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HDTV Antenna comparison: Winegard SquareShooter vs Channel Master 3010 Stealth vs RCA Ant 806

Selecting the best antenna for receiving off-air HDTV broadcasts for your location can include several factors. One of those factors is how well do some of the various models pick up the signals in your location. Some locations may easily receive all the signals you are interested in with almost any antenna, while others may need a very high quality antenna with an amplifier. This article takes a look at three widely available antenna's, and compares how they stacked up at my location.

The three Indoor / Outdoor antennas reviewed here were provided by Advanced Satellite Communications located in Columbus, Ohio.

HDTV Off-Air Antennas

HDTV Antenna's usually include VHF and UHF elements. VHF elements are important for receiving channels between 2 and 13, whereas UHF elements receive channel frequency 14 and higher. Though it is important to note that in digital tv, the "virtual" channel number (e.g. 6.1) can actually be broadcast on a different frequency, often times in the UHF band (e.g. 38). To help sort this out, I recommend you look up the local broadcast information for your area using antennaweb.org. They will list the virtual channel as well as the actual frequency for the local stations in your area.

Antenna Web chart for my area.

All the models reviewed here were individually placed in the same location in a window on a second story home. The were pointed so that they received the best overall signal reception and that not moved or adjusted for each individual channel. I have also included the local reception using a Terk Indoor only amplified HDTV Antenna in the same position. This is to establish a baseline and demonstrate how much better reception an indoor/outdoor antenna can be. The Antenna I used is regarded as a good quality indoor antenna, but as you will see did not work nearly as well for my location as the larger indoor/outdoor models. The signal strength readings were taken with a Samsung SlimFit HDTV.

HDTV Measured Signal Strength Chart

Tested reception rating for all tested HDTV antenna's in this comparison.The Channel Master 3010 StealthTenna is marketed as a short range antenna that can receive analog and digital UHF, VHF and FM broadcasts. Although it s the least expensive model reviewed here (found online at several vendors for $39.99), it was the best performer in the un-amplified mode of any reviewed here. It did not include an amplifier with this model, and was only beat in reception by the WineGard Squareshooter in the amplified mode. This antenna was impressive that it actually outperformed the amplified RCA model. This is also the only model reviewed here that has external metal fins as part of the elements. While they certainly look more modern then the old metal elements that used to be prevalent on rooftops, they still may not meet the cosmetic requirements of some homeowners.

The mid-priced model reviewed here was the RCA Indoor Outdoor Ant 806 which can be found online from $50 - $89.99. This model includes an amplifier that can be connected to the output. I measured the reception in both modes, and found the amplifier did slightly increase the reception on some stations, but it actually seemed to reduce the signal strength on others. This antenna really didn't seem to perfomr any better then then indoor only Terk. Where this model shines is in the mounting options and cosmetic appearance. Although it is nearly 4 feet wide, the unit can be mounted underneath eaves, on railings, or even to the wall above your tv and not look too bad.

The Winegard SquareShooter SS-2000 is the most expensive model reviewed here, available online from a few vendors for $98. It also had the best reception, and had the highest quality feel and build-quality. The unit included a mini-dish style foot mount, and also had hardware for mounting to a pole. The unit included an optional amplifier as well. The amplifier was the nicest of any reviewed here. The AC adapter to power the amplifier is connected using a length of RG-6 coax cable. The advantage to this is that if you wanted to place the amplifier where there is not an available power outlet, such as in an attic, all you had to to is run a longer coax cable to an outlet anywhere else in the home. The Winegard also has a modern look that is likely to satisfy most homeowners and neighborhood associations.

Winegard Inline Amplifier

Posted by Mark at 21:04
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