What the Tech? How to Shop for TV Antennas
Cord cutters looking to save money by connecting an antenna to their television are being targeted by scammers on Amazon.
Antenna manufacturers from China are making impossible claims hoping to up-sell cordcutters wanting to get free TV.
Antennas are old-school technology. They’ve been around since the beginning of TV and they still pretty much work the same as they did in the 1950s. Connect one to a television and you can pick up channels from TV towers close to you.
Every network affiliate and its sub-channels broadcast an over-the-air signal that can be viewed on even the newest 4K TV sets.
But some antenna brands being sold on Amazon make unrealistic claims of what channels they can get and from how far away. I found some indoor antennas advertising they can pick up channels from 120 miles away.
This isn’t possible since TV signals have trouble going through walls, mountains and other obstructions. 120 mile range might be possible from an outdoor antenna mounted above a house if you’re living in the flatlands of mid-America but if there are
mountains or hills around you, an indoor antenna won’t be able to get that kind of range.
Antenna manufacturers also claim their brand allow you to watch shows in 4K which is not possible. TV stations do not broadcast a 4K signal (yet).
Next year the FCC and stations across the country will adopt Next Gen TV or ATSC 3.0 which will allow for a 4K signal. But that is not available now.
Some of these brands advertising on Amazon also claim to allow users to watch cable networks such as ESPN, Fox Business and CNN. These networks do not broadcast an over-the-air signal.
While these antennas will still work (you can even use coat hangers to pick up an HD signal) you have to decide if you want to support a company making these false claims.
To find out what channels you should be able to get from your house, go to www.fcc.gov/tvrescan and enter your address.