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TV alternatives with Cable/Internet/TV Provider.

Posted on 2014-11-04
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Last Modified: 2014-11-18
Hello, I have a business that wants to add 8 TVs.  We use a cable service which we have TV, Phone and Internet.  The provider is Comcast.

These TVs are for children to watch while at the Dentist.  We mount them to the ceiling so they look up.

I am looking for alternatives to hooking up TVs rather than using the cable TV tuner from the cable company. Their cost is $10 to $15 per month per TV.  

NOTE: I am NOT looking for something that is illegal or would void the contract with my cable provider!  I talked to the provider and they said we can purchase a third party "box" that would allow us to change channels per TV.

Any product recommendations for HD and basic TV "boxes"?
Any vendor recommendations?

How can I make sure the signal strengths for this distribution work correctly?
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Question by:tucktech
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9 Comments
 
LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Phillip Burton
Phillip Burton earned 70 total points
ID: 40421555
Buy a TV with a build in DVD player, and then you have the choice of what DVDs the children watch using a remote control.
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Author Comment

by:tucktech
ID: 40421562
The TVs will be on the ceiling so the children look up.  I could buy a seperate dvd player..
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LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Phillip Burton
Phillip Burton earned 70 total points
ID: 40421568
You only need one compilation children DVD, and insert it into a TV with a built in DVD player.
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Author Comment

by:tucktech
ID: 40421575
True...  that is a valid alternative.
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

by:
garycase earned 240 total points
ID: 40421749
A few thoughts ...

r.e. "... How can I make sure the signal strengths for this distribution work correctly?" => Just use a good distribution amplifier.    This is a very good unit:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/ELECTROLINE-EDA-FT08100-ACTIVE-RETURN-CABLE-AMPLIFIER-/350302466989?pt=US_Signal_Amplifiers_Filters&hash=item518fa773ad

That would be sure all TV's had a good RF signal, but doesn't eliminate the need for a cable company tuner UNLESS the channels you want to access don't require it.    Have you connected the incoming RF directly to one of your TVs and done an initial channel search?    Depending on the TVs you have, you may be surprised.

Assuming it's not that simple, then there are several other alternatives ...

(1)  If you have adequate internet bandwidth, you could simply run Ethernet cable instead of RF to the TVs, and install a Roku box with each TV.    https://www.roku.com/products/roku-2

Some of the channels you want may require subscription fees, but there are many free channels you can stream with the Roku:  http://www.freerokuchannels.com/list-free-roku-channels/

(2)  You could have one cable box for each channel you want to make available on the distributed TVs, and "feed" the output of that box into a modulator; then distribute the RF output of the modulator to your TVs.     This lets you add channels that can be tuned anywhere within your practice.   For example, you might have Channel 91 => Cable channel x;  Channel 92 => Cable channel y;  Channel 93 => Cable channel z;  Channel 94 => DVD Player  etc.

It's easy to add 4 channels with a simple modulator like this:  http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?p=5445&ss=348038

... you can daisy chain them if you need more than 4 channels.   [You can also buy FAR more expensive modulators that support stereo audio and HD, but that seems unnecessary for your application]
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LVL 95

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 100 total points
ID: 40422799
MEDIA CENTER!

You can get a couple of tuners (like two Ceton 4 tuner tuners or 3 HDHomeRun devices) and extenders.  You then rent cable cards from the cable company at somewhere between $4 and 10 per month TOTAL (I rent my cards for $2.50 each).

http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv-4-pcie/
http://www.silicondust.com/products/hdhomerun/prime/

Extenders include XBox 360 and several available on the ebay from Linksys and other companies.

Of course, why not just buy the occasional DVD and play on repeat (sounds like you're at a dentists office).  Change the DVD once a month. Or buy TVs that can play video off USB sticks.

Honestly, there are LOTS of solutions to this... the biggest question to me is what does the client want.
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LVL 70

Assisted Solution

by:garycase
garycase earned 240 total points
ID: 40423095
A Ceton 6-tuner card would work nicely -- but the issue with using Media Center is the hassle of the extenders.    Ceton Echos work very nicely, but will NOT work with Windows 8, so you have to use Windows 7 Media Center.    X-Box extenders work with either '7 or '8, but are fairly large devices -- probably not practical for the application outlined here.    As far as I know, there are no other devices still marketed that work as WMC extenders.
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LVL 25

Assisted Solution

by:Diverse IT
Diverse IT earned 90 total points
ID: 40433690
Cheap and easily maintainable route would by a Cable TV HDTV Amplifier Splitter Signal Booster. All you do is install this and connect your cable feed to it. Then from there connect all the TVs via cable. The only drawback is it is not individually operated meaning everyone will have to watch the same shows, much like you do at the TV section in Best Buy (except their setup is grossly over-saturated).

Cable TV HDTV Amplifier Splitter Signal Booster ($54)
http://www.amazon.com/Bi-Directional-Amplifier-Splitter-Booster-Passive/dp/B000WDR94U?tag=3d1080pledhdtv-20&linkCode=w13&linkID=PIYQPDSH3LPBVCGK&ref_=assoc_res_sw_result_1

Let me know if you have any questions!
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Author Closing Comment

by:tucktech
ID: 40450110
These are all valid solutions... still have not determined what to do for the client,  Thank you for your input and alternatives.
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