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Modern TVs giving brodcast OTA short shrift?


25k Member
Jan 11, 2007
Pacific Northwest, USA
I've got a couple of moderm (LCD, internet-connected) TVs in the house and both really suck at receiving OTA content. Is this universal?
I have a cheap ATSC converter box sitting around (I think it ran about $25) doing nothing. It has an HDMI output, so on a lark, I hooked it to one of my TVs. Not only was the reception better, but the picture was noticeably crisper. I found this a bit surprising.
What kind of antenna are you using? Modern crap TVs usually want some sort of "active" antenna that boosts the signal, passive antennas generally don't give them enough signal and cause them to drop out frequently.
I haven't bought an active antenna in years, the last one I got was from Walmart. Something in the mid price category that looked functional, it worked well enough. That is, until we got a metal roof installed. Had to put an outdoor antenna on a pole after that.
Active antenna's don't really help much for marginal signals as the usual garbage in garbage out mantra applies.

A decent gain UHF TV outdoor antenna mounted in the optimal location and decent cable as well, avoiding splitters where possible with a signal strength meter to check it is all working properly.
A cheap signal meter with led's is sufficient and easier than a TV on the roof - been there and done that :confused:.
Also see what polarization is being transmitted - antenna horizontal or vertical

And safety first if clambering about on a roof.

Once the signal is good, if you need multple outlets, use an active rather than passive signal splitter.
From the TVFool map, I can see an issue right away. There are two popular places for transmitting antennas--from my location, they're oriented nearly 90⁰ apart (azimuth). i.e. What's great for one channel is a null for another. BTW, I can see some of the transmitters from my location, but I suspect that their direction points north which is not good for my southern location. (and yes, the terrain is hilly)
I've not noticed a difference between STBs and TV's internal tuners.

My setup is a rooftop Winegard UHF Yagi on a rotator going to an amp in my attic. It splits off multiple times feeding 7 TVs throughout the house. It's a large antenna but strictly UHF so very narrow and looks like an arrow...not noticeable at all. For some reason, they now only offer VHF/UHF which are larger. Where I'm at VHF is pointless.
Solid Signal has been my goto place for buying antennas. Winegard is very good quality and reasonably priced.

I'm in NW Indiana and receive channels from Chicago, South Bend Indiana and Indianapolis (about a 130 mile radius). Well over 100 when you include sub channels.
Only time I have issues is during solar flares which bring in channels from hundreds of miles away on the same frequencies as my locals. The rotator can help pinpoint an exact station instead of the general area, but even that has its limits when the ionosphere is going crazy.

Also have a 1 meter Ku satellite dish with an SG2100 rotator. There are plenty of TV and radio stations from all over the world, and then there's expoloring the endless wild feeds. It's a lot of fun, but there's a learning curve and it requires regular tweaking, so it's more of a hobby.
FWIW, I have had an antenna mounted aside my chimney for a good many years. My house is a quad level and I feed at least 1 tv on every level. I have a R/S antenna rotor that I never need to use. My lowest level is my basement/bar area and there is a 65" LG and a 28" Vizio behind the bar mounted on the wall. Both of these tv's have an in-line amplifier through a splitter on the coax. None of the other tv's at any other level use a signal amp. I have an excellent reception on all of my tv's. One thing about HD tv is, for the most part, you either get the signal or you don't. One caveat is when the local stations broadcast on the offset channels, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4 for example, are not HD in this area. So, you are getting a 420 crap resolution which is subject to tears and somewhat blurry. Modern tv's have a problem handling these low res signals they but they do manage and one get used to it if you watch ME TV, Catchy, Grit, etc for any length of time.

For the past 2 weeks I have been on T-Mobile's 5G system. My modem ids in one of the top floor bedroom windows and it serves the entire house and the images are perfect. Also, my modem shows 5 bars which is max. The downside is the download speed in which I was spoiled by xFinity. A bonus with T-Mobile is Netflix is forever free and they give you Apple TV for 6 months.
There's so much garbage on broadcast TV that I rarely view it anyway. The TV that I'm using for the test is a lowly 32" Fire TV; the ATSC converter is a Leelbox something or the other, with HDMI output. The ATSC box delivers a much sharper picture (output resolution is adjustable to 1080p). Most of my viewing, when I watch the idiot box, is web-based. Personally, I've never had the patience to view a 2 hour flick in one sitting--it's too frustrating--I keep wanting to yell at the box "I get it! Now get on with it!"