I decided after much deliberation to try HDTV over the air to see if I could get a signal and drop my $70/month cable bill. I realized after analyzing my TV watching habits that about 85% of my viewing was the local networks.
I read reviews of different HDTV antennas, researched the locations of the towers relative to my house, and found several favorable reviews for this unit in the Central Florida Region (some on walmart.com!) - so I decided I would give it a try. Living 39-41 miles from the orlando towers I didn't know if I would have any luck.
As an initial test I zip tied the unit to my 6' ladder and placed it in my back yard. I 'aimed' it laying flat at the towers instead of the normal vertical orientation as some reviews recommended this way. I estimated my visual line of site using google earth and drawing a line from my house to the 'center' of the orlando TV towers.
I hooked it to my 56" panasonic HDTV using a separately purchased phillips quad shielded 100' RG6 coax cable I also purchased from walmart and proceeded to scan for channels. after some time 44 'DTV' stations were found (38 orlando and 6 tampa ~61 miles)! Signal strength varied so I 'tweaked' the aim to get ~77% signal on the weakest station 2.1 (WESH-2 NBC). The tampa stations were marginal at best, but since I am on the side of a hill I have to penetrate earth and building where I have almost direct line of site to the Orlando towers.
Success! and it looked great on my TV. Switching between the ATSC antenna HDTV tuning and the brighthouse scientific atlanta HDTV DVR on the same stations showed negligible differences in visual quality. This is most likely due to the difference in the MPEG2 rendering engines between the TV and DVR, and their respective visual cleanup algorithms (think anti ailiasing, MPEG noise reduction, and color correction).
So with initial success I moved on to 'splitting' the antenna to 2 TV sets. I used my DTV $40 coupon and purchased the magnavox converter that walmart stocks, and then used a high quality coaxial splitter. Hooking in the converter box and splitting only yielded a slight signal drop (5-7 percent) and I tuned in 38 stations on this TV.
So I then decided I would go for it, and mounted the antenna on my roof, ran the coax in the attic, and split the TV's there. Initially I did not get the same reception, so I fiddled with an additional distribution amplifier - that did not help (prob due to no FM trap). I then decided to try different antenna orientations and discovered that standing vertical with it 'aimed' at the towers yielded the best results. I did lose the marginal tampa station, but get 38 orlando stations at 78-100% signal (most are 87%+)!
I have it split between 4 TV's now, 2 using the zenith DTT901 box (which is much better than the magnavox BTW) one with the ATSC tuner and the other with the magnavox. I am using a high quality 4 way phillips splitter, and RG6 I pulled and crimped myself to all the sets.
So for $70/month I can have a bunch of more channels I watch 15% of the time, or for a one time investment of that amount (coax and antenna) I can watch 85% of my TV for free. That's a no brainer for me.
of course I also have an additional investment of $60 for a HDTV video capture card that I put in my windows media center edition PC for DVR capability. I have this hooked to the panasonic as well and it works really well.
I Highly recommend this unit! Works for VHF and UHF - best when stood up.
Here is a summary:
Location: Clermont, FL 34711
Distance from towers: 39-41 Miles (Orlando, FL)
DTV Stations: 38
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