lawsuits continue. The way I see it, AEREO has a strong case to continue operating. (IANAL). But the Pay TV industry and networks have deep pockets, and there is nothing stopping them from buying a few congresscritters - in addition to the ones they already own - and getting the law changed. Until then, it's all good.

So give AEREO a try - it won't cost anything for a one month free trial: AEREO free trial offer

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