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Cutting the Cord? Why You Should Get a TV Antenna

Q. I’ve been thinking about getting rid of my cable service, and cutting the cord. I am considering Sling TV and DIRECTV Now as alternatives, but should I also get a rooftop antenna, or an indoor antenna, to get my local channels. I hear the picture is better, and some streaming services don’t offer local channels. So, is the picture better? Should I get an antenna? — Jennifer, Durham, North Carolina. 

Jennifer, it’s true that Sling TV and DIRECTV Now offer local channels, but not in all markets. In some areas, they might offer all your locals, a few, or none at all. It depends on their agreements with the locals in each market. So for that reason alone, you might want to consider an antenna.

In addition, your local channels can deliver a better HD picture via a TV antenna. Cable and satellite (and telco) TV services compress the signals of local channels, which tends to dilute the picture quality. The TV providers do this for several reasons, including creating more system room to deliver more channels. The signal your antenna receives directly from the local channel is purer (layman’s term, folks) and therefore a better one.

Click Amazon: Today’s Best-Selling TV Antennas!

However, before you run off to buy an antenna (and drop your cable or satellite service), you need to know that depending upon the location of your home, your antenna may not be able to pick up the signals of all your local channels. You may live too far away from the channel’s tower to get a decent signal, or you could have a major obstacle in the signal’s path, such as a high-rise office building or mountain.

Also, since the nation’s transition to Digital TV a decade ago,  many antenna owners complain that it’s been more difficult to capture local signals. Unlike the old analog signal, you need a perfect connection to capture the digital signal or it will not display on your set. There is no middle ground. You either get a digital signal or you don’t.

So how can you tell if an antenna at your home will receive all your local channels?

Antennaweb.org, a web site co-sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association and the National Broadcasting Association, offers an easy-to-use guide to determining what kind of antenna you would need — and how many channels that antenna will pick up.

You type in your address, zip code and whether the antenna will be 30 feet or higher above ground level and then antennaweb.org will display a list of stations that you probably will be able to receive. I say ‘probably’ because until you actually test it at home, you can’t be 100 percent sure.

The web site also tells you what kind of antenna you’ll need to receive a specific station.

It’s a great resource tool.

Finally, in the last few years, the antenna companies have done a great job of beefing up their products, offering indoor antennas now that can pick up signals as far away as 50 miles. Yes, indoor antennas.

Check out these best-selling antennas at Amazon.com.

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Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvpredictions.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann|

About TV Answer Man (1535 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

2 Comments on Cutting the Cord? Why You Should Get a TV Antenna

  1. Maybe if you’re old and used to the old way. There’s nearly nothing good on broadcast.

    Roku >
    Netflix
    Hulu
    Vudu
    Haystack
    All the free channels.

  2. Fcc suggests that when installing an outdoor tv antenna you should use a combination ANTENNA vhf/uhf
    And if you’re looking too get the low band 2to 6 vhf look at the Winegrud,8200u with a channel master 7777amp and receive them broadcasting tower’s 70miles away, go to TV FOOL and put your location
    And the antenna that you are going too use first before you buy anything for a tv antennaantenna.
    GOD bless and have a good day!!!

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