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How to choose a TV antenna

  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 19:41

Putting up a TV antenna is one of the best steps you can take to breaking your reliance on pay TV. Most areas of the U.S. have access to several dozen TV channels broadcast over the air for free.

A TV antenna will bring them to your TV, so you won't be stuck with the "local broadcast TV fee" charged by your cable or satellite company. And if you decide to subscribe to an online TV provider, you won't need to worry about which ones carry your local channels (not all of them do).

As a bonus, they'll make your big-screen TV shine with a better picture than cable or satellite can deliver. This is possible because those transmissions are typically compressed in order to preserve bandwidth, so the service providers can cram more channels into their pipes (many of which you probably don't even care to watch).

You'll notice the difference in quality on the major broadcast networks mostly, because all of them broadcast in high definition. Most stations broadcast a 1080i (interlaced scanning) signal, which is the highest resolution currently used for OTA TV in the US, but a handful transmit at 720p (progressive scanning). Both specs are considered to be high definition.

Here's our five-step guide to choosing the right TV antenna:

  • Determine which channels are available where you live
  • Choose which channels you want to watch
  • Checke the rules on antenna installation where you live
  • Figure out which type of antenna you need
  • Select the antenna

Which channels are available on an antenna?

The first step to choosing a TV antenna is figuring out which channels are available where you live and of those, which ones you want to watch.

To figure out what's on air where you live, head over to TV Fool. It pairs the FCC's broadcast TV database with topographical maps to give you a pretty detailed estimation of which signals will reach your house and how strong they'll be.

Enter your house address in the search box, hit enter, and you'll get something like this in return:


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