RF Shorts for Sept. 26, 2014

Tom's Guide Evaluates Thin TV Antennas
Website TomsGuide.com tested several thin TV antennas and reported on the results. The testing was not a rigorous as those of HDTV Expert Pete Putman, and I didn't see any mention of specific channels tested, or whether the tests include VHF stations, or the distance from the stations. One of the antennas was tested in a different location by a different reviewer.

Two amplified RCA antennas, the RCA UltraThin Multi-Directional HDTV antenna (ANT1150F) and the RCA ANT1650F Flat Amplified Indoor TV Antenna got good reviews for the number of stations they were able to pick up. The “best in class” RCA ANT1150F pulled in 41 channels and subchannels.

The Winegard FlatWave Amped review noted “The Winegard FlatWave Amped HDTV Antenna is relatively pricey, but it’s the ultimate choice for videophiles.” The details are a bit confusing. The review said, “While the FlatWave pulled in a modest 19 channels in our test location, all the stations were clear and uninterrupted. In fact, the picture on most of the channels was crisper and sharper than that of other models we tested, making the Winegard the best choice for discerning cord-cutters.” It isn't clear if the 19 channels were major channels only or included subchannels. As these are digital signals the antenna should make no difference in the picture quality except where there is data loss (blocking, artifacts). It will have no impact on the picture “crispness” or “sharpness.”

Other antennas included in the Tom's Guide review include theAmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor antenna, Phillips SDV6122T Indoor Digital TV antenna, Monoprice HDA-5700 Indoor/Outdoor TV antenna, Mohu Leaf 50 Indoor HDTV antenna, Mohu Leaf Metro HDTV antenna, Channel Master CM3000HD SMARTenna, and the Terk FDTV2A Flat Amplified HDTV antenna.

Winegard sent me a FlatWave Amped antenna to test and I expect to have results from testing it and other flat antennas in Los Angeles and possibly other locations in a future RF Technology column in TV Technology magazine. I've also been testing the $10 Channel Master flat antenna, which is small enough to carry around in my suitcase when traveling. I've tried it unamplified and amplified (using the Mohu Leaf's Ultimate amplifier) but haven't had enough experience with it to come to any conclusions. Both the Winegard FlatWave and the Channel Master are larger than the Mohu Leaf so I would expect better performance on VHF.

Carrier-Grade WiFi Still Two Years Away
Miri Silbey, in the article Carrier-Grade WiFi Still 2 Years Away – CableLabs on LightReading.com writes, “According to CableLabs Lead Wireless Architect Mark Poletti, speaking at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo here, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE), Wi-Fi Alliance and Wireless Broadband Alliance are all collaborating on standards for carrier-grade WiFi tools that will enable WiFi to be managed more like a cellular network.” The article cautions that the industry won't be ready to start certifying products with WiFi technology as “carrier-grade” until 2015 or 2016 and official deployments will start even later.

Carrier-grade WiFi will address Wifi Multimedia Quality of Service and Admission control. Requirements are also being set for intelligent frequency selection based on traffic congestion levels. Practices are being defined for self-organizing networks as part of an effort for managing large-scale WiFi deployments with multiple access points. One key development is “Hotspot 2.0,” which will allow client devices to automatically discover and connect WiFi hotspots based on established roaming agreements. Experts are working on a way to enable faster, secure, re-authentication across access points as users move from one hotspot to another.

Silbey's article includes links to additional information. Given the large amount of data capacity available on modern cable systems and the ability of cable companies to use customers' wireless routers as hotspots, it isn't surprising that Cablelabs is collaborating with IEEE, the Wi-Fi Alliance and Wireless Broadband Alliance to develop standards for carrier-grade WiFi.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.