Attention: The forums will be placed on read only mode this Saturday (Oct. 20, 2018)

During this outage (6:30 AM to 8 PM PDT) the forums will be placed on read only mode. We apologize for this inconvenience. Click here to read details

TVs & Home Theaters forum


Ratings of HDTV's OTA Reception

by cherotree / December 2, 2013 2:00 PM PST

I have searched just about everywhere but I have not been able to find any web site that rates HDTV's by the their ability to pull in OTA (Over The Air) signals. I have discovered that certain HDTV's will pull in signals better than others using the same antennas and location (I assume the difference has to do with the construction of the tuner or software). I would think that with many people making the switch from satellite/cable to free OTA digital TV there would be a demand to find which HDTV's are the best in pulling in signals. After all, a great picture on a TV is not much use if the signal can't be received consistently.

I own a Vizio 19" which is great in pulling in signals but that model has been discontinued. I have tried numerous other brands but none yet has matched the reception abilities of my Vizio. I have heard that LG HDTV's do a great job of this but that is just hearsay and I have not tried one yet. It would be great if CNET would include this feature in their excellent HDTV reviews.

Please feel free to post your experiences of HDTV's that seem to be good at pulling in OTA signals.

Answer This Ask For Clarification
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Ratings of HDTV's OTA Reception
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Ratings of HDTV's OTA Reception
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

All Answers

Collapse -
Too many variables to be especially useful
by Pepe7 / December 2, 2013 2:20 PM PST

Understand, I can take the same HDTV and locate it inside a house next door with different results based on their physical location/structural materials of the home/nearby foliage/line of sight to the transmitter(s).

What you need to understand is that in order to maximize what you receive, you ideally need to locate an antenna outside the home. That can often turn an otherwise marginal HDTV into a decent little performer tuning in all the channels.

Collapse -
Thanks for the reply
by cherotree / December 3, 2013 9:43 PM PST

Thanks for your input. Yes, antenna placement and location are certainly important factors but my question was relating to the HDTV's themselves and their ability to pull in signals. Some certainly do it better than others and I was looking for input on finding information that lists the sensitivity of individual HDTVs.

Collapse -
Pulling OTA signal
by PaulnAus / January 17, 2018 5:11 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks for the reply

You are correct i just bought a sanyo tv and it sucks, it doesnt pull alot of the OTA (over the air} signals as my PHILIPS old plasma tv. I have the same problem

Collapse -
Too many Variables? Not really.
by GENEMETZ / June 28, 2018 11:40 AM PDT

Different TVs sitting in the same spot using the same coaxial connection to the same antenna. Then evaluate the reception of each set. That's all there is to it.

Collapse -
no variables
by redhandy / June 28, 2018 12:46 PM PDT

So many of these answers seem to not know what the original question was. It is about the sensitivity of individual tv's. Not antennas. I am with the original questionnaire wanting reviews as to the tuner strength of individual tv's and it's not about picture quality, it is about which tv can pull in more channels. I have one antenna about 30 feet off the ground and have tried different tv's and tv tuner boxes. All pull in different amounts of channels. Same antenna, same place. So it would be nice to know the tuner strength on anything before you buy. I don't know if the difference is software or hardware, but there is a difference.

Collapse -
Not necessarily
by samkh / December 3, 2013 1:00 AM PST

brand related. Generally, higher price models have better electronics which include tuner sensitivity. Nowadays the rate of device evolution and firmware updates make professional reviews almost mute since models are near obsolete or may have been flashed by the time reviews are published. So fall back on social networks to try to get an answer. Better yet, try to buy from local stores with generous return policies.

Another way to get around a particular set's receptivity is to use a settop tuner. Amazon sells a unit with rave reviews. Try it, it's cheaper than a lemon TV.

Collapse -
Thanks for the reply
by cherotree / December 3, 2013 9:49 PM PST
In reply to: Not necessarily

Yes, more than likely, your observations are correct. I still find it surprising that, as far as I have been able to determine, no where is this functionality evaluated. It has almost become hit or miss. I am looking for a small HDTV that would not be hooked up to my main rooftop antenna that could be moved around when needed.

Collapse -
Small TV
by samkh / December 3, 2013 11:51 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks for the reply

like, under 32 inch? You wont find any great tuners in those. Try a modern antenna like Mohu.

Collapse -
Small TV
by cherotree / December 4, 2013 1:10 PM PST
In reply to: Small TV

Yes, I am only looking for HDTVs that are 19-22". I do own a 19" Vizio which has excellent sensitivity but that model has been discontinued. I have tried some other off brand models (Sceptre and Proscan) and their tuners are poor. I have heard that LG sets have very good tuners; I will give them a try next. Since I will only be using an indoor antenna for this set, the sensitivity of the tuner is very important and can have a big effect on the reception. Thanks for the feedback.

