Longest Range Omnidirectional Amplified TV Antennaby David Lipscomb
Modern digital television broadcasts tend to be more directional than analog TV signals of the past. As a result, most of the successful HD antenna installations tend to involve a large "roof rake"-style antenna pointed in the vicinity of the area's broadcast towers. Not every environment allows this orientation, necessitating the use of an omnidirectional antenna. Winegard's MS-2000 is widely regarded as the best amplified omnidirectional TV antenna and has been in production since the mid-1990s.
Previous to using an omnidirectional antenna, digital television viewers and antenna installers often had to install cumbersome rotor systems. In addition to creating additional tuning steps each time the channel is changed, rotor systems add significant installation cost to what is otherwise a simple antenna. Round, flat omnidirectional antennas like the Winegard MS-2000 eliminate the need for rotors, picking up stations in a 360-degree pattern.
Winegard's MS-2000 antenna has an effective range of 35 miles, which is considered good performance in fringe areas. This reception is aided by its amplifier, which is needed due to its relatively small diameter. Although it is recommended that this antenna not be used further than 50 miles in line-of-sight applications, it is not uncommon for omnidirectional arrays to have less overall range than a direction UHF design.
Townhomes and apartment complexes often present environments where aiming a potentially large antenna array directly at the broadcast towers is impossible. Additionally, recreational vehicle owners incorporating television systems may find the compact footprint of the antenna desirable, especially given the significantly short mast length requirement of the MS-2000. This antenna is also widely used at the top of satellite dish masts to pull in free local HD broadcasts.
Any amplified antenna must place the amplifier electronics inside the structure, maximizing water and hot/cold cycle resistance. Amplified systems also require a nearby AC power source, the location of which should be considered in conjunction with the installation location. Although antennas like the Winegard MS-2000 are omnidirectional, it is always wise to select a mounting location as far as possible from trees or competing structures to minimize multipath; this is a phenomenon where signals bounce off of objects adjacent to the antenna, causing the device to receive the same signal at different intervals and thereby reducing performance.