You may have seen the advertisement in newspapers over the past year that reads like a news headline: "Invention pulls in free TV with no bills."
The invention? It's called the Clear Cast antenna, $60 with shipping and tax. According to the newspaper ad, it grabs up to "953 free TV shows with crystal clear picture" and no monthly bills.
Does it Work?
Tech blogger Chris Pagan unplugged his cable to try out the small antenna for us for five days.
Pagan's first impression: "Other than the fact it is very compact, there is little I can see that is different from anything else out there right now."
Pagan attached the paper thin rectangle close to a window, but he says it picked up 18 stations.
We emailed Brilliant Built Technologies, the company behind Clear Cast, and asked about its advertised 953 shows. A spokesperson explained: "This is based on new programming on the major broadcast networks."
We are not the only ones asking questions. The Better Business Bureau in June 2012 conducted an advertising review of Clear Cast's claims and says it's misleading. The BBB concluded: "A bulk of confusion stems from the channels vs. shows reference in which the committee feels is meant to confuse consumers into believing they will receive similar channeling as they would cable or satellite."
So we asked the experts at Sound Technology, Inc. to weigh in on what the advertisement describes as a slick little $47 invention. Their take on it? It's nothing more than an expensive set of rabbit ears.
We also purchased two traditional antennas for $25 each to see how they compared. One of them, a GE model, only picked up 16 channels.
But the simple metal antenna we bought at Radio Shack delivered a clear picture on 32 channels.
We relayed our test results to Brilliant Built Technologies. They responded: "We have had independent testing done using our Clear Cast X1 digital antenna versus several antennas purchased at retail locations. The study showed we received more channels... and had a clearer picture."
Want to Cut the Cable?
To get cable shows without cable to or a dish service, Internet TV devices like Boxee Live TV and a Roku box or Apple TV offer TV, movies and music. They will set you back $50 to $100, but allow you to stream your favorite shows to your television.
The Clear Cast is a legitimate product, and is an antenna that does its job.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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