7 On Your Side, Consumer Reports: Get free HDTV with an indoor antenna

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Are you still holding onto your cable TV subscription because you cannot live without your local channels or us here at KGO-TV?

In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney says you might be able to get free off-air HDTV broadcasts by using an indoor antenna.

With Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services letting consumers stream their favorite shows, sometimes the only thing holding folks back from breaking up with their cable TV provider is access to local news and sports.

But for a one-time cost, anywhere from $10 to $80, Consumer Reports says a digital TV antenna might be a solution.

"Once you buy the antenna, the programming you get is free. So you get all your basic local channels and you don't have to pay anything," said Jim Willcox, Consumer Reports Electronics Editor. "And that's really appealing to people who are spending more than $100 a month to get a pay TV package."

And there are more benefits to an high-definition antenna.

"Sometimes cable channels are compressed, and you may find that that the pictures that you're getting on your TV using an over-the-air antenna are better than what you were getting with cable," notes Willcox.

But the number of channels you pick up and the reception quality with an HDTV antenna will depend on a few factors.

Willcox explains, "To be able to get decent reception, you have to consider how far you are from a broadcast tower and also the geography of where you live, whether there are obstructions like mountains, hills, trees, those kinds of things that could interfere with your signal."

Consumer Reports says AntennaWeb.org and TVFool.com can help give you a clearer picture of what kind of reception you can expect.

Consumer Reports also suggests trying your HDTV antenna in a few different locations in your house to get the best reception. You may see a better picture or more channels moving it near a window or higher on a wall.

And remember to let your TV re-scan for channels periodically. You might get a new station or two.

Consumer Reports is currently testing indoor antennas in its labs. We'll have an update on what brands are best when those results are in.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
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