Cut the cable
The Winegard FlatWave Amplified HDTV Indoor Antenna
Two reasons why you might want to cancel your cable or satellite service: 1) it’s expensive; 2) it may not provide the local channel that you want most. Here’s a good example: Downton Abbey is in its final season and it’s a “must-see” for millions. PBS is not available on the basic package in our area. Some months ago, we opted to go with an indoor HDTV antenna and now a neighbour and cable subscriber from down the street who doesn’t get the series joins us for it on Sunday nights.
A thin sheet of shiny black plastic plugged into the antenna connection does all the heavy lifting. When first installed, I ran the TV though its channel selection scan and it came up with about a dozen HDTV channels including CBC (French and English), CTV, Global and ABC. Reception is reliable and near perfect. When it comes to these nifty devices, location is key. Distance from a broadcast tower, the terrain, and even the wood and metal inside your walls affects it, and so does where you place the antenna in the room. Finding the right spot is a matter of trial and error. I’ve been lucky here. The device sits out of sight on the top of a bookcase and never has to be moved. Placing it high in the room helps. Some report the best reception when placed in a window affixed to the glass with double-sided tape.
There are other considerations. Performance varies widely between devices. There are dozens on the market and price doesn’t always tell the story. Have a look at reviews on the Web before you buy and then choose a retailer with an easy return policy — you may have to try two or three before you find the one that works best for you.
I’ve chosen the Winegard FL5U00A FlatWave Amplified Razor Thin HDTV Indoor Antenna. Users report excellent reception in a wide variety of locations. For example, a Coquitlam, BC resident picks up 12 channels, and Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal users report excellent multi-channel reception as well. It’s extremely lightweight, black on one side and white on the other, and has a long, 5.5 metre coaxial cable.
Sound too fussy to bother with? It really isn’t. I’ve tried similar antennas in four different locations from central Canada to the West Coast and it’s performed admirably every time. It’s hard to wipe the grin off your face when you run the scan and see it picking up 4, 6, 8 and 12 channels knowing you’ll never have to pay another nickel for TV reception. $89.99. angelelectronics.ca.
Enter to Win the Gadget of the Month contest here. It would be a pleasure to ship an antenna to the winner.
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.