By Arlene Jones
I came into a little extra money a couple of weeks ago and decided to buy a small television for my kitchen. Although I am not a "television addict" during the week, I am addicted to the Saturday cooking shows when my schedule allows me to see them. Ever since the broadcast signal went from analog to digital, I haven't had a television in my kitchen. The small television I used to watch didn't have a digital tuner and the converter box was literally almost the same size as the television.
I opted to buy a 21-inch flat screen. As I wandered past all the televisions, I was amazed at the way the cost had dropped considerably over the years. My first 32-inch flat screen cost $650 back in 2005 and had a hefty weight. Now I was looking at a slightly smaller one whose price tag was just over a hundred dollars. Amazing!
Around the same time I bought my first flat screen, I had purchased a wall mount holder. I guess I planned to mount the TV on the wall but never got around to doing it. The holder sat in my closet unused until I took it out to hang my new purchase. The weird/interesting thing is that, just as the price for televisions came down tremendously over the years, so did the weight of the television. The holder I purchased years back literally weighed more than the television it was going to support!
I decided to mount the television against the wooden cabinet enclosure where my refrigerator sits. It's the perfect spot in my kitchen for seeing the TV while I cook. As I plotted out the installation (yes, I did it myself), I also liked the look of not having cords hanging. But I don't have cable, so my television would be dependent on getting signals over the airwaves. Hence I would need an antenna.
I don't know why I didn't buy an antenna at the same time I bought the television. I can only presume the prices were such that I decided to wait and try eBay and get a better deal than the store offered. I ended up doing just that and got an antenna specifically designed to pull in the HDTV signals, or so it professed.
I tested out the new television, using the antenna from a different TV. I loved the picture and got a number of channels. When my new antenna arrived, I hooked it up and everything looked good. However, the following day when I turned on the television, I got a message that the antenna had a "weak signal." I found that strange as I had had a beautiful picture just the night before. I changed channels and lo and behold discovered that all the stations that had come in beautifully the night before were missing. I "reset" my television antenna's signal via the scan and after a five-minute wait found that my new antenna only brought in something like 12 UHF channels, and the majority of them weren't in English.
I began to do research on antennas and was surprised to learn that Consumer Reports couldn't rate them because what worked for one television and in one area didn't work in another. That even included different houses in the same area. So they offered some basic guidelines, as well as links to websites that help you determine the right antenna for your needs. They also recommended stores that had a liberal return policy.
I started wavering between purchasing an expensive indoor antenna that many people said worked well for them and an outdoor one that would need to be installed on my roof. I was trying to decide which would be best when, while visiting a friend's house, I commented on the beautiful picture on their TV. They don't have cable and the antenna they were using was simply a piece of copper wire that they had stuck into the antenna opening!
When I got home I cut a length of wire and stuck the copper end into the opening for the antenna and wrapped the rest around it. I reran the channel scan. It went from 12 stations to 50-something. Most amazing was getting Channel 2 (which has one of the worst signals)! I'm going to forget the expensive antennas and see how it goes with the copper wire!
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