It doesn’t matter where you live or how often you watch TV, chances are you’re relying on some kind of subscription service for your TV needs. But even though many people think they’re “old and useless”, outdoor TV antennas can still do quite a bit. They’re actually a fairly useful thing nowadays, and for some people they may just be the ideal solution.
Before we start discussing why you may want one, let’s get one thing out of the way. An outdoor TV antenna isn’t for everyone. There are certain situation where it won’t do much, if anything at all, so make sure you’re one of those people who can actually make use of it. We’ll discuss this later, but we did feel like we should mention it.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at what outdoor TV antennas have to offer. We’ll talk a bit about how they work, and we’ll move on to the benefits of owning and using one. Without wasting any more time, let’s begin our benefits article.
An outdoor TV antenna, just like all other antenna types, is a transducer. It’s a device that takes electromagnetic waves and converts them into electricity, as well as vice versa. This is the reason why an antenna can be used both as a receiver, and as a transmitter. An outdoor TV antenna, though, usually only receives waves.
With a signal that’s emitted from a transmitter or a satellite, the signal’s waves will induce electrical current inside the antenna. That current is then converted into video and audio, depending on what the radio waves’ frequency is, and is displayed on your TV set.
An outdoor TV antenna can be used for more than one thing, but the main purpose is to receive TV signals, and that’s what we’ll focus on. You can have a service like TVFool tell you what signals you can receive, for example.
The main reason why you have a lot of people still using an outdoor TV antenna is to save some money. Satellite receivers cost quite a bit to install, and you also have subscription services that cost quite a lot in the long run. Many of us don’t really spend too much time in front of our TV, so paying that much for satellite TV or a subscription isn’t really worth it. Instead, with an outdoor TV antenna, you usually receive local channels for free.
Another big one is the fact that depending on where you live, you may actually receive a lot of channels. You may find yourself in an area that has a lot of broadcast towers around you. An omnidirectional antenna can receive signals from most, if not all of them, and you’ll be getting quite a lot of free TV.
The weather problem is another one you could potentially solve with an outdoor TV antenna. Anyone who’s ever used a satellite subscription knows that bad weather can make watching TV nearly impossible. However, if you have an outdoor TV antenna, that’s not as much of an issue. A good antenna won’t be affected by the weather, so you should be good to go. If you want to be sure, get a high-quality antenna.
Last but not least, we have the signal quality, which directly translates into image quality. Any signals that are locally transmitted are not compressed, which means that you’ll get an image quality that’s significantly better than the compressed signal you would be getting from your cable provider. High definition channels are where this difference is most obvious, and you will notice the difference immediately.
All things considered, there are quite a lot of benefits with an outdoor TV antenna. If you get a high-quality model, and place it carefully, you’ll be able to enjoy all of them.
You’ll find many people who will suggest that you could get an indoor TV antenna as a cheaper and simpler solution. However, there are a lot of compromises you’ll need to make with an indoor TV antenna, and most of them make it a bad choice.
For starters, an outdoor TV antenna has the placement advantage. With the fact that it’s outside, usually on a higher point, you don’t have a lot of interference. With an indoor antenna, you have walls, as well as other objects that will impact the signal – something you want to be avoiding.
Next, outdoor TV antennas operate at higher frequencies. At an identical range, this means a better signal quality, as well as a better image quality. Also, you’ll get a lot more range than an indoor antenna. If you live far away from a broadcast tower, you may find that you don’t get any kind of signal with an indoor antenna.
If we’re being honest, we must mention the advantage that an indoor antenna has – it’s much easier to install and set up. All you’ve got to do is plug in a couple of cables, and that’s about it. On the other hand, an outdoor antenna is straight up risky to set up, and you must be careful in order not to hurt yourself.
We were pretty upfront – they aren’t for everyone. If you’re spending a lot of time in front of the TV and watch movies and shows religiously, a subscription may be a better option, even if it costs you more.
On the other hand, if you don’t have good reception where you live, or if you don’t spend that much time in front of the TV, an outdoor TV antenna may be the right choice for you. Using one is simple enough, and the benefits are obvious. Just make sure it's grounded well, and you'll be safe and good to go.
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Joseph is an electrician with 10 years of experience he moonlights as a writer and works for Serif TV on some key articles.