Review: RCA TVPRAMP1R Outdoor Antenna Preamplifier
by, 05-05-2012 at 08:59 AM (5091 Views)
Recently, I decided to replace the distribution amplifier I had been using to feed a half dozen + coax connections in my house. I required an outdoor amp with inputs for both UHF and VHF/FM, since I will be using two antennas pointed in differing directions. I would have preferred a Channel Master CM 7777 TITAN2 UHF/VHF PREAMPLIFIER , but it was recentl redesigned to eliminate the separate UHF/VHF inputs. Yes, you can still find some of the original CM777 units on Amazon and at a few retailers, but beware: some of them say they have separate VHF/UHF inputs, but they may ship you the new model. The new model CM777 costs about $60, and the older version will run about $80 if you can find it. I don't know about you, but for me, money is tight. So I looked at a few alternatives, and I decided to give the RCA TVPRAMP1R Outdoor Antenna Preamplifier a try. At about $25 with free Amazon super saver / Prime shipping, the price is definitely right. But how would it perform?
The specs for this amp are:
- Designed specifically to improve the performance of outdoor antennas in low signal strength areas
- Gain: VHF: 16 dB; UHF: 22 dB
- Separate or combined inputs for UHF/VHF
- Switchable FM trap reduces interference from FM frequencies
- Separate amplification for UHF & VHF bands to improve performance
- Brand Name: RCA
- Model: TVPRAMP1R
- Width: 4.00 inches
- Height: 4.00 inches
- Weight: 1.10 pounds
- Length: 6.00 inches
Did you notice anything missing from those specs? Sure, it's the noise level! Try as I may, I can't find a noise figure for this amp anywhere. It states "low noise", but without numbers, it means nothing. Still, I took a chance and ordered one. It arrived in 2 days, and I had it up and working the following weekend. The first thing I noticed is the size - this is SMALL, the box is a mere six inches long.
Here's what's in the box:
Actually, it's a pretty slick setup, and works well in my situation. I have installed the power supply and injector in my utility room on a UPS to provide power during an outage. Installation and setup were super easy - there are two rubber plugs in the bottom to access select switches for combined or separate VHF/UHF, and for the FM trap. I set the switches, and climbed to the roof with my new VHF/FM antenna and two short lengths of RG-6. In 15 minutes it was connected and I climbed down to disconnect the old (no-name, 24 db) distribution amp and connect the RCA power injector.
I turned on the TV and converter box in my garage and did a channel scan / add. (Yes, I have a TV in my garage - it consists entirely of free, used or salvaged components!) I didn't add any channels - I wasn't really expecting to get more channels. But channel 8 VHF now had a super strong signal, and all my UHF channels still are at the same signal level as before or slightly higher. This is exactly the result I expected.
I'm still kind of disappointed that nobody can give me a noise figure for this amp, but it performs well for me. One thing I really like is the power supply - it's a 12v "wall wart". The old distribution amp consumed 5 watts of 120v power, 24/7. With this new unit plugged into my UPS, it can last for days and I still have enough "juice" leftover to power my 7 inch portable TV during an outage. Better yet, I could direct wire it to a 12v power supply for higher efficiency. Yea, I wish I had an "old version" CM7777. But the RCA performs well for me at less than half the cost of the new CM7777. However, if you need more gain than the VHF 16 dB and UHF 22 dB this provides, this amp won't cut it.
Overall, based on the "bang for the buck" and performance, I give this little RCA amp a 4 out of 5 star rating.