New York — AudioVox has begun the rollout of its RCA-branded indoor TV antennas, targeting new DTV purchasers and set-top converter box users making the transition from analog to digital reception.
Under the RCA line, the company is planning a total of seven indoor antenna models this year, ranging in price from $14.99 to $99.99. Five of the planned models feature a new omni-directional square flat design, which makes the antenna easier to place out of sight, and blend better with the look of today’s flat panel TVs.
“One of the things we at AudioVox set out to accomplish was redefine what antennas look like,” said Hank Caskey, AudioVox, reception VP. “One of the things we hear at the consumer level was that people don’t like the way antennas look.”
The first model to hit the streets is a midrange RCA ANT1500 flat indoor antenna ($59.99 suggested retail). The antenna, which measures 10.5-inches square, is designed to minimize the “cliff effect” of digital TV reception with a multi-direction capability. The unusual design enables placement flat on a tabletop or wall mounting, AudioVox said.
AudioVox has tuned its flat antennas at the end of the coaxial cable, making the cable part of the antenna itself.
The line is also comprised of several models that come with additional external amplifiers that connect to the end of the coaxial cable for areas where signals are more difficult to tune. By separating the amplifier from the antenna, instead of building it in, AudioVox reduces the potential of over saturating the signal, which can add to noise and block reception. This way users can take the antenna’s home to determine if they really need the additional amplification before attaching it.
Those flat antennas with amplification (ANT1450, ANT1550 and ANT2000) are also said to offer an extremely low-noise co-efficient to reduce interference with signal reception.
In developing the antenna’s the company uses a “duo-plane” design” incorporating both VH and UHF reception.
In addition to flat antennas, the RCA brand will feature a pair of entry directional bow-tie style models. Due later in the year is another flat-design model (ANT2000) with SmartAntenna ability, designed to connect to converter boxes with special SmartAntenna inputs. SmartAntenna’s automatically sense the direction of a signal and automatically adjust the antenna for optimal reception.
In addition to the RCA line, Audiovox is also working to expand indoor and outdoor antenna’s under its Terk line for later in the year. With its combined brands Audiovox’s marketshare for indoor antennas “is somewhere north of 50 percent,” the company said.
Audiovox said that as the DTV transition progresses, consumers are purchasing nearly 20,000 over-the-air TV antennas everyday, and most of those are for indoor use. The industry currently moves consistently between 8 and 10 million units a year, and Audiovox believes “the numbers will go a little bit north” this year.
“The CEA’s estimates recently called for between 5 and 10 percent growth, but we see some very good reasons for that to be substantially larger,” Caskey said.
More than 30 million digital televisions and over 20 million converter boxes are expected to be sold this year, Audiovox said.
Caskey said Audiovox sees a combination of factors favoring antenna sales this year, including a strong uptake in new television and converter box purchases, expanding HDTV enthusiasts who want the best, least compressed signal available (which over-the-air broadcasts offer), and viewers who want to take advantage of multi-cast digital channels that aren’t carried on cable or satellite TV services.