NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — Electronics are usually in high demand this time of year and with so many people cutting the cable cord, antennas have become more popular.
TV antennas have come a long way from the days of the old rabbit ears covered in tin foil. If you're thinking about dropping your dish or cable to save money, here are some things to look for when you're buying an antenna.
Chris Patterson and his family cut the cord years ago and started using an antenna to watch things like sports on Sundays and their local news. One of his favorite things about having an antenna.
"There’s no monthly fees and you don’t have to have any sort of contract with a cable company or any other company," Patterson said.
Consumer Reports recently tested indoor antennas of different shapes and sizes in homes both in the city and in the suburbs.
"In our tests, most models were able to receive dozens of free over-the-air channels," said Jim Willcox, Consumer Reports tech editor.
One that did well is the Winegard FlatWave Amped. It has a super-thin design you can mount on a wall or a window.
Some good news for bargain shoppers — Consumer Reports said its tests found little correlation between price and performance. One example: a budget model from Naxa which combines the rabbit-ears-and-loop design of classic antennas with more modern features.
No matter which antenna you choose, there are several factors that impact the number of channels you’ll get, some you have control over, others you don’t.
"Where you place your antenna can be really important. We suggest placing it as high as you can and preferably close to a window," Willcox said.
Other factors, like where you live and what’s around your home, like buildings or trees, can also impact reception. Which means you may need to try several models before finding the best antenna for your space. So Consumer Reports suggests you shop somewhere with free returns and exchanges.
As for the Patterson family, they found another benefit to their antenna.
"A couple of years ago when there was a major storm and the cable went out in town for a couple of days — if you had an antenna you could still watch TV," Patterson said.
Once you've got your antenna in, you'll want to rescan for channels every month or so, because you might pick up new stations you couldn’t get earlier.