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Best OTA TV Indoor Antenna?
Old 11-28-2013, 11:46 AM   #1
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Best OTA TV Indoor Antenna?

Stemming from yesterday's thread. Any recommendations on indoor OTA TV antennas?

It's time to try and cut the (satellite) cord and quit paying through the nose.
  • We already have a fast internet connection,
  • I plan to look into an internet coax splitter (desktop PC & HDTV) hope that won't hurt signal too much.
  • so I plan to buy one (two, one for upstairs TV?) indoor antennas,
  • tvfool.com says we'll get an adequate signal for an indoor antenna, so I don't have to deal with an in attic or roof antenna.
  • an Apple TV (or maybe Roku3) though not sure what that means for second HDTV upstairs, and
  • subscribe to Netflix (and/or maybe Hulu+).
  • No DVR but we should be able to watch any TV program we'd like next day or week worst case.
  • We'll have access to way more movies than we have now.
  • We can watch Netflix on our iPads or Android phones (not sure why I would though).
  • We can use iPads as remotes, and mirror anything on our iPads to HDTV.
Only real downside I can see is we won't be able to watch programming in real time on cable channels like Food Network, HGTV, Discovery, CNN, Velocity, USA, Comedy, History, TNT, TBS, ESPN. I can live with having to wait for programming on those channels for the considerable savings over, we DVR a lot of it already (convenience and skipping ads).

So if it all works as planned once set up, it'll be hasta la vista DishTV.
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Old 11-28-2013, 11:56 AM   #2
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Bought one of these a couple of years ago and mounted it on an interior wall upstairs in the guest bedroom. Very solid performance.

Antennas Direct | Clearstream™ 2 UHF/VHF Long Range Outdoor TV Antenna Kit
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:12 PM   #3
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Check to see if tvfool or other site specifies if any of the channels you want are in the VHF band or not. If they are not, then you an focus on a UHF only antenna.

Looks like only wbbm is VHF in Chicago now.

-ERD50
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:23 PM   #4
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Some cable channels are not available on Hulu or Netflix (or have limited availability), however, if you go to the website for the cable channel and/or the website for the specific show you can often watch recent episodes online.
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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The Leaf indoor antennas are popular:

Amazon.com: Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna - Made in USA: Electronics

Amazon.com: Mohu Leaf Ultimate Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna: Electronics

I tried the non-amplified one. It worked well but I really didn't see an improvement over my home built coat hanger one and ended up returning the Leaf.
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:27 PM   #6
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Congratulations, Midpack, on deciding to cut the cord like that. I'll leave the suggestion of specific antennas for others since I haven't tried any.

I just wanted to thank you for mentioning that one can learn about available channels from the tvfool.com site. I am so tempted to switch to an indoor antenna some day (and tvfool says I will get quite a few channels if I do).
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:40 PM   #7
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I got the amplified Leaf. It was just a bit better than a simple Philips, but that's enough to pull in a couple extra stations reliably so I kept it.
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:58 PM   #8
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We got the same one as braumeister and works great. We installed on roof though and then just simply unhooked the cable coax from the splitter and hooked up the antenna. All TV's get crystal clear reception.

Use a router instead of splitter for the internet.
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:35 PM   #9
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Hmmmm... A little more online research and it appears I may have 0-2 channels with an indoor antenna, but 23-51 with an outdoor antenna.

Installing an antenna on our two story house isn't appealing but it's doable, but running wire/cable may be more than we want to tackle. We won't accept cables and wires running along outer or inner walls. Thinking...
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:35 PM   #10
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I purchased the Winegard antenna from Costco yesterday. They sell the amplified version for $40 in the store, or the non-amplified version online. I'm not sure there is really much difference between the two. i was able to pick up about 100 channels with it. For the HD channels, the picture quality is amazing. I have Verizon FIOS in the house, but my goal was to get rid of the HD Set top box that cost me $12.00 per month and replace it with an OTA antenna. I think the picture on the OTA antenna is even better than Verizon, which is pretty amazing considering it cost nothing per month.

I also purchased a Smart Samsung TV yesterday and found that if I connect it to the home network, many of the Verizon stations that I was previously receiving over the set top box are now available live via the ethernet connection, again at no monthly cost. Of course I do pay for Verizon FIOS in the house, so that would go away if I cut the cable off completely.

I also installed a MOCA adapter, which lets you bridge your coax TV network with your ethernet network. This works great if you need an internet connection by your television and don't have an existing RJ-45 connection in the wall. You can use WIFI as well, but when streaming Netflix type services, a hardwired connection is always more stable. The MOCA adapter works flawlessly and gets the full 30+MB bandwidth that FIOS provides.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:04 PM   #11
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Try indoor first. I'm picking up stations from 80 miles away and over hills with an indoor antenna.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
Try indoor first. I'm picking up stations from 80 miles away and over hills with an indoor antenna.
Probably will from Best Buy or someone with a good return policy...
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:23 PM   #13
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Thanks for starting this thread as I find it both interesting yet somewhat complicated as I'm not very tech savy.

