One of the most under-appreciated parts of a cord cutting setup is an antenna. With an antenna, you can get a wide range of free content from live sports to award shows and your favorite primetime TV programs. No longer does an antenna just give you three or four stations. Since the move to digital over-the-air TV, new channels have started to pop up alongside the mainstays.
A recent informal survey on the Cord Cutters News Facebook page showed that on average, respondents pulled in an impressive 48 free, over the air channels, with more channels being added all the time. An antenna can get you everything from movie channels and classics to new local stations offering 24/7 weather and news coverage, on top of your normal network channels like CBS, FOX, and ABC.
Everyone will have a different experience with over-the-air TV based on where they live. Some people live close to towers and can pick up a whack of over the air channels with just a basic antenna sitting on the TV. Others will mount a powerful antenna on the roof and still only get 10 channels.
It’s important to do your research before you buy an antenna and generally speaking, you should buy the best one you can afford.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what broad category of antenna you should look at. The best place to start is at TVFool.com. This site lets you enter your address and get a full report of all the TV stations around you. It’ll also give advice on what type of antenna you should be looking to buy. Stations in green can typically be picked up with an indoor antenna. All other stations will need either a roof-mounted antenna or an attic-mounted antenna.
Finding the best antenna
For the best over the air TV experience, you can’t beat a roof-mounted antenna. If that’s not feasible, consider attic mounted or indoor as a fall-back position. While a roof-mounted antenna is the trickiest to install, it’s a worthwhile effort.
Generally (perhaps logically) speaking, a cheap antenna will not give you the same results as a more expensive one. Buying an antenna is a one-time expense, so again, we suggest going for the best one you can afford.
Outdoor antennas will often list a range in miles. Obviously, the greater the range, the better your odds of pulling in a strong signal.
You can find antennas at most major electronics stories like Best Buy and big box stores like Walmart. Though, for the best selection, you may want to look at buying an antenna online at a site like Amazon.com. Just make sure to do your research. We’ll talk more about that in the next instalment of Cut the Cord.
One final note: Metal roofs are great and last for a very long time, but they can seriously reduce the ability to pick up over the air TV indoors. If you have a metal roof, you have even more reason to take our suggestion and go roof-mounted if at all possible.
You’ve looked up which antenna you need and have perhaps even made the purchase. The next step in the process is getting it set up. Check back next week when we’ll have a full walk through, some tips on how to get the most from your antenna and how to avoid some common setup mistakes.