Collapse -
by PaulnAus / January 17, 2018 5:32 PM PST
In reply to: Small TV

I have bought the Mohu antenna and a couple of other brands none worked any better than the rabbit ears. I have an old Plasma Phillips TV and a newer Plasma HDTV LG TV that gets good OTA reception One is upstairs and the other downstairs could it be bc both are plasma tvs????

Collapse -
Way too many variables. Here's my choice for the antenna.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 3, 2013 1:05 AM PST
Collapse -
Manufacturers specs
by mjd420nova / December 3, 2013 3:07 AM PST

I have not been successful either in looking up the sensitivity rating for the receivers now on the market. Some are better than others and the more expensive ones don't always get all the stations within range. A good set will pick up a local progaming guide on channel one, some even get up to 15 different selections (1-1 to 1-15). These are extremely localized and would be a good test of how good the antenna and tuner are for your set.

Collapse -
Thanks for the reply
by cherotree / December 3, 2013 9:53 PM PST
In reply to: Manufacturers specs

I really don't think such a list exists, at least I have not been able to find one. I am sure sensitivity can be measured but I have yet to see an analysis done on this yet. My limited sample set shows a wide variation in sensitivity between some makes. Maybe the people at CNET will conduct such a study.

Collapse -
You're walking through the forest and...
by Pepe7 / December 3, 2013 11:38 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks for the reply

...missing all the nice looking trees ;).

It's not a useful task since 99.9% of people will be using these standalone small HDTVs with a small indoor antenna, part of the variables alluded to above in the thread.

Collapse -
Cord Cutting is rapidly growing
by cherotree / November 18, 2015 1:30 AM PST

When I previously posted this comment, the cord cutting (dropping cable and satellite) trend was active but since then, it has exploded. The availability of OTA broadcast channels is growing rapidly as are those who are cutting the cord and going entirely OTA. Your 99.9% statistic (which I assume you just pulled out of thin air) is not even close to accurate. The income of cable and satellite companies from selling these services is plunging because many more people are dropping their services and going OTA along with Netflix, Hulu, Roku, streaming, etc. With this change in trend toward OTA, it is surprising that HDTV manufacturers don't stress, or at least mention, the sensitivity of their OTA turners. I am sure it will come in the future but it is just not available now.

Collapse -
We've been OTA only for almost 3 years
by JEllory / November 18, 2015 6:56 AM PST

I agree, tuner sensitivity should be indicated somewhere. I mounted a Clear stream antenna to the DIRECT TV antenna on the roof and ran the cable down and through the same coax cable run, and put a signal amplifier (PCT-MA2-4P) on it, to reach all TV'S in the house.

My problem is after 1.5 years my Samsung smart TV inexplicably dropped channels 2-1 & 2-2 CBS. The other two tv's, both Sony Bravia's, still get 2-1 & 2-2 as usual. Auto scan has not picked up the channels, and there is apparently no way to manually add digital channels to a Samsung smart tv.

I should have stayed with Sony.

Collapse -
Are you using a splitter?
by Pepe7 / November 18, 2015 8:21 AM PST

See if re-scanning the Sammy works to pick up those extra two channels again after removing the splitter. My thoughts lead to that part of your setup as a potential issue (either amp or splitter).

You could also try another amplifier brand. Been there, done that. Always worth investigating.

Collapse -
Two years later, you still miss my point ;)
by Pepe7 / November 18, 2015 8:19 AM PST

You need to re-read what I wrote in context. In no way was I stating that people weren't cord cutting (obviously!).

The vast majority of folks actually receiving OTA are utilizing *INDOOR* equipment (small antennas), which adds a whole host of variables beyond what is built into the HDTV. You cannot change the physics of electromagnetic wave propagation. The structure of the dwelling also matters greatly. IME even some of the bargain basement brand HDTVs are quite capable of tuning in all the available channels just fine, *provided you have the adequate antenna setup*. This means some degree of trial and error with the common indoor antennas, and strongly considering using an outdoor system if possible. That's where you can truly start to pull in all the stations more reliably.

Collapse -
Two years later, you still miss my point ;) (Part 2)
by cherotree / November 18, 2015 10:56 AM PST

And obviously you STILL miss the point I started making 2 years ago. Confused I have always stated the PRIMARY consideration is the antenna for pulling in signals. Once the optimal signal is received from the antenna, in order to maximize the reception, the sensitivity of the tuner in the TV is very important. The sensitivity of tuners varies greatly among brands and the better tuners will optimize whatever signal is received. Hopefully, it is a little bit clearer for you now. Wink

Collapse -
Two TV's, same antenna, which works best?
by James Denison / November 18, 2015 11:21 AM PST

Why not go into a Best Buy where they all get the same signal and see which one looks best to you. May have to fiddle around on a few to get the best image possible, since others have probably messed around on their settings making some look worse, but you can get a good idea of what works best. I do that for any new monitors, see which one looks best. Some monitors have vibrant colors, plenty of backlight, others are washed out and dimmer.

Collapse -
Incorrect- not applicable at big box stores
by Pepe7 / November 25, 2015 8:42 AM PST

They always use cable or satellite feeds, which is a different animal than the OP is referring to.

