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Expert Viewpoint: HD Antennas

Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Kent Martin

Rabbit ears are back for the digital generation.

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How to Choose an HD Antenna

Although a common adage in almost any business is, “You get what you pay for,” average prices on HD antennas won't break your budget. Plus, they pull down signals from HD transmitters for free, so when you calculate the cost of the antenna and subtract any cable or satellite fees you'd normally have to pay, antennas tend to pay for themselves.

Several things to look for when shopping for an antenna include:

  • Check your current TV setup by attaching an antenna to your set. There's a chance the antenna will do the job just fine and the converter box may not be what you need to pick up HD signals over the air.
  • Try out your set now, before the rush hits closer to the February 2009 deadline for the conversion. Remember, too, that if you need to mount an outside antenna, it's easier while the weather is warm than in the middle of winter.
  • Watch which signals and stations you pick up with your antenna. Upgrade to a larger and more powerful model if you can't bring in all of the stations you want at the level of quality you're seeking.
  • For a strong signal, you should only need a basic outdoor antenna to pick up VHF and UHF signals. Otherwise, consider installing a stronger antenna that is omni-directional or a motorized one that points toward each broadcast transmitter.

It may take a few tries to find the antenna that's right for you. Prices can range from $10 to more than a $100 and installation (particularly for roof-mounted models) can cost extra.

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