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In 2013, analogue technology was phased out in Australia. The switch to digital TV meant that viewers could increase channels with better sound and picture quality. This switch also gave everyone access to TV services regardless of their location.
However, this switch brought a big question into the open - do you require a TV antenna to get this digital reception? Read on to find out.
What is Digital TV?
Digital TV is the transmission of video and audio signals using digital encoding. Digital TV offers more variety, more accessibility, and more superior quality than analogue TV. It enables high definition broadcasting that gives you resolutions that are better than the standard definition. With digital TV, you can watch more than one program on one channel. For instance, you can be watching one TV show on your TV wall mount while recording another show simultaneously.
Should You Upgrade to a Digital Antenna?
You do not need to replace or upgrade your antennae to receive the new digital transmission. However, it would be best to replace it if your aerial is older than 15 years. If your aerial is in good condition and the area you live in receives a good signal, you only need to plug in your digital TV, and you are good to go.
To receive your free to air channels in Australia, you need an antenna, whether old or new. Whilst you can receive a transmission on the old antenna, you may need to replace your TV and get a digital one.
Advantages of Digital TV
Digital television has more merit than analogue TVs. They are:
• They take less bandwidth which translates to receipt of more channels to your television. In some cases, you can receive more than one program at the same time.
• Some multimedia applications like music streaming, video games and web browsing are accessible in new digital TVs, unlike analogue TVs, where you could not access them.
• Digital TVs have additional features such as subtitled language, electronic programs and spoken languages that were not in the analogue television age.
• The digital transmission offers high definition service translating to pictures that are clearer, stronger and sharper.
Analogue TV sets cannot decode digital transmissions. However, most new TVs such as LED, LCD or plasma have HD digital tuners integrated into them. Currently, all new TV sets are labelled clearly to show HD or HDTV. Other benefits of having a digital TV are:
• They have clearer TV reception.
• Their picture quality is superior.
• They offer a whole range of channels.
• Have an additional feature of digital radio.
• Offer quality digital stereo sound.
Can You Watch Digital TV Without an Antenna?
If you are wondering whether you can access the free to air channels without an antenna, the answer is a resounding yes. You will be pleased to know that all you need is an internet connection. While you do not need an antenna, you have to watch your content over the web.
Online platforms such as Freeview can help you get digital TV services over the web. Freeview brings together several channels which you can access via any browser.
You probably know of Netflix as it is the most popular internet TV service but hang on, here are a few more examples of internet TV services in Australia:
• ABC iView
• SBS on Demand
These days you can also stream Youtube and Amazon on your digital TV. In most cases, you have to pay a monthly fee to access the above services.
Types of Digital TV Antennas
Your antenna, its design, size and how you install it will affect your TV's performance. In other words, your antenna will determine the strength of your signal and the clarity of the picture. Let us look at the types of TV antennas in the market.
The indoor antenna is simple to install but sacrifices the signal quality. If you live in a place with good TV signals, you can get away with the signal quality, and if not, you should fix the antenna near a window in a high location.
In Australia, outdoor antennas are the most common, especially Log periodic antennas and Yagi. Yagi antennas receive strong signals but fewer channels, while Log periodic antennas have weak signals with a wide range of channels.
Regardless of the outdoor antenna you use, the outdoor antennas receive strong signals, unlike the indoor antenna.
A loft antenna is installed on your roof. Their quality is in between the outdoor and indoor antennas. They are complex to install, but their signal quality is better than outdoor and indoor antennas.
How to Diagnose a Problem with Your Digital Antenna
It does not matter if your antenna is new or old; sometimes, things go wrong and cause signal reception loss. If this happens to you, here are some basic steps to follow:
1. Check your antenna outside but do not climb the roof.
2. Can you see it?
3. Check if all parts are firmly attached.
4. Is it pointing in the right direction?
5. Go back in the house and ensure that all cables are connected to the device correctly.
6. Use your remote to set the correct input (e.g. antenna, HDMI1, video1, HDMI2, video2).
7. Re-tune your TV to get a better list of your subscribed channels.
If you do not notice any obvious problem and have followed the above steps to the latter, you should call a TV antenna installer. Sometimes the problem is not with your antenna.
