HD Over-the-Air – still a relatively unknown trick

Well, not a trick. But I couldn’t think of a better word to describe something that is relatively easy to do, once the secret is revealed.

I was over my Uncle’s place the other night. He was telling me about his HD system and I was very impressed. This is a guy who has always had cutting edge equipment in his house. What impressed me the most was his method of receiving HD over the air. In fact, when the cable network tech recently came to his house to install one of the first HD cable set boxes in the market, he asked the service tech to assure him that the network’s HD signal would be as sharp or clearer than his current HD signal.

The cable service rep was perplexed. “What do you mean your HD signal? Where is that coming from?”, the service tech asked. “From my rotary antenna”, my uncle replied. He then demonstrated how his rotary antenna had 4 different positions to grab the best signal possible coming from the broadcast centers. And I should note that this house is nowhere near a broadcast center. In fact this house is nowhere near ANYTHING! It is extremely rural, about 15 minutes away from any type of commercial development.

I flipped through the over-the-air stations and the quality was fantastic. No compression, great sound (coming through the Bose system that was recently software upgraded). We were watching a documentary on Yellowstone National Park and it felt almost like being there, minus the cold winter chill. The rear projection HDTV was a Mitsubishi 62″ with HD tuner. I’m not a fan of the super glossy front plane of glass, but it was getting minimal reflection and looking great.

I urge anyone getting into HD to first make sure that you purchase an HDTV that is HD ready (meaning, you don’t need a set-top box to receive HD). Secondly, after installing the HDTV, check out your local reception. You will need a good antenna(preferably a rotary), but sometimes even a small television top antenna may do the trick.

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