Plus, the store lighting is horrible, so that's another pressing issue. Just not the correct environment toreally be making more than educated guesses as to which HDTV would necessarily look better in your house with another input signal.

Collapse -
by GENEMETZ / June 28, 2018 11:58 AM PDT

These all use cable. Need the signal coming strictly from an antenna to evaluate the tuner.

Collapse -
The sensitivity of tuners varies greatly among brands
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 18, 2015 11:44 AM PST

I'd go so far as it varies from set to set. There are folk that want the same channels they get using the same antenna across all sets. That didn't work in the 50's to today. I'd put on a better antenna.

Collapse -
Nope, I understand real world data just fine
by Pepe7 / November 25, 2015 8:40 AM PST

You miss the underlying importance that there's more involved which affect the ability of the HDTV to tune in stations. Plus, digital is a totally different animal than analog was. It's mostly a 'cliff effect', with all signals tuned in properly by 99% of HDTVs just fine inside a specific threshold. You are looking for a purple unicorn. No manufacturer or consumer reports-like entity will evaluating the built-in tuners on new HDTVs for the reasons that have already been mentioned in this thread.


Collapse -
Cord Cutting is rapidly growing
by Loudclapper / November 24, 2015 12:11 PM PST

I agree with you 100%. I have been trying to research HDTVs for awhile now and the info given for cord cutters wanting to pick up OTA channels is nonexistent.
I would love for TV reviewers to start including tuners and on screen channel guides for OTA signals.
As cable cost continue to rise, more and more people will join the rest of us in cutting the cord. And as much as I love my Roku for streaming I still use broadcast TV for sports.
I wish in the U.S. We could get some of the features enabled on the TVs they sell in the UK. Mainly having a built in PVR connected to the OTA tuner. All that is needed is a hard drive to record shows. I know that they have a different broadcast system, freeview and freesat, but their is no reason those features built into the TV can't work over here with our tuners.

Collapse -
Back to the original question: Reciever Sensitivity
by hands4 / November 9, 2016 4:34 AM PST

I too am looking for ratings of reception sensitivity for various HDTV receivers. As noted before, this is not about antennas; this is about different HDTV receivers on the same antenna that has been configured with reasonably good signal strengths at the receivers.

I have a Samsung HDTV. I just added a Tivo on the same antenna on a splitter. The Samsung receives the channels as always. The Tivo receives many more. So their receiver sensitivities differ greatly.

What would be a measure of this sensitivity? Would it be a range of dB thresholds inside which it displays a stable picture? This might be rated in minimum and maximum dBs where it will sustain stable video. The video would be unstable or non-existent outside of this range.

I expect this is a critical product-quality factor that manufacturers do not publish. Is there even a standard metric for measuring it?

Collapse -
This thread's still alive? LOL
by Pepe7 / November 9, 2016 11:49 AM PST

It's still mostly a function of looking for a purple unicorn, and a matter of opinion as to which devices could necessarily be considered 'adequate' in their ability to tune in various signals, etc.

Yes, with digital there's going to be a 'cliff' effect, where you see no 'snow' like the good 'ol rabbit ear filled golden days of analog TV. {thinking back when I had to run over our old TV and mess with the coat hanger to see the Monday night football games(!)} Anyway, the digital signal (ATSC) just drops off/cannot be modulated properly below a certain point. Still too many variables for manufacturers to need to provide such info since it becomes not so useful almost immediately. (re-read thread)

Collapse -
original question years later
by redhandy / October 28, 2017 11:20 AM PDT

I just ran across this forum trying to find the same answer. Is the difference in tuners a hardware or software matter. So far no answer to that. I cut the cord way back when the stations went digital. Live in a rural area but within 20 miles of most towers. I have several tv's that I play with, and a channel master ota recorder and recently bought a Tivo ota recorder. Use the same rooftop antenna for everything and each tv and ota recorder brings in different stations. And we're not talking a matter of antennas. I have bought multitudes of antennas and know their differences and uses. And I'm about to try a sky60.
So the original question stands.

Collapse -
My experience
by yurong7 / January 24, 2018 4:45 PM PST

Just replaced a 40" samsung smart tv that keeps restarting with an LG 43uj6200.
I have a roof antenna (db4e) about 40' high with about 35 feet of cable.
Live in toronto near Woodbine and Danforth
Samsung scans in at least 40 channels, often mid to high 40's.
LG scans 28 to 30. Most is 33.
Of the channels that are usually rock solid with the Samsung, I get pixelization often. Channel 2, channel 11, and channel 57 come to mind.
I tested tonight with an eight year old 22" samsung tv/monitor combo. Two scans, first found 40 channels, second found 39 channel. This TV/monitor was never as sensitive as the Samsung TV.
I am reluctant to buy another Samsung because of the know issues with restarting. I came here looking for testimonials of TV's with good tuners. I would also like one with analog variable audio out.

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Your favorite shows are back!

Don’t miss your dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. Find out when and where they’re airing!