Steps to a Perfect Digital TV Reception
What do you do when the TV reception in your house goes bad? Before you get a technician for antenna repairs, here are some steps you should take to get the perfect picture and audio on your digital TV.
Get the Right TV Antenna
The most important part of the digital system is the TV antenna. You also need to know whether you need an Ultra High Frequency or a Very High Frequency antenna. This will depend on which TV transmitter has the best signal in your area.
Additionally, whether you are using UHF or VHF bands, the antennas come in different sizes with some receiving signals better than others. For the reception, the most important element is the antenna gain. The higher the antenna gain, the better the signal quality and the stronger the signal power. For noise reduction, get an antenna with a 4G or 5G built-in filter.
Alignment of TV Antenna
The way your antenna is installed improves or degrades the TV reception because of height. The height of your antenna makes a big difference to the power and quality of the signal, and you can either get reception or lack one.
In some areas in Australia, where you are close to a signal transmitter, you only need a 1.4-metre roof mount. In other cases, you may need around 15ft to 50ft of a guyed mast. However, with digital TVs, this is not a requirement, unlike analogue TV days.
Besides the type of antenna, you need to consider the antenna alignment and its placement on the roof. You may have trees or other buildings that you need to avoid while getting the highest point on your roof for better signal quality.
TV Antenna Booster
Sometimes even if you have a UHF or VHF antenna, you may need a TV antenna booster depending on the number of TV outlets, building height, or the length of the cable runs.
Digital TV signal has two main components:
• Signal power
• Signal quality
Whilst you can adjust signal power with a TV antenna booster (also called an antenna amplifier or TV signal booster), you cannot improve signal quality with just any similar device. Your antenna determines the strength of the signal you receive. If the signal quality is poor, you should replace your antenna or relocate it to a higher place to receive quality signal.
On the other hand, your signal power can be boosted with a TV antenna booster or reduced with an attenuator. There are many reasons why signal power decreases. They are:
• You live in a poor signal area.
• You have large hills or trees between your home and the transmitter.
• You are splitting the signals between more than two TVs.
• You are using an old high loss cable.
• You have long cable runs.
Other than the above, there are many other reasons you can lose signal in your TV that result in the need for an antenna booster. What should you look out for when using an antenna booster?
• The first thing you should look out for is that you do not overload the signal. This is achieved by turning the amplifier higher than normal. Your TV tuner can only work with specific power decibels. If the level is too low or too high, the TV tuner cannot work properly.
• The second thing to note is that your TV antenna booster cannot choose between signals used for TV and AM radio, RF signals, and 4G mobile signals. Consequently, it would help if you amplified these unwanted signals that can cause interference to your TV signals. Luckily, many TV antennas can filter these signals as they have in-built 4G/LTE filters.
A lead-in cable connects an antenna to the device in your TV wall, which is basically an antenna splitter. To keep the signal high, you should place the lead-in cable in the highest place possible.
Another way to ensure that you have good reception is the tuner in your TV wall mount. If your TV tuner is broken, your video and audio reception will not be reliable. Unfortunately, since TV repairers are few, it is easier to buy a whole TV set.
TV Antenna Choice and Setup
Antennas come in different sizes and shapes. There is nothing like one size fits all in antennas. The best installation for an antenna is outdoor installation, but you can also install direct antennas indoors or in attics. The best installation should be simple and direct. Each time you split your signal by adding another TV set, you reduce signal strength so, you may need an amplifier to compensate for the reduction. Most of the time, the end of your roof or room has better signal strength.
To help you choose the right TV antenna for you and for proper installation to get a strong signal, always seek the services of a TV antenna installer.