Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Springfield, MA and Ottawa
I popped in here since Stampeder told me that there is now an OTA HDTV thread here. I have been in the antenna business for over 30 years in the US, and have installed literally hundreds of antennas over the years. I also own a place in Ottawa, and frequently go acoss the border betwen Canada and the US.
HDTV has evolved very differently in Canada than it has in the US. In the States, HDTV was driven by over-the-air broadcasting, and cable TV and satellite followed after OTA broadcasting took hold: Since Canada has a much higher level of cable penetration than the US does, cable TV and satellite introduced HDTV to the public, and the Canadian OTA broadcasters are just beginning to build digital transmitters.
Many Canadians have been on satellite or cable TV for so long that they have forgotten all about terristial broadcasting, but those Canadians who live in GTA and Windsor who have access to OTA HDTV broadcasts from the US know how much better the uncompressed OTA HDTV signals look. Now, for the first time, Canadians outside of those areas will begin to see OTA HDTV, and are searching for answers as to how to solve reception problems.
I would expect that in 2 years or so, OTA HDTV transmissions will be much more common in the larger Canadian cities, however, expect that smaller communities will wait quite a bit longer before they see OTA HDTV.
The US has a few websites that help predict TV coverage, but those sites don't work for Canada, but a safe rule of thumb is that one can expect reliable digital reception at a distance of 80-100km from the transmitters when the proper receiving equipment is used.
Many Canadians are finding that there are few antenna distributors in Canada, and many are finding it difficult to buy the equipment that they need. One good bet is to seek out Wade Antenna in Simcoe, ON, a manufacturer of high-quality OTA antennas and mounting equipment. My impression of the company is that they make good products, and are well-regarded on both sides of the border, but that they aren't very market-savvy, and haven't really gotten their arms around the OTA digital revolution. Their VHF and combination VHF-UHF antennas are among the very best available, but their line of UHF-only antennas is not up to the standards set by Channel Master or Winegard.
The most highly regarded UHF-only antenna these days is the Channel Master 4228, which is an 8-bay bow-tie design that has a combination of high gain and a large receiving apature, making it ideal for fringe-area UHF reception. Yagi-type UHF antennas, while they are quite directional, are rarely suited to deep-fringe UHF reception, not because of a lack of gain, but because UHF signals scatter at distances of 50KM or more, and the receiving apature of a Yagi antenna is much smaller than that of a multi-bay type antenna.
I have seen several posts regarding the Winegard 9032 UHF yagi, and I have to laugh, because I have recent replaced 2 of those antennas for customers with Channel Master 4228 antennas, with FAR superior results. Buying an antenna based on published gain figures does not guarentee adaquate reception. While I am glad that those people who have bought the Winegard 9032 are pleased with their purchases, to tout that antenna's superiority based solely on it's gain figure is to misunderstand how fringe UHF reception works.