HDTV Owners - I need an antenna!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jeremy.king, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #1
    This thread is for those with HD TVs and use an off-air antenna.

    Background:
    I have a little one on the way and I am tired of paying $80/month for cable. My requirements are HD, the wife's is DVR, so the focus is on my needs for this thread. You see, I live in an interesting area where I could, in theory, receive a multitude of HDTV stations from Milwaukee, Chicago, and Rockford. According to AntennaWeb (excellent site) I am about 45 miles from each city as the crow flies.

    Needs:
    A SOLID indoor or outdoor antenna that works well. I'd rather not spend a ton (lets say $150 or less) and if it requires mounting, a caveman must be able to do it.

    So my question to those still reading.
    1) Do you have an HDTV off-air antenna?
    2) What brand/make/model is it?
    3) Mounted indoors or outdoors?
    3) How far do you live from your broadcast city?
    4) How has your experience been with it?

    The final catch is that I NEED to be able to buy this in store, so I don't have to hassle with a product return, if necessary.

    So what do you recommend? This one caught my eye as the CC reviewers seem to like it.
     
  2. shu82 macrumors 6502a

    shu82

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Rocket City, AL
    #2
    Try out AVS forums. I found a local group that had the same problems. You might get out cheaper than you think. Rule of thumb is if it advertises itself as an "optimized for HDTV" they are charging too much for it. All old school antennas work great. Here is the link for the local groups:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=45
     
  3. ready2switch macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    #3
    I agree. AVS forums is the place for this question.

    Also, from AntennaWeb, check out which of your stations are VHF vs UHF, as that will dictate which type of antenna you get (one, the other, or a combo). And yes, any "standard" antenna will work for HD, it does NOT have to say "for HD".

    Back to AVS. Find your LOCAL thread and read what troubles and successes they've had. (In my area there is only 1 VHF HD channel and it basically takes a miracle to get it even if you live under the tower). Knowing this I decided that 1 station wasn't worth the hassel and we just watch in SD. :p The UHF HD channels come through fine with the little circle antenna on a $8 pair of rabbit ears (towers are about 18 miles away).

    As far as in store, I think Lowe's has a pretty wide selection in stock for you to look at. At 45 miles I'm thinking you will need an outdoor one, though the folks at AVS can tell you exactly what you need.

    The only question I have is, do you have a tuner already? (my HDTV is a monitor only, so we had to hunt for a tuner). If you don't, your search for that will be harder than searching for an antenna (almost everywhere I looked was out of stock).

    Oh, and the other good thing I learned during my search is about amplifiers. Basically HD signals aren't like SD signals. With SD signals you can get wavy, snowy pictures but you can still get a picture. With HD signals it's basically all or nothing. An amplified antenna is good for amplifying the signals you already get, but if you can't get the signal, it will only amplify the fuzz (it doesn't strengthen your antenna, just the signal once it's received). Sorry if that didn't make sense. Bottom line is, if you need a bigger antenna, just get the bigger antenna, not the smaller one and an amplifier because it will do no good.
     
  4. jeremy.king thread starter macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #4
    Thanks guys...That AVS forum is nice...talk about information overload :eek:

    As for my TV, it does have a built in HD Tuner.
     
  5. Reaver macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #5
    if you have an attic you can always put a multi directional antenna in your attic and run the cable to the tv for your HD channels (thats what I did for my reciever), that is if you dont want to do all the work of installing the antenna on the side of your house and do all the running aof wires and cables.

    also there are some good indoor antennas (the old school rabbit ears) that will pick up some HD channels.
     
  6. ready2switch macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    #6
    At 45 miles, I don't think the indoor antenna will pick up your stations. An outdoor antenna in your attic might work, but you have to remember that you lose between 30% and 50% of your range when you put it in your attic (shingles, rafters, bricks, etc.) which means you might need a bigger antenna in your attic than you would need on your roof. But yes, it is a much cleaner install if you do it in the attic (given you have the room for the larger antenna).
     
  7. Reaver macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #7
    I know about the signal loss I wasnt saying put a set of rabbit ears in his attic I was recommending that if he doesnt want to do the install of an outdoor antenna on the outside of the house then an outdoor antenna in the attice would be a better choice. if hes 45 miles away then yes he would need to get something that could gather the signal at that range from the attic.

    sorry if I wasnt clear in my previous post :)
     
  8. ready2switch macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    #8
    The idea of rabbit ears in the attic did make me laugh, though. :D
     
  9. Reaver macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #9
    yes it is a funny idea of sticking rabbit ears in the attic to pick up signal lol :D

    in my case I am lucky I am smack dab in the middle of the city and I get very good signal but for me to get stuff from channels away from me for shows like Smallville, Supernatural stuff shown on the new CW network I had to get something that would pick up a signal from about 25 to 30 miles away. because I put my antenna in my attic and ran the wire that way I had to get something that would pick up signal as far as double the distance and I got an amplifier to help boost the signal coming in to the tv/reciever.
     
  10. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #10
    I live in Chicago and get great HD reception with a rabbit ear antenna. I would never in a million years pay for cable, especially after seeing how crappy most cable "HD" signals look. I'll check on my antenna model later for you.
     
  11. aj98 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    #11
    When I added HD to my DirectTV package, I was told by the installer a special (read: expensive) HD antenna was not necessary for on-air local channels.

    Standard rabbit ears, perhaps with a signal booster, will work just fine.

    He was right. By and large, I have no problem with local stations.

    My rabbit ears are RCA with built in booster.

    disclaimer:
    your mileage may vary, depending on several factors - some of the more distant stations breakup/freeze, but I attribute that to my lot being heavily wooded (over 70 mature trees) and that the antenna is in an interior room.

    On my 2nd HD set, I use a small 6" antenna (shipped with the HD receiver);
    That TV is next to a window, and gets acceptable reception on all locals.
     
  12. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Location:
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    #12
    I'd be very happy to see which model you have as well. I have been told that this model...Terk Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna-Model: HDTVA, is a top seller in my area (Buffalo, NY) or the same thing only for the outside works well.
    I can't see paying for HD when some of it is free but since I have an HDTV I really want to use it to it's fullest ;)
    kingjr3, I know cable cost is crazy and DirectTV that I have isn't as bad but still the cost is up there. I feel bad for those using cable since some companies have really bad picture quality while others are just ok.
    Good luck on your quest and do let us know which one works well for you :D
     

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