Jun 102014
 


Winegard HDTV AntennaI bought the Winegard HDTV Antenna on impulse, on-site without having any prior knowledge of the brand, research or reviews. What prompted me to buy this particular outdoor HDTV antenna was the low, $35.00 price tag at Home Depot. I was actually shopping for both a splitter and an inexpensive, outdoor HD antenna. As it turns out, I didn’t need a splitter. You may or may not need a coax splitter either, but before we get to the installation concerns and questions, let’s talk about the actual benefits of having an outdoor HDTV antenna.

Why an Outdoor HDTV Antenna?

Over a year ago, I gave up pay TV and started using internal, HD antennas to pick up local channels off-air. I will get into the specifics of why I gave up pay TV a little bit later in this article, but for now, let me explain why I decided to go with an outdoor HDTV antenna. I have three HD TVs in my house: A 42″ LG LCD Flatscreen in my den; a 32″ LCD in my upstairs bedroom and a 65″ Mitsubishi, Projection HD television in the basement. When I cancelled my DirecTV service over a year ago, I bought three, inexpensive, indoor HD antennas for each of these televisions.  The television antennas worked pretty well, if not for two problems:

Problems with Indoor HD Antennas

  • One, Indoor antennas do not help with your room decor.  In order to get the most consistent picture, it seemed I had to place my antenna in the most conspicuous places.
  • Two, even when I found the best place for the antenna, the picture would often freeze and become scrambled on the most used and popular, local stations such as CBS, NBC and ABC.

My best reception came from bedroom television upstairs which was positioned high up on the wall of our vaulted ceiling. This also happened to be the cheapest antenna of the three I purchased. This is when it dawned on me that the position of the antenna was way more important than the quality of the actual HD antenna. An outdoor HDTV antenna started to make a lot of sense. It made even more sense when I realized that my old, DirecTV dish was already wired to all four televisions in my house. Since the wiring was already there, shouldn’t I be able to just replace the current TV dish with an inexpensive outdoor HDTV antenna? The easiest way to test this would be to take one of my current, indoor HDTV antennas and simply connect it to where the cable leads into the DirecTV dish.  Can I use satellite dish as antenna?

Use a Satellite Dish as Antenna

DirecTV Dish Used as HD AntennaA DirecTV or Satellite dish will not pickup an HD signal, so it cannot be used in place of an outdoor or indoor HDTV antenna.  What I figured I could do, however, is disconnect the portion of the coaxial cable that leads into the transmitter that is aimed towards the dish and replace it with an HD antenna. With the mounting stand from DirecTV generously and conveniently already mounted up high on the side of my house with all coaxial cabling intact, it should be the perfect home for my new, HDTV Outdoor Antenna reception. So, I grabbed my indoor HDTV antenna from my den and headed outside to try it.  Before I connected the indoor HDTV antenna, I went to my cable box to check my splitter to make sure it was connected to all of the televisions in my house.  This is where I unnecessarily confused myself.

Connecting to Outdoor Cable Splitter

Outdoor Cable SpliterAt one time, my cable box had two, outdoor cable splitters. One of them was for my television and the other was for my TV from Comcast. I removed one of them after I cancelled my DirecTV subscription, but kept the televisions connected to the internet’s outdoor cable splitter provided by Comcast. I struggled thinking of how I could combine two inputs from my current Comcast Modem connection and make all of the television sets work. Finally, I realized I was making this way, way too complicated. Why not use the second splitter and keep them all seperate? This was just a tad easier said than done. It was very difficult following each of the cables to the connections inside the house. It meant that I had to disconnect my internet service a few times. I also had to experiment with the television cabling to find out which cable leads to which one. Ironically, as it turned out, I ended up having my internet connection go through the free splitter provided by DirecTV. As you can see from the, left-hand photo, the internet connection uses only one input from my cable box and one output which goes to the modem inside of my house. The reason for this is that my existing, Comcast splitter already had all of the television cables connected. I was too lazy to replace them and redo everything. If it works, don’t fix it and it did work. I connected my cheap, indoor antenna to the existing DirecTV cable input and raced inside to check for a picture. I turned the den television on and it scanned 32 digital channels. I was now anxious to try the Winegard HDTV Antenna to see how much of an improvement it would over an indoor HD antenna.

