Smart TVs & Antennas: 21 Answers (For Beginners)

Smart TV manufacturers focus a lot on highlighting screen resolutions and the operating system whenever they advertise their products.

However, they forget about over-the-air broadcasting features.

The fact is, is still a significant population that relies on over-the-air broadcasting.

Here are 21 things you need to know about free-to-air broadcasts and your smart TV.

What Kind of Antenna do you Need for a Smart TV?

To be able to watch free channels on your smart TV, you need a High Definition Digital TV Antenna.

You can also use your old analog antenna, but you may expect signal problems.

It would be to your benefit to use a Digital TV antenna instead in order to watch free-to-air channels on your Smart Tv.

Otherwise, you will be able to connect the TV to your cable plan and network that is already present in your home.

Do Smart TVs Have Antennas?

Smart TVs have built-in antennas but only to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

They do not have built-in antennas for free-to-air channels.

This would have to be a separate purchase, such as a High Definition Digital TV Antenna.

How Does a Smart TV Work Without an Antenna?

If you are looking to watch free-to-air channels, then an antenna is a non-negotiable attachment which you would need to purchase.

Signals for your paid network TV channels and the internet are different, which are built into the TV.

Will an Antenna Improve the Signal on a Smart TV?

An antenna will improve the signal of your smart TV.

Even if you connect your antenna, another factor to consider is the placement of the antenna.

The signal will be awful if placed on the ground or is surrounded by obstructions, such as buildings or houses taller than the antenna.

Antennas work best when placed in high areas such as rooftops and with minimal obstructions.

This is the advantage of cable television, which relies on a wired connection for signal, instead of over-the-air.

Here’s how you can check for local TV signal problems.

Does a Smart TV Need an Antenna for Local Channels?

If you don’t have a cable TV subscription, then you need an antenna to watch your local channels.

Should your favorite local channels have simultaneous online broadcasts, you can watch them on the Internet, instead of using an antenna to receive signals.

Check also: demographics of Cable TV users in the U.S.

Can Your Smart TV Record from the Antenna?

Unfortunately, you cannot.

The record function is associated with cable TV connections.

If you do want to record programs without getting a cable TV subscription, you can buy a DVR designed to receive free or local broadcasts from digital TV antennas.

There are a lot of available recorders, with brands like Tablo being highly recommended.

Do Smart TVs have Antennas Built-In?

Yes, smart TVs have built-in antennas but only serve the purpose of connecting your TV via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

This allows them to pair easily and quickly with your home network and internet connection.

Do you Need a Digital Antenna?

If you plan to watch free-to-air channels, then yes, you need a digital antenna.

With the world shifting to a high definition broadcast, it is clear that digital antennas are a must-have.

While that old antenna from the 80s and 90s may work, it will not produce ideal results.

So, if you want to be sure of the integrity of your TV signal, you need to get a digital antenna.

Finally, if you don’t want the hassles of setting up antennas, then go for cable TV instead.

Can You Turn your Smart TV into a Radio with the Antenna?

Smart TVs do not have the appropriate hardware to function as a transistor radio.

While there are radio apps for smart TVs, they can connect to radio stations through the Internet.

You can also use apps such as Spotify in order to listen to music on your TV instead.

Can You use an Antenna for Different Smart TVs?

You only need a coaxial splitter or a small device that provides a connection to your existing cable, which taps into your cable’s signal and splits it into several lines to connect to multiple devices.

This will basically take multiple cable lines and distribute the connection to the antenna so that you can watch on different televisions.

Your smart TVs then connect to the splitter so it can use the antenna.

Can you Use a Coaxial Splitter with your Cable TV Connection?

Yes, you can, but keep in mind that you still need individual cable TV boxes for each TV you will wire-up with your cable subscription.

Do Smart TVs Need Digital Tuners?

For you to receive HD signals from free broadcasts, you will need to have a digital tuner.

Do Smart TVs have Digital Tuners?

Digital Tuners are becoming standard features in TVs today.

But, not all smart TVs have digital tuners built into them.

The good news is, popular brands like Sony, Samsung, and LG have built-in digital tuners.

Meanwhile, Vizio offers digital tuners in their 4K-resolution smart TVs.

Can you Split a Digital Tuner to Different Smart TVs?

Yes, but all TVs connected will only show a single channel.

Unfortunately, TV tuners cannot be shared, unless you intend to have the same channels shown in all TVs.

Fortunately, many TVs in the market already have digital tuners built into them, so you may not have to buy a digital tuner.

Can You Auto-Scan for Channels on a Smart TV?

Auto scanning is a feature available in most smart TVs.

You don’t need to look for channels manually, as the auto-scan handles the search for you.

Is Cable TV Better than Using an Antenna?

While watching broadcasts through an antenna is free, there are limitations also, like placement and available channels.

Cable TV is not free, but you get better signals and access more channels.

To decide which is better for you, consider your regular TV viewing habits outside the smart TV platform:

  1. What channels will you be watching?
  2. Will you be watching everyday?
  3. Are these channels available on free-to-air services?
  4. Can you access these programs through your smart TV platform?

If you won’t be watching every day, and most of the programs you watch are available online, then you are better off sticking to free-to-air channels and maybe invest in having the best Internet connection available.

That way, you invest in better services and get good reception of these programs when streamed online.

But, in the event you decide to get cable TV, consider having an antenna as a backup connection, in case cable TV services become unavailable, like service maintenance.

Can Hackers Access my Smart TV Through the Antenna?

To do this, it takes a lot of effort, as compared to hacking your smart TV through the Internet.

Rafael Scheel of Oncconsult explained how to use antenna signals to access smart TVs.

In this example, he presented how a cheap transmitter can insert a harmful code through Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial (DVB-T) signal.

The thing is, this hack only works on DVB-T, which a few countries use, and hybrid broadcast broadband TV format, which is rarely used.

Also, for the hack to succeed, the TV needs to be connected to the Internet and tuned to a DVB-TV channel.

Thus, it takes too much effort to pull off, which means you don’t have to worry too much about security with your antenna.

For more information on smart TVs and hacking, please check the article Smart TVs And Hacking: 10 Answers To Help You Stay Safe.

Can your Data be Collected Through the Antenna?

Smart TVs have automatic content recognition (ACR), which identifies what you watch, including those shows you watch on free channels and cable.

While ACR can access what you watch through the antenna, the data collected in this manner can only be transmitted through the Internet. The antenna only receives data through the transmissions of TV stations. It cannot send out data.

That is why they say your smart TV is safer when it is not connected to the Internet.

For more information on smart TVs and data collection, please check the article Smart TVs And Data Collection.

What’s the Advantage of Having an Antenna with your Smart TV?

The good thing about antennas is that you can still get information without having to rely on an Internet subscription.

You can access the news and other entertainment shows.

Free-to-air broadcasts rarely have downtimes, unlike your Internet connection. When a channel is down, you just go to the next one.

When your Internet connection is down, you can’t do anything about it.

While using your smart TV with the Internet curates the information you need, it is not at all that bad with free-to-air TV.

You still get the information, although not in a streamlined or curated manner.

What Should I look for in a Digital Antenna?

There are a few points to consider when choosing an antenna for your smart TV.

Each is important and can help you decide what you need.

The first thing to look at is your location:

  • Do you live in a house or an apartment or a building?
  • If you are renting, does your landlord allow tenants to erect antennas on the rooftop or balcony?

Your choices are restricted to indoor antennas if you can’t set up an outdoor antenna for any reason.

Antenna and Channels:

If you only need a select few channels, you can get a directional antenna, which focuses on getting signals in a single direction.

The signal you get from a directional antenna is strong, and the image clearer than omnidirectional.

If you want all the channels possible, get an omnidirectional antenna.

Omnidirectional antennas get signals from all directions.

You get more channels, but their signals are not as clear as directional antennas.

Range of Your Antenna:

Digital antennas have a number listed referring to the range.

This shows how far your antenna can go to pick up a signal.

A higher number means better chances of getting more channels.

But the range won’t matter if you position the antenna in a place with a lot of objects blocking the signal path.

How Do I Add More Channels?

If you want more channels, and your antenna cannot bring those channels, you should consider getting cable TV, or go online and watch the live stream of the channels or programs you want.


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