How To Get A 4K Signal

How To Get A 4K Signal

In this article we are going to look at how to get a 4K signal over-the-air completely free using the HDTV antenna you currently have or are thinking of purchasing. If you haven’t already heard the news, a new ATSC standard is soon going to be here and with it Full 4K Ultra High Definition! If you’re a cord cutter like me, this is very exciting news to say the least, and you’ll definitely want to keep reading.

What Is This New ATSC Standard?

I did a fairly indepth article that takes a look at what ATSC 3.0 is and what it is going to offer cord cutters in terms of 4K UltraHD over the air television signal. You can check out the full article, Everything You Need To Know About ATSC 3.0. Coming as soon as 2020 digital broadcasters are going to begin transitioning to ATSC 3.0 which will provide significant enhancements to the digital signals we currently receive. Included in these enhancement will be:

  • 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD)
  • Support for Mobile Viewing
  • 3D Television Support
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR)
  • High Frame Rates (HFR)
  • Multi-Channel Immersive Audio

Again, I’m not going to go into explicit detail on everything the standard covers in this article because like I said this was already covered in great detail in a previous article. If you’re interested in learning more be sure to check out, Everything You Need To Know About ATSC 3.0.

What I do want to do here is cover what exactly it is you are going to need in order to be ready for the digital transformation that is finally upon us.

Is Your Current Hardware Good Enough?

I guess that depends. If you currently have a 4K UHD TV***, an indoor or outdoor antenna, strong digital over-the-air signals and a wide variety of stations in your area. Then yes! You really don’t need to do anything else unless you want to “fine tune” your current setup to ensure you are getting the best cord cutting experience available today.

I did an article that you may be interested in not too long ago. In it, I cover my current setup that is sure to get “full wife approval”! If you’d like to check it out, visit, The Best HDTV Antenna Setup Right Now! I had a lot of fun writing it, as I wanted to share with everyone what my current setup is and why I have never looked back after cutting the cable cord more than 10 years ago!

Notice that I put a few asterisks beside the 4K UHD TV. This is because TV’s currently on the market do not have the tuner hardware built in that will allow you to receive 4K UHD over-the-air when the new ATSC 3.0 standard is released. Not a big deal though, as most serious cord cutters don’t run their antenna signals directly to their TV anyhow. Most of us are using network tuner hardware such as,  SiliconDust HDHomeRun EXTEND (2-Tuner)  and Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder which is a lot cheaper to replace then your 4K TV!

Okay So You’re Looking To Upgrade Your Setup!

Alright, I assume that since you’re still reading that you are looking to upgrade at least some of your hardware, or perhaps do the deep dive and “cut the cord”. Make no mistake, if you’ve been contemplating cutting the cord and eliminating those monthly cable and satellite subscriptions, there is no time like right now. Sure, 4K won’t be around for a few years yet, over-the-air and free anyway. However, what we currently receive over-the-air and completely free is nothing to complain about. Today, you can easily pickup crystal clear HDTV digital broadcasts in full 720p or 1080i.

Since ATSC 3.0 tuner hardware is currently not available, I am going to focus on the hardware that you can purchase right now that will give you by my estimation six years of enjoyment, and cost cutting still. You’re probably saying…wait a minute, didn’t you say it was coming in 2020. Yes I did, however, broadcasters will be required to support ATSC 1.0 until 2023 at a minimum, with most smaller networks transmitting in your area not likely making the change until some years after that.

The cost for digital broadcasters to convert to ATSC 3.0 is going to be significant as the technology is significantly different then that currently being leveraged. Again, check out my article, Everything You Need To Know About ATSC 3.0 for an indepth look at this standard. If you’d like a little sneak peak at what ATSC 3.0 is and how it’s going to revolutionize how we receive our over-the-air transmissions, check out this YouTube video published by the Advanced Television System Broadcasters (ATSC).

Should You Even Bother Buying A 4K UHD TV Set Right Now?

Like I said, the one drawback of moving to this new standard is that current tuner hardware will not be able to decode it. This means, in order to receive ATSC 3.0 signals when they are available unfortunately an upgrade will be in order. Remember, most serious cord cutters do not run their antennas directly into their television sets anyhow. More common is to buy networkable tuner hardware, such as the SiliconDust HDHomeRun EXTEND (2-Tuner)  and Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder mentioned above that will allow you to stream your antenna signals to any smart device in your home.

Also, with Internet Streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video already streaming in 4K UHD, the short answer is YES! Go ahead and buy yourself that 4K UHD TV if you’re in the market for a television upgrade. Since there are so many manufacturers, sizes and preferences when it comes to television sets, I’m not going to waste my (and your) time telling you which one you should buy. I suggest going down to your local Best Buy and finding one that’s right for you!

