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TV's with Best Off Air Reception?

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Old 10-30-2010, 01:05 PM   #1
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Default TV's with Best Off Air Reception?

I would like advice on the best TVs for over-the-air reception. To provide a little background, this advice is for my girlfriend who lives in a rural area. Right now she is using a STB and her old analog TV. The reception is borderline - with the right weather conditions she can get all available channels but most of the times she doesnít pick up a few channels. Iíve done some of the obvious antenna stuff already. Weíve put in a large antenna (Channel Master 4228HD), a pre-amp at the antenna and weíve purchased a good STB (brand escapes me now). Iím sure weíd get perfect reception if I mounted the antenna on the roof with a motor to rotate it but I havenít made that step yet. Maybe it will come to that but not yet. Not to be obnoxious, but please do not reply to this post with a recommendation on antennas. I realize that is important but that is not the question I am asking in this post.

Iíve finally convinced her to buy a larger screen HDTV (life is too short to stare at a 24 inch TV). As long as Iím doing that Iíd like to buy one with good off air reception. A while ago, when I was researching STBs, I read the comment that the receivers in TVs are generally far superior to those in STBs. Is that true? Are any specific brands noted for good off air reception? Iím sure some brands/models must be better than others but Iíve read a number of HDTV reviews but I never see the HTDV reception specified.

Thanks for your advice,

-Scott
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Old 10-30-2010, 01:40 PM   #2
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Your reception is going to be more dependent on your antenna than the tv. The scalers in tv's are generally much better than in STB but I have never heard this in regard to tuners themselves.
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Old 10-30-2010, 04:12 PM   #3
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I am looking for the same thing that you looking for. And it baffles me that out of all of the HDTV manufacturers, no manufacturer has ever realized that catering to the OTA group might help them sell more TV sets. I had pounded (searched, googled) the internet extensively but I have never found any side by side comparisons for OTA reception.

There is one comparison of 12 coupon eligible converter boxes (CECBs). Possibly on the National Association of Broadcasters website.

What I would do is #1) talk to the various retail outlets about their return policy. The Best Buy folks have told me that they have a no questions and I think 30 day return window. #2) get the first set with the thought that it is probably going back #3) compare the new set to your girlfriend's CECB. And if the new set doesn't get more channels than the CECB, then rebox it and go get another.

now back to your question. I recently read someone's personal opinion that Sony and Samsung both stood out for their OTA reception. I have no personal experience with either brand. Everytime that I have asked in store, the answer is 'Just make your selection, they all are pretty close to the same' - which obviously is puke. One closing comment, your girlfriend will be much happier with a TV with an editable channel list. Believe it or not, they do still sell HDTVs where you cannot add or delete channels after scanning the antenna (realy sux as time goes by).
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Old 10-30-2010, 06:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for your comments Steve. I guess OTA is just a very small part of the HDTV market? Can everyone else pay the high satellite or cable fees?

Iíve certainly found quite a bit of variability in STB reception and expect at least some variability for TVs as well. I guess weíll see if others have any comments. I f I donít hear anything else then Iíll start with Sony and Samsung.

BTW, I also appreciate your comments about setting up the channel list. Iíve been frustrated with the channel setup capability on some of these STBs and I definitely need to check that out before making a purchase. It would be great to see a consumer site which compared HDTVs for off air.
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:24 AM   #5
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Give LG a try. Their ATSC tuners are very highly regarded in both converter boxes and in tvs.
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:27 AM   #6
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Reception with an antenna is not good with some of the NEW TVs. I think the manufactures assumer everyone is on cable and is receiving a strong cable signal so to save money either the TV has no preamp or a poor quality preamp.

I have 2 old analog TV both with converter boxes and 1 brand new Sanyo digital TV. The converter boxes provide the best reception and receive more stations than the new digital TV. Even with a preamp on the digital TV the converter box and analog TV have the best reception.

I don't think all new TVs are designed to be used with an antenna.

Last edited by Gary350; 10-31-2010 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary350 View Post
Reception with an antenna is not good with some of the NEW TVs. I think the manufactures assumer everyone is on cable and is receiving a strong cable signal so to save money either the TV has no preamp or a poor quality preamp.

I have 2 old analog TV both with converter boxes and 1 brand new Sanyo digital TV. The converter boxes provide the best reception and receive more stations than the new digital TV. Even with a preamp on the digital TV the converter box and analog TV have the best reception.

I don't think all new TVs are designed to be used with an antenna.
Probably true especially where weaker OTA signals are concerned. I demo'd three different 32 inch LCD TV's this past spring and I noted that each one performed differently with OTA signals, especially with skip. A Sony model did the best followed closely by a Samsung. Running a distant third was a Sanyo. That was returned and I kept the Sony and Samsung.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:22 AM   #8
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I vote for Toshiba, Panasonic & Samsung. They all seem to work well with weak signals. The Toshiba & Samsung will also let you manually add channels without doing a re-scan. Another thing I like about the Toshiba is a small signal strength indicator that is displayed up each time the channel is changed.

My least favorite is the Vizio. While the reception is good, there are a few things I don't like. You must enter the .1 after the channel number to go to another channel. (Unless you are just surfing) The Vizio also lacks a signal strength as far as I can tell.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:47 AM   #9
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My opinion is that a 4228 is not a large antenna.

