Science & Technology

/

Knowledge

Sound Advice: Picture still fuzzy when it comes to indoor TV antennas

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Tech Advice

Product of the year announcement coming soon: I have chosen my 2023-2024 Sound Advice product of the year, but as is often the case with outstanding new products, the first batch sold out quickly. I’m going to wait until the product is available again before I announce the winner, hopefully by mid-March.

Q. I read your recent column about outdoor TV antennas. Do you have a recommendation for a really good indoor antenna?

—P.S., Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

A. I would love to find a great indoor TV antenna to recommend, but this has been a challenge for many years now. In the early days of digital television there was an indoor antenna called the Zenith Silver Sensor that I recommended with great success. When used correctly it could really pull in the signals, and If I ever create a Sound Advice hall of fame it will surely make it in on the first ballot. Unfortunately it was an UHF-only antenna, which was fine back then when almost all digital broadcasting was UHF band. As digital VHF usage expanded, the Silver Sensor was no longer viable and was pulled from the market.

Recently I discovered there are some very shady marketing practices infecting the antenna marketplace. Eagle-eyed reader L.H. of Walnut Creek, California, sent me a link to a website making some very questionable claims about how their antenna worked and and what it could do, using high-pressure sales tactics as it did so. I then found multiple Amazon listings for small antennas with several having 15,000+ five-star reviews, including the antenna in question. The Amazon price was about half that of the website making the deceptive pitch. When I looked closer I saw “Brand: WD-40.” Checking the reviews showed almost all the reviews were for WD-40 lubricant, with less than five antenna reviews mixed in with them. It looked as if the vendor managed to list their antenna as a WD-40 product, perhaps with the expectation that shoppers would see a listing with over 15,000 reviews and a five-star rating and impulsively click “Buy Now.” I reported this discrepancy to Amazon and ordered the antenna so I could try it myself.

 

The antenna was, at best, an inconsistent performer. Unless you place it right by a window it is absolutely useless. Put it by a window and things improve, though it is highly dependent on location. The living room television did not receive even half of the the major networks, rating an F. The television on the other side of the house actually did OK at first, and the antenna pulled in all the major networks, though it failed to tune a few obscure stations I enjoy. I rated it a solid B here. The next day one of the major networks disappeared completely, so I ran the autoprogram channel search again. Some of the channels that were missing the first time showed up, though the signal strength was low and the picture was pixelated. The missing major network never came back. My grade dropped from a solid B to a D-. Suffice it to say, I do not recommend the “WD-40 antenna.”

I rechecked the listing three days after my purchase and it seems that Amazon heeded my warning. The brand still said “WD-40” but there were now only two reviews listed despite over 300 antennas purchased in the past 30 days. Both reviews were for the actual antenna, and both were one star.

For the best reception you should use an outdoor antenna if at all possible. I will continue to search for a good indoor antenna for those who cannot.

———


©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus
 

 

Comics

John Branch David M. Hitch Bob Englehart Gary Markstein Dog Eat Doug Humor Me (Leave Caption In Comments)