I'm looking at Aereo, the service that streams over-the-air TV broadcasts to your computer, smartphone or tablet.

I’m looking at Aereo, the service that streams over-the-air TV broadcasts to your computer, smartphone or tablet.

And boy, did I give it a workout.

On a recent weekend, we lost power at the house, and when it came back on, our DVR was dead.

Kudos to AT&T for diagnosing the dead DVR and overnighting a replacement to arrive on Tuesday, but I was looking at Saturday night and Sunday without my TV service.

Sunday means the NFL and NASCAR at my house, and I was bummed until I remembered I was testing Aereo.

Aereo is a service you sign up for like Netflix or Hulu.

You’re getting a stream of all the over-the-air channels — I counted 44 channels in Dallas-Fort Worth. Aereo also offers one cable channel — Bloomberg TV for business news.

What does Aereo offer that an antenna does not?

How about the ability to watch the over-the-air content on a tablet or phone in addition to your TV? Want to watch the Cowboys game but you’re stuck at a soccer tournament?

And how about DVR recording? Almost all the cord-cutters I talk to wish they had a DVR. Aereo offers a full-featured online DVR that saves its recordings to the cloud.

Having an online DVR also means you can stop or rewind live TV.

Aereo costs $8 per month for the streaming service and 20 hours of recording storage. You can increase the storage to 60 hours and add a second tuner for $12 per month.

You access Aereo through a browser or through a private Roku channel on your television if you have a Roku set-top box.

When you log on to the website, you’ll see a familiar-looking TV grid showing you what’s currently playing and what will be on in the coming hours. Select a show and you’ll see a description and buttons to click to watch or record the show.

It’s also easy to set up a season pass to your shows.

It’s nice to get over-the-air content on your computer or portable device, but what we all really want is to see our video on our TVs.

As I stated earlier, if you have a Roku box, there is an Aereo channel that delivers all the Aereo content to your TV.

I was using my Apple TV to stream Aereo from my iPhone 5 to my TV via Apple TV’s AirPlay, which beams the video to the TV.

So I call up the Aereo Web page, start the show playing and then touch the AirPlay icon to send the video to the Apple TV.

I’ll admit, it’s not as elegant a solution as it would be if Aereo had a dedicated channel on Apple TV, but it’s not bad at all.

I could also call up Aereo in full screen on my laptop and use AirPlay mirroring to beam my laptop’s screen to the Apple TV.

Roku users are really getting the best experience.

I watched the Cowboys game on my TV, and while the signal was very close to HD quality. I did find the Aereo video sent via AirPlay from my phone to be choppier than the same video played from my laptop.

Once during the Cowboys game, the video stopped playing and I was presented with a dialog box saying the broadcast was over. It was the middle of the second quarter and I had to re-establish the connection. A minor annoyance to me, but it would be an embarrassment if I had company over to watch the game.

Aereo is breaking new ground in streaming over-the-air broadcasts. Some people —particularly broadcasters — say what it is doing is illegal.

Aereo says what it is doing is receiving a signal over the air for each viewer from a separate, dedicated antenna and streaming that signal to the viewer.

Aereo builds data centers in the cities it serves. Each data center is full of dime-sized antennas. One antenna is assigned to each current viewer. While you are watching Aereo, you are using one of those antennas exclusively.

Why so many antennas, when technically they could use one and split the signal for everyone? To stay legal — and so far it’s working.

Aereo is available in Boston, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Salt Lake City and Dallas.

Service is scheduled to roll out to Austin, Texas; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Detroit; Denver; Minneapolis; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Tampa, Fla.; Cleveland; Providence, R.I., and a few more cities in 2013.



—Pros: Over-the-air content streamed to portable devices, computers or TV. No antenna needed. DVR built in.

—Cons: Getting the content to a TV can be a tad cumbersome.

—Bottom line: It’s under the radar for the moment. Will popularity breed more legal challenges? Perhaps.

—Price: $8-$12 a month

—On the Web: http://www.aereo.com


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