There’s No Such Thing as an HD Antenna

If you’ve recently decided to look into TV antennas and have spent any amount of time shopping around, don’t feel bad if you’re thoroughly confused. You are not alone.

There’s no such thing as an “HD” or “Digital” TV antenna. The signals from your local broadcast towers are digital, as are the tuners in newer TV sets, but not the antennas themselves. Don’t be fooled by misleading and deceptive marketing claims. You don’t need a special kind of TV antenna in order to receive digital broadcast signals. You can put up a TV antenna from the 1970s and it’s going to pick up the same digital broadcast signals as any spaceship-looking, HD-claiming antenna you can buy today.

So how did this happen? Well, in 2009 a wondrous thing happened to broadcast TV: the transmissions changed from analog to digital. This means that the free TV that you get from a TV antenna is now beautiful, crisp, uncompressed digital signals that are noticeably higher quality than what you get from Cable or Satellite services. The digital transition is actually what started the cord cutting movement.

In 2009, broadcast TV signals in the U.S. switched from analog to digital.

Foreseeing the inevitable boom in TV antenna sales, many marketers decided to capitalize on this trend by calling the antennas HD or Digital, implying that you must have this new, fancy, over-priced antenna in order to get the new digital signals. Hogwash. And watch out for anyone claiming to have “new and advanced” TV antenna technology.

If you ask a manufacturer why their antenna is called an HD antenna, they will likely respond that it’s because the antenna receives HD broadcast signals or that the antenna works with digital TV sets. Ok, that’s true. But ALL antennas receive HD broadcast signals and work with digital TV sets. If you ask them how their antenna is “new” technology, they are going to have a tougher time answering the question. Um, it’s a cool new shape. It’s made out of unusual materials. You can plug it in to amplify the signal. Great! But that’s not new technology, it’s just cosmetics and some clever design innovations.

Over-the-air broadcast TV is experiencing a renaissance, igniting a boom in TV antenna sales and competition among TV antenna manufacturers.

Channel Master is the nation’s first and longest-running TV antenna manufacturer, established in 1949, so we can rightly claim to be experts on this subject. We see some truly crazy claims in TV antenna marketing and packaging. HDTV and 1080p logos everywhere, “Full HD” claims and even some 4KTV and Ultra HD descriptors. Just remember, those descriptors are about the broadcast signal and/or the TV set, not the antenna, so be careful you don’t over-pay for something that you don’t need.

When you’re shopping for a TV antenna, the most important things you need to know are the location and distance of your broadcast towers from your home. After that is determined it’s easy to choose the antenna that fits your needs. For assistance, check out our handy Antenna Selection Guide.