How do I find out which channels aren't offered through OTA antenna and would I need one for each TV or will spitting it degrade the reception?
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:30 PM   #14
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Thanks for starting this thread as I find it both interesting yet somewhat complicated as I'm not very tech savy.

How do I find out which channels aren't offered through OTA antenna and would I need one for each TV or will spitting it degrade the reception?
tvfool.com will tell you what channels you CAN get for your address, appears to include Canada. What channels "aren't" offered would be kinda open ended (compared to what?). Someone else will have to answer the splitting question with more authority....
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:57 PM   #15
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I bought one of these from Walmart. Cheap and works great. I live in a small town and was surprised to find that I could pick up 10 channels, half in HD. And one FM music channel. I do have cable(for now) in my den, but use this in my bedroom. It just lays on the dresser right in front of the tv.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/RCA-SLM-PR...T1050/33304342
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Old 11-28-2013, 04:23 PM   #16
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tvfool.com will tell you what channels you CAN get for your address, appears to include Canada. What channels "aren't" offered would be kinda open ended (compared to what?). Someone else will have to answer the splitting question with more authority....
I've used a lot of these sites that estimate your OTA reception and TVFool is, by far, the most accurate. It accounts for terrain issues that most of these sites don't even consider (it knows if you are behind a hill from the transmitter, for example).

The thing to remember is to look at the *real* channel, number, not the virtual one. That's the actual OTA frequency. In the old days before digital, the channel number was the frequency; channel 10 was always on the frequency reserved for channel 10. But digital confused that and sometimes the digital frequency is different than the channel number. For example, here in the San Antonio market Channel 29 (or 29.1) is on the frequency for Channel 30. On TVFool that shows up as virtual channel 29.1, real channel 30.

Where that really matters is that a lot of virtual channels below channel 14 (historical VHF) now have UHF frequency signals (14 and higher) because of problems with digital VHF reception. In Austin, historical Channel 62 (channels 62.1 and 62.2) is actually transmitted on the frequency of Channel 13, which is VHF.

This is all important because you need to look at all the *real* channel numbers for the stations you want to pickup. That tells you which types of antenna reception you need:

14-51 (formerly 14-69): UHF
7-13: "High" VHF
2-6 (uncommon these days): "low" VHF

Most stations transmit on UHF these days, with a few (usually the ones that historically had channels 7-13) are on high VHF and a very small number still use the frequencies of channels 2-6 (low VHF). Low VHF in particular is problematic because the wavelengths are very long, needing very wide rabbit ears or very wide antennas -- and because they are very prone to interference from power lines, thunderstorms, even passing trucks.

If all of the stations you want to receive are broadcasting on real channels 14 and higher, congratulations -- you only need a UHF antenna. If you also have some 7-13, you may need high VHF and UHF (channels 7-51 or 7-69). If you need to get low VHF (such as Philly's Channel 6), I'm sorry -- you'll need to get low VHF, which probably means very wide indoor rabbit ears (if you are close in) or a huge outdoor antenna (if not).
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Old 11-28-2013, 04:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Bought one of these a couple of years ago and mounted it on an interior wall upstairs in the guest bedroom. Very solid performance.

Antennas Direct | Clearstream™ 2 UHF/VHF Long Range Outdoor TV Antenna Kit
DH plans to mount that one in the attic near where he can drop the cable down to our house network box.

We get some channels using small in room antennas, but we'd like to get more.
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Old 11-28-2013, 05:26 PM   #18
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The indoor antennas are easy to build, I did it with some wire scraps, a chunk of board, and a part from Radio Shack, it is still working great. Here's a thread from a few years ago where a few people talked about what they'd built.
The antenna I built is highly directional, so it does a very good job of picking up stations on the "correct" azimuth. I'm not sure how passive antennas like the "Leaf" can be high gain and also omnidirectional.
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Old 11-28-2013, 05:28 PM   #19
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I'm not sure how passive antennas like the "Leaf" can be high gain and also omnidirectional.
Or be omnidirectional and not be subject to multipath problems, for that matter. In the old analog days, this used to cause "ghosting" of the picture. Now it just reduces the usable strength of the signal and if it degrades enough, the digital reception falls off the "cliff" and quickly turns into "no signal".
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Old 11-28-2013, 08:57 PM   #20
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We ditched cable several months ago and use Mohu... with Roku...and Netflix and MBA (birthday present for DH). We do not miss cable.

TVfool was pretty spot-on except one channel short. We have rabbit ears and aluminum foil wrapped around much of it. It is not pretty, but the result is satisfactory. Sometimes the 6 month old cat jumps up and messes it up, and we must rearrange the foil.

We had to hang the leaf in the window. It is a side window and I hope the meter reader never looks at it, lol.
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