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TV Antenna Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

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High definition TV antenna on a brick wall

Depending on the area you live in, you may have a lot of great broadcast TV programming available. If the broadcast picture on your TV is choppy or pixilated, however, it may be time to upgrade your audio and video experience with a new TV antenna. This TV antenna buying guide will help you know a little bit more about TV antennas so that you can get the best picture possible.

Buying a TV Antenna:

  1. Antenna position: The higher the antenna, the more likely you are to get clear signals without interference. The closer your antenna is to the broadcast source, the easier it will be to pick up a signal.

  2. Interference: Buildings, hillsides and other large objects can weaken or interfere with your TV antenna reception. Concrete or brick can significantly degrade a TV signal that passes through it. Wireless signal sources that are close enough or powerful enough can also interfere with TV antenna reception. You can reduce interference by placing your TV antenna away from large appliances and devices that emit wireless signals.

  3. Indoor antennas: An indoor antenna is simple to install and adjust. Just set your antenna on the entertainment center and connect to your TV. Indoor antennas are more susceptible to indoor radio interference from building materials and other wireless signals, however.

  4. Outdoor antennas: A larger outdoor antenna installed on the exterior of you home can avoid some of the interference that indoor TV antennas experience. Larger TV antennas can also pick up weaker TV signals from farther away. You will need to run cables from your outdoor antenna to the interior of your home in order to connect to your television.

  5. Directional TV antennas: Directional antennas need to point towards the origination of the signal. If all the channels you want come from the same area, these antennas will better receive signals when pointed toward the source. Directional antennas avoid interference since they largely ignore signals coming from other directions.

  6. Omni/multi-directional: Antennas that are designed to receive signals from all directions simultaneously. Most indoor TV antennas are all multi-directional, as are many rooftop antennas. If you live in an area with several fairly strong signals coming from different directions, omni-directional TV antennas will work well.

  7. VHF and UHF: Digital television broadcast signals are sent using radio frequencies in the VHF and UHF ranges. Many TV antennas are built to receive one range of signals or the other, but quite a few will receive both. You can check with TV stations in your area to see which signals they use.

    Broadcast Signals

    • VHF antennas are designed to receive channels 2 through 13, which are the lower spectrum of frequencies that TV broadcasters use. These can be either directional or multi-directional.

    • UHF antennas receive channels 14 through 83, the upper spectrum. They can also be either multi-directional or directional. UHF antennas also receive less interference than VHF.

  8. Digital and HD antennas: These TV antennas are the same as VHF and UHF antennas, but they are designed specifically with HDTVs in mind. Digital antennas may have signal amplifiers and may look a little different, but any TV antenna that receives analog signals can be used as an HDTV antenna to receive digital and HD broadcasts.

  9. Amplified antennas: An antenna with an amplifier can boost the signal by electronically enhancing it. These are ideal for areas with weak signals. Amplifiers are also effective at strengthening a signal before the data travels on split cables. One drawback is that amplifiers enhance all signals, including interfering signals, which your TV antenna picks up.

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