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Friday, January 28, 2011

HDTV OTA Antennas: Terk HDTVa vs. Antennas Direct DB2

I’ve recently decided to cancel our $85 / month DirecTV subscription and will instead be utilizing a combination of MythTV (open-source DVR software ) for managing over the air (OTA) broadcasts and online streaming (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) as a replacement f or movies/TV series.  (which will undoubtedly be a topic in future posts).


During the process of setting this up, I had to choose an antenna for my attic to allow me to receive the OTA broadcasts in our area.  I purchased the two top-selling HDTV antennas from Amazon and compared the two. 


When dealing with antennas, I realize that everyone's situation is unique, but below is my experience.  I live in Austin, TX about 12 miles north of most of the main towers. The antenna is in my 2nd story attic. 


Most of the stations in my area broadcast on UHF, but one continues broadcasting in VHF so I initially thought I needed an antenna that did both UHF/VHF. For that reason, I picked up this Terk HDTVa (which does both UHF/VHF) first and was disappointed with its results, both on UHF & VHF. The signal was decent, but definitely not flawless.


In addition, I found two things about this design sub-par. First, with the VHF antennae extended, the unit takes up a lot of space, even in an attic. It's also very unstable when fully extended. Secondly, the stated need for it to be plugged in regardless of whether you are using the amplification or not makes for a slightly inconvenient installation. Finally, I noticed that the power adapter when plugged in was exceedingly hot, so hot that it was uncomfortable to hold in my hand. Long-term, that just does not seem safe to me.

To make a long story short, I tried the antenna for a day and then ordered the Antennas Direct DB2 Multi Directional HDTV Antenna to replace it. It immediately improved my reception on UHF and surprisingly, on the one VHF station as well. The antenna was placed in the exact same spot as the HDTVa.  Below are the signal comparison results for each antenna.


Terk HDTVa antenna
Channel -> Signal Strength / Signal Quality
54.1 -> 61/83
42.1 -> 65/91
24.1 -> 80/100
18.1 -> 72/94
36.1 -> 78/95
7.1 -> 54/75 [VHF]








db2Antennas Direct DB2 antenna
Channel -> Signal Strength / Signal Quality
54.1 -> 91/100
42.1 -> 84/100
24.1 -> 94/100
18.1 -> 95/90
36.1 -> 96/95
7.1 -> 91/100 [VHF]

Conclusion: The DB2 was 15-30% better on every channel and also does not require power for amplification like the HDTVa does. A hands-down winner in my situation.




  1. I live in Austin as well (SW) and am looking into getting rid of my DirectTV and going the antenna route. Were you able to get the local PBS station (KLRU)? That's the one channel I really want to be able to get. Thanks.

  2. Yep, 18.1 above is KLRU and you can see in the tables above how well the DB2 pulls it in vs. the Terk. It was a little flaky with the Terk but once I switched to the DB2 I was able to get it very clearly.

  3. Great news. Thanks so much!