Evaluation: My new 4221HD: First Impression

#1
First, I was clearly wrong when I wrote, in another thread, that not many antennas use rod reflectors. :duh: On opening the box, I was surprised to see 8 rod reflectors on my new 4221HD -- no screen. The original 4221 used wire mesh. I searched the channelmaster web site, and there's no mention anywhere of this change. Then I searched the entire internet and found just TWO references to "rod reflectors" associated with "4221HD." The pictures are a little deceiving here, IMHO. There's a 3-D effect that made me "see" a solid reflector that just ain't there.

I also made quite bit of the difference between "range of 45 miles" (4221HD) and range "up to 65 miles (DB4e). Lo and behold, right on the box it says "range up to 45 miles" just to make a liar out of me. But I'm happy to report, even in a finicky indoor situation, the 4221Hd can reliably bring in channels 47 miles away and more. If it's in the green on your tvfool report, you're probably good to go unless you have some nasty obstacle(s) blocking line-of-sight.

Mine was the ultimate lazy man's installation. In his roundup of indoor antennas, Escape Velocity mentioned the possibility of leaving a 4221 right in the box, so thats what I did. I used the box it shipped in, not Channel Master's box inside -- that'd be too small. It took about 20 seconds to fold open the antenna, tighten the lug nuts, connect the coax, put it back in the box, and up on top of the desk. My desk has book shelves that bring it to about 5 feet tall, so the top of the 4221HD was about 4.25 inches from the ceiling.

That was five days ago. Today I cut the top half of the box off, exposing the top two bays as well as the balun, so the coax swings freely outside the box making it easy to twist around 180 degrees. Then I scouted around for a 4 inch box to put underneath so the antenna nearly scrapes the ceiling. I wanted to give it the best possible shot at clearing a drain pipe which overhangs my second floor windows. I also did the two laziest hardware hacks mentioned by rabbit73 in that other thread. I pulled off the 8 plastic squares covering the elements where they intersect, and I pulled out the balun so the flat metal strips are over a half inch from the boom. The lazy way worked out better for me than flipping the whole assembly around, cause now the balun is partially outside the box, so I can reach the F connector without bothering to pull out the antenna. Perfect for quickly disconnecting / reconnecting the coax for more nifty tests.

I can't say for sure whether the changes I made today improved reception. I think I may have made it even more directional, but I don't have the equipment even to measure raw signal strength.

Right off the bat I can say the 4221HD pulls in more stations, more solidly, than my little Monoprice HDA-5700 amplified indoor antenna. It's much more directional than the Monoprice, which is fine by me. I was about ready to go nuts with the little tin can I was using for a reflector. It worked, but I had to keep the Monoprice down within arm's reach for constant adjustments, and at that low level in my apartment, the signals were bouncing all over the joint. With the 4221HD I can point it south for Chicago, or north for Milwaukee, then just forget it. Ron Popeil would be proud.

I eventually plan to put a lazy suzan underneath my fancy "mount" so I can reach up with my 4 foot grabber thingie to swing it around. A rotor would be plain silly. Replacing the batteries in the remote would already be more effort than it would save in a year.

In fair weather, pointed north I get all my "green" Milwaukee stations plus one Chicago station, for a total of 9. Pointed south, I get all the "green" Chicago stations and no Milwaukee stations, so total of 12 that way. All tolled, 20 digital stations = 43 channels, when you count subchannels, and why WOULDN'T you? Plus I get analog 23 and 41 just for fun. :thumb: I get PBS channel 11 very reliably, and tonight I'll be watching Columbo on 26.3 MeTV!

I finally figured out how to add digital channels to my TV lineup, and I can get all 20 stations crammed in there. The trick was to do Chicago first, then add the 8 Milwaukee stations manually. There's no way I could get the first two "yellow" stations in the lineup because of conflicting real/virtual channel numbers, but by a happy coincidence it doesn't much matter, because I've never been able to get anything below the green with any consistency. The highest yellow signal on my list is just a little over half as strong as the weakest green.

