Thursday, July 28, 2022

Bad antennae with good reviews

You may or may not know that many of the antennae that you find for sale at Walmart, Best Buy, or other retailers, are ... well, junk.

Oh, not all of them to be sure. But some are simply junk. That is, they may work, but so might a paper clip. And no, I'm not exaggerating or engaging in hyperbole. There are situation where a paper clip will work just as well as some fancy TV antenna.

First, understand there is no such thing as an HDTV antenna. HDTV is a recent thing. Well, at least, I consider 1998 recent. That's less than a quarter century ago, and people have been watching TV a lot longer than that. And the TV antennae that we used to use back in the 1960s -- I don't or can't remember before that -- will pick up today's HDTV signals.

The HDTV is part of the content that is being broadcast, not the broadcast frequency. The antenna will pick up signals on certain frequencies, and it's the same channels that have been used all along, within the Low VHF, High VHF, and UHF bands. The antennae that picked up the signals 60 years ago will pick up the signals today. The antenna has nothing to do with the picture being HD or not.

An antenna is nothing but a piece of wire. Sometimes it gets all fancy and such, but when you get right down to it, it's nothing but a piece of wire. So is a paper clip.

That's not to say you will pick up all the channels you want with a paper clip. But, under certain conditions, you actually could. Those are rare, but possible.

And that's why it's so hard to find a good quality TV antenna for a reasonable price. Some people are in a situation where just about anything -- yes, maybe even a paper clip -- will pick up stations. I'm not, but some people -- those that live close to a TV tower -- are in that very position.

So, what do you do?

Well, honestly, if spending money on some piece of junk TV antenna gets you the channels you're after, there's nothing really wrong with that. The goal was to pick up the channels, and if that was the easiest or most expedient way to get the channels, then fine. You got what you want and that was the goal.

However, if, like me, you live several miles from a TV tower and an indoor antenna won't pick up a good reliable signal, then you have to go with an outdoor antenna. That's where the antenna being junk really matters.

So, what do you do?

You can do some research -- checking various Websites regarding the virtual channel number of the stations you want, the actual (RF) channels of those stations, the distance, your elevation of you antenna, and the relative signal you'll get from those stations at your location -- or you can let others do the work for you.

I did my research, then tried out The Antenna Man. Turns out he came up with the same results I did, which confirmed that it was possible for me to do the research properly -- and for you as well; if I can do it you can do it. Still, I was happy enough to pay him the money he asked, as I know he did a good job. He even found someone to put up the antenna, which was something with which I was having difficulty.

So, while I paid him to do the work I already did, and did well, I also found I was happy with his results, and had I simply paid him to start with, could have saved myself some real aggravation. The research wasn't easy, after all. But, it wasn't hard enough to make it impossible.

Circling back, why do bad antennae get good reviews? Because there are circumstances where they will actually do the job requested. But again, so will a paper clip under some circumstances.

If wading through all the nonsense if too much, then use someone to help you. The Antenna Man is a good option, but no the only option. Whatever method you use to get the local TV channels you want is a good method. But using a reputable source is always a better option, but no the only option, in your Streaming Life.

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