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Getting HD Over the Air

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Getting HD Over the Air

Postby JTWood » Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:47 pm

Got a question...

I have an HD TV with all the tuners. Fox brags that they transmit the playoffs in HD. Does that mean they transmit it over the air, or do I need to have a digital cable package to get that signal? I'm asking because when I switch to my tuners, I don't notice any change in quality.
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby slomo007 » Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:12 pm

JT, you'll have to clarify a bit. Do you have an antenna hooked up to your TV?
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby JTWood » Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:25 pm

slomo007 wrote:JT, you'll have to clarify a bit. Do you have an antenna hooked up to your TV?

This is the TV I own.

I have purchased nothing extra except for a home theater system.
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby slomo007 » Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:34 pm

JTWood wrote:
slomo007 wrote:JT, you'll have to clarify a bit. Do you have an antenna hooked up to your TV?

This is the TV I own.

I have purchased nothing extra except for a home theater system.


Nice TV, very similar to mine. Mine's a Hitachi plasma with a slightly higher resolution but a lower contrast ratio. Plasmas are the way to go, IMO, so good choice there.

Now, in order to get HD channels you need to have a regular antenna. Start by going to http://www.antennaweb.org and type in your address. It will tell you how far you are away from your local stations and what "color" antenna you need. The colors are basically the antenna strengths. If you live relatively close (ie, less than 100 miles) from a major city you should be able to get Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and some other various channels all for completely free and most are in HD. It's one of the best things you'll ever find for free. In fact, it's so awesome that I built my own DVR and then cut off the cable company completely. That's a sweet savings of $50/month and I only miss ESPN and DIscovery Channel...that's it.

Anyway, you'll need to buy an antenna, then hook it up with RG6 coaxial cable (the thicker type of cable you can buy) in to your TV. Don't let them talk you in to anything fancier than that. Start by going to the website I mentioned and then post the distance to your main stations (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) and I can give you an antenna recommendation. If you live within 25-30 miles of a major city you're talking less than $50 to get 100% HD (better quality than cable or satellite) channels for absolutely free.
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby JTWood » Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:49 pm

slomo007 wrote:
JTWood wrote:
slomo007 wrote:JT, you'll have to clarify a bit. Do you have an antenna hooked up to your TV?

This is the TV I own.

I have purchased nothing extra except for a home theater system.


Nice TV, very similar to mine. Mine's a Hitachi plasma with a slightly higher resolution but a lower contrast ratio. Plasmas are the way to go, IMO, so good choice there.

Now, in order to get HD channels you need to have a regular antenna. Start by going to http://www.antennaweb.org and type in your address. It will tell you how far you are away from your local stations and what "color" antenna you need. The colors are basically the antenna strengths. If you live relatively close (ie, less than 100 miles) from a major city you should be able to get Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and some other various channels all for completely free and most are in HD. It's one of the best things you'll ever find for free. In fact, it's so awesome that I built my own DVR and then cut off the cable company completely. That's a sweet savings of $50/month and I only miss ESPN and DIscovery Channel...that's it.

Anyway, you'll need to buy an antenna, then hook it up with RG6 coaxial cable (the thicker type of cable you can buy) in to your TV. Don't let them talk you in to anything fancier than that. Start by going to the website I mentioned and then post the distance to your main stations (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) and I can give you an antenna recommendation. If you live within 25-30 miles of a major city you're talking less than $50 to get 100% HD (better quality than cable or satellite) channels for absolutely free.

Awesome, man. Thanks. So, when the TV says it comes with all these built-in antennas, what do they do?
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby slomo007 » Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:54 pm

They don't have built in antennas...they have built in "tuners". Basically, a tuner can decode the over the air signals and show them in HD quality. So when they say ATSC that is the over the air tuner that you can use with a regular antenna. QAM tuners are great too, basically all cable companies send QAM HD signals over their lines and a QAM tuner can decode them. The problem is that they are hit/miss depending on your cable company. Sometimes you will get a bunch of them, sometimes you won't get any. If your neighbor orders a pay per view movie, you can see it, etc. It is really hit/miss and is sort of interesting but can't be relied upon on a day to day basis. That is all of just your normal cable line coming right from your wall in to your TV.

The ATSC tuner is the one that comes straight from your antenna in to your TV and allows you to view your local channels in HD though....it's the one I watch exclusively for all of my TV programming. Try it, you'll be amazed at how clear it is compared to cable.
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby Lofunzo » Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:03 am

JT.......If you have trouble finding an RG-6 jumper, I can make 1 for you. Don't go for that Radio Shack crap. If you have any service with your cable company, you could also go to the local payment center and pick 1 up. You are screwed on length, though, because they are all premade and are only a few feet.
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby StlSluggers » Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:20 pm

Lofunzo wrote:JT.......If you have trouble finding an RG-6 jumper, I can make 1 for you. Don't go for that Radio Shack crap. If you have any service with your cable company, you could also go to the local payment center and pick 1 up. You are screwed on length, though, because they are all premade and are only a few feet.