What I will say is, your number one priority shouldn’t be the “Smart TV” portion of whatever set you buy. Meaning buy for quality first and if you can save a few bucks by buying a set that doesn’t have “Smart TV” capability built (this is getting harder and harder to find these days) then do it! Why you ask?

Let me tell you why I don’t care about the “Smart TV” feature in my televisions sets. This is because all my televisions have a “smart box” (Android TV streaming box) placed at them. These devices are far better than any built in Android or proprietary type Android operating system that you are going to find coming with a “Smart TV” television set. They are packed with computing power that far exceeds any TV and will allow you to stream your antenna signals from one of the network tuners I mentioned above.

Of course there are a multitude of Android Streaming boxes on the market, and I assure you they are not all the same. Meaning, if you have a wife and kids like I do you are going to want to make sure that they can navigate the Android TV system as easily as possible. This mean, for me anyway, staying away from Open Android type streaming boxes was an absolute must! This is why I would recommend Google Android TV boxes that runs Google Live Channels. And this is also why I also always would recommend the Nvidia Shield TV.

This device is, well to put it bluntly…totally awesome!!! I have three of them, and yes they are a bit pricey, however, you will not be disappointed by its performance and interface. That said, I did end up grabbing another box for my mother as she is on a little more of a tight budget than I am and it works really good too. The box is the Mi Box.

The only issue I have with this little guy is that I haven’t yet seen an update to Android TV 7.0 that has many enhancements and improvements to the user interface. That said, my mother loves it and for under $100 why not!

Should You Buy An Indoor Or Outdoor Antenna?

Well this is one I’ve answered many times throughout various articles, be sure to check out, 7 Ways To Boost Your HDTV Antenna Signal! The short answer is, whenever it’s possible to put your TV antenna outside…do it! While indoor antennas will yield some decent results, especially if you’re in an area that’s relatively unobstructed or you live in a major city center and on the 20th floor of your apartment building. In these situations I would say an indoor is probably worth giving a try, and in the case of the high-rise building scenario you really don’t have a choice.

For those of you who want to try an indoor antenna or really have no choice but to do so, let me recommend three that I have personally tried or have friends that currently have and are having pretty good success.

Recommended Indoor HDTV Antennas:

1. Mohu Curve 50 TV Antenna Amplified 50-Mile Range MH-110567
2. ClearStream ECLIPSE Amplified TV Antenna
3. Channel Master CM-4001HD FLATenna Ultra-thin Indoor TV Antenna

All the indoor antennas listed above will yield decent results, again depending on your specific region. They are fairly inexpensive, easy to install and really all you have to do is screw it into the back of your current HDTV set and see what you get…the results may surprise you! With any luck you’ll be pulling in all the local and major network channels such as, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and Fox, to name a few, in your broadcast area.

Recommended Outdoor HDTV Antennas:

Like I mentioned above, when at all possible go with an outdoor TV antenna! Yes, it’s a bit more work to install, a bit more expensive, and yes you have to do things like proper grounding in order to ensure that your TV antenna is installed safely. Luckily, I’ve put together a step-by-step article that shows you in great detail How To Properly Ground A TV Antenna. Be sure to give it a read if you are going to be installing an outdoor antenna.

Believe me, the end result will be totally worth it when you’re pulling in 20-40 digital TV channels in crystal clear HD. Of course, how many channels you’ll get will depend largely on where you are located in proximity to television broadcast towers. If you live in the Buffalo area like me, I’ve put together a channel map that shows you all the broadcast tower locations in our area. Check out the HDTV Channel Map if you live in this geographic region. If you live in a different locale, I recommend TVFool.com.

Okay, so what are my recommendations for top notch outdoor TV antennas.

1. 8 Element Bowtie Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna – 70 Mile Range
2. ClearStream 4 Outdoor HDTV Antenna
3. Channel Master CM-4228HD Outdoor Antenna

Conclusion

Well you probably started into this article fully intending for me to tell you how you can snatch 4K television broadcasts completely free. If you’re reading this article and it’s not yet 2020 chances are you were mildly disappointed as they simply are not available wide-spread at this time.

Although 4K signals are not available as of the writing of this article, I hope I’ve made a case for you to cut the cable cord nonetheless. Join the tens of thousands of us who have already cut the cord and haven’t looked back. If you liked this article, be sure to check out some of my other articles that I’m sure you will equally enjoy.

Cheers!

The Antenna Guy