Smart TVs go hand in hand with today’s VOD abundance and with this rise in streaming, cable TVs have taken a backseat. So by that logic, you would think antennas are pretty much obsolete by this point right?
Well. no. There still are dedicated ports to connect antennas in all the smart TVs available in the market today and that is for good reasons. But do you even need an antenna for a Smart TV? The answer might surprise you!
Let’s find out:
What Does an Antenna Do?
Before you know if you need one, understanding what an Antenna can and can not do is crucial. Antennas are a broader term used for any part of a device that is tuned to catch radio waves. Almost every device electronic device you own like smartphones, laptops, desktop computers, and smartwatches will all have antennae so that they can communicate with devices around them as well as far away from them.
All smart TVs do come with built-in antennas. And their job is to communicate with your router and stream high-quality content over the internet. However, the antenna we are talking about here is an entirely different thing.
This antenna’s job is to catch signals from your nearest broadcasting tower so that you can watch all your local channels without paying a monthly cable fee. For the rest of this article whenever we mention antennae, we will be talking about this particular kind.
Antenna VS Cable TV
Antennae today are still direct competitors to cable tv. While streaming internet content remains a wholly separate category. Basically, if you are already content with your cable connection and the subsequent monthly payment, you do not need to consider getting an antenna for your smart tv.
A high-definition antenna, in this regard, targets to eliminate your need for a paid cable connection entirely. The biggest benefit of antenna still remains the fact that you only need to pay for a one-time buying and installation fee and for the rest of the product’s lifetime, you can watch your local channels for free.
That is not to say that antennas are inherently better than cable or satellite connection. Each of these two has its own set of pros and cons. Basically, they are meant for two different kinds of viewers.
The biggest advantage a cable connection will offer you is the number of channels available. Usually, it is way above the hundred mark and you will not be stuck with only local offerings. Overseas channels are the biggest attraction in favor of cable today.
However, to watch this hefty number of channels, you will need to pay a hefty monthly fee. The exact amount you need to pay depends on the geographical location but it quickly adds up to not an insignificant amount of money.
Antennas might seem like a no-brainer at this point as you are basically not paying anything after that initial cost. Although, the kicker is with an antenna you are stuck with only your local channels. The number can range anywhere from 10 to 20 depending on your location. It is surely a lot less than the 100+ cable will offer you.
Finally, the last benefit of the antenna is that you will get superior picture quality. Cables use a specific compression method to transmit videos to your TV and that by nature degrades the bit rate of your content. Meaning you will have a blurrier picture with cable. In the antenna world, this remains a nonissue as with proper calibration, your picture quality will be far superior to anything in the cable world.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each in the helpful table below:
|Hundreds of channels||Requires a monthly subscription|
|Access to overseas channels||Picture quality is not as good as the antenna|
|No need to calibrate the position of your cable|
|One time payment||Only local channels are viewable|
|Superior picture quality compared to Cable||Positioning the antenna properly is a lot of work|
|Performance and channel count subject to your place of living|
Should you Get an Antenna for your Smart TV?
Here comes the million-dollar question. If you are thinking about ditching your existing cable connection or just brought a new smart TV and are torn between cable and Antenna, this section is for you.
The first question you need to answer is what kind of TV viewer are you. Do you spend all your TV time browsing sites like Netflix, Youtube, or a dozen other streaming platforms available? Or are you an old-school viewer who loves to indulge in traditional media in form of TV channels?
You Should Get an Antenna IF:
Someone who spends all their time watching internet content is the biggest target market for antennas. Cables are expensive and they keep racking up monthly bills. An only-streaming-platform viewer should not get cable as it will largely remain unwatched.
Think about it for a second, if you do not even want to watch the hundreds of traditional channels available, why pay for them? You can just get an antenna and occasionally view a couple of news/sports channels here and there. You will be saving a fortune on the bills.
Another smaller group of people who should get antennae are the people who only use their TV for local news and sports. But to this group, a smart TV is also kind of a waste.
However, if you live in a city where you can get a lot of local channels over the air with a strong connection, antennas are basically made for you.
You Should Not Get an Antenna IF:
There still remains a large number of people who love to watch traditional TV channels. VOD does not entice them much and they are perfectly content watching whatever movie is on a channel at a particular time. Subsequently, they also want as many channels as they can possibly get as variety is the spice of life. This is the group who should not consider getting an Antenna.
The cable will be largely superior to this particular group and as a bonus, they will not need to go through with the hassle that is setting up an antenna properly.
Now, suppose, you do not live in this category. But you live in a densely populated city and have no access to the rooftop of your building. Or the area of your house is filled with large buildings and you really do not get a clear view of anything past a couple of blocks from your window. You also fall into the category of those who should not consider antennae.
There is a very slim chance that even a top-of-the-line antenna will give you a proper connection to the nearest broadcasting towers and you will be much, much better off with cable or simply just streaming.
Which Antenna to Get for a Smart TV?
Now that you have decided to get an Antenna, let’s see how you go on about picking one. Here are the factors that you need to consider before landing on an antenna that will work perfectly for you:
Indoor VS Outdoor
This corresponds to the mounting location of your antennas. Indoor Antennas are pretty compact pieces of tech that are made to sit inside your house looking out a window into the distance. These antennas are lightweight and easily mountable but will not give you the best results. However, if broadcasting towers are pretty close to you and you have a clear line of sight to these towers, indoor antennas are perfect.
Outdoor models are bigger, bulkier, and mounts to the roof or attic of a house. These come with a larger surface area and give a better general signal.
Unidirectional VS Omnidirectional
A unidirectional antenna will only catch the signal from one particular direction while an omnidirectional one will catch the signal from all directions. Unidirectional antennas can pull a lot of distance and is perfect if all the broadcasting towers are located in the same general direction from your home.
While an omnidirectional will give you lesser range but can work well if you have a lot of broadcasting towers scattered around you.
UHF and VHF
Without going into many technical details, these are the two frequency ranges that are used to broadcast tv signals. If you want to, you can check with your local channels to see which one they use and buy an antenna that supports that band.
However, a much safer option is to pick an antenna that supports both of these bands.
When it comes to an antenna, the more expensive model is not necessarily the better model. We have seen cheap antennas work as well as models worth ten times their price so you should not really worry about the price. Just pick a model that you like and ensure that it supports all the features you need.
Television Antennas still have a couple of decades of life left in them and for the right customer, they can do wonders. Hopefully, by now you understand if you need an antenna for a smart TV. It can really be the gateway to saving a lot of money wasted on Cable TV!
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