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How to get TV using an antenna

December 25, 2009

Basics of over-the-air viewing

Channels: For a list of broadcast channels available in your area, go to the FCC's channel lookup site., and put in your ZIP Code. The channels available in your immediate area will be color-coded according to signal strength.

Antennas: There are a variety of sizes and configurations; finding the right antenna may involve some trial and error. Also, to give your signal a boost, consider buying an "amplified" antenna that plugs into an electrical socket.

Prices: They range from less than $5 for a small indoor unit to around $200 for a mountable outdoor device.

Placement: As in the old days, the higher your antenna is placed and the fewer obstacles blocking the signal, the more channels you'll receive. Roof-mounted antennas generally get the best results, although smaller indoor antennas can still pick up most channels.

Converter box: Older television sets may require a converter box to receive the new digital broadcast signals. If your television is not listed under "Is your TV a DTV?" at www.dtvtransition.org, you may have to buy a converter box. The boxes cost $30 to $50 and are available at most electronics stores and online.

Caveats: Depending on the location of your home and the terrain, you may not be able to receive every available channel. Severe weather and other electronic interference could also hinder reception.

Source: Times research

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