An Outdoor HDTV Antenna Can Replace Cable TV

With the high cost of cable TV these days, many viewers have been looking for an inexpensive and easy method of receiving TV broadcasts in their home.

Since the beginning of the federal regulations, which required that all over-the-air broadcasters switch their transmissions from analog to digital, viewers who utilize an antenna have been treated to basically flawless reception of local and regional channels. In many cases, to accomplish this an outdoor HDTV antenna is required.

Although basically ANY antenna, even those from Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” days will receive local digital channels, anything marketed today will claim it’s made for HDTV signals. Best location, as it’s always been, is still the higher the better. This  usually means on your roof. Some buyers for aesthetic reasons often install them in their attic. Although this location still works, you can expect about a 30% signal loss caused by your homes construction. 

Shopping for an outdoor HDTV antenna can be a mind-boggling experience. Some can be found at local brick and mortar stores. But of course the vast majority are purchased online. When choosing one there are a multitude of variables to take into account.

The first and most important question is how far are you from the broadcasting antennas in your area? Several websites can help with this. Next, how many channels are you likely to receive? Naturally, it’ll only be “local” over-the-air signals that are available. You’d still need a cable connection to watch “cable-only” channels. The good deal is, with the new regulations and increased bandwidth, each channel has the option of operating one or more sub-channels, along with its “base” channel. So in some cases, “four” local channels; often network affiliates, can suddenly become eight or even ten local channels! Programming on most sub-channels will be different from each other, and from the main channel. In some situations, one of the sub-channels could be a “standard” definition broadcast of the main HD channel. But this is an exception in most markets. Under ideal conditions, all of these signals should be receivable with an outdoor HDTV antenna. 

Again with so many styles and manufacturers, it can be hard to know which one is best. Unfortunately, trial and error has often been found to be necessary. If however your location is a scant 15 miles or less from most transmitters, then just about any antenna should fit the bill. Many antennas will give mileage ranges. The shortest of these is usually up to 35 miles. Another consideration is the bands which your locals broadcast on. Are your channels mainly found on VHF? (2-13) or UHF? (14-60). The bulk of the antennas made today are tuned for UHF. This doesn't’t mean they won’t receive VHF signals, but they won’t guarantee their clarity, as they might for those on the UHF band. If you have several VHF stations, it might be necessary to seek out those tuned for both VHF and UHF. They do indeed exist.

Once you hook up an outdoor HDTV antenna, you’ll soon realize that reception of local channels, in pure HD can be quite enjoyable. Depending on your viewing habits, you might not even miss the three hundred channels on cable that you already don’t watch!

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