Winegard HDTV Antenna Installation

Winegard HDTV Antenna InstallationI had already purchased the Winegard HDTV antenna while I was checking out the outdoor cable splitter connections and testing the indoor antenna. I left it in the box until I was certain I could get television reception using the outdoor, satellite coaxial connection. I was no ready to assemble the Winegard Antenna, mount it on the DirecTV mounting pole and give it a try.  The Winegard box is very light. There really isn’t much to the product at all. There are two wires, and a couple of connections that screw the two ends of the antenna together and then plug into a coaxial connector for cabling it into the cable input. I used a short section of coaxial cable from indoors to connect between my outdoor input cable and the Winegard coax connector. I completely removed the receptor hardware and dish from the DirecTV mounting stand which appropriate faces southeast. It also makes sense to leave it there since most of the local HD broadcast stations are also facing southeast. The Winegard box comes with a supplied U-Bracket and a couple of screws to attach it to a post. My existing post happened to be quite a bit wider than what the mounting hardware was intended to be used for, but I was still able to securely fasten it to the post. Having finally fastened the Winegard outdoor HDTV antenna to the DirecTV mounting post, I was a bit concerned that the HDTV antenna seemed to be snuggled too close to the leaves of the Aspen tree at the side of the house. I decided to give it a try, anyway before looking into ways to re-position the antenna for best, possible reception.

Winegard Outdoor HDTV Reception

I went straight to the television in my Den; turned it on and pushed the menu button to begin scanning for channels. After the channel scan completed, the screen reported to me that there were 39 channels found. This was exactly 7 more than was found with the indoor antenna.  My upstairs television inaccurately reported that it had found 69 channels. I I confirmed that there are only 39 channels. The reception on all televisions seemed to be about the same. My next question was whether or not I could improve reception by positioning the antenna away from the leaves.

Positioning the Outdoor HDTV Antenna for Best Reception

From the included, Winegard Antenna instruction manual and what I have read online, it is best to position an HD antenna so it faces the stations who are broadcasting the signal. The online Winegard Antenna videos recommend that the antenna have at least 3-feet clearance from any interference with power lines or trees. Mine seemed to be a tad too close to the Aspen tree, so I was able to loosen the bolts on the DirecTV mounting stand and rotate it away from the leaves. This possibly caused me some problems. I began noticing some freezing and reception problems on certain stations. This problem re-occurred on all three televisions. I re-positioned the antenna back to where it was. Though, the HD reception improved, I still do have occasional problems on certain channels. I will try removing some tree branches. Next, I might consider devising an extension pole for raising the antenna to a higher position, clear of the trees and house. The position of my HD antenna is southeast which puts it in direct site of most of my local stations broadcasting towers.  All in all, buying the Winegard outdoor HDTV antenna has been a good idea.  Using an outdoor hdtv antenna has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Outdoor HDTV Antennas

