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Choosing the Best Digital Television Antenna

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 3/23/2011

If you are having problems with digital signal reception, you may need a new antenna. Learn about the types of antennas for digital television and choose the one that best suits your needs.

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    Facts About Digital Television Antennas

    The dynamics of digital television reception is very different from analog. Although digital television does not suffer from analog reception problems such as snow, noise and ghosting, it has certain reception problems of its own. When an over-the-air digital television signal is too weak, it may break down into large blocks of color or cut out completely. This total loss of TV picture and sound can be very frustrating and at times may seem almost impossible to remedy. If you are experiencing extremely poor digital television reception, chances are your antenna is not adequate to the task of amplifying your local digital television signals. When you go shopping for an antenna for digital television, you may hear that you need a "digital" or "HDTV" antenna. The truth is that all television antennas are capable of picking up digital signals. However, some antennas do a better job than others do.

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    Types of Digital Television Antennas

    There are both indoor and outdoor antennas available that can receive digital television signals very well. There are also combination antennas that can be used either indoors or outdoors. Both indoor and outdoor antennas can be directional or multidirectional. There are also antennas that can pick up either UHF or VHF signals as well as antennas that can receive both. Which type of television antenna is best for you depends on the television stations in your area and the terrain around where you live.

    If you live very close to the source of your local digital television transmissions, an indoor multidirectional antenna will probably pick up digital signals with proper reception. However, if you live far away from the digital television stations in your area, of if there is a lot of interference, chances are you will need an amplified antenna. Amplified antennas use a power adapter to boost television signals. Both indoor and outdoor antennas come in amplified and nonamplified models.

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    Digital Television Antenna Resources

    You can get lots of help choosing an antenna for digital television at AntennaWeb.org. This website has information about your local television stations, such as what band and radio frequency (RF) channel they broadcast on and their compass heading. The site also provides suggestions about which type of outdoor antenna is best to receive each channel. Click on the links to the left of the channel call letters to see a description of the recommended antenna. To a limited degree, you can also use this information to help you choose an indoor antenna to receive digital television in your home.

    For more information on digital television, read the Bright Hub articles How to Improve Digital TV Reception and DTV, HDTV and HDTV Ready Television: What is the Difference?