Not every consumer electronics product need be complicated to understand or use. Such is the case with the NorthVu NV20 Pro Indoor Fractal HDTV Antenna. What’s its “mission statement?” To gather in digital television signals so that a digital television (i.e., HDTV, flat-panel, call it what you will) can present them to the viewer.
Let’s back up for a second. For those who wonder, cable and satellite television service providers are not the be-all, end-all that they seem. These companies were created to provide an alternative to the free over-the-air television signals that continue to crisscross our nation. It’s because this free signal reception hasn’t been available in varied locales due to interference issues, physical location and political pressure, that a pay-for-view procedure first came into play. Of course now it’s exploded to the point where most folks think it’s this way or the highway. As someone who used to live on the 94th floor of a NY apartment building, I can sympathize with not being able to plug in an antenna and get a free TV picture. Heck, I had a clear view of New Jersey but that didn’t mean squat. Not that I long for the days when my loft’s view consisted of a crows line-of-sight with the Empire State building that used to house the broadcast network’s antennas prior to going over to the World Trade Center back in the day.
The thing is that for a myriad of reasons people have gotten lazy and assumed that an antenna can’t do the job of getting broadcast television signals for them. Or that the antenna will be unwieldy, ugly and complicated to use. All of which is wrong.
Case in point is the NV20 Pro Indoor Fractal HDTV Antenna. It’s not paper thin, but merely a few inches deep and barely any weight at all helps to keep it standing upright and unobtrusive. All glossy black and slightly curved for that “euro” look. So putting it on a table or shelf is not only doable but practical. And if the company’s claim of omni-directional fractal technology is correct, getting a high-definition, 1080p digital broadcast TV image should be a snap.
The coaxial cable is connected to the NV20 Pro Indoor Fractal HDTV Antenna and utilizes a skinny design rather than clunky. Oh — there’s no power supply needed either: powered amplification which some digital antennas employ might seem good for cranking up the signal — but one thing can make it totally unnecessary. That one thing is that with a digital signal you either get it or not; there’s no in-between with ghosting and other artifact issues that plagued analog TV. So it’s more of a matter of your location relative to that of the broadcast towers.
In my case, now that I’m in SoCal, I don’t have the signal interference issues that I did when I was in Manhattan. I know that if I place the NV20 Pro Indoor Fractal HDTV Antenna near the window leading to the balcony in my living room, I shouldn’t have any problems in getting a digital broadcast signal. But instead of doing that first, I’ll place the NV20 Pro Indoor Fractal HDTV Antenna just a foot or two away from the Mitsubishi 82-inch HDTV that I’m in the midst of reviewing (you get 10+ feet of cable to work with). Lets see how the antenna performs here first.
So of course that means connecting the antenna to the HDTV before anything else. With flashlight in hand, I locate the coaxial antenna “in” on the back of the Mitsu and screw the antenna’s cable on until it is finger-tight. I then stand up the antenna nearby on the floor. That concludes the installation part of our feature.
Turning the Mitsu on, I navigate to the “Input” menu and select the antenna. No surprise here — the Mitsu want me to now scan the available channels. I sit back and let the algorithms do their thing. While waiting, I hit my web browser to see what channels are available in my area, according to NorthVue. That’s a helpful addition to the slim manual which basically assumes you can understand simple diagrams because there’s not really much to say other than a few reminders not to get the antenna wet or stick it in the microwave oven (last part is my tip).
I’m hearing sound so I return to the Mitsu, which now is displaying the Olympics on NBC. It’s water polo and looks splendid in high-definition. The picture looks as good as if it was coming from my satellite receiver, and the sound is indistinguishable as well. I flip through a few other channels and while I’m no fan of The View, I can’t fault the closeups of the ladies there — although the makeup artists must now be working overtime since HD is now part of the mix.
I also tried moving the NV20 Pro Indoor Fractal HDTV Antenna closer to the window to see if the signal strength would improve to the point where I could discern a difference. Big not surprise — it didn’t change anything. But that’s good in this case since I don’t have to be concerned with the antenna calling attention to itself.
A little more time spent watching shows me that I can be bored as easily when the TV signal is coming from a digital antenna as I can when it’s not. Not the fault of the antenna, but you know what I mean. Vast wasteland, indeed. But the best part is that you’re not paying for what you’re seeing here — well, as a a taxpayer that might not be totally accurate but you know what I mean. It’s free TV and doesn’t that taste good?
Bottom line: Of course the location where the HDTV resides relative to the television broadcast towers will influence how well that signal is received (or not at all) — but that’s not the fault of the NV20 Pro Indoor Fractal HDTV Antenna. $59 retail buys you the means to see free high-definition television on your HDTV with no fuss and no real effort on your part.
- Receives VHF-High and UHF digital broadcast TV channels 7-69
- Interior fractal antenna array
- Can receive FM signals
- Coaxial cable permanently attached
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.