Do compact antennas perform as well as larger ones?

This Televes DigiNova is a little bigger than a large laptop computer. You might tell yourself that there is no way it can perform as well as a large antenna like our HD8200XL which is about 11 feet long. You’d be right… and you’d also be wrong. Let’s take a look.

First of all the larger HD8200XL is really large because it is designed to pick up channels 2 through 6 which the smaller antenna will not do. These lower frequencies need a much larger antenna to capture them effectively, that’s just the way broadcasting works. Since very few people actually need channels 2 through 6, it makes sense to eliminate that capability from a smaller antenna.

Smaller antennas like these rely on low-noise amplifiers to give them similar gain to larger antennas. However, a lot of time that’s just a gimmick because gain isn’t the most important thing with digital antennas. With digital TV, once you have enough signal to overcome the noise surrounding it, you’re all set. Any more signal than that is just icing on the cake.

And actually, that’s the whole reason that smaller antennas can work just as well as larger ones. Sometimes a small antenna is all you need because a digital signal will give a strong, clear picture with a much weaker signal than an older analog one. Adding a little ampification makes sure that the signal isn’t overcome by loss when it travels down the cable. I’ve seen surprising results with compact antennas precisely because they can pull in enough of the signal to do very well. Since some homeowners’ associatiions don’t let you put a large antenna on the roof, a small one that works “well enough” is the perfect answer.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.