In a world where the television can often seem to be the focal point of a family room, families spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year to ensure that they have the best and most advanced programming packages available from cable or satellite providers. In an economic climate that’s still struggling to rebound after a major financial crisis, however, saving that money can be imperative for the average household.
While newer television sets come standard with digital receivers these days, older sets will require a digital converter box in order to pick up over-the-air channels. The boom in free programming, however, means that there are far more channels and programming options available to the household that’s chosen to forgo cable or satellite services. The trick lies within making sure that your old television set is properly outfitted to get the best possible signal.
- Check the Condition of Cables and Wires – You can invest in the fanciest converter box on the market and optimize the positioning of your outdoor antenna to your heart’s content, but it won’t make much difference in the quality of your connection if your cables and wires are old or in poor condition. Before shelling out big bucks on fancy equipment, make sure that your basic, relatively inexpensive cabling is in good repair.
- Keep Cable Length Minimal – The longer your cables from converter boxes and antennas into your television are, the less clear your picture is likely to be. Try to minimize the length of your cables as much as possible in order to ensure the best picture and sound quality.
- Ensure Good Connections – A single wobbly connection or coaxial cable loosely connected can affect the clarity of your sound and picture quality greatly. Make a point of checking that all of your cables are connected properly while you’re making sure that the cables themselves are in proper condition.
- Upgrade Your Antenna – Antennas have come a long way from the wire devices propped on top of a console television, and a newer model will almost certainly be more powerful than one heavily augmented by aluminum foil.
- Take it Outside – If at all possible, consider installing an outdoor antenna over the installation of a small, plastic indoor option. A well placed outdoor antenna will pick up more channels in higher quality, which is important since the switch to all-digital signals. Older, analog broadcasts could often be picked up in poor quality, but a weak digital signal will almost always leave you with a blank screen, rather than wavy lines and distorted sound.
- Keep an Eye on Quality and Condition – Your outdoor antenna isn’t plagued by the same line-of-sight issues that accompanies an indoor model, but it is subjected to the elements in a way that indoor equipment simply isn’t. Make sure that your antenna hasn’t become damaged or corroded by exposure to the elements to keep your signal coming in loud and clear.
- Consider Your Location Relative to Broadcasting Stations – Generally speaking, the closer you are to the physical broadcasting location of the stations you’re trying to pick up, the better your signal will be. Make sure that your antenna is placed in a way that’s optimal for your home, especially in relation to the local broadcasting centers.
- Know the Networks You’re Looking to Pick Up – Some networks will come in more clearly than others, and you’ll be able to adjust your antenna accordingly if you know which stations you’re trying to pick up and how to orient the antenna to find them.
- Upgrade Your DTV Box – If you rushed out to pick up the cheapest available digital television box at the last minute before the big switch, it may be time to look into a better solution now. Upgrading from a low-quality piece of equipment to a better one doesn’t have to break the bank, and can make a very real difference in your signal.
- Consider Signal Amplification Products – There are signal amplifiers on the market, but it’s important to be careful about how you use them if you’re looking for better clarity. Too much of a signal can cause distortion just as too little of one.
- Re-Scan Periodically – Every time you adjust your antenna or make a change to your set up, it’s wise to re-scan your DTV box to see if there are new channels in range. You may be surprised at how much more you’re able to pick up after a single re-scan.
- Relocate Your Wi-Fi Router – The signal from your wireless network router can interfere with your television signal if the router is too close to an indoor antenna. Moving the router away from the antenna or, better yet, to another room, can boost your signal considerably.
- Understand That You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing – In the quest for the best possible signal, it’s wise not to get overzealous. Just as with so many other things in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. An excessively strong signal can cause distortion and loss of picture, so don’t use amplification methods or tools if they’re not necessary.
- Use the Buddy System – If you’re trying to adjust an outdoor antenna, it’s best to have someone positioned in the house with a clear view of the television and another working on the adjustments. Use the buddy system and communicate when the picture is clear, rather than scrambling on an off of a roof and using guesswork as your guide.
- Switch to an “Active” Splitter – If you’re using a passive splitter and struggling to get a clear signal, consider switching to an active one for best results. These devices will amplify your signal while splitting it, giving you more bang for your buck.