By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Plain and simple "rabbit ears" home television antennas are about as dated as black-and-white programming.
With the rising popularity of digital signals, the high-definition format and home theater, antennas have become increasingly more sophisticated and feature-heavy in order to pull in high-quality over-the-air signals.
What's new for 2002 includes antennas with extra-long dipoles, A/B switching, programmable memory, low-noise amplifiers and "fashionable" shapes and colors that complement the newest sets.
One example of what's hot among home antennas is the new line from Commack, N.Y.-based Terk Technologies, which is unveiling a family of indoor set-top TV antennas. These include some or all of such features as a built-in video switch, adjustable amplification and low-profile design.
TV1, a replacement for the factory antenna, offers 40-inch dipoles and works as a primary antenna or as a backup in the event of a cable or satellite outage. The antenna can be placed on top of the television or plugged directly into the antenna receptacle. Each TV1 package, at a suggested $9.95, includes a UHF loop antenna.
Terk's TV2 offers the performance of a rabbit-ear antenna with the convenience of a built-in video selector switch. The switch amplifies the hookup of DVD players, video games and other video components, allowing the consumer to switch between local programming and any video source at the touch of a button without reconnecting any wires or plugs. Dipoles are 44 inches and suggested retail is $19.95.
The TV3 antenna adds a low-noise amplifier, which boosts weaker signals for maximum reception range and clarity. The amplifier offers a bypass to prevent over-modulation of stronger incoming signals and features one-touch adjustment across the entire band. Suggested retail is $39.95.
TV4 features a low-profile design that stands less than five inches high, allowing the antenna to fit inside most TV cabinets. A simple rotation of the TV4 enables optimum reception. Its technology incorporates a pair of tuned receiving elements that aid reception range and clarity. Suggested retail is $19.95.
Top-of-the-line TV5 features a low-profile design similar to the TV4, but adds a low-noise broadband amplifier and built-in video selector switch. The amplifier maximizes reception range and can be bypassed for stronger incoming signals. The antenna delivers a turnkey indoor reception solution and can fit inside most TV cabinets. Suggested retail is $49.95.
The only remote control programmable indoor antenna, claims Lake Mary, Fla.-based Jensen, a Recoton company, is the TV940 indoor model, which offers 44-inch VHF dipoles and low-profile UHF antenna elements that adjust independently by remote control.
The company's hands-off antenna operation allows the consumer to achieve the best possible reception by eliminating interference caused by entering the antenna's signal field while touching elements during adjustments.
A programmable memory function on the remote control makes it possible to lock in and easily recall the best antenna position for all channels. An LED window shows which channel's position is being recalled.
Low-noise dual amplifiers boost weak signals and allow separate tuning of VHF and UHF signals for independent amplification.
The TV940 includes a built-in A/B switch that alternates between television and video games, cable or satellite systems.
The unit is ideal for all formats, including digital TV. Suggested retail is $99.99 and it was scheduled to ship late in January.
A new GE-brand top-of-the-line antenna from Oklahoma City-based Jasco Products, called the Elite Dual Amplified Indoor Antenna, Model TV94723, features an isolated VHF and UHF adjustable gain amplification of separate, custom signal level adjustments on VHF and UHF frequencies. The three-stage low-noise amplifier provides a clear, crisp picture.
The UHF loop rotates 360 degrees and tilts 180 degrees for precise reception of UHF stations. The 39-inch dipoles adjust for best VHF reception.
The Elite, which connects to all televisions, even older sets with separate UHF and VHF screw sets, is also designed for new digital and analog televisions. Jasco has upgraded the RG6 coaxial lead and included a gold plate band separator and adapter.
The color is silver to blend with newer televisions on the market, and suggested retail is $44.99. Availability date is May 1.
In answer to the continuous build-up of HD format TV and movie productions, Gemini Industries is offering two new digital HDTV antenna systems.
An indoor version is the Silver Sensor TV antenna that features a solution for the consumer with HDTV equipment to pick up over-the-air broadcasts and enjoy digital sound.
The highly directional and flexible Silver Sensor delivers an even response across the whole of the UHF frequency range and is digitally compatible and designed to work in all primary reception areas.
Suggested retail is $35.95 and availability is March.
Clifton, N.J.-based Gemini also is introducing a digital outdoor HDTV antenna, called the Digital EM. The unit is an evolution of the classic UHF Yagi design and includes cylindrical parabolic reflectors with integrated multi-path rejection.
In addition to rejecting unwanted signals, the Digital EM minimizes ghosting, while keeping a consistent sensitivity across the UHF bandwidth. Availability will be April at a suggested $99.00 retail.
Out of the home and into the car, forward-looking antennas are playing a key role in putting XM Satellite Radio programming into the passenger seat.
Constellation On-Glass antennas from Cleveland-based Antenna Specialists, a division if Allen Telecom, designed for use with XM Satellite Radio receiver hardware, offer a reduced footprint for a more visually appealing mounting appearance and ease of installation.
Other features of this XM8000 series include pivoted wide-angle adjustment with a locking feature for proper vertical alignment, twin coaxial cable construction for ease of installation routing, flexible coupler housing for attachment to curved glass surfaces and O-Ring seals for maximum water resistance.
The On-Glass design does not interfere with AM/FM broadcast reception and eliminates the need to pass DC electric power through the glass.
The ground plane independent design may be mounted at the top of the vehicle's rear window or side mounted to the fixed pane of vehicular glass found on sport utility vehicles, pick-up trucks or conversion vans.
The pivoted whip angle adjustment also allows the whip to lie flat on the glass surface during car washes.
Suggested retail for the retail packaged version of the XM8000 series, called the XM8000F/CP, is $94.95, and it is scheduled to start shipping at the end of February.
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