GET HD Signals with ANTENNAS…

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Indoor antennas about 20 miles from a broadcast tower can grab local HDTV signals. Outdoor antennas can receive signals from up to 70 miles away as long as no mountains are in the way, an industry expert said.

But some consumers are spending thousands of dollars on LCD or plasma TVs and hooking them up to $50 antennas that don’t look much different from what grandpa had on top of his black-and-white picture tube.

They’re not doing it for the nostalgia.

Many tech geeks say that the local channels available from over-the-air HD signals are superior to what cable and satellite companies can offer because some compress the signal, which may degrade picture quality.

And the best part? Over-the-air HD is free.

“Eighty-year-old technology is being redesigned and rejiggered to deliver the best picture quality,” said Richard Schneider, president of Antennas Direct. “It’s an interesting irony.”

Schneider started an assembly line in his garage and sold antennas out of the trunk of his car a few years ago. Now his Eureka, Mo.-based company has seven employees and did $1.4 million in sales last year. He expects sales to double this year.

“People thought I was nuts. They were laughing at me when I told them I was starting an antenna company,” Schneider said.

Before cable and satellite existed, people relied on antennas to receive analog signals from local TV stations’ broadcasting towers. Stations still send out analog signals, but most now transmit HD digital signals as well.

Consumers who can get a digital signal from an antenna will get an excellent picture, said Steve Wilson, principal analyst for consumer electronics at ABI Research, which provides companies with research on technology markets. But getting the signal depends on an antenna’s distance from the broadcasting towers.

Schneider recommends indoor antennas only for customers within 25 miles of a station’s broadcast tower. An outdoor antenna will grab a signal from up to 70 miles away as long as no mountains are in the way, he said.

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The Consumer Electronics Association, a trade association of companies from Microsoft to LG, has a Web site http://www.antennaweb.org/ that tells how far an address is from broadcasting towers and will recommend what type of antenna to use.

Megan Pollock, spokeswoman for the group, said over-the-air HD signals provide a clear, crisp picture.

“When you’re using an antenna to get an HD signal you will be able to receive true broadcast quality HD,” Pollock said. “Some of the cable and satellite companies may choose to compress the HD signal.”

Compression means that the companies remove some of the data from the digital signal, which reduces picture quality. This is done so that they can still have enough room to send hundreds of other channels through the same cable line or satellite transmission.

The difference is subjective, said Robert Mercer, spokesman for satellite company DirecTV, Inc.

“We believe the DirecTV HD signal is superior to any source, whether it’s over-the-air or from your friendly neighborhood cable company,” Mercer said.

Many people aren’t aware that they can get HD over the airwaves, Wilson said. He estimates there are 10 million households with HDTVs and that less than 2 million of them use antennas. Overall, out of the 110 million households in the United States, 15 million use antennas.

Antenna prices range from $20 to $150 for indoor and outdoor versions. The many models of available indoor antennas look more like a fleet of spaceships than the rabbit ears of old.

One major difference with a digital over-the-air signal is it doesn’t get snowy and fuzzy like the old analog signal. Instead, the picture will turn into tiny blocks and go black.

“You either get it or you don’t,” said Dale Cripps, founder and co-publisher of HDTV Magazine. “Some people can receive it with rabbit ears, it depends where you are.”

Besides reception issues, the obvious downside of an antenna is that only local channels are available, meaning no ESPN, TNT or Discovery Channel.

That’s why some consumers partner an antenna with cable or satellite.

Self-described TV fanatic Kevin Holtz, of suburban Cleveland, chose an antenna because he didn’t want to pay his satellite provider extra for local broadcast channels.

Holtz, 30, can’t get the signal from one local network or a public broadcasting station but said the rest of the stations come in clearer than they would through satellite.

“Over-the-air everything is perfect,” Holtz said.

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He lives with his brother and they use the $60 antenna for a 40-inch Sony LCD, which retails for about $3,000.

Those really interested in saving a buck and who have a little MacGyver in them could make their own antenna. Steve Mezick of Portland, Ore., created one out of cardboard and tinfoil.

“I decided to build it because the design looked exceedingly simple. I scrounged up stuff around the house and put one together,” said Mezick, a bowling alley mechanic who repairs pin spotters.

The 30-year-old has since upgraded his original design using a wire baking sheet, clothes hanger and wood. He mounted it to the side of his house and gets all of his local stations.

