If you have a cable or satellite hookup, you might think that this antenna issue is irrelevant -- but think again. Some owners of high-end systems complain that the signals coming from their satellite or cable provider aren't giving them the picture quality they expected. That's because cable and satellite operators often use lossy compression algorithms to squeeze more channels, particularly local channels, into their allotted bandwidth. This compression often results in a picture with less detail than the corresponding terrestrial broadcast signal provides.
For videophiles who have already spent a fortune on their home-theater systems, a couple of hundred dollars more for a top-of-the-line antenna obviously makes sense. And of course, antennas are also good backup for the times when the cable gets cut or the satellite system fades out due to rain or snow. In addition, they serve second TV sets in houses not wired to distribute signals to every room.
Suddenly the dowdy TV antenna, a piece of technology that has changed little over the past 30 years, is about to be the belle of the ball.