When shopping for a new antenna, there are a lot of questions that you’ll need to answer before you choose. However, one of the first ones you’ll come across, and the one that will potentially make the most difference, is whether to get an omnidirectional TV antenna, or a regular, directional one. There’s also the middle of the road – a multidirectional antenna.
Before we get into the details, we should clarify one thing. There is no one solution as to which is the best TV antenna. Some will be better for one type of situations, while others excel in a completely different environment.
An omnidirectional antenna can be better than a regular one, so let’s take a look at the situations where this is true, and why.
This is obvious from the name, but we still feel we should mention it. An omnidirectional antenna has a 360 degree reception, which ensures that you can pick up a signal, regardless of where it’s coming from. This is also the most notable advantage it has over a directional antenna.
So, where is this important? Well, if you live in a rural area, you don’t really need this. Chances are you have on or two broadcast towers nearby, and a directional antenna can cover you quite easily. However, things change significantly when you live in an
urban area. By urban, we mean a city, or another location that has quite a lot of buildings and other objects surrounding you. These locations tend to have a couple of broadcast towers scattered around, and you can pick the signal up from any of them.
Omnidirectional antennas are very useful in such a situation because of the way it works. It doesn’t just receive the signal straight up from the broadcast tower, it also receives it when it’s bouncing from some of the surrounding buildings. This helps significantly with signal reception and quality, and often results in excellent image at the users’ end. This is also why in a rural area, a regular, directional antenna is the better option – there are no buildings the signal can bounce off of.
Receiving signal from multiple directions is significantly more difficult than receiving it from a single direction. This is why omnidirectional antennas often have less effective range than their directional competitors.
Nowadays, though, most (if not all) manufacturers of omnidirectional antennas will include some kind of amplifier with the antenna. It’s usually built-in, so you won’t even notice it, but it does make quite the difference when it comes to the signal.
It helps with two things – range and signal quality. If a tower is slightly out of range, the amplifier may just boost the signal enough for it to be into range – so you’ve got an extra broadcast tower to receive a signal from. Also, if you have a tower that’s
within range, but the signal does lose quality every once in a while, with an amplifier that won’t be an issue for too long. The signal will be amplified when received, and you’ll be able to enjoy full image quality once again.
The simple answer here is “No”, because there are situations where an omnidirectional antenna is actually the worse choice. If you need a lot of range, or you aren’t surrounded by towers, you don’t need it and you’re better off with a directional antenna.
However, for everyone that lives in an urban area, such as a densely populated city, an omnidirectional antenna will almost always be better. The first advantage is the fact that it’s omnidirectional – you’re surrounded by broadcast towers, you should want to receive signal from as many of them as possible. The second is the built-in
amplifier, because whatever tower you’re receiving from, this will help you get a better signal and a better image.
At the end of the day, even though not for everyone, an omnidirectional antenna does have quite a lot of advantages over a regular one. Rural users may not see the benefits, but if you live in a city, using one can be an excellent first step towards cutting your TV watching costs down to a minimum.
Joseph is an electrician with 10 years of experience he moonlights as a writer and works for Serif TV on some key articles.