Monday, March 4, 2013


If you have a TV made after 2008 you can get a lot of channels simply by connecting an antenna. (See future post on how to do this for TVs made before 2008, or analog TVs.)  The antenna in this case is a small, 8" x 10" indoor antenna, not the old-school kind that goes on the roof.
This is my 2008 Toshiba TV

1- CHECK TO SEE WHICH TV STATIONS YOU SHOULD GET IN YOUR AREA before you drop your cable service--The signal quality of TV stations depends on how far you are from a signal tower and the geography of the area (e.g., mountains hinder TV signals). To see which TV stations you should be able to receive using an antenna, click this link TV Stations with Strong Signal in my Area.  Fill in your zip code and street address.  You will see a comprehensive listing of stations you can expect to get with antenna reception alone. I get ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, etc.

2- PURCHASE A SIMPLE DIGITAL ANTENNA-- I have used both of these antennas and been satisfied with them.  The RCA flat antenna cost $30 .  The Mohu Leaf antenna cost $40 .  Honestly, I'm indifferent between the two.  I'll leave it to someone smarter than I to parse the differences.
RCA Digital Flat Antenna $30.

Mohu Leaf Antenna $40.
Back of my Toshiba TV where Antenna Connects
3- PLUG THE ANTENNA INTO YOUR TV-- The sheer number of ports on the back of your TV is intimidating but you only need ONE.  MAKE SURE the TV is "OFF" then find the port that is labeled "ANT". Twist the free end of the antenna's coaxial cable into this port/plug. Do not change or unplug any other cables.

This assumes you have already unplugged the "main" CableTV cable and returned the equipment (including remote) to your provider.

4- SCAN FOR AVAILABLE DIGITAL CHANNELS--This step asks your TV to find the "new" digital channels that the new antenna can receive.  If you don't do this, your TV screen will just be a scratchy, snowy picture.  Following are the steps to scan for available channels on my TV, your digital TV may use slightly different labels.

  1. On the remote, press "MENU" (circled in pink)
  2.  On the TV now, use the remote's arrows to move to the TV screen icon "SETUP", click enter
  3. Use the remote's arrows to scroll down to "INSTALLATION" on the TV
  4. Use the remote's "enter" button to click on the "TERRESTRIAL" icon on the TV
  5. Use the remote to scroll down to "CHANNEL PROGRAM", click on it
  6. The "ANT 1" button that appears will now scan for channels when you click on it
Use the arrow buttons around the "enter" to navigate
I scrolled to the 6th icon for setup
I don't know why this part has so many steps on my TV.  You might have it easier.  Use the remote to move the selected icons on the TV.  Make sure you are pointing the remote at the TV. Essentially you use the remote to project a "Setup" screen on the TV*.  Once there, use the remote's "arrow" buttons to search for something that gets you to "Scan Channels".  Most TVs will then scan for channels automatically after you click on it.  You CAN do it.  I did it and now receive all the main networks; I even got the 2013 Superbowl!!!

5- SET THE "INPUT" ON YOUR TV TO "ANT" and you are ready to go!
"INPUT" button circled in pink on my remote

Change input to ANT 1
While pointing the remote at the TV click "INPUT" (circled in pink at right).  There will be about seven choices that pop up, see below.  Use your remote to navigate to the "ANT 1" option, the first choice on my TV.

Whenever you turn your TV on, make sure the "INPUT" is set to "ANT"enna and you will be able to receive over-the-air channels.  You will probably need to adjust the position of the antenna for optimum picture quality.

When in doubt, call the 800 number for the maker of your TV and they can walk you through the process too.

* You can navigate this whole process without the remote. Instead of using the remote, use the buttons built in to your TV (on the bottom or side) that are labeled "INPUT", "MENU", etc. 

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