We don’t need to convince you that you need a TV antenna – you already know that you do. But what you may not know is which antenna to choose.
If you’re just getting started and don’t know what’s available, I highly recommend reading through our reviews to learn more about some of the best-rated antennas on the market.
For the rest of us, let’s take a closer look at some of the most important things to consider when comparing models, so you can find the best TV antenna for your needs.
When choosing an antenna, one of the most important things you’ll need to consider is the strength of the signal in your area. You can check the signal’s strength using TVfool.com or another similar service.
Do yourself a favor and check the direction of the signal while you’re checking the strength. The direction will also help you when choosing an antenna (more on that soon).
Once you have this information on hand, you can determine how strong of an antenna you’ll need. The goal is to get an antenna that’s powerful enough to pick up all the channels you want, but not so powerful that you’re overpaying for something you’re not using.
And if the antenna is too powerful, it may overwhelm the digital tuner if you have a very strong signal.
If you don’t have a strong signal in your area, you may need an antenna with an extended mile radius, or you may need to buy a TV antenna amplifier.
There are some HDTV antennas on the market that can only accept UHF (ultra high frequency) signals. These antennas may work just fine in many areas, but if local broadcasters are still using VHF, you’ll need an antenna that can pick up on that signal type.
Check the frequency type in your area, so you can ensure that you choose the right antenna. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on channels and programming that you may want to watch.
If you’re only looking for an antenna to pick up local channels (or channels 1-13), this point is especially important because some local broadcasts are only in VHF.
If you live near tall buildings or have a heavily-treed yard, the TV antenna signal may be distorted or blocked altogether.
With analog signals, you may get a ghost picture or static. With digital, the signal will either be blocked or tune in and out regularly.
If obstructions are preventing you from getting a clear signal, you may need a directional antenna. The directional feature allows you to “point” the antenna in the direction of a clearer signal. Maybe the other side of your home is free and clear of obstructions. In this case, you would point the antenna in that direction to improve the strength of the signal.
If obstructions aren’t an issue (which is the case for most people), an omnidirectional antenna will work perfectly. The great thing about omnidirectional antennas (like TV Fox ) is that you don’t have to constantly reposition them because they can receive signals from different locations.
We talked a little bit about amplifiers earlier, but it’s important to bring them up again. See, if you live in an area far away from broadcast towers, you may have a hard time picking up a clear, strong signal.
That’s where an amplifier can help.
Amplifiers increase the antenna’s range, so you can receive more channels and get a stronger signal.
Some antennas already have a built-in amplifier, which may be a great option for you. Otherwise, your best bet is to invest in a separate amplifier to boost signal strength.
While it’s true that you need an HDTV antenna to receive HD antenna channels, you don’t need one to pick up a digital signal.
Digital is not necessarily synonymous with HD.
While frequency ranges have been reduced, they all fall in the previous analog system. Even the best indoor HDTV antenna uses the same design once used for analog signals.
Some of you may be wondering whether an indoor antenna can deliver a 4K-quality picture. The answer to that depends on the antenna. Some antennas can pick up on 4K signals, while others cannot. Even if you have a 4K TV, there may not be any channels in the area that broadcast programming in Ultra HD.
While not a necessity, 4K compatibility is something to consider if you have an ultra HD TV.
You may want an indoor TV antenna, but your location may not be suitable for one. In some locations, an indoor antenna can only pick up on a limited number of channels, which may not make it worth your while.
In the past, analog signals could still be picked up even if the signal was weak. The picture may have had some static, but you could still enjoy the programming for the most part.
With a digital signal, you either get a clear picture, or a picture that cuts in and out. If the signal isn’t great, the frequent cutting in and out can become frustrating and annoying.
The online site that you use to check the signal strength in your area and the available channels should tell you whether or not an indoor antenna will work for you.
Don’t get discouraged if you find that an indoor model won’t work, as an outdoor antenna may allow you to still take advantage of free TV.
These points are the most important to consider when choosing a TV antenna. Unless you live far away from broadcast towers, you shouldn’t have an issue using any of the top models we’ve reviewed here on this site. And even if you are far away, you can always invest in an amplifier to boost the signal.