Is there an indoor HD antenna that will work in NYC?
January 22, 2010 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Any way to get HD signal with an antenna in Manhattan building?

I just got an HDTV, and considering not getting cable. Planning to use XBMC for everything... well, almost everything. The only thing I don't know how to get is HD sports. I read that I can get a digital antenna, but I live in an apartment in Manhattan (2nd floor in a 7 story building) - my window faces another building's wall, so I'd think the chances of getting an HD signal are pretty low.. right? Or is it possible with some kind of very powerful indoor antenna?
posted by zavulon to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If your new tv has a digital tuner (and it prolly does), any old antenna will get you hd broadcast signals. You may get better reception with a powered antenna.
posted by gnutron at 6:18 PM on January 22, 2010

Thanks, it does have a tuner. My only concern about the antenna is that I'm in Manhattan, NYC.. My window is facing the wall of another building - about 20 feet distance. There's very little sunlight in my apartment... does that not matter for the antenna?
posted by zavulon at 6:34 PM on January 22, 2010

gnutron. I don't think that's correct. An old VHF tv antenna will perform very badly, if at all for most HD signals.

Most HD signals are broadcast on the UHF band (though some are in the VHF band, PBS in Houston, for instance is VHF.)

You can build a decent UHF antenna for probably less than 10 dollars. It looks like crap, but it works.

See here: How to build a HDTV Antenna....CHEAP!

Or, seach google for diy hd antenna.

Most are variants of a "hoverman" design, and they're very directional. It helps to look up the location of the transmitters near you, and aim the antenna towards them.

I found in my case the reflector did more harm than good.

And rainstorms seem to destroy reception. From what I've seen, the transition to digital signals is basically a disaster. When it works, it works perfectly, when it's even slightly less than perfect, it's unwatchable. The smooth degradation of the old analog TVs is replaced with unwatchable crap at the edge of reception, and this edge begins not far from the transmitter at all.
posted by smcameron at 6:42 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

my bad. i believe smcameron is right about the VHF/UHF thing. my point was that you don't need a fancy "hd" antenna to get hd reception. i am currently getting awesome hd broadcast reception with this cheap antenna.

also, is a great resource.
posted by gnutron at 7:15 PM on January 22, 2010

The standard response here is "put your address into TVFool, guesstimate how high you are above ground." What it'll tell you, though, is that your nearest transmitter is this local landmark.

So try with a cheapo set-top loop/ears combo pointed in the general direction of the Empire State Building -- there are a couple of VHF stations that will need the rabbit-ears -- see how that works, and only then start thinking about DIY coathanger antennas.
posted by holgate at 7:16 PM on January 22, 2010

Just to add: "digital antenna" or "HDTV antenna" is basically marketing guff to get people to upgrade. Digital TV is mainly UHF with a bit of VHF-Hi for a few stations, and if you have a decent enough UHF/VHF combo to suit your local stations, then you're sorted.
posted by holgate at 7:27 PM on January 22, 2010

Get a cheap indoor set-top antenna at Radio Shack or really any big boxretailer and TRY IT. You will likely be amazed how well it works.

No really, just go do it and stop wondering. It'll be great.

cable is for chumps
posted by intermod at 7:43 PM on January 22, 2010

Note that if your window faces another building's wall, the strongest signal you get may be bouncing off that wall from the Empire State Building. So play around a bit with positioning the antenna if you don't get a signal right away.
posted by zsazsa at 8:41 PM on January 22, 2010

that ant from amazn looks good. im getting one for me:D
and yes you should just stop thinking about it and play around for the signal, you'll be fine i think.
posted by hjohnson at 11:08 PM on January 22, 2010

If you've got high speed internet coming into the house you should try running the coax cable into the back of your TV. I did that and get most HD stations perfectly clear. If it works, you can then just use a splitter to share the cable.
posted by gfrobe at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2010

Thanks everybody!!! I got this $13 antenna at BestBuy, and it works perfectly! Looked at, figured out where I should point it - and voila!

Everything works great, thank you so much!!!
posted by zavulon at 2:56 PM on January 23, 2010

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