Most TV channels have moved to UHF. The smart cord-cutter has already researched local channels in the area and knows that the best way to save money is to get the antenna that does exactly what you need. Before choosing an antenna, ask the following questions:
- How far away can this antenna be from the broadcast towers?
- Do I have a roof or attic space where I can mount an antenna?
- Can I install this antenna myself?
- Do I need an antenna that will stand up to the elements?
- How important is price?
If you’re looking for a UHF-only antenna that works very well, holds up to the elements, and comes in at a great price, consider this Televes V Zenit UHF Antenna. It’s the lowest-end antenna made by Televes but uses many of the same parts as their higher-end antennas and uses passive filtering to eliminate LTE signals that could cause trouble for your TV.
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The antenna itself
Let’s start with the retail packaging. What you’ll see is an emphasis on trying to make the package attractive and also environmentally responsible. There aren’t any shiny coatings or styrofoam packing materials here, yet the box is still very eye-catching. It’s a lot smaller than other antennas from Televes.
This antenna is very similar to the DAT790 HD Boss but has only two directors in front instead of three. It also is a bit shorter and lighter than the HD Boss.
Another difference in the V Zenit is the driven antenna element which is flat instead of having a rounded appearance. I’m not sure if this makes it less effective but it probably means it’s a little less durable over time.
It’s also worth noting that the reflectors (the parts at the back) have an orange outer shell despite looking like the same parts as the DAT790 (whose reflectors have a white outer shell.) In some markets the reflector has a black outer shell, but for the US market, they’re orange. This obviously has nothing to do with anything, but it will make it easy to tell the difference if you’re walking down the street scrutinizing your neighbors’ roofs.
Looking for amplification?
The V Zenit UHF antenna does not include amplification and this makes it an excellent value for people who want to use it in combination with any other unamplified antenna. An amplifier isn’t necessary in many cases and here’s an opportunity to save money if you don’t need it. If you do choose to use an amplifier, Televes makes this excellent two-input mast amplifier which adds all the high-end bells and whistles of Televes’ other antennas as well as scorching power.
The decision on whether or not to amplify should be based on several factors. Do you need to distribute the signal over a long run or to multiple TVs? Are you looking to increase the carrier-to-noise ratio to try to get specific signals? If so, an amplifier may be for you, but if not, you may be just fine without one. Unlike analog signals, today’s digital TV signals don’t get better when amplified. If you are getting signal, that’s all you have to worry about. If you’re not, you might need an amplifier.
Televes antennas mount to a mast using a hybrid adjustable clamp system that puts the antenna slightly off center on a mast so it can be mounted slightly lower. This reduces stress on the mast and makes the antenna less likely to rotate in high winds compared to antennas that mount to the top of the mast.
The clamp can be adjusted to allow the antenna to tilt up and down about 5 degrees before being locked in, and in addition to a toothed bar as you generally see on this sort of antenna, there’s also a notched, ribbed steel piece on the opposite side of the bar to help the antenna stay where you put it.
Testing and Performance
In real-world testing, this antenna was typical for medium-range UHF antennas. VHF performance was poor but there did not seem to be active filtering of VHF signals. In a few frequency bands, performance actually surpassed any of the other mid-sized antennas but in other ranges it was adequate but not outstanting. For this test, a 3′ length of bare wire was arranged in a dipole shape and tested for reception. If you are trying to receive VHF channels or UHF channels over 48, it might be best to look at a different antenna.
All tests were conducted on the same day with the same weather conditions, at our laboratory approximately 55 miles from broadcast towers.
Should you buy this antenna?
In tests, this antenna had a few really excellent frequency responses but overall its performance was similar to other low-priced antennas on the market. On the other hand, the build quality was far superior to anything else in that price range. Many inexpensive antennas will bend or flex during shipping and don’t hold up to the weather. If you’re simply looking for UHF reception from a fairly short range (up to 35 miles or so) this is an excellent choice.
This is the best budget antenna on the market. Try the V Zenit UHF from Televes, available now at Solid Signal.