Friday evening we had a little drizzle, and I wanted to watch the gubernatorial recall debate. Both stations in my lineup that were carrying the debate were out, so I had to switch to the "cable bleed" which I get courtesy of Time Warner. But Saturday we had full blown thunderstorms, and every station sat up, fetched and barked like a puppy.

So somehow, just by blind dumb luck, I guess I found the right antenna for my situation. :drinks:

:TIME FOR RANT:
I think antenna manufacturers need to reexamine their (ab)use of the English language and upgrade their marketing strategy. The first antenna I bought was all wrong because I thought there was something magical about "indoor antennas" that made them work better, well, indoors! But the way the marketing geeks define these terms, nothing could be further from the truth.

Antenna makers have defined "indoor antenna" as something small, unobtrusive, and aesthetically pleasing. But that's a tradition begotten in an era when nearly everyone could get an outdoor antenna if the need was real. Today, there are millions of people living under landlords who don't supply an OTA antenna because "everyone has cable." Installation and upkeep of a roof antenna is no longer cost effective for many landlords, and an outdoor installation is often impractical -- or forboden -- for a renter on the move. At the same time, the need for massive outdoor structures has decreased because of the nature and acceptance of UHF reception. In many cases, the most practical solution is an indoor installation of what was once regarded as a small outdoor antenna.

But what is the customer told? From Antennas Direct: "The Micron XG represents the most powerful indoor antenna one can buy." No it doesn't! If you absolutely can't stand to have anything bigger than a bread box in your home, I think the Micron XG is a brilliant solution. But I have a MUCH more powerful antenna, and by definition it is an indoor antenna because I have it parked indoors.

It's very unusual, for a non-techie like myself, to go on, after an initial negative experience, to rummage through all the hype and find something better. A person in my situation might try a Micron XG, or one of the other little "indoor" amplifieds, and then give up. What do you have then? You have a new cable customer who's mad as hell at anyone trying to sell anything OTA related.

And if big outdoor antennas are so ugly, what is so wonderful about putting them on the roof for all the world to see?? A set of rabbit ears ain't exactly a Michelangelo. The idea that everything indoors needs to fit in a particular pattern is purely a fashion mindset. Like any fashion, tastes change with the times, and the main thing that drives change is practicality and necessity.

Wake up AD! Wake up CM! Smell the coffee Winegard!! Start using the language the same way the man in the street uses it. EXPLAIN about the size of your antennas, but don't double-talk yourself out of a happy customer!
:END RANT:

Rick
 
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#2
TIME FOR RANT:

I think antenna manufacturers need to reexamine their (ab)use of the English language and upgrade their marketing strategy. The first antenna I bought was all wrong because I thought there was something magical about "indoor antennas" that made them work better, well, indoors! But the way the marketing geeks define these terms, nothing could be further from the truth.
Rick, their plan worked exactly as they hoped: you bought one! As always, Let The Buyer Beware! Do research before buying. A good place for readers to begin is to join the DTVUSA Forum! (This was a shameless plug!)

A person in my situation might try a Micron XG, or one of the other little "indoor" amplifieds, and then give up. What do you have then? You have a new cable customer who's mad as hell at anyone trying to sell anything OTA related.
You are spot-on. I have lost count of all the indoor "high-definition" indoor antennas I have seen posted on Craigslist or I have seen at Thrift Stores and garage sales. At least at garage sales I have the opportunity to try to get the seller to reconsider trying OTA using a real antenna.

I enjoyed reading your post and keep 'em coming. :thumb:

Jim
 
#3
I'm in a contrary mood, today.

Rick, their plan worked exactly as they hoped: you bought one!
No, no, no, no. I only bought the $23 Monoprice, not the $70 Micron XG. Plus, I can't agree this is smart marketing strategy on their part. Lying (or actually trying to change the meanings of words) is no way to get word of mouth!

As always, Let The Buyer Beware! Do research before buying. A good place for readers to begin is to join the DTVUSA Forum!
Hey, I did puhlenty of research. But they make it $^%! hard, don't they?? That's why we need a centralized database. Just having a web site where you can ask questions, then hope to get an answer in a week or two, ain't gonna cut it. It might be a start ...

