A portion of the population still relies on local broadcasting stations to get their news and entertainment.
However, not every smart television will come with an antenna built-in, so they may not be capable of capturing over-the-air broadcasting. Instead, some smart TVs rely solely on the internet to get channels.
Unless the set includes a High Definition Digital TV antenna, there will be no way to access free local channels without an external device. Most smart TV manufacturers do not prioritize listing this information on their product pages and ads. You may need to go online to check and ensure that the smart TV you intend to buy includes one of these built-in devices.
One way you can differentiate TVs is by reading through product titles. Models that include either Ultra HD TV or HDTV in the title on their online pages or in-store packaging will usually have a built-in antenna, whether this is explicitly stated or not. You will still want to double-check and not rely solely on this factor as some items are misidentified on store shelves or online catalogs. It is best to check the box or item specs, in addition, to make sure that they match. Televisions that are called ‘displays’ rarely include an antenna.
Why Do Smart TVs Need Antennas?
The only way to pick up an over-the-air signal from local broadcasting towers on your smart TV is to use an antenna. These Freeview stations are sometimes available through apps over the internet, but many smaller channels do not have this kind of accessibility. The only way to ensure you can get access is by having some form of High Definition Digital TV antenna.
With an antenna, there is no need for any costly subscriptions. You will be able to access any free sports, news, and entertainment channels in your local area. This is one of the core advantages.
Why Do Some Smart TVs Not Have Built-in Antennas?
For anyone with a cable subscription and wifi, there is no need to have an antenna since most things you want to watch can be found through online apps that can be added to the smart TV. Only people who want to enjoy free local channels will need an antenna. That being said, there are also plenty of free apps that do not require a subscription, although the internet is needed in order to access them.
Can You Still Get Local Channels If Your Smart TV Has No Antenna?
You can buy an antenna for your television if it does not come with one included. Some sets will also work with varying levels of success using traditional analog antennas, although these do tend to provide lower quality images.
There are also apps for some local channels that you can download though this will require an internet connection, which means they will not be free in the same sense they would be if you had the right equipment to get your television straight from the broadcasting towers.
Cost Difference Between Smart TVs With and Without Antennas
TV displays that do not come with any form of antenna are slightly cheaper than their HDTV and UHDTV counterparts. Smart TVs that do not include an antenna, like some Vizio models, usually have a price tag of between $200 to $400 depending on the size and other available features. Similar televisions that include antennas can cost, on average, between $500 to $700.
Cost of Antennas
Most indoor antennas cost around $10 to $40. Outdoor antennas need to be able to withstand a lot more and tend to be more expensive, with costs ranging from $59 to $150.
Popular Brands For Antennas and Accessories
There are hundreds of alternatives to choose from if you need to purchase an antenna separately. You want one that is going to pick up the most channels with the highest quality images. Some popular brands of indoor antennas for smart TVs include the following.
- NextGen TV
Some of the most popular brands for outdoor antennas include those listed here:
- ANI-AV Outdoors
- Clear stream
What to Look For In an External Antenna For a Smart TV
These are one-time costs that will provide years of local television, so you want to make sure you get the one that has quality components to provide the crispest image. The first thing you want to do is look at online sites that provide a map of channels in your area. The website for the Federal Communications Commission is one site that features this kind of map. Quite a few will be able to tell you what type of antenna you will need to receive the listed channels clearly. They will indicate if a multidirectional or directional antenna will be best.
Directional antennas are ideal if you are in an area with weak signals as you can use it to laser focus in on the broadcasting stations. These are harder to place, though, since an inch or two in any direction can cause a significant difference in quality.
You may live in an area with medium or high signal strength, and you can use a multidirectional antenna. These can get signals from multiple directions at once and are much quicker and easier to place since you do not have to be so exact about the placement.
Should You Get an Indoor or Outdoor Antenna?
You can look online to see what broadcasting towers are located near you and how far their signal can travel. You can use this information to determine if you should purchase an indoor or outdoor antenna for your smart TV. Indoor options will not have the same kind of range as those that are designed to be placed outdoors. You can look for models that offer specific ranges to make sure that it matches up with your local over-the-air signal.
The location of your home and where inside your television is located will both be determining factors when deciding whether to go for an indoor or outdoor antenna. Obstacles like trees, hills, and building design are only some things that might interfere with a broadcast signal.
Pros and Cons of Indoor Vs. Outdoor Antennas
Indoor and outdoor devices can both get the job done, but you might choose one over the other based on your geographical location or house architecture. There are a few advantages and disadvantages to each of these two options.
- Finding a good strong signal can be easier inside homes with multiple stories
- It is safer to place them as there is no need to crawl over a roof or other outdoor area
- Weather events will not damage them
- They are easier to install and uninstall
- Walls create obstacles which may lower how much signal gets picked up
- They can pick up broadcast signals from further away
- During winter months, depending on placement, snow may accumulate and will need routinely cleaned to maintain signal strength
- There may be outdoor antenna rules in your area that limit where you can install the device
Where to Place Your Smart TV Antenna to Get the Best Signal
Always check local laws to make sure that there are not any that might limit where you are allowed to install it. Then find out where your local towers are located and start looking around your home for the ideal place to get the best signal.
The higher your antenna is positioned, whether it is located indoors or outdoors, the better the signal is going to be because there will be fewer things obstructing the area. Common places include attics, roofs, balconies, and over garages.
If you have an indoor antenna, then you will want it to be placed near a window or outer wall. For homes with several stories, you can put it on the top floor for better signal strength.
The actual location (one side of the roof versus another or which window to choose) is going to be something that you will need to find through trial and error. Every home and neighborhood has unique obstacles, which means there is no one best place to stick your antenna. Instead, you will want to look for ideal spots and start testing them out. This might seem frustrating, but taking the time to find the site around your home that gets the best reception can make it so that you will not have to go back and reposition the device later on.
Using One Antenna For Multiple Smart TVs
It is possible to use one well-placed antenna for multiple televisions throughout your home. All you will need is a coaxial splitter or similar device, which will allow you to add connections to the existing cable.
You can get built-in, indoor, or outdoor antennas for your smart TV to make sure that you always have access to all the local news, shows, and sports events. For anyone who needs to use an external antenna, you should use your best judgment to find areas in and around your home that provide the best signal access. Placement will be the most critical factor in terms of image quality for these devices.