A STB - as you call it, (set top box) - is the poorest tuner you can buy.

The ability of the tuner in the television to receive well is determined by the quality of the first transistor in the IF amplifier.
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/43...scription.html

Unfortunately - no one publishes which transistor they use anymore and I am not sure that a layman could swap one out for a better one.

As I preach time and time again, the less components you have in your system, the better it will perform. If a person can put a large antenna up vs a small antenna and a pre amplifier, the person with the large antenna will always have a better signal for two reasons.

First is that there is a larger surface area on the antenna to receive the signals with.
Second is that the pre amplifier not only amplifies the signal, it also amplifies the internal noise generated by the amplifier itself.
If you have no amplifier - you are no adding noise to the signal, which makes the signal cleaner.

The tuner inside of the television has it's own pre amplifier and then a filter stage which reduces the amount of signal to an acceptable level that the television can handle. No television manufacturer would build a television that did not have a good tuner in it. The tuner is the cheapest part.

I think what is wrong here is that people have a little knowledge of how a ATSC system works, but that they don't understand that like a music CD - when you drop it in the dirt and scratch the disc you do not corrupt the information on the disc, but you do make it harder for the laser to read the information on the disc when it has to look through a bunch of scratches..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC_tuner

That is what happens when you get noise in a digital signal.

NTSC - analog - a little noise was not so bad, you had some static and maybe some ghosting - but you still basically had a watchable signal. You could point the antenna in the wrong direction and even use the wrong antenna and still have some reception.

http://www.ehow.com/about_6298157_di...tsc-tuner.html

With the digital - it is all or nothing.
Either you have a crystal clear, perfect picture and sound, or you have some pixelation and no sound or you have nothing at all.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoopitup2000 View Post
I vote for Toshiba, Panasonic & Samsung. They all seem to work well with weak signals. The Toshiba & Samsung will also let you manually add channels without doing a re-scan. Another thing I like about the Toshiba is a small signal strength indicator that is displayed up each time the channel is changed.

My least favorite is the Vizio. While the reception is good, there are a few things I don't like. You must enter the .1 after the channel number to go to another channel. (Unless you are just surfing) The Vizio also lacks a signal strength as far as I can tell.
The quality of the first transistor has nothing to do with the manufacturer - it has to do with the model number of the television the manufacturer offers.

Chevrolet makes a dandy Corvette, but they also made a Chevette and a Corvair, VEGA and a Citation - none of which had the same fit, finish or quality the Corvette has..
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Old 10-31-2010, 03:52 PM   #11
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To Gary350 and anyone else, Yes the manufacturers are aware that cable has a 80+% market penetration. Therefore when the new customer takes the set home and has an issue he probbaly is going to call his cable provider before he calls the manufacturer.

With the quality delivered by the new ATSC HDTV system, I do not understand how the cable TV industry has not lost huge numbers (whole lots of millions) of subscribers. But then again, no major retailers are pushing OTA in anyway. My 14 year old son has a friend taht accuses us of 'stealing TV'. I think that most of America has no idea that they really do have an alternative to the cable bill ($500 plus per year for what).
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Old 10-31-2010, 04:03 PM   #12
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Billiam,

I would be curious what family or trademark or whatever is on the Sony? Wife says that I get a new set along as I have cash not an increase to the credit card balance. But I am shopping at 45 inches or larger.

Also, long ago someone commented that Sony 'Signal strength' box provided more and better information. I think that Sony provided two or three metrics on the signal that was coming in.
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:32 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Steve_Weggus View Post
Billiam,

I would be curious what family or trademark or whatever is on the Sony? Wife says that I get a new set along as I have cash not an increase to the credit card balance. But I am shopping at 45 inches or larger.

Also, long ago someone commented that Sony 'Signal strength' box provided more and better information. I think that Sony provided two or three metrics on the signal that was coming in.
The Sony that I have is the EX301. Not sure if it still available though. I bought it in June. Tuner has excellent sensitivity and captures every signal possible. It's a good 1db better (before picture breaks up) than the Samsung that I have.

The downside to the Sony is that it does not have a Signal Strength Meter or an extended TV Guide like the Samsung.
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Old 12-02-2010, 08:46 AM   #14
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Pulling up an old post to answer a recent question.
December 2nd, 2010
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:38 AM   #15
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Very good thread... I've often wondered about this myself. As several of you said, this could make the difference in which TV to purchase for someone in the fringe. But I've never seen any studies on which tuner is truly the best for such situations.

As IDRick said, LG (which makes Zenith also) used to have the best chips, and they supposedly kept the technology to themselves... But I don't know if that's still the case. I do know that I have two STBs, one Zenith and one Digital Stream, and I much prefer the Zenith.

I have a Panasonic plasma at home, and I sometimes get a signal from 120 miles away from a little Hoverman G1483 stuck up in my attic. So it's probably not too bad. But I haven't compared it to anything else at that location. (And the Panny won't let you manually add stations, which is irritating.)

But I echo what Billiam said about the Sony. My parents have one, and I love the very detailed info it provides about the incoming signal. Not that I'm the TV expert, but I've never seen another brand provide that kind of information. I was already thinking that if I got another TV, I'd prefer a Sony for that very reason. Good to hear from Billiam that it seems very sensitive as well.
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