OK. So what I'm taking away from this discussion is that if you subscribe to digital cable, you pretty much have to use hardware from the cable company in some form.
That is, you either use the set-top box that the cable company provides, or you use your own device but have to equip it with a cable card from the cable company.
Either way, you have to pay rental fees to the cable company. I would imagine that the situation is similar for satellite.
But what if you just want to combine OTA TV with whatever is freely available over the internet or available over the internet for a small monthly fee?
Does that require any special hardware? Couldn't you just connect a laptop computer directly to your TV and use the TV as a big computer monitor when you're not watching OTA?
So what exactly do these devices such as HDHomerun, Roku, Blu-Ray players, etc. do? I guess they must provide some kind of software (program guide) that allows you to record programs to the computer's hard drive and receive streamed content from Netflix and other providers.
When you use OTA and one of the devices mentioned above, do you have to manually switch between inputs (switch between antenna and the device)?.
That would not be horrible. Years ago anybody who had satellite had to also have an antenna to receive the local broadcast stations because back then the satellite systems were not allowed to carry the local stations. It was a tiny hassle to switch between satellite and antenna, but it was only a minor inconvenience.