Improving Digital TV Signals - 3 Steps to Better DTV Reception

Posted by Anonymous

Having switched to the new digital television format, you may find the need to improve your reception. Explore a simple method for getting a better picture by following three easy steps.

Digital Television Broadcasting is pretty amazing. You'll likely receive many more stations than ever before. Your old TV will deliver clear sharp picture quality like you never experienced! You'll get more bang for your buck with additional features like Multicast and Electronic Program Guides...

You're gonna LOVE digital reception - and then again maybe you won't.

Digital TV is great when it works but when it doesn't it will frustrate you beyond belief. This is because digital television is an ALL or NOTHING technology. In the old days, if your signal wasn't the best or there was some sort of interference, your picture and/or sound quality diminished. You got snow and static. Not an enjoyable experience, but you did get something.

Digital, on the other hand is less forgiving. You will either get a great picture, or none at all. DTV can compensate for some reception errors. It has the ability to guess as what it needs to fill in the gaps when there are small pieces of digital information missing because of interference, etc. In addition, as the signal coming to your TV starts to degrade, you will see the picture pause, possibly jump, and maybe even pixelate.

However, once a certain threshold has been reached where the set can no longer guess at what is missing, the picture goes blank and sound goes dead. You see this banner scroll across your set saying "No Signal". This will be especially true for viewers in outlying and rural areas where the broadcast tower is far away and signal strength is weak. This may also be true for folks living in urban areas where there are lots of obstructions and electro magnetic interference.

There's actually a pretty simple solution to FIX this. It's the three steps I mentioned earlier.

To make all this work, all you really need to do is increase your signal strength. Start from the TV set and work backwards towards the antenna. As soon as you reach a level of reception you're satisfied with, stop and savor your efforts. If the last step you performed wasn't quite enough to improve reception, move to the next until you're content.

Step one (1): Install a TV Signal Amplifier

Sometimes the signal coming into your home is just below the digital threshold I talked about earlier. A boost, or amplified signal may be all that is needed to bring your set back to life. These devices are designed specifically to improve the signal strength needed for UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV antenna reception. For the best results and to prevent signal degradation, the amplifier should be installed where the antenna cable first enters the home. If this step is not quite good enough, proceed to step 2. Also note that this is not money thrown away. The next step involves getting a new antenna and this amplifier will help that do a better job - nothing is lost here.

Step two (2): Find the BEST TV Antenna for your Particular Needs

Many factors determine how an antenna works and unfortunately, there are no BEST units for all circumstances. You need to study your particular situation and determine what features will be required to meet your needs.

If you live in a rural area, antenna design is critical. You'll want one with numerous elements to capture as much signal as possible. I wouldn't even consider a "rabbit ear" type for this application.

Living in an urban location is much different. Other buildings and obstacles must be taken into account. Are there large power lines close by? Are the TV stations close by or in another town? In this situation, you may be able to use rabbit ears or an omni-directional antenna.

My point is that you need to do a bit of homework here. I know that may not be what you want to hear but it's the truth and it's necessary. Every situation and location is different and you will have to figure out your needs in order to select the best product.

One other bit of advice I'd like to pass on... Don't scrimp on this piece of equipment. Buy the best antenna you can possibly afford. You are going to have to live with this purchase for some time so make sure that it's an INVESTMENT and not an expense. I've never been sorry for buying the best I could afford, but many times I've kicked myself in the keister cause I skimped and got the cheap unit. Trust me, you won't be sorry you got the best.

Step Three (3): Install an Antenna Rotor

While the old fashioned analog signals could bounce off objects and make their way to your set, the new digital signals are a "line of sight" signal. They tend to travel in straight lines and don't take detours. Therefore there's one last trick left up your sleeve for getting good DTV reception - add an antenna rotor to your setup so that you can aim your antenna at the broadcast tower.

This piece of equipment is one that you can shop around for and buy based on features and construction grade. If you live in an area that doesn't get snow and ice, then a little lighter duty unit may work just fine. In addition, if you don't need a lot of features such as location storage, remote control, or lit buttons, you can save yourself a few dollars here as well. However, if you happen to live in a hostile area with brutal winters, be sure to get a unit capable of standing up to that abuse. You don't want to get up on the roof in the middle of winter risking life and limb to freeze your fingers off as you replace a bum unit. Shop wisely.