09.13.2004 08:00 AM
Washington Post tests DTV antennas

Several locations in the Washington, D.C. television market were subject to recent DTV antenna tests by the Washington Post. The newspaper said the results were surprisingly good.

The Post used a RU-17LZ21 17-inch flat panel display from LG, digital receivers from Samsung and LG, and antennas from Zenith and Terk. They also used whatever older antennas were available at each of the test locations.

The locations where the tests took place included a home in far southwestern Fairfax County, in a rural area near Clifton; in Silver Springs, just outside the Beltway near Georgia Avenue; in an Arlington neighborhood close to Fort Myer; and in a row house in the District, a few blocks east of Georgetown University.

The big surprise, said the Post, was that, despite years of counsel from television experts that an outdoor antenna would be required in most places, they needed an external antenna only in Clifton, roughly 22 miles distant from the transmitters.

The report said older antennas worked as well as HDTV-specific models. At all four locations, reception was clear. The best overall results came with Zenith’s Silver Sensor, set-top device that needed no fiddling to pick up all the local digital broadcasts — plus public televisions stations WETA and Maryland Public Television — in every location but Fairfax.

The downside to Zenith’s antenna is that it picks up only the UHF signals used for digital and some analog broadcasts, not the VHF signals that carry channels 13 and lower. Terk’s HDTVi, includes a set of VHF rabbit-ear antennas in addition to its UHF antenna. The newspaper said this set-top model, however, didn’t work as well as the Zenith model. (The newspaper also said that Terk was withdrawing this model from the market)

As for set-top box DTV receivers, the newspaper said both Samsung’s SIR-T451, and LG’s LST3410A, pulled in all of the available broadcasts. LG’s seemed to lock into signals slightly quicker and included a 120GB digital video recorder.

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