Antennas for Over the Air Reception
Receiving local channels without cable can be achieved through the use of either an indoor or outdoor antenna.
In today’s streaming environment, this functionality is called ‘Over The Air’, or OTA reception.
Frankly, it’s what we used to do at the dawn of TV!!
Until I cut the cord, I hadn’t used an OTA antenna in a couple of decades. Back then, I remember that the signal quality was spotty, that signals were severely impacted by weather, and that tuning in your favorite show could be a nuisance.
Times have changed! The USA has transitioned over to digital broadcasts, meaning the picture is being transmitted as 1s and 0s instead of an analog signal. This helps with the quality of the picture.
OTA Picture Quality
If you plug the antenna directly to the TV, you’ll immediately notice an improved picture quality over that provided by cable.
Why? Because the cable companies compress the digital signal. How does one compress a digital signal? By mathematically REMOVING parts of the transmitted information. This causes a more grainy picture. If you look closely, you’ll sometimes notice large blocks of the same color, especially in cable provided show backgrounds.
To transmit the local signal to you through cable, the cable company has their own HD antenna. It captures the signal, and then encodes in such a way to preserve their bandwidth.
Now, we’ll probably end up using the same type of trick to help our home WIFI network BUT we’ll be able to configure this to find a sweet spot between performance and quality.
Where to Mount the Antenna?
CableFreeUSA’s recommended cord cutting rig utilizes WIFI inside the house. We want to do everything we can to minimize actual wires. In an old house like mine, this is excellent, as running a new coax line through the walls of the house can cost hundreds of dollars and require plaster and painting finishing work.
I happen to have easy access to a very high part of the house – a finished 3rd floor attic space. This lets me point my Mohu Leaf antenna directly at the local antenna array.
I then plug the antenna into a signal amplifier and then into a TabloTV DVR. In this way, I can watch my local broadcasts, and even time shift them!!! I specifically pursued this configuration to capture Cleveland Browns NFL broadcasts.
Popular new Prime Time network programming, found on the Big Four, is also there to capture and enjoy.
Call to Action
We recommend that you first try to replicate the OTA portion of CableFeeUSA.com’s recommended cable cutting rig to try and capture your local channels without cable. If your conditions do not let you get the Mohu Leaf pointed above the local ground obstructions (neighbors houses, trees), or if you are in the suburbs farther away from your local broadcasting array, you’ll want to invest in and mount an antenna on the house. I know this is more work and cost, but it really is the ‘real’ way to implement OTA capture.