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Cutting the cord? What to look for in a digital TV antenna

A few factors to consider in purchasing a TV antenna

Cutting the cord is increasingly common. More and more people, especially millennials, are canceling their cable subscription or just not signing up for a traditional cable package at all. Instead, these cord cutters are relying on streaming services and over-the-air digital signals for free entertainment. How do you choose the best digital antenna? Here are a few things to consider.

1. Do you rent or own your home?

If you own a house, you can spring for a more fancy digital antenna setup. You can get an outdoor receiver that will often yield a clearer signal than most indoor antennas. But not everyone needs an outdoor set up. This can depend on a variety of factors, including whether you're planning to move in the near future.

Also, the outdoor setups are a little more expensive and require much more installation than a simple indoor antenna. Most rental properties will not allow you to mount anything on the roof or drill through the wall, so an indoor antenna will be your only option.

2. Research your distance from broadcast towers

The distance between your home and the broadcast towers can determine which antenna you should get. The farther the broadcast towers in your area are, the wider range you'll need on your antenna. If you live in a big city, you'll likely not need that wide of a signal range. About 25 miles is standard and should work just fine for most people. You should also note the location of broadcast towers for your favorite channels as you might have to re-orient your antenna to receive those signals clearly.

3. What's the terrain around your home?

The range of the antenna can also depend on the terrain around your home. Various environmental factors can cause the signal to become weak or interrupted. Hilly areas or skyscrapers can interfere with the signal to your antenna. Some brands work better in different areas than others. It can pay off to research which models will work best where you live. The last thing you want is to invest in an antenna that doesn't actually work for you.

4. Consider your current TV set up

Digital antennas typically receive high-definition signals, but some are better at it than others. For a clearer signal, it might be better to get a window-mounted antenna. If your TV is not currently placed near a window, that can mean you either have to adjust your entertainment system or go for a different type of antenna. To receive a better signal, no matter which antenna you purchase, it is best to position it as high as you possibly can. This also might mean some adjustments to your current set up.