One of the most obvious advantage of an outdoor HDTV antenna is the convenience of having up to four televisions in my home connected to the same antenna. There is no need to move and re-position the antenna for each of the TV’s. What’s best for one TV is best for them all. The second advantage is that there is a much stronger signal, overall with less interference. This, of course, means more channels than with an indoor antenna.  If you’re going to get free HDTV, you’re going to make some sacrifices. Why not give yourself the best experience possible by getting the best reception and signal available? Finally, it is nice to be free of the indoor HD antenna clutter and cabling that was messing up the walls and inside of our home. Another advantage would have been cost if I had planned on an outdoor antenna from the very beginning. The $35.00 I spent on the Winegard is less than the $60 I spent on the three HD indoor antennas. Obviously, I could have gone with a more expensive antenna. The more expensive ones advertise a greater broadcasting range. For example, the RCA, $95.00 HDTV Antenna will broadcast up to 60 miles. There was another, smaller, $75.00 antenna that broadcasts up to 40 miles. The $35.00 Winegard HD antenna advertises a broadcasting range of just 30 miles. This seemed more than adequate to me, considering most of the broadcast stations are within 15 miles of my home. Perhaps, the more expensive HDTV antennas with greater broadcasting ranges offer a more consistent signal with less freeze-ups and picture loss. Only time will tell, but suffice it to say, if its in your budget and you don’t mind mounting a heavier, bigger antenna on your roof or wall, it might be a good idea to go with the more expensive models. Winegard, obviously makes more than just the cheap, $35.00 model.

Disadvantages of Outdoor HDTV Antennas

The one thing that probably keeps most non-pay TV users from considering an outdoor antenna is the difficulty of cabling and installation. If your home was already cabled by a professional cable or dish installer like mine, than this is not an issue. You might also find difficulty finding a suitable and safe place to mount your antenna. If you have a pre-existing dish, however, like me, this is not a problem either. Perhaps, another disadvantage over an indoor antenna is that you have no control over it once it is inside your home. There are actually outdoor antennas which can be controlled by a remote, but those are very expensive which would make cost the single, biggest disadvantage. The advantages and disadvantages of outdoor HDTV antennas are based on the idea that Free HD Antenna Television gives us the channels and programs we need. This is where we have to enter into a whole new debate. Even the best HD Outdoor TV antenna in the world won’t replace the shows, sporting events, news and programs that we can watch with a paid, subscription based TV service like Comcast, Dish or DirecTV.  If this is what you want, then you might not want to give up your service just yet.

Outdoor HDTV versus Paid HDTV

I have come to believe that all forms of pay TV are a rip-off for the vast majority of us. We are paying for channels we aren’t even watching over 90% of the time. Still, most of us do have a few things we want. The big sacrifice for me is giving up some of the sporting channels like ESPN, Pac-12 and Root sports which covers the Colorado Rockies games. Also, it would be nice to tune into Fox national news once in a while. That is a sacrifice, I’m willing to make, however. The Winegard HDTV antenna is a $35.00 solution for giving me 35-40 channels.. That includes local news and programming as well as some pretty good, old movies and TV shows from programs like MeTV, etc..

Winegard Antenna vs Free Internet TV

There are a number of online advertisements for Internet TV claiming you can watch up to 3,500 channels – all free and legal. I looked into some of these services. If they are free and they are showing the programs we all get from paid TV, how can they possibly be legal? The truth is that they are free and they are legal, but it isn’t going to replace your Comcast, Dish or DirecTV. You will get programs you never want to watch from all over the world, but you won’t be able to watch a college football game on the Pac-12 network or your favorite baseball team on Root sports or ESPN. Still, the idea of Internet TV is an interesting consideration for the future. If enough people start abandoning the high prices of their paid TV, these broadcasting companies will start getting wise and providing options for reasonably priced, subscription based entertainment of live TV programming on the internet. Web based, live television is a perfect opportunity to gives us only the channels we want; when we want them, and at a price we can afford. We already have the internet capabilities in our homes to do this. And, with Smart TV with Wifi and products like Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc., we already have the capability to stream these shows to our big-screen televisions. The more I consider the future possibilities of internet TV I become convinced that free television programming through HD television antennas will become even more popular. Outdoor HD programming will be the perfect compliment for paid, internet television shows.

The future of Internet TV has convinced me that the $35.00 Outdoor HDTV Investment was an excellent idea. I do get some HD television at no cost. My current internet service serves the hopeful prospect of being able to serve all of the televisions in my home with Internet TV some day soon. When that day comes, I will only pay for the television I want to watch. The Winegard HDTV antenna will continue to serve the useful purpose of broadcasting free, local television.

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