There is the joke(?) in ham radio that a vertical antenna “radiates equally poorly in all directions.” As gain is usually had by focusing directionality, the omnidirectional antenna can seem poor in comparison. That, and many do not care to do the actual work of installing a proper ground system for a vertical antenna. It’s not just a rod driven into the ground. I know how much work is, for I have done it.
That supposed joke comes to mind when looking at TV coverage maps for $HOOTERVILLE. We’re served equally poorly by all networks/broadcasters. There is a CBS affiliate transmitter relatively close, which the web services claim shuold be easily recieved – except there’s a ridge and we’re right smack in its shadow. There are various translator transmitter towers scattered around the area. Around, not in or near. The result is that one has cable, satellite, an elevated outdoor antenna – ideally with rotator, or pretty much nothing.
That nothing option doesn’t really bother me much. I gave up on cable in 2009 or earlier. I saw the “local” (ha!) CBS affiliate sign off analog for digital – and digital is all or nothing. As we didn’t get it all, what we got was nothing. No real loss. But recently I saw a deal for an amplified indoor antenna and at under $15 bucks, I got curious. And perhaps a bit too hopeful.
I have an alleged “smart” TV  of the Vizio brand. The bad thing is that there is no signal strength meter or such indication to be found. The good thing is that my cost was effectively nil, having been most fortunate in a company party drawing.
As there is no signal strength meter, I need to set the TV to scan, turn the antenna, and repeat to get anywhere. And I have gotten somewhere – sort of. The scans do usually, though not always, find something. That something differs with antenna orientation and seems to be short-lived no matter what the orientation is and what the channels are. Upon investigating the supposedly acquired channels, I find that they are from the translators (no surprise) and I am just at the very edge of coverage at best. Aside from the one station blocked by a ridge, the rest are at best “weak” and more likely “edge” with several after listed as “tropo.” If you are not familiar, that means that unusual propagation conditions are needed to get those. It’s not unheard of, certainly, but nothing one should depend upon. I was surprised to even see it listed.
The results, while disappointing, are hardly unexpected. We seem to be on a hill (well above the nearby lake) but despite that appearance, are actually in something of a hole.
The Vizio set is on the ground level. No, not the basement. It’s too big for any place upstairs, but there are a couple older analog sets up there, and a digital-to-analog converter box (remember those?) that… can’t find bupkis. Nor will it permit a channel to be manually added. There is a channel edit feature, but it evidently is solely to remove channels that a scan has found. The “delightful” thing is that this converter is obviously made to gov’t or at the very least marketing department spec. It doesn’t say something truthful like “NO SIGNAL” but the hopeful and quite wrong “WEAK SIGNAL” as if it found something, even if not much, to work with.
Now, I am fairly sure that since the little wall-mountable antenna managed to pick up something downstairs, that a proper gain antenna on the roof or in the attic would result in more reliable reception. But while I was willing to risk $15 on a probability, I am not about to spend $80 to $150 on this – and that’s before the mounting hardware and probably feedline. I can do without the TV networks, after all. Done it for years.
 From a Capitol Steps tune: CBS, what a mess! When you watch them, you just See… BS! And that tune was from before Ra^th^ergate!
 As far as I can tell, this means if one is not vigilant the damn thing can be a spy. Alright, it does do digital app stuff and I could go Hulu or Netflix or such. So far I’ve only used the free Youtube stuff. So I have this fancy wide screen digital hi-def stereo set and the first show I watched on it was a 1950’s Spike Jones New Year’s program in 4:3 aspect black & white mono. Once again, it just happens. I didn’t go out of my way to do that, it was simply first thing I saw with any appeal.
 Cathode ray tubes with phosphor dots.