How do I Choose the Best HD Antenna?

William M. Carter

Many television stations around the world now transmit signals in a digital format. With digital signals, you either have a great picture or no picture. Choosing the best HD antenna for your television can be tricky. The distance and direction of the transmitting station to your television set are typically the two main questions to answer when choosing an HD antenna. If the TV station is local and near your house, then an indoor antenna that sits on top of of the TV set may work just fine. Longer distances will most likely require an outside HD antenna that can be attached to a roof.

HDTV antennas are no different from any other antenna.
HDTV antennas are no different from any other antenna.

The first step is to determine the distance and direction of all the television stations that can be received in your area. There are websites online that utilize antenna mapping software to list the stations in various areas and sometimes even recommend antenna guidelines. Calling station listings in phone books can also yield station locations.

TV stations in the US are required to transmit HD digital signals.
TV stations in the US are required to transmit HD digital signals.

With the growing digital transition for television stations, another important consideration in choosing an HD antenna is knowing whether the local stations are VHF or UHF stations. Typically, channels below channel 14 are VHF channels, and those above channel 14 are UHF channels. This will help determine whether you need a UHF antenna, or a VHF/UHF antenna. The tricky part of this is after a transition from analog to digital signals, stations may move to a different channel number. Local or national regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, usually provide such information to consumers. In the United States, the new digital stations are required to insert a code into the operating frequencies to force the HD converter or television set to display the old channel, so there is no need to memorize new channels.

The final step in choosing an HD antenna is to determine whether a directional or omni directional HD antenna is best suited for your situation. Omni directional antennas usually work best; they are recommended if various station transmitters are more than 20 degrees apart. If the transmitters are in all directions, a directional antenna with a rotor may be the best solution. A rotor allows you to change the direction of the antenna from inside your home.

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