Cord-cutting is becoming an American pastime as thousands desert cable companies on a monthly basis. It’s a cost-saving way to get entertainment through either an antenna or by using fast internet speeds to access entertainment through a Roku or similar device.
It’s been noted that more and more broadband households have cut the cord, turning to antennas for their television content. That figure has risen to about 20 percent of U.S. households in 2017, two recent reports from Parks Associates states.
Antennas that provide accurate access to TV signals aren’t always easy to find, but now there’s an indoor TV antenna with active steering technology. This type of antenna service internally analyzes the TV signals and automatically selects the best reception pattern, delivering a maximum number of channels and exceptional signal quality, according to its maker.
As one who’s been without cable for a couple of years, I was anxious to test the new Channel Master SMARTenna+, which the manufacturer states eliminates the need to reposition the antenna to pick up new channels. Channel Master says the device houses seven different “virtual” TV antennas inside this single, nearly flat device, actively steering itself to receive stations.
Channel Master sent me a SMARTenna+ that is white on one side and black on the other. The box includes a dual selection of push-on, rather than screw-in cables to hook this unit up both to the television itself and the provided electrical plug-in. There is a 6-foot mini coaxial cable, a longer 16-foot cable, the plug-in power supply, a quick-start guide and the SMARTenna+ itself, which is 11.6-in long and wide.
After viewing a short installation video and finding a spot on a window close to my television (the review antenna has to be returned so I didn’t use the supplied fixtures), I sat down at my normal spot and asked my television to hunt down those stations. By the time it was finished – maybe five minutes – I had 192 channels available for over-the-air broadcast. Those mostly HD channels are in a variety of languages and easy to access through my television’s remote control.
With my own non-powered antenna, I always had difficulties getting clear HD or 1080P reception for some local stations. Not any more. And the vast number of channels available are well beyond my capability to sit down and watch. No more pixelating and signal dropping, like I experienced with the non-powered antenna.
The SMARTenna+ retails for $89, which might seem steep to those that are currently using options costing far less, but the ability to gain access to many more usable channels, to have far better – and reliable – reception can far outweigh the cost of the unit. While most Channel Master products are widely available at retail outlets, at this time the SMARTenna+ is only available at the company’s website, ChannelMaster.com. The company expects to gradually roll out this premier product to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers in the coming months.
Then came reality – I returned the SMARTenna+ and realized just how good a unit this really is. Without having to constantly reposition the antenna, I could enjoy the internal low-noise amplifier and built-in interference filtering. Ah, well, it was great while it lasted!
By Anne Proffit