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Getting The Best Reception Out Of Your Over The Air HDTV Set Up

Jan 20, 2008
Over-the-air HDTV delivers the best quality and brings a true HDTV experience into your home, leaving cables and satellite HDTV programming far behind. So how do you make sure you get the best high definition TV reception? A couple of factors should be considered.

Antenna placement will definitely influence your HDTV reception. The best possible place to put your antenna is outside.

If it's inconvenient to put your antenna outside, you can put it inside but it won't work nearly as well. Sometimes it's impossible to have an outdoor antenna; for example, if you live in an apartment that has an area set aside for everybody to use, if that area doesn't face the right direction, you can't really set up an antenna there.

You might not want an antenna on your roof or in your yard because it doesn't look good to you. If you really want an indoor antenna, you should be warned that outdoor antenna reception is WAY better than indoor. In order to get good indoor antenna reception, you'll need to try out lots of antennas to find the right one. Don't trust the ads that say it's just like an outdoor antenna!

If you're going to have an inside antenna, try out different parts of the house. Higher places, like an attic or top floor, work best. Try to find a spot without too much stuff around it.

You can get digital broadcasts on your HDTV with no antenna, but for best reception, this isn't recommended.

- Size DOES Matter

When it comes to buying an antenna, bigger is better. You might find some bigger antennas that aren't so well designed, or you might find a small one that has some special features to give you a little better reception, but the rule is: bigger is better. If an antenna is double the size, you can pretty much figure that it will get double the reception.

If you live in a big city you might consider a smaller antenna. In that situation, the OTA tower is probably relatively close to your home, so you don't need as much length. Keep in mind though that lots of OTA users in downtown urban areas have trouble with the signal bouncing off the buildings and getting all mixed up. In this case, the solution of choice would still be an outdoor hd antenna with a high front-to-back ratio for the best multipath rejection.

- What Kind Of Antenna to Buy?

For most HDTV set-ups, a regular UHF or UHF/VHF antenna will do the job. You don't need a special "digital antenna," as some are advertised.

You can get different types of antennas that are highly directional or multi-directional. To figure out what your needs are, check out antennaweb.org. There you can enter your zip code and it will tell you which direction your signal will be coming from.

Find out how far you are from the tower and what obstacles are in the way between you and the signal. This will give you a good idea of what kind of antenna you'll need.

A little work beforehand will help make installing your antenna much easier.
About the Author
Eric Gov is a TV antenna expert at HDtvAntennaLabs.com. HDTV Antenna Labs is over-the-air HDTV enthusiast site that features tv antenna reviews, recommendations, and general over-the-air HDTV information.
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