“It works brilliantly,” he said.
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Thanks AP NEws and AOL… for this post.
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How many Baby Boomers hate to pay for TV???
This seems very basis and if I had a TV I am sure that I would get on of these gozmos! I give grave reveiws to this product.
Cudos to you inventors!

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

~ by thebabyboomerqueen on December 30, 2007.

One Response to “GET HD Signals with ANTENNAS…”

  1. DEMAND FOR FREE HD OVER-THE-AIR BROADCASTS
    SPURRING TREMENDOUS GROWTH IN ANTENNA SALES
    FOR ANTENNAS DIRECT™

    Sales Increased 220% 3Q 2007 Over 3Q 2006
    As Cable TV Looses 1.1 Million Subscribers

    December 3, 2007, St. Louis, MO –The cable industry has lost over one million subscribers this year, suggesting a year ending with a 2 percent loss of market share, as reported recently in several newspapers, trade magazines and Internet newsletters. Some of the declines actually surprised Wall Street. But they didn’t surprise Richard Schneider, President of Antennas Direct, whose new Terrestrial Digital brand of antenna sales tripled during the same period. Schneider said “Because of the tremendous improvements in our Off-Air antenna technology and design that have taken place in the last few years, along with changing customer attitudes and needs in the new and highly competitive digital TV and HD era, we’ve found ourselves right in the middle of a thriving resurgence of Over-The-Air (OTA) antennas. Research projects that 15 percent of TV households and 23 percent of TV sets in U.S. homes don’t receive cable or satellite TV. That represents more than 70 million TV sets that only receive OTA broadcast television. It’s no wonder our phones are ringing off the hook.”

    Schneider continued “Two of the reasons suggested by most business reporters for the decline in cable numbers are TV subscribers switching to Satellite (DBS) and the emergence of telco TV. While partially true, telco numbers are much too small to be a significant factor, but a meaningful percentage of these cable TV losses come from unhappy cable customers switching to OTA antennas and dumping cable’s hundreds of unwatched channels in favor of getting all their favorite local broadcasts FREE. Cable companies are stumbling with penetration percentages hitting a 17-year low. A significant number of cable subscribers are finally getting enough of cable TV’s higher costs, billing add-ons, service outages, contact difficulties, aggravating half-day in-home service waits and no shows, resulting in lost customers, while our business is doubling about every 180 days”

    On November 29, 2007, The Bridge Data Group reported overall “customer satisfaction” with DBS at 72% and cable at only 58% and the “likelihood to switch” for both at 10%. These numbers might have accounted recently for the “attack” on a Comcast payment center in Virginia by a 75 year-old hammer wielding grandmother.

    And it’s not only problems with Cable (and Satellite) providers that have caused this dramatic OTA antenna sales increase. The benefits of Off-Air antennas are compelling and numerous. There is only so much room on cable or satellite bandwidth in which to squeeze signal, so data is compressed to fit, resulting in a somewhat “soft” picture. An OTA signal is the gold standard in digital reception because it’s completely uncompressed and also FREE; good news for the millions of homes not using cable or satellite. But what about those cable or satellite subscribers that want access to all their local broadcasts or all available HD local broadcasts, but can’t get them from their present provider.

    Local digital TV broadcasts are everywhere. And how hot is HD? High Definition Televisions bumped digital cameras out of the top spot for the most desired CE product for 2007. But bandwidth limitations mean that cable and satellite providers may not carry all local channels in many areas, or may not offer all of them in high definition. Contract disagreements between local cable operators and local broadcasters can mean that major networks may not be available via cable TV in several areas. DISH Network® offers local HD coverage to about 47 percent of U.S. markets, while DIRECTV® reaches about 65 percent, but for an additional monthly fee.

    “What about those other millions of viewers who want to see their favorite local shows and in HD” asks Schneider? “The answer is to add an OTA antenna to other signal reception sources”. This not only gives a viewer the ability to receive all their local stations, but, with the right Terrestrial Digital antenna, some viewers may even be able to receive out-of-town channels, which may carry blacked out sports programs or network broadcasts not available in their home town. For lower income families, an OTA antenna may be the only alternative. As an added benefit, an OTA antenna provides back-up reception options for local cable or satellite signal loss due to equipment failure or rain, snow and ice fade and to smaller TVs and second sets in homes not wired for whole-house signal distribution.

    The Consumer Electronics Association, which does not track antenna sales, puts antennas in their accessory category. Accessory? Try getting an OTA broadcast signal without one.

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