Television has come an incredibly long way over the past few decades, morphing from a service with only a few channels and limited programming, to tens of thousands of channels and shows around the world. Inevitably, with this increase comes a higher price tag than ever before, making it important for many households to find ways to reduce this added cost. One of the best ways when it comes to local programming is purchasing an antenna.
The number of available antennas is high, with different brands and models offering various capabilities and specializations. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to an antenna, considering different locales and desired channels may work best with one over another. This makes it exceptionally important to do the legwork, and find the perfect antenna for your needs in specific.
Choosing the Best TV Antenna for Free HD Channels
Finding the best TV antenna is a process, and one that should be completed fully and carefully in order to end up with the best choice. There are a few important steps to this process, each of which is just as important as the last.
Learn About What Is Available
The channels that are available can vary wildly depending on each specific location, with differences seen even when referring to a difference of only a couple miles. As such, it is important to find out exactly which channels you can receive, and if that list includes all the channels you are looking for. No sense in turning off your cable service if an antenna is not enough to watch all the shows you love.
The best and easiest way to accomplish this is found at a few different websites that are designed specifically for this purpose. These websites have you enter in your exact address, which is then used to inform you of a wide variety of information that is needed to choose the right antenna. The most popular and helpful sites include:
Use This Info to Make Your Choice
As previously mentioned, not all antennas work well with all scenarios, even if the quality is excellent and the brand is reputable. Certain criteria are important and must be considered when making your final selection. These include:
- Directional or Omnidirectional: Which direction each signal is coming from is the key piece of information used to decide whether you can benefit from a directional antenna, or its omnidirectional counterpart. Directional means the antenna is receiving broadcasts from one direction, while omnidirectional harvests signal from all directions. Directional antennas do tend to be stronger and more receptive, and are best if all your channels come from the same direction. An omnidirectional receives a signal more weakly, but are more versatile.
- UHF, VHF, or Both: Free programming that can be intercepted by antenna comes in UHF (channels 1-13) and VHF (higher channels). While most antennas are capable of picking up both, the lion’s share receive UHF much better than VHF. As such, if most of the shows you want to watch run on VHF channels, be sure to select one that handles VHF channels strongly and reliably.
- Signal Strength: The aforementioned sites will list not only which channels you can get, and which direction they broadcast from, they also tell you how strong each signal is at your specific address. Signal strength translates into how clear and crisp the picture is on your TV, so selecting an antenna strong enough is necessary. Take the needed signal strength from the least powerful channel you want to watch, and use it as your benchmark when making your choice.
- Amplified: If you live in an area, usually a rural one, where none of your channels come in very strong, you may want to consider an amplified antenna. While usually a little more costly, these amplifiers boost the signal capabilities of an antenna substantially, usually resulting in clearer reception for virtually all channels.
- Indoor or Outdoor: Deciding if an indoor or outdoor antenna is right for you depends on how far away from the source you are, and what types of obstructions lie between you and it. Obstructions include things like trees or buildings that block direct line of sight and can interfere with the signal. Outdoor antennas are needed if distance is far and obstructions are many, while an indoor model may suffice if these are not factors.
Choosing the best antenna can spell the difference between a worthy substitute for cable or satellite service, or a sub-par TV experience at best. Armed with this information, you should have no trouble finding the best option for your individual situation.