Best Indoor TV antenna?

My lady friend, the fabulous Sassy [genuflect] of San Francisco, doesn’t watch much TV and therefore won’t subscribe to cable. I love her anyway.

She prefers her books, but they don’t have enough pictures in them for my tastes.

Someday I’ll install a 99-inch HDTV plasma with surround sound and built in popcorn dispenser, even at the risk of never being seen outdoors again.

Until this happens, there are times when I’d like to watch the tube.

She has an older Panasonic with a great picture when the latest Netflix disk is played, but the old fashioned rabbit ears I installed (with the circular loop in the center), gets but a handful of channels, some as fuzzy as kitten fresh out of the dryer.

I’ve looked at the offerings that range in price from $20 to “You’re out of your ever-lovin’ mind!”

I can’t find a review site that has more than a few posts which makes me suspicious. I don’t know enough to make an intelligent decision and I certainly don’t want to waste my doubloons. I don’t expect miracles, but I have my addiction to satisfy.

This is a great chance to fight ignorance, for those of you who know more than I…which may be all of you and some of your pets.

So, pray tell, what’s the straight dope on the modern indoor TV antenna?

Indoor antennas are never as good a choice as a good external, mostly because of the height limitation. (You can also have problems with signal penetration through the walls.) Anyway, for ATSC (I don’t bother with NTSC signals because I’ve got the dish with local channels and the DVR for that) I use an amplified highly-directional antenna from Terk. The farther away (and/or weaker) the source, the more both amplification and directionality can help. I got my antenna up against the wall pointing in the direction I get the signals from (vaguely southish towards El Paso in my case.) The sources are all 30+ miles away and I get the signals to come in with a strength averaging 80 (on a scale of 100) depending on the exact station and outside conditions. The Terk antenna cost me about $70 and I’ve been quite happy with it.

If the Panasonic has a digital tuner built-in (probably not if it’s more than a couple years old) then I’d go ahead and get an ATSC antenna. You’ll need it in a couple years when everything goes ATSC anyway. You don’t need a HDTV to decode ATSC signals. You won’t get HD, of course, but what you’ll get instead is a digital signal that decodes to SD. That way, when you do get that big honking HDTV, you can save some money by getting your local channels in HD over-the-air.

An even better place to ask these questions (and I like the Dope, but there are advantages to going to specific forums) is http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=25 . Also try www.antennaweb.org as the website should be able to give you an idea of where the local broadcast towers are in relation to your location and what kind of antenna would be good.

Thanks very much asterion. Looks like you’ve single-handedly nailed it. Armed with your primmer, I’ll check out the site you suggested.