Aereo has finally arrived in Denver and other locations across the US, we thought it would be helpful to review Aereo and compare it to other free TV options available to Cord Cutters. Aereo is a service that provides Live and DVR access to Network TV (+ Bloomberg) through some Internet Connected Devices. Instead of having an “old school” Over The Air (OTA) Antenna at your home, Aereo warehouses and rents miniature TV antennas that capture local OTA Network TV broadcasts, which are then streamed to their customers over the Internet. Since the Networks are NOT being compensated by Aereo, they have Sued Aereo in almost every new market and are now taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our Aereo Review found some major differences from what you might be used to with your traditional TV service..
- To use Aereo you need both an Internet Connection and an Internet Connected Device to access Aereo on your TV (via a Roku or Apple TV w/ AirPlay-only supported for now), or you can also view Aereo directly on a PC, as well as some tablets and smartphones.
- The TV guide and viewing experience will also be another big change from what you are used to, since Aereo is more Program based as opposed to the traditional Channel and Time based TV setup. Your TV guide has gotten a serious makeover, channel surfing is replaced by more button pushing and your live show stops when it’s done until another show is selected (not good if you are in the middle of the big game).
- Aereo DOES have a monthly fee-$8/mo. for 20 hours of DVR space + 1 tv tuner or $12/mo. for 60 hours + 2 show DVR/viewing capability which most typical DVRs offer. Most Aereo subscribers will need to upgrade to the $12/mo. plan, without it you can only watch or record one show on one device-this will only work if you are single and watch barely any TV. However even the most expensive Aereo option of $12 a month is obviously a drop in the bucket when compared to the average Cable or Satellite bill of almost $100 a month.
- With Aereo your TV experience relies on your internet connection speed and quality. I noticed the picture briefly froze every once in a while, which could be a deal breaker for some. Thinking about when you sit down to relax on your couch to watch your favorite team but the TV freezes up every few plays right at the crucial moment of the game!?! Live content seemed to have more buffering issues than recorded TV, so maybe the technology that they are using for their real time transcoding and compression is a bit weak. I have 50 MBPS so my streaming quality is pretty good HD, but still seemed a bit less than an OTA antenna. This isn’t noticeable on the small screen of a smartphone or tablet, but when you blow it up on your big screen HDTV you will see a bit lesser quality than an OTA HD Antenna straight from the source. network congestion, and the stream buffers-this can be lessened by adjusting Aereo’s picture quality setting, but obviously it’s a trade-off.
If you are in a good area to receive Basic HD TV Antenna reception, I question why you would want to pay Aereo every month for the same HDTV you can get for free-without an internet connection or any additional internet connected devices? You can buy an HD TV Antenna (+ add in a basic DVR/HD Digital Converter Box for less than $50) and have it work on all the TVs in your entire house, for a 1x fee that is less than the cost of a few months worth of Aereo service-which will cost most folks over $140 a year. Additionally, if you are worried about losing other Cable TV shows or the other conveniences of Cable and Satellite (traditional TV Guide, DVR, On Demand, etc.), than your Best Option Is A Media Center PC – which still has no monthly fee!
In general this Aereo review covers all Cord Cutters, although one thing that I thought was specifically interesting as an early Aereo adopter in the Denver, CO Front Range area was the gigantic “local” coverage area. In my area, Aereo is even better news for people that live outside the Denver metro area and/or folks that can’t get Over The Air (OTA) Antenna coverage at their location! This is especially relevant when you look at the huge Aereo service area map that covers Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Amazingly it encompasses many places where you would not be able to receive a regular OTA HD Antenna signal-you can even get service in the Colorado Mountains (think cheap TV in your condo or rental), on the Eastern Colorado plains, as well as Nebraska and Wyoming too?!?
From the perspective of a Cord Cutter here are some other Pros and Cons of Aereo – when compared to other free TV alternatives to Cable and Satellite (I tried to list theses in order of importance, based off of my experience from working directly with my cord cutting customers over the last 3 years):
- Cheaper than paying over $1000 every year to for Cable or Satellite.
- If you are in your local area, you can access Aereo on most internet connected devices-including your smartphone, tablet, or PC (although I have a new Galaxy Note 2 which was not supported).
- You don’t need a TV. The younger generation will embrace this, but this could be a con for everyone else-I have a hard time seeing my parents take this one on…
- It’s a great option for the cord cutter that doesn’t live near the Denver Metro area and can’t get any HD TV Antenna reception. Heck you can even get service in your Ski Condo in the Mountains, the Eastern Colorado plains, as well as Nebraska and Wyoming!
- Seems to be a good fit for single folks, apartment dwellers, people that are on the go (locally only), or anyone that can not get a good HD TV Antenna signal for free TV.
- More expensive than other Free TV Options, since most folks will be paying $12 every month, compared to $0 a month for the same High Definition TV via an HD TV Antenna. With Aereo you will pay over $140 annually for service plus you will potentially have to buy a Internet Connected Device, for every TV in your home.
- You will need to combine Aereo with another Internet Connected Device to view it on your TV. The bigger your family, or the more TVs you have, will make this an even bigger challenge. An HD TV Antenna can be hooked directly into an unlimited number of TVs to get live HD TV for no monthly fee.
- The User Interface, TV Guide and DVR are a bit slow and clunky plus a big change from what the average person is used to with traditional TV. There is no channel surfing, changing channels is slow and when a program ends you must push more buttons to back to the main UI to find a new show-if you like the good old fashioned way instead than check out a Easy To Use Media Center PC.
- It only works in your local area-most folks are used to having a streaming service (like Netflix) that seamlessly work wherever they are.
- You have to have an internet connection and your TV experience is tied to your internet connection speed/quality. I noticed freezing and buffering from time to time. This can be lessened by adjusting Aereo’s picture quality settings, but obviously it’s a trade-off.
- Constant legal issues looming in the background, versus FCC back OTA antenna reception that has been government sponsored for decades
- Aereo is expanding to most major cities (and obviously has a large coverage area around those cities), but it is still only available limited markets.
- It is limited to mainly the Network Channels and shows same as an Antenna. Obviously Aereo can not get you the Cable shows like Pay TV offers-if you need more channels/shows you will need a solution such as a Robust Media Center PC or Internet Connected Device.
Conclusion Aereo is great news for Consumers-it’s always good to have options, right? Aereo offers a good service, that will only get better-if it doesn’t get sued out of existence… It’s not for all Cord Cutters, but in the right situation it is an excellent solution. It’s a good fit if you are young, single and have an internet connected device(s) to hook to your TV, or if you don’t have a physical TV and are ok with watching on a tablet or PC. It would also seem to fit the bill if a coax cable make you nervous or you live in a spot where you can’t get good antenna reception (Fill out the Contact Form Here and we will check to see if you are in a good coverage area, plus make sure you are using the correct antenna, tv tuner, etc.-all for FREE). For most people an HD TV Antenna can be had for much less money over the long run and it offers a more traditional viewing experience on your TVs. Channel surfing, channel swapping, better reception and direct viewing on ALL of the TVs throughout your home without a separate device-all using the “good ole’ remote control”. The increasing market penetration of Internet Connected Devices, rapid technology advances, shift in viewing habits and the ongoing Cord Cutting climate will allow Aereo to prosper in the next few years-if only it can survive the constant legal onslaught from the Networks. I look forward to seeing what the future brings and will update this post as Aereo changes, plus will try to add an Aereo comparison chart and Aereo video review as well.