News: People Take Advantage of Free HD

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by Ronin, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. Ronin

    Ronin Guest

    Shhhh, be vewry verwy quiet, I hunting HDTV!

    by Gene DellaSala — last modified April 29, 2007 10:06

    According to an article in the Associated Press (AP), there is an increasing trend with consumers hooking up their multi thousand dollar HDTV’s with $50 rabbit ear (or as Elmer Fudd refers to as “wabbit ear”) antennas much like grandpa used back in the day.

    Why would anyone do this in an age of the digital revolution where we have Satellite, Cable and Fiber services that all broadcast in HDTV? Well truth be told, many local TV channels that broadcast in HD over-the-air, offer superior picture quality over the often-compressed signals sent by cable and satellite TV companies. 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."

    According to the AP, a few years ago, Schneider started an assembly line in his garage and sold antennas out of the trunk of his car. Now his Eureka, Mo.-based company has seven employees and did $1.4 million in sales last year. He expects revenue to double in 2007.

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


    Suffice it to say. before cable and satellite existed, people relied on ordinary antennas to receive analog signals from local TV stations' broadcasting towers. Stations still send out these analog signals in addition to transmitting the HD digital signals as well. (Congress has ordered broadcasters to shut off old-style analog TV broadcasts by Feb. 17, 2009.)

    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.

    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."

    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.

    The Consumer Electronics Association has a Web site that tells how far an address is from towers and recommends what type of antenna to use.
    "When you're using an antenna to get an HD signal you will be able to receive true broadcast-quality HD," said Megan Pollock, spokeswoman for the group. "Some of the cable and satellite companies may choose to compress the HD signal."

    Unfortunately, compression involves removing some data from the digital signal. This is done so that the providers will have enough room to send hundreds of other channels through the same cable line or satellite transmission. Depending on the source content, and amount of compression utilized, the deleterious effects will either be unnoticeable or unwatchable compared to a free air HD signal. I particularly noticed last night while viewing a Dreamtheater concert on the HD music channel from my local cable provider that at times the picture looked stunning, that was until a dark scene was present and you can see noise artifacts giving a very grainy picture on my Samsung 1080p DPL RPTV and my 720p Plasma. From a purists standpoint, had this been broadcasted locally, I am sure the graininess caused by too much compression would have been replaced with a pristine image throughout the program.

    Aside from folks using antennas to pick up local channels in HD because of the potentially stunning picture quality, some also choose this route because they don’t want to pay their satellite provider an extra fee for local broadcast channels.

    A downside in just using an antenna is that only local channels are available, meaning no ESPN, TNT, CNN or Discovery Channel. Some consumers partner an antenna with cable or satellite service to get a complete HD solution.

    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 fewer than 2 million of them use antennas. Including homes with analog sets, 15 million of the 110 million households in the United States use antennas.

    HD 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 Federation starships than the rabbit ears of old. Brand names include Terk, Philips, Audiovox, Jensen and Magnavox.
    Savvy consumers looking to save a buck can MacGyver their own antenna using simple household elements such as cardboard and tinfoil. DIY’ers rejoice, check out this site:
    Build your own HD antenna
    So its time to get the old wabbit ears back out and have Elmer help you hunt down the local HD channels.

    by Gene DellaSala — last modified April 29, 2007 10:06
  2. twistid

    twistid Banged By Super Models Moderator

    Jul 15, 2001
    Likes Received:
    The Kansass/Oklahomo Border
    my bosses father lives in a metro area, and uses rabbit ears for his HD... he does not have cable, or satellite... just the rabbit ears... my boss says, the picture is impressive... too bad i don't live closer to a big city, or i'd do the same.
  3. Ronin

    Ronin Guest

    i think im too far out as well, and the fact my tv isnt hd doesnt help either, lol
  4. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Sep 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Southern Oregon
    I live in the sticks. But I'm only 30 miles from the HD broadcast tower. :giggidy:
  5. SilverJettaGLX

    SilverJettaGLX OT Supporter

    Jun 29, 2000
    Likes Received:
    I havent tried using the antenna, but I am using my TV's QAM tuner to get my locals in HD from the cable company. Funny thing is, that they accused me of stealing the signal from them and shut off my service. I had called regarding a billing issue and the agent I got tried to sell me on thier overpriced HD package. When I told them that I was happy at the moment with just the local stations in HD she said the ONLY way for anyone to get HD from them (Cox) was with the digital set top box from them. A day later boom, no service :madfawk:
  6. GammaRadiation

    GammaRadiation Active Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Random Location.FL
    i'll stick to my comcast.
  7. CrazyInteg

    CrazyInteg OG

    Dec 30, 2000
    Likes Received:
    I don't pay for my HD. I just grabbed an antenna off a Trinitron in our kitchen, and it works great.

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