You are spot-on. I have lost count of all the indoor "high-definition" indoor antennas I have seen posted on Craigslist or I have seen at Thrift Stores and garage sales. At least at garage sales I have the opportunity to try to get the seller to reconsider trying OTA using a real antenna.
OK, Don Quixote. "Dolcinea .... Docinea ..."

I enjoyed reading your post and keep 'em coming. :thumb:
No! :becky: :evil:

R.
 
#5
ET! It's Working!!

Thought I'd do a brief update to say I got my $5.80, 10 inch, plastic lazy susan from eBay. Wasn't sure it would work at first -- looks too shallow -- but it couldn't be better. :thumb: I taped down the coax so the box swivels over it through a 220 degree arc -- nice for trying to catch those Indiana stations over Lake Michigan on a clear day. I'd say I get over 50 channels on average, certainly 40 that are rock solid 98% of the time, which might just be a better average than I had with cable TV.

As I cycled through my 54 channels today, swiveling back and forth between Chicago and Milwaukee, I definitely got that ol' intoxicating "more stuff than I could ever watch" feeling. ;) I remember Bob from next door bragging that he gets 30 channels from the basic TWC lineup. I'm going to have to talk to him! And Patrick down the hall! Heck, maybe 40% of the people here get just TWC Basic. But they probly need to be on the second floor for my solution to work. And they'll need some kind of TV Guide! Geez, do they still PRINT that thing??

Thanks for all your help,
Rick
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#6
Rick,

Now you receive over 50 FREE channels? Bite me.

Jim

PS, a term from the 70's I never knew what it meant but everyone said it.
 
#7
Rick,

Now you receive over 50 FREE channels?
Well, I have 65 channels in the TV memory (including two analog), but I've never been able to get em all at once. I don't know what people are talking about when they say weather has no effect. All the green are stable except 62, and sometimes 9 goes low after midnight -- I think they cut the power.

There WILL COME A DAY when I get all 65 in one cycle -- probly at 2:30 in the morning. I also got a really cheap, used amp on Amazon. Will probably start a new thread about that little machine. Will have to try that just for fun. Lessee, I can take the coax going to my modem temporarily ... ugh.

There's only 27 stations in memory, you understand. But 65 channels -- hey the cable co. would call 'em separate channels!

I'm starting to worry about all these RF waves bombarding our bodies 24 hours a day. Are we RECORDING all that information? If someone pricked the right neuron, would they get a rerun of "Branded"?

Bite me.

Jim

PS, a term from the 70's I never knew what it meant but everyone said it.
How'd YOU get to be the boss? :bite: :brushteeth:

Rick

p.s. I never read fine print.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#8
Antenna mile range claims rarely ever reflect reality.

The rod reflectors must have been when CM moved the factories to China.
 
#9
The rod reflectors must have been when CM moved the factories to China.
Do you feel the rod reflectors are inferior to wire mesh? Apparantly, all the 4221HDs have the rods. The 4221 model had mesh. And the 4221HD is just about equal to the 4221 on comparisons I've seen -- and it becomes better with the simple hardware hacks recommended on that Canadian site. The hacks don't affect the reflector.

I have to say the 4221HD seems VERY directional. There are only three or four strong stations that leak through from Chicago when I have it pointed toward Milwaukee. One or two leaks in the other direction. This is out of 27 stations altogether. So I guess the reflector is A-OK.

Rick
 
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n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#11
Do you feel the rod reflectors are inferior to wire mesh? Apparantly, all the 4221HDs have the rods. The 4221 model had mesh. And the 4221HD is just about equal to the 4221 on comparisons I've seen -- and it becomes better with the simple hardware hacks recommended on that Canadian site. The hacks don't affect the reflector.

I have to say the 4221HD seems VERY directional. There are only three or four strong stations that leak through from Chicago when I have it pointed toward Milwaukee. One or two leaks in the other direction. This is out of 27 stations altogether. So I guess the reflector is A-OK.

Rick
I wouldn't say it's inferior. However, the whole design now seems cheap compared to when it was US made. I only referenced the rod reflectors to tell me which version of the antenna you had.
 
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