Wednesday, July 18, 2012
A Consumer's Guide to Indoor HDTV Television Antennas
I made my own transition to digital television a year before the federally mandated date for the transition to take place. I lived then as I live now in Albany, New York, Albany is a market served locally by several television channels most of them with broadcast antennas in the Helderberg's 15 miles south, southwest, of Albany including Channel 6, CBS, Channel 10 and Channel 19, ABC, Channel 13, NBC, Channel 17, PBS, Channel 23 Fox, Channel 45, the CW, Channel 51, MyTV, Channel 54, a Christian channel, and Channel 55, Pax. Before the transition to digital I could pick up 6, 10, 13, 17, 23, and 45 and, rarely, 51 and 55 on my analog TV with the help of an added VHF and UHF antenna. When I switched to digital TV, and I did this before the federally mandated transition date, I was able to regularly pick up 6, 10, 17, and 19. After the transition I lost 6 but gained 45 and eventually, with antenna switches, 13 and 23. Eventually I was able to get 6.1 at 45.3, 45 is the CW affiliate in the Capital District and which is partly owned by CBS. It took the braniacs at Channel 6 several months to realise that many in Albany could no longer pick up the channel since they switched the channel they transmitted on but that they could use one of their 45's, 45.3, to broadcast 6.1 on and reach, as a result, some of the houses in the Albany area which could no longer get 6. Unfortunately, the idiots at local CBS did not use one of the 45's to broadcast this TV, the MGM movie channel, the only 6, 6.2, I am at all interested in watching. After another antenna switch I was able to get the 51's including the wonderful Antenna TV.
What follows are is my rating guide for the digital television antennas I have used over the last several years. My ratings for each antenna are based on putting the antenna in exactly the same spots and taking them for a test run over a period of several months.
Initially I exclusively used Philips antennas to pick up digital TV signals. I felt a certain loyalty to Philips because that is where my father worked in the 1960s and 1970s. I know, I am an idiot. I shouldn't let my heart govern my head. The first antenna I tried was the Philips High Performance Amplified Indoor UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV antenna, the one with LED signal level monitor and two poles. Rating: good. I couldn't get 6, 23, 45, or any of the 50s on it. Next I tried the Philips SDV 2740/27. Rating: good but not really any better than the High Performance antenna. I next decided to switch to an RCA ANT1450 BR flat antenna. Rating: good, but really not any better than the two Philips's I used previously. I then switched to the Philips SDV 313227. This swivel top antenna wins the award for the best antenna I have used so far. I could, by moving the circular swivel clockwise and counterclockwise pick up 19 channels regularly and 24 on rare occasions. The major downside of this antenna, as it was for every one I tried before it, was picture stability. Any time a car or truck went by on the fairly heavily travelled road in front of the apartment I lived in, the picture faded out. Rating: Very Good. I next decided to give the Philips SDV 15122/27 a try. This antenna is hands down the worst I have ever used. I could only pick up 10 TV channels with it. On the plus side, the stability of the picture was the best of any antenna I used. Rating: Poor. The next digital antenna tested is the Mohu Paper Thin Leaf Indoor HDTV antenna, and it is paper thin. It has some of the highest ratings of any indoor HDTV antenna on the Amazon website. Rating: Excellent. I can pick up everything I picked up with the Philips SDV 313227 except the 54's, which I only picked up briefly with it, and, in addition,I can pick up, if limitedly, the 55's. And I don't even have to fiddle around with it. Picture stability is fair. When a car or a truck goes by or a helicopter flies over the signal weakens. I guess this is the nature of the digital TV beast.
I want to close by saying that in my experience digital TV may produce a superior quality video and audio but the signals themselves are highly variable in terms of how strongly the come in and in terms of their stability. If cars, trucks, helicopters can take my signal out what does that say about ideologies of progress? We definitely do not live in the best of all possible TV signal worlds. Call me annoyed, frustrated, and sometimes angry.