An Antenna is an Antenna, Right?
Antennas are cool! Over-the-air analog- and digital-TV broadcast signals are the best-looking broadcast signals that I have going into my home theater system. Digital satellite can be good from time to time, but cable? Forget about it! The only problem with over-the-air signals is that the science of installing and picking antennas for good TV reception is all but lost. We haven't had any reason to put up antennas until digital TV came along, except for maybe the pure pleasure of telling your cable company to take a hike.
Here at Home Theater, we've already explained how to install antennas and sung their praises. Now we're going to try to help you decide which of the new and time-tested models will work best for your particular application.
The antennas we tested were only measured with a UHF channel because most of the DTV stations going on the air will be in the UHF spectrum, channels 14 to 69, and because the local VHF WBBM-DT couldn't manage to stay on the air. In fact, one of the antennas we used, called a yagi, is only designed for UHF. The other two antennas, a Channel Master StealthTenna 3010 and a Terk HDTV60, are made for both UHF and VHF.
Terk HDTV60 VHF/UHF HDTV/DTV
I admit I was skeptical about the mystery Terk HDTV/DTV antenna that costs 400 bucks and is said to solve all of your TV-reception and personal problems. But upon unpacking the box, before ever seeing a signal, I understood why the antenna is so expensive. This baby is built! It's made of sexy, machined aluminum with an acrylic sleeve covering the semi-opaque, neon-orange main antenna element. If there's a TV antenna that can impress the ladies, this is it! The HDTV60 weighs about 9 pounds and will require a good solid mount, especially if you live in a windy area or one prone to ice storms. This is the widest antenna in the group, measuring 48.5 inches. It's also the narrowest, at 5 inches deep. You can mount it on a pole or with an offset mount on the side of a structure. It works with VHF and UHF channels and has a patented built-in preamp with a bypass switch for close-in reception.
Channel Master StealthTenna 3010 VHF/UHF HDTV/DTV
The StealthTenna 3010 is also a very different-looking design. It was fashioned in a U.S. Air Force radar-evading, flying-wing style. (It's sure to be a big hit with the crowd that watches Wings on the Discovery Channel.) It is 55 inches wide and 15 inches long. With a rear mount, it can be mounted on the side of a building or with a DBS dish, and it picks up both VHF and UHF signals. The StealthTenna doesn't ship with a preamp, but you can opt to have one specially designed for it. Its slick modular design fits into the middle compartment, or fuselage, of the antenna.