How to Choose a Digital Antenna

by Christopher C. Odom

The transition from analog television signals to digital television signals provides everyone with the opportunity to watch HDTV programming without a cable or satellite television subscription service. With the right digital antenna, an over-the-air digital television signal can rival, or even exceed, the reception of a digital cable or satellite television signal.


Determine whether or not the transmissions you receive in your area are primarily VHF (channels 2-13) or UHF (channels 14-51). Most digital television signals broadcast over the UHF band of the spectrum. If there are digital broadcasts in your area utilizing the high-band or low-band of the VHF spectrum, you will want to find an antenna that optimizes both UHF and VHF digital transmissions.


If you are in an area where it is extremely difficult to receive a digital television signal, consider an amplified antenna. An amplified signal can increase the signal strength of a weak digital signal. However, if you are in an area with many digital transmissions, an amplified antenna might increase digital noise, causing degradation in your picture quality. A nonamplified antenna would be your best choice in this situation.


Depending upon the location of your digital signal transmissions, you will have to choose between a multidirectional antenna or a unidirectional antenna. Multidirectional antennas are designed to receive signals equally from all directions. Unidirectional antennas receive information from a single direction, which allows the antenna to receive signals over much greater distances. The drawback, though, is that it will not receive signals from other directions.


If you are in a big city, odds are that you will not be located very far from the source of a digital transmission. An amplified signal or unidirectional antenna may not be needed. If you live in a small city though, you may be forced to employ the use of an antenna that is both amplified and unidirectional to boost the signal strength.


The most powerful antenna that you can use to receive digital transmissions is an outdoor antenna. Outdoor antennas are larger. When amplified, outdoor antennas have more power and, in general, have the clearest line of sight to the digital signal source. Outdoor antennas are more expensive and more difficult to install. If you live in an apartment, you might not be able to install an outdoor antenna.


  • check When using a unidirectional antenna, if you are unable to get a signal from some channels, try adjusting the antenna by pointing it in another direction.


  • close Do not attempt to install an outdoor antenna on your rooftop if you do not possess the necessary tools and training. Always put safety first and consider utilizing the services of a professional.

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About the Author

Christopher C. Odom is an award-winning writer, director, producer and author who earned his Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles. His work has been nationally televised and screened in cities worldwide, including Tel Aviv, Berlin and Cannes.

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