ClearStream Micron XG Indoor Antenna Review
- Product Name: Micron XG Indoor Antenna
- Manufacturer: ClearStream
- Review Date: September 21, 2011 07:55
- MSRP: $99.99
- First Impression: Gotta Have It!
- Range: up to 25 miles
- Beam width (Horizontal Plane): 470 to 700 MHz: 70 degrees
- VSWR: Typical 2:1 or better, Max 3:1, typical less than 2:1 from 470 MHz to 700 MHz
- Front to Back Ratio: Typical 15 dBi
- Directivity: Standard Setup (No Reflector): Typical 4.5 dBi
- Size Assembled: 10”L x 11”W x 4.5”D
Most of the television antenna's we've installed in the past few years have been larger outdoor units, set up specifically to capture all of the available stations in our local area. Where we live, smack dab between two major cities, we don't have the easy access to broadcast towers enjoyed by people who happen to live in the cities where these signals originate. Now, when Antennas Direct claimed to have developed a new Clearstream indoor model that was capable of hitting some pretty impressive numbers, well that was rather difficult to imagine. So, with our interest piqued, we grabbed it and hooked it up.
Before we get into the reception, let's first talk about how the antenna is made. It's a square, plastic unit that takes advantage of the way digital and HD television signals are now broadcast. Two other items that help the antenna to capture the best possible signal are the Micron reflector and an inline amplifier that can add 5, 10, 15, or 20 dB to the signal. The antenna, because of its unique design, is able to capture an extremely generous 70 degree wide range of the UHF channels.
The antenna works by first assembling it, and it can be either tabletop or wall-mounted. We opted for using it in a tabletop configuration, which means it sits within a plastic stand which allows the reflector to be mounted to better focus signals back onto the antenna and boost the natural gain. To wall mount it you can do so either flush-mount or raised mount thanks to the flexible hardware included with the antenna. Once you've determined your configuration, you simply insert the amplifier inline and connect the F-connectors of the included cables as indicated.
That's it - all that happens next is you rescan your channels with your TV in Antenna mode. So that's what we did. And we got 25 channels immediately, and another 4-6 that we could get if we moved the antenna around a bit. That included 3 out of 4 possible networks in our area and a ton of local and PBS channels. Nearly 30 channels of free television is not bad for $100. For those in actual cities with broadcast towers, you're going to see upwards of 40 channels or more including all networks. That's fantastic for $99.
The Micron Series from Antenna's Direct is available in 4 flavors from $60 to $100. The differences have to do with whether it comes with a reflector or an inline amplifier. Regardless of which model you purchase we're recommending this for anyone who is within 20-25 miles of their broadcast towers. If you're beyond that, be sure to check out the longer range outdoor models which are available.
a coat hanger with an in-line amplifier will receive signals, maybe better, maybe not better than simple rabbit ears (VHF) or a $0.99 loop UHF antenna. So, how was this newest and "greatest" indoor antenna any better that existing amplified antennas - head to head tests anyone ??
What about directionality with the reflