Hefty bills are prompting more and more people to dump their cable and satellite services. Instead, they’re tuning in with TV antennas for free over-the-air shows. The antennas give you local broadcast channels such as ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. But what you won’t get are the major cable channels. Consumer Reports just tested 10 digital TV antennas.
Some antennas have a classic rabbit ears look, but others are super-sleek, with flat designs so that you can attach them to a window or hide them behind your TV. Consumer Reports enlisted a dozen panelists who live in the New York area to test the antennas at their homes. Results varied widely.
Four of the panelists got no signal at all, so they were not able to pick up any channels. Some were able to pick up three or four channels, and others got up to 20 channels because of the varying signal strength in their area. So where you live can make a big difference.
Also, it is important where you put the antenna. Panelists used the antenna in three locations in their home. Two were near their TV set, and a third position was near the window because the window provides the most unobstructed access to the broadcast tower.
Consumer Reports says the $35 RadioShack 15-254 did well in many test homes, and it has a 30-day return policy, which is important if you find it doesn’t work in your house.
Even if you have cable or satellite, Consumer Reports says you might want to consider getting an antenna. That way, if your service goes out in a big storm, you can still get local TV reception until your regular service is restored.