Gadget Zone: Get Free HDTV


Staff member
Build (or Buy) an HDTV Antenna

I grew up in a Toronto where cable TV was a luxury (That dates me, but so it goes.) Our house got by on an outdoor TV antenna that pulled in Toronto stations reasonably well, and Buffalo stations pretty much all of the time. Still, the picture quality was nothing to write home about, which is why we eventually gave in and got cable.

Flash forward to 2011; With the advent of over-the-air digital TV broadcasts, great-looking free TV is within the grasp of Canadians virtually everywhere! This is because of the digital nature of HDTV broadcasts: The picture either comes in perfectly, or it doesn’t come in at all. (Among broadcast engineers, this all-or-nothing situation is known as “the cliff effect.”

You can find out precisely what stations are available to you (Canadian and U.S.) by going to TV Fool and entering your address. It will provide a chart of what’s within range. As for actually receiving these free HDTV channels? Well, you will need an antenna; just like the good ol’ days at Yonge and Eglinton.

Consumer alert: There is no such thing as a ‘digital TV’ antenna. An old TV antenna can pick up HDTV signals as well as it picked up old-fashioned analog TV signals.

A decent rabbit ear antenna can bring in a lot of local channels. One of these is the Terk Amplified Indoor Antenna with Video Switch (allowing you to connect a DVD player as well). It is available for $69.99 or less at The Source. I have had great success with this antenna for watching HDTV. You just plug it into your HDTV set, turn it on, and away you go!
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
Is nice to see an article promoting FREE over the air TV reception, but the home-made DB-4 he linked to is not waterproof and the LavaSat antenna is JUNK!

The LavaSat and other similar antennas are made in China for the frequencies used in China for OTA television reception in China. We do not use the same frequencies in the Americas and that makes the LAVA antennas a very poor choice on this side of the planet.



Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
"Coat hanger" antennas (aka, "youtube" antennas") are all useful for indoor use only, because wood and coathangers are not waterproof, and their dimensions are wrong - the length of the bow tie elements and the spacing is always too small.

And also, those Chinese made antennas are all amplified, and of course the amps are noisy.
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