So, you’ve been sitting on the fence for quite a while now debating whether or not you should take that leap and finally cut your cable once and for all.
You’ve realized that it just doesn’t make sense to pay such a high bill every month for thousands of channels when you only watch about five of them.
Furthermore, you have the Internet. Just about every show and/or movie you could positively ever want to watch can be streamed directly to your television on demand minus the annoying commercials. That fact alone not only makes cutting cable bearable but actually desirable. Seems like you’re in a winning position until it dawns on you that you’ll be missing out on live college basketball games that you love so much, your favorite prime time shows, your trusted local news.
All of a sudden, your future without cable isn’t looking so bright. Don’t fret. There is a very simple and affordable way of keeping your “Cable-Free Parade” from being rained on. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint: it used to come with every TV set about 10 years ago. Did you guess it? If not, the answer is an antenna. That’s right! Television’s favorite accessory from the past is going to help provide you with a bright television future.
Now even though the solution is simple, not just any antenna will do. After all, technology has come a long way and antennas these days are light years ahead of the ones that sat on top of that old black and white floor model television in the family room during the 60s and 70s. No sir, these aren’t your granddaddy’s antennas. There are quite a few factors to consider when choosing the best one out of the various versions on the market.
Choosing the Best Antenna for You in 5 Simple Steps
Since the antennas of today day are capable of delivering hundreds of free, high quality HD channels to that new 60-inch smart TV that you “casually” mention having to all your friends during every conversation possible, it only makes sense that you obtain the one that’ll give you access to most, if not all of them. To figure out the best antenna to get the job done, simply keep these things in mind when you go to make your purchase:
1. Do some research and determine what Over-The-Air (OTA) channels are available in your area.
2. Find out what antenna style is needed: Directional or Omni-directional
3. Determine which is best: Indoor Antenna or Outdoor Antenna
4. Figure out if an amplifier will be needed for your antenna.
5. Consider a long-range antenna if residing in a rural area.
1. Do Some Research and Determine What Over-The-Air (OTA) Channels Are Available in Your Area.
Prior to heading out to purchase your new antenna, figuring out what channels you could possibly have access to should be your first step. Even though the steps require a bit of research on your part, it’s actually not nearly as tedious as one might imagine.
There are many online tools such as TVFool.com and AntennaWeb.org that have simplified this whole process. Simply log onto the websites, input an address, and watch as a list of all available channels in your area is generated. Many popular stations are likely to be available, so don’t be surprised to see networks such as NBC, FOX, PBS, CBS, and even ABC appear on a list.
Keep in mind that just because many major networks are likely to appear on your list of available networks, it doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to. Typically, the free stations you have access to are dictated by two factors. The first, is the location of the broadcast tower.
The second, is your distance from the broadcast tower. It’s very common for individuals residing in urban areas to have access to a wider variety of channels then their counterparts living in rural ones. This is why choosing between an indoor and outdoor antenna is mentioned in Step 3, and considering a long-range antenna is suggested for rural area residents in Step 5.
In the event you live in urban area and still don’t have access to many channels, one thing you might want to check for is if there are any objects that may be obstructing the signal such as trees or very tall buildings. They are often known to cause signal interference. Now that you know what channels should be available to you, onto Step 2.
2. Find Out What Antenna Style is Needed: Directional or Omnidirectional
Okay, so you figured out what stations are available to you and can’t wait to see them on that new screen of yours. You might be tempted to just run out to the nearest RadioShack, the first antenna you see, had back home and hook it up, and start to enjoy your shows; but that would be a bad move.
You first need to figure out if you should get a directional antenna or an omnidirectional antenna. You might not have noticed that when you were surfing on TVFool.com and/or AntennaWeb.org there was a graph illustrating the directions your channels were being broadcasted from. This is where your type of antenna comes into play.
Looking at the graph you observed that majority of the channels being broadcasted are coming from the same direction, then a directional antenna would be your best choice. Being able to focus your antenna in the specific direction that the broadcasts originate from will allow you to receive the best signal and reception. You just want to make sure there are as few obstructions as possible to keep signal interference to a minimum.
Now in contrast, if you look at the graph the notice that the broadcasts tend to come from numerous directions, then an omnidirectional antenna is the antenna for you. The great thing about omnidirectional antennas are their ability to pick up a signal from almost anywhere. This allows for more placement options when deciding where to put it.
3. Determine Which is Best: Indoor Antenna or Outdoor Antenna
2 steps down into 3 ago. This part of the process is fairly easy. Doesn’t require as much thought as most people would lead you to think, but there are a few variables to consider before choosing indoor or outdoor. Safe to say, if you live in the building or any place where you are not allowed to add any equipment to the outside of it, then you can pretty much skip this section. An indoor antenna is your only choice.
However, in the same situation and you are allowed to add equipment to the outside, and indoor antenna will probably be your best bet if you live within 30 miles of the broadcast tower. You usually get the same reception regardless of having an indoor or outdoor antenna. Also, you have the advantage of choosing one that complements your style and taste.
If you’re out and rural areas, more than likely an outdoor antenna would work best for you. You’re already further away from the broadcast tower and need to give your antenna as much help as possible. The further the distance, the more likely there are to be numerous obstructions that’ll cause signal interference. Putting an antenna indoors in this case only causes more obstructions for the signal to pass through. You don’t want that. Make sure that when setting up your outdoor antenna, you try to get it as high as possible. This will enable it to grab as much reception as it can.
See? Not so hard. Almost done. Step 4 is next.
4. Figure Out If an Amplifier Will Be Needed for Your Antenna.
An amplifier is a great add-on accessory for your antenna, especially in crowded areas with a lot of interference. If you found that you should have access to a lot of stations in your area but just can’t seem to get them on your TV, an amplifier might help. What it does is take your current signal and enhances it to make it stronger. This usually provides your antenna with an added boost that enables it to pick up those previously unattainable channels. Most people tend to confuse the amplification of the signal strength with the amplification of the broadcast quality. This is simply incorrect. The amplifier does not improve the broadcast quality of any station. In other words, if a certain channel is always choppy and of low quality, an amplifier won’t make the quality High Definition.
Many antennas come with built in amplifiers, however, they usually are a bit on the pricier side in comparison to an add on amplifier that works equally as well.
5. Consider a Long-Range Antenna if Residing in a Rural Area.
So, let’s say you reside in a rural area, purchased an outdoor antenna, but live more than 50 miles away from the nearest broadcast tower. That simple outdoor antenna just won’t do, even if paired with an amplifier. For this problem, a special long-range antenna is the perfect solution.
They actually have the ability to pull in signals from a further distance than their normal outdoor counterparts due to their various enhanced features. They also come in a variety of styles so that you don’t have to worry about that absurdly gigantic dish mounted on top of the house drawing so much unwanted attention from the neighbors. They are almost certain to take care of your free, high quality channel needs and are definitely worth the investment.
The Best TV Antennas: You Decide
Now that you have all the information on what it takes to choose the best antenna, you can easily walk into any store and confidently choose what will work best for you. Just remember, the best tv antenna is the one that provides you with as many channels as possible and is tailored to your situation. Now, go get it!