That's the coax I need to connect the antenna to the TV, right?

Slomo, I found this article today. I understand what it's saying. It was just a different way of looking at "hd" antennas...

No Such Thing as an HDTV Antenna

Over-the-air (OTA) HDTV is a big hit these days. High definition television is one on those rare services that comes in the highest quality when it is free of charge. You can watch amazing 1080i resolution broadcasts over the air for free, and get better quality for the same channels than through a paid satellite DTV subscription. All you need is a high definition TV set with a built-in HDTV tuner and an off-air HDTV antenna.

Do you know what HDTV antenna is? If you do, forget it immediately. There is no such thing.

Do you know what a regular antenna is? Antenna is a piece of metal designed to resonate at a specific frequency and to be responsive over a range of frequencies. TV antennas are designed to work either in the range of Ultra High Frequencies (UHF), Very High Frequencies (VHF) or both. Any station transmitting within an antenna bandwidth, i.e. the VHF/UHF frequency range, can be picked up by the antenna and transferred to the TV set.

All television broadcasts, digital and analog, high definition and standard definition, take place in the VHF and the UHF bands. What make a signal to be HD is its content, the way a signal is modulated, and not the carrier frequency it is transmitted on. On the contrary, for antenna only the frequency matters.

There is nothing specific about a TV antenna that is used to receive HD signals. Your antenna doesn't really care whether the signal is high definition or not. It has absolutely no idea what the signal resolution is, or whether the signal is analog or digital. The antenna doesn't care that you are receiving HDTV as it doesn't care whether you are watching Fox News or NBC channel.

Okay, may be I oversimplify the matters. There is a little bit more to it. Besides the bandwidth there are few additional electrical and spatial properties a good antenna must have. Most notably, directivity, high front-to-back (F/B) ratio and low-noise amplification in case the antenna comes with an amplifier. Does anything of these matter from the analog vs. HDTV reception perspective?

There is a wrong, yet widespread belief that you need more powerful antenna in terms of directivity and amplification in order to receive digital television. I don't know where the hell this belief comes from, cause the situation is exactly the opposite. HDTV is much more noise immune than the analog television and can produce high quality video at significantly lower signal-to-noise ratios. So in principle, if analog and digital stations transmitted at the same power, you would need less antenna gain and could tolerate higher noise levels to receive error free digital TV. In reality, networks exploit the inherent noise immunity of the digital TV to transmit HDTV signal at reduced power. All in all, antennas with similar directivity/gain properties should receive analog and digital broadcasts equally well.

The other important specification, F/B ratio, has to do with the antenna ability to receive a signal coming towards its front from the direction the antenna points to, and to reject a signal coming from behind. In the presence of tall buildings or other reflective structures, the signal travels from the towers to the antenna by multiple paths, each path arrives at a different time instant. The multipath phenomena is responsible for a "ghost" creation in analog television. A desirable property of the antenna is to receive a single strongest replica of the signal coming through the strongest path and to reject the weak replicas. The higher F/B ratio is, the better is multipath rejection (ghost suppression). Without going into technical details, we must say that HDTV signal is a bit more sensitive to multipath phenomena cause it has slightly larger bandwidth. Such a difference in multipath sensitivity is negligibly small. Most directional, old fashioned and cheap TV antenna has F/B ratio good enough to handle HDTV signal. If an antenna can handle an analog signal, it can handle a digital signal as well.

You may ask why there are so many "HDTV antennas" on the market. HDTV is a fancy buzzword. HDTV is cool. It sells. HDTV antenna is nothing but a hype. Don't be fooled by the ubiquitous ads promoting HDTV antennas and HDTV optimized antennas. These antennas are HDTV antennas indeed, but to no lesser extent they are "SDTV antennas", "EDTV antennas" and "NTSC antennas". Let's say all of them are just TV antennas.

When choosing an antenna for HDTV, check the really important parameters such as directivity, gain, F/B ratio. These specifications are important for reception of both, digital and analog broadcasts. Consult our step-by-step HDTV antenna selection guide and read antenna reviews. The HDTV optimization is probably the least important factor you should take into account.

I thought it was interesting where it said, "In reality, networks exploit the inherent noise immunity of the digital TV to transmit HDTV signal at reduced power."
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby Lofunzo » Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:28 pm

That's the coax I need to connect the antenna to the TV, right?


Yes. It's the standard cable wire used in the industry now. The ones that they keep on hand in the payment center are usually just long enough to go from a cable box to a TV.
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Re: Getting HD Over the Air

Postby StlSluggers » Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:47 pm

Lofunzo wrote:
That's the coax I need to connect the antenna to the TV, right?

Yes. It's the standard cable wire used in the industry now. The ones that they keep on hand in the payment center are usually just long enough to go from a cable box to a TV.

Yeah, I've noticed. The cable they put in my new house isn't nearly long enough for our basement hook up. I was going to have to extend it, and before this weekend when we have people over.
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