A TV aerial is more popularly known as a television antenna. There are two basic types of TV aerials, which are indoor antennas and outdoor antennas. The indoor antennas are generally located on top of the TV or next to it, but with the slender and wide designs of contemporary TVs, buyers should consider their placement locations before purchasing an antenna. Rabbit ears antennas, also called dipole antennas, are probably the most common type of indoor antenna; their double protruding pole design resembles the top of a rabbit’s head when its long ears are perked up. On the other hand, the outdoor antennas are generally mounted on a pole and placed on top of the building, but they are both aimed at serving the same general function.
The main reason consumers purchase indoor antennas is to view free digital television that is broadcasted over the air. Many people probably agree that outdoor antennas have a better performance rating, but indoor antennas are more convenient and mobile, and they can still receive signals from many local channel broadcasts, especially in big cities that have multiple stations. Indoor TV aerials are not highly technical, but consumers should at least know how they work and understand the concept of their signals, range and direction before purchasing a new one.
How TV Aerials Work
These types of antennas are specially created for the purpose of receiving television signals that are broadcasted over the air. The signals are generally transmitted at frequencies ranging from approximately 41 to 250 Megahertz in the "Very High Frequency" (VHF) band, and 470 to 960 Megahertz in the "Ultra High Frequency" (UHF) band.
The range of signals that are broadcasted over the air needs to be covered by the aerials, and in order to do this, the antennas are generally made with a group of diverse length conductors, which directly relate to the range of the wavelength that the antenna is supposed to receive. Additionally, the length of the TV aerial elements is normally 50 percent of the same perspective signal wavelength. The calculation of a signal’s wavelength is derived by the speed of light (299,792,458 metres per second) divided by the frequency.
The design of contemporary indoor TV aerials is still similar to the ones that were used for analogue transmissions in previous years. However, some indoor TV aerials’ manufacturers and sellers often claim that their antennas are specially made for digital and HDTV and that they should be used to replace the existing analogue antennas. This should never be the driving force behind an indoor TV aerial purchase because there is really no such thing as a HDTV antenna. There are no special components or functions that need to be built into these antennas to receive digital or HD formats; they receive them as long as the broadcasted signals are within range.
What to Consider Before Purchasing an Indoor TV Aerial
Buyers need to pay close attention to their TV aerial’s signal reception capabilities and the range it needs to cover. The descriptions below discuss the two factors to help buyers better understand them.
The first thing that buyers should do is to find out the signal type or types that their antenna should be able to receive. There are often dedicated websites that provide these listings based on cities and the stations that are broadcasted within those cities. The list often also states whether if a UHF or VHF antenna is necessary. Some antennas are made to facilitate both frequency signals, so depending on the listing, customers can select a frequency specific antenna or one that accommodates both.
The range of an antenna is very important to determine the clarity and consistency of a signal. Most indoor TV aerial signals start to lose strength if the broadcasting towers are more than a few kilometres away from where it is situated. If the desired home or building for the antenna is more than 16 kilometres away from the required broadcasting towers, buyers should probably go for an amplified indoor TV aerial.
Indoor TV Aerial Direction and Signal Strength
Indoor TV aerials can be found in two different direction types, which are unidirectional and omnidirectional or multi-directional. Unidirectional antennas have a higher range for receiving signals, but they often need to be repositioned and the TV rescanned whenever the channel is changed. On the other hand, an omnidirectional indoor antenna receives a constant signal from any and every direction; however, the range is much lower.
At this point, buyers should choose between convenience and power. While it may not always be easy to select the best choice, buyers should keep in mind that a multi-directional indoor TV aerial is generally sufficient for most households, especially if the houses are situated near broadcasting stations.
Testing the TV Aerial
To check the channels on an omnidirectional antenna,, users need to attach it to the designated port on the associated TV, then turn it on and scan for the available channels in the area. To check the channels on a unidirectional antenna, users need to attach it to the same port and then adjust it to point in the general direction of the station’s broadcasting towers. The directions of the towers may be derived from various broadcasting listings.
Boosting Antenna Signals
If the broadcasting towers are far away or if the reception is less than clear, the situation may be improved with an amplified antenna. Amplified antennas are generally plugged into a wall socket and are available in both unidirectional and omnidirectional types.
As a general rule, if the transmitting station towers are more than 65 - 80 kilometres away from the building where the antenna is located, it is best to get an amplified antenna to boost the weaker signals and minimize the chance of bad reception and pixelated images. Some amplified aerials are even built to include an FM trap to prevent poor reception of the lower channels, mainly channels 2-13, which may be caused by FM interference.
Some high-end aerials may include multiple amplifier gains to enable the user to fine-tune each channel’s reception. If buyers live less than 65 kilometres away from the broadcasting towers, they can more than likely forego an amplified antenna and save some money by purchasing one of the low-end ones. If they still experience weak reception or less than clear images, buyers can still opt to purchase and utilize an external signal amplifier.
How to Buy an Indoor TV Aerial on eBay
Buying Indoor TV aerials on eBay is very easy. You simply need to type "indoor TV aerial" or "indoor TV antenna" from the eBay homepage and wait for the results. This search term is very general and is a good way to start if you are uncertain of the specific antenna type that you require. However, if you are already certain that you need an amplified TV aerial or a multidirectional one, you can type that into the search bar to retrieve an already narrowed list of results. After the initial results have been listed, you can further filter your results by brand or signal preference.
If you already owned a TV aerial and are simply buying a replacement of the same type, you could try inputting all the criteria to get a completely narrowed result that only includes the specific type that you need. For instance, you could type the brand and feature in one search, such as "all for one amplified indoor TV aerial" and then select your desired signal range.
Once all filters and searches have been conducted, you can further filter these options to fit into your budget by adding a desired price range. These keep the initial search results but remove the items that cost more than the amount specified. You can now browse confidently knowing that all listed items are within your specifications and price range; you just need to select a few and contact the sellers to finalize any uncertain details, such as shipping or the condition of the items. After receiving a response from the sellers, select the best option and then make your payment.
Due to the fact that aerials are simple devices, many buyers assume that all antennas are created equal and any kind should be suitable for their TV. However, before buyers attempt to go shopping, they should make an attempt to understand how antennas work as this is the first step in selecting the right one. In knowing how an antenna work, buyers better understand their signal and frequency requirements in terms of the broadcasting towers, which helps to determine the indoor antenna best suited to their home.
The signal range should be considered as well as the aerial’s direction type. Once buyers understand the difference between an omnidirectional and a unidirectional aerial, they are better able to choose one based on its function and features. All the aforementioned considerations also guide buyers on the decision between getting and forgoing an amplified antenna, which also affects their budget. eBay allows buyers to quickly search and filter their options based on selected criteria, thus minimizing the shopping time and confusion.