Can you really receive Freeview using an indoor aerial?
In my opinion indoor aerial advertising is often very misleading as it makes the consumer believe that they are excellent for receiving Freeview when this isn’t true unless the signal in the area is strong and there are no obstacles in the way of the transmitter.
I’m living an a ground floor housing association flat near the centre of Birmingham and the person living above me has at the time of writing nailed through my TV aerial cable that leads to the shared loft Freeview aerial. She used the offending nails to put pictures up on the wall (very unlucky). The housing association has so far messed me about for 2 weeks and it looks like it’s going to be at least a few weeks more before they actually fix the problem as since an independent aerial company came out and gave them a quote, they are currently only promising a visit from a surveyor (yes, they could have fixed it for the same cost by running a cable outside – but my Housing Association, Trident Housing are useless when it comes to maintenance).
Anyway, to the point. I live in a reasonable to weak signal area near the centre of Birmingham and live around 8 to 10 miles from the Sutton Coldfield transmitter. I have tried 3 different indoor aerials, 2 were quite expensive models with boosters, all to no avail. After ages of positioning and aligning, I managed to just about get a very weak Freeview signal on just 1 mux out of 6, thus I only managed to receive a few channels from the BBC on Mux 1. I then watched limited digital TV for around an hour and it was so sensitive, I kept losing the picture completely without even touching the aerial, this was then followed by more painful aerial positioning and aligning just to get the very weak signal back for a little longer. Also whenever a car went by, it kept breaking the signal temporarily. I spent hours and tried everything, including positioning foil in various places around the aerial with short and very limited success. I even tried making my own aerial, but this was unsuccessful too. I will note however that I used to live in a flat on the 2nd floor very close to the flat I’m currently living in about the same distance from the Sutton Coldfield transmitter. In this flat an indoor aerial was more effective, although the signal was still interrupted occasionally and I still had to keep messing with the aerial position and alignment every now and again.
Because I’m not allowed to attach an outdoor aerial outside my property because of the housing association who I rent the property off, I thought then I had little choice but to keep complaining to Trident Housing until they actually fix the loft aerial cable. I then remembered I still had a lower to middle end outdoor aerial which was suitable for moderate signal areas in storage. I’ve connected it up and positioned it in my window (remember I’m only on the ground floor). After messing about, positioning and aligning, I’ve managed to get 5 out of 6 mux’s and therefore most Freeview channels. Using with my aerial amplifier has now given me a reasonable signal on most channels. The problem is because the aerial is positioned on the ground floor, when a car goes by, I sometimes still lose the signal temporarily and unfortunately cars go by often and even parked vehicles have adverse effects as the road runs close to my window. I’ve tried to no avail to get all 6 mux’s along with all channels, even though I used to get all channels from the loft aerial. I’ve tried for hours trying to get a totally stable signal, but have found this impossible on the ground floor, although saying this the outdoor aerial is much better than any indoor aerial. I will continue to chase up Trident Housing to get them to fix my internal aerial cable that runs to a decent aerial in the loft on the top floor as this will fix my problem properly. At least I’ve got some TV in the meantime, but it’s far from ideal as a permanent solution. If I used an outdoor aerial designed for weak or even very weak signal areas, I’d most likely get an even better signal and probably all Freeview channels, but I’d still almost certainly get interruptions by passing cars unless it was positioned high up.
It’s also interesting to note that some Freeview set top boxes are more tolerant at picking up poorer signals than others. Some of the older set top boxes have poorer receivers. I am using a fairly cheap Onn digital set top box and I find it reasonable. My friend had trouble receiving Freeview using a budget receiver and managed to receive better using the Freeview receiver on a BT Vision box.
In summary, unless you have a good Freeview reception and the signal isn’t blocked by a nearby roads or other objects, indoor aerials aren’t effective. Even a lower to middle end outdoor aerial is far more effective at receiving Freeview than even the higher end indoor aerials. Outdoor aerials can be used indoors, but the signal is poorer and effected by nearby objects or cars unless it’s installed at a higher level, E.g. on the roof. Nothing compares to a good outdoor aerial, properly aligned and installed at a high level. Don’t be fooled that an aerial booster will fix all your reception problems, it may help somewhat, especially if the signal is about to travel along a long cable to your Freeview box, but it needs a reasonable signal in the first place to be able to amplify it, otherwise you will just have amplified interference.
Please click here for an example of an outdoor aerial designed to work in very weak signal areas, it costs £49.99 from Maplins at the time of writing. There are various cheaper outdoor aerials that are still designed to work in weak signal areas and are far better than indoor aerials.
To check Freeview reception in your area, please visit http://www.digitaluk.co.uk and use the postcode checker or visit http://www.freeview.co.uk/availability and use the coverage checker. Alternatively, if you are an advanced user, please check http://www.wolfbane.com/cgi-bin/tvd.exe? for a more detailed coverage check.
An alternative to Freeview is Internet TV, please see my article on Top Quality Totally FREE Internet TV Services for more details.
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