Do You Need Rabbit Ears on TV?
If you have an HD television or analog to digital converter, you don’t need any special equipment to use rabbit ears to receive a television signal. All you have to do is plug in a pair of rabbit ears and search for local stations. You don’t need rabbit ears if you have a cable or satellite subscription or an outdoor antenna, but in an emergency or if you don’t want to spend money on cable, rabbit ears may just be the answer for you.
Digital television is basically feast or famine. If you have a strong enough signal, you will have a clear sharp picture. If not, you have nothing. With digital, there are no more erratic, fuzzy pictures caused by weak signals. You either have a picture and sound or you don’t. Rabbit ears will pick up a digital TV signal just fine with no modification. To improve the signal from your rabbit ears, you can add a signal booster that connects between the antenna and TV and kicks the rabbit ears signal up to a strength where your TV can resolve the station. A signal booster may give you a surprising number of extra stations, especially if you live near a large metropolitan area with a lot of stations.
One of the side benefits of the new digital signal standard is that broadcasters can slice up their licensed chunk of the digital spectrum into subchannels. A station on channel 4 might also have a digital substation on 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 or 4.4. Many of the new channels are high definition stations with crisp, clear HD signals on network stations. In Los Angeles, for instance, viewers can pick up almost 70 of these stations with a signal booster and an attic or roof antenna. The number of stations you will be able to pick up will depend on how many stations are in range of your location. If you live far out in the country, you may only pick up a station or two. In station rich metropolitan areas, you could have 20 to 70 stations. These will only be network or independent stations. You won’t be able to pick up cable only stations. You won’t be able to pick up satellite signals with rabbit ears–only broadcast signals coming from steel towers from on the ground TV stations within a hundred or so miles from your house.
You can even hook a pair of rabbit ears to your PC via a TV receiver card. In some larger markets, broadcasters are experimenting with subchannels that offer data streaming similar to wireless Internet. The stations use these subchannels to send supplementary information, educational and promotional programming to computers or interactive televisions.
Television antennas can cost from less than $5 for simple rabbit ears up to several hundred dollars for complex attic or tower mount outdoor antennas. Obviously, the simpler rabbit ears don’t receive as many stations, but with digital standards, the signal is every bit as good for the stations you do receive and you don’t pay for it.
A pair of rabbit ears hooked up alongside your cable or satellite receiver can allow you to tune in to emergency stations if weather or disaster takes down your television service. It costs you nothing to watch over the air stations and they don’t go out if a tree falls on a line or a heavy cloud passes over your house. As a backup to your subscription service, you might want to hang on to the rabbit ears that came with your TV set.