Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HDTV Antenna

Some things are not worth buying, while others are. An antenna for an HDTV may fall into that category. Depending on which stations you are trying to pick up (and how far away those are), you may or may not need one.

The ever present /. discussion on the topic.

Random quote and links of interest that I've found:

Terk HDTVa Indoor Amplified High-Definition Antenna for Off-Air HDTV Reception has decent, but not the best reviews. the below is supposedly better:

Regarding Philips High Performance Amplified Indoor Uhf/Vhf/Fm/HDTV Antenna:
An improvement of the PHD TV3, July 7, 2007
By Diego Banducci (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
At $500 per year for basic cable, the financial argument for buying an antenna is compelling if you're not a cable junkie. So the issue is which one to buy.

We live in a reception hollow about 15 miles from most of the local station antennas. This antenna improved reception for all of the stations in the area when compared with our old PHD TV3, especially major network affiliates, but was weak on independent stations. (Prior to that, we had a Terk, which was the worst of the bunch).

Philips seems to be oblivious to the fact that a lot of people who buy indoor antennas place them in the attic or some other enclosed space. The instructions for this antenna tell you to set the rabbit ears straight vertical for channels 2 - 6, and horizontal for VHF channels above 6. The latter is difficult, if not impossible, in an enclosed space.

So we just set them straight up, which worked fine for all VHF channels except 7, a marked improvement over the PHD TV3.

UHF reception, on the other hand, is somewhat worse. But we don't watch much UHF.

The gain control is useless. On every other antenna I've tried, the gain control has improved reception, but not this one.

I found the other reviews on this page (especially Y. Chang's) very helpful, and recommend reading them.

Update: Several years ago I read an amazon review that described the Winegard SS-3000 as being far and away the best indoor antenna. I couldn't remember the name, but recently tracked it down and bought one. It really is the Gold Standard of indoor TV antennas. Unlike most others, it is compact, has no rabbit ears, and incorporates modern technology in its design. I was able to buy one from Affordable HDTV in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. It's more expensive than the others (costs about 100 bucks), but is significantly better. An identical product is sold by Terk as the TERK HDTVLP Indoor / Outdoor TV and HDTV Antenna:

Winegard also sells an outdoor model SS-2000 "Squareshooter" that looks to me like it could easily be mounted indoors. It too has received excellent reviews, although I have not tried it. It sells for about the same price as the SS-3000. It is also sold by Terk as TERK HD-TVS Slim Profile Outdoor HDtv Antenna.


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