Like many people here in the States, I am dropping my satellite TV service. Both cable and satellite services are getting more expensive, and the value just isn’t there. I currently have 250 channels available to me, of those I typically watch 5 or 6 routinely, and another 5 or 6 occasionally. So, I watch 10 to 12 channels, and pay $90 a month for the satellite service.
The solution to this is using an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. Buy and install an antenna, and get no monthly charges. In my case, not counting the cost of the antenna, the savings is $1080 per year. There may be some trade off in programming, and you may not receive all the channels you typically watch on cable/satellite. This needs to be factored into your decision to “cut the cable”. By going to tvfool.com, you can provide your address and determine the channels you will receive, the distance from the transmission towers, and the direction (in degrees) to point the antenna. According to the website, I should receive a total of 18 channels, 15 of which are 49 miles away. This sounds great. Now to find the correct antenna……………..
Mohu Leaf Plus HDTV Indoor Antenna
After a few hours of searching the web for an outdoor directional antenna, I remembered that I had read about an indoor antenna that uses some military grade technology in a device that looks like a laminated piece of typing paper, with a coax cable attached. After some searching, I found the Mohu Leaf antenna. Paper thin, easy to mount, omnidirectional, optimized for UHF and VHF stations, all with a street price of about $35. I was pretty interested in buying one of these, until I read that it had a range of 30 miles, which is 19 miles less than I need. After a little more research, I found the Leaf Plus. There are four differences between the two antennas: The Leaf Plus is slightly larger (9″ X 11.5″ or the size of a sheet of A11 paper); has a high gain, low noise, state of the art, Phempt amplifier; has an advertised range of 50 miles, and costs (street price) $62.00. On paper, this antenna looks exactly like what I need. Being an indoor antenna, I don’t have to worry about mounting it on the roof, running grounds, and so on. Less hassle. I bought the Leaf Plus.
How It Worked
Setting up the Leaf Plus took just a few minutes: attach the coax from the antenna to the HDTV, and power up the amplifier (it can plug into a USB port on your TV, or with the included adapter, power it from an electrical outlet). The indoor antenna has a black side and white side, choose the color you want “out”, and attach it with push pins, tape, or the enclosed velcro pads. I first mounted the indoor antenna high above a wall adjacent to my Sharp Aquos HDTV. After setting the Sharp to use an over-the-air antenna, I ran a channel scan, and got one channel. This channel is only transmitting 12 miles away. Pretty disappointing. I moved the Leaf Plus antenna to another wall in the same room, and got…………….the same channel again. After I checked my settings and connections, I added some more coax cable, and moved the Leaf antenna to the side of my house that was closer to the transmission towers, and got…………the same result, the one channel that is 12 miles away. Not to give up, I tried two additional walls in two separate rooms on this side of the house, all with the same results.
I sent the Leaf Plus back and got a refund (Thank you Amazon for the prompt service}. In fairness to the Leaf Plus, it had topography issues as well as distance issues to overcome. In ideal situations, the Leaf Plus might well receive transmissions 50 miles away given a near flat terrain and few topographic obstructions. Still, at this distance, it would be hard for me to believe that the Leaf Plus is a match for a decent HDTV outdoor antenna. The Leaf’s forte is probably a 30 mile or less range from the transmission towers, in a house/apartment in a major metropolitan area.
That being said, I purchased a RCA ANT751R outdoor antenna. This is a small directional antenna, with a 40 mile advertised range. I assembled RCA antenna in about 5 minutes. To test the RCA ANT751R, I set the outdoor antenna on a box on my roof, pointed the RCA antenna toward the transmission towers (277 degrees), and on my first try, picked up 18 channels.