Those of us who have been tuned in and turned on to HD for years already know all of the advantages of enjoying HDTV with an antenna. It’s more affordable than cable, there are no annoying customer service issues and the picture quality can’t be matched. To somebody who is passionate about the HD viewing experience, mounting a space station looking antenna on the roof has always been a small price to pay. But times they are a changing.
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HDTV is beginning to funnel out into the mainstream. And more and more buyers are hearing about HD antennas. They hear about the affordability and the picture quality and they start to get excited. And then they see it- and it looks exactly like the one dad mounted on the roof in ’72. Suddenly cable sounds pretty good. With the advancement of HDTV into mainstream popularity, it has become increasingly important that antenna manufacturers be attentive to the needs of this new customer. Our research tells us clearly that the new HD customers wanted two things from and HDTV antenna- performance and aesthetics.
Through extensive research and performance studies, Terrestrial Digital began the process of creating the most powerful compact HD antenna available. In 2007, the Lacrosse Micron line will be released in the form of three unique antenna products, featuring the first breakthroughs in television antenna technology in decades. By capitalizing on the modern technology of digital television, we’ve created a line of antennas that will set the tone for the industry for years to come. Here’s how we did it.
Identifying an Opportunity
The general assumption in the industry for the past few decades has been that the basic technology behind television antennas had peaked. Differences in performance could be attributed to quality of materials and craftsmanship, but the strategy behind design and production has been more or less uniform industry wide. Television antennas were initially designed to cover the broad bandwidth of analog television stations. But the continued development of technology in digital television is narrowing the bandwidth considerably.
We recognized the potential for opportunity early on as this narrowing of the bandwidth began to occur. We began looking into some of the performance simulation options available help us investigate the opportunity this presented. Our Research and Development team discovered comparative analysis design software that was developed by the Navy in the 1980’s to produce the top tier communications antennas on military vehicles. But nobody had tried the software with television antennas before.
We used the software to test our latest product, The Lacrosse antenna. We set up thousands of â€œwhat ifâ€ scenarios and ran the antenna through rigorous tests and inspections. We began making slight tweaks to the design of the antenna based on the simulations. Individually, these teaks did very little to the overall performance or look. But collectively, they would have a profound affect on the appearance and performance of an antenna that had already been praised for its ability to combine the two.
When we concluded our research, we tested the modified version of the Lacrosse against the original Lacrosse. The new antenna, roughly 40% smaller than the original 14â€x20â€ Lacrosse, performed as well as and sometimes better than the original, with a gain strong enough to pull in HD signals from 35 to 40 miles away.
Applying the New Technology The technological breakthroughs are really only half of the story. We knew the impact of these design efficiencies would be determined by how they were implemented. At the CEDIA Expo last month in Denver, we introduced The Lacrosse Micron Antenna line, featuring three new antennas to meet the needs of a growing diverse market of HDTV owners:
* The Lacrosse Micron All Weather â€“ This antenna will be the little big brother to the original Lacrosse. Featuring an all weather polymer coating it is built to stand up to the elements. At 10â€x12â€x4â€, the Micron All Weather is comparable in power to the Lacrosse, at 40% of the size.
* The Lacrosse Micron Indoor â€“ The indoor model will be the strongest compact indoor antenna ever offered. It will stand just 9â€x9â€x4â€ and feature 10dBi of max gain, allowing it to break the typical rule that indoor antennas only work well within 20 miles of the transmission towers.
* The Clearstream â€“ Perhaps the most anticipated product of the line is the Clearstream, the first practical antenna/digital tuner combination package on the market. A number of HDTV sets are sold without built in digital tuners. The Clearstream will give those set owners an â€œall in oneâ€ option for crystal clear HD picture with an antenna.
Where We go from Here
The future of antennas in HDTV is very promising. As people become more educated about it, they understand that HD antennas are a far cry from that international space station dad mounted on the roof 30 years ago. With a growing number of HD channels available and seamless performance with HD satellite, antennas are a more viable source for home entertainment than ever before. Our goal as a company is to advance the cause of the HD antenna industry and educate new HD customers on the options that this frontier in home technology has to offer.
Richard Schneider is the President of Terrestrial Digital and Antennas Direct. He founded the companies in 2003, and currently has over 265 dealers nationwide. Terrestrial Digital’s DB2, DB4 and Lacrosse HDTV antennas have all been honored among the strongest in their class. For more information on Terrestrial Digital and for a complete list of products and dealers, visit www.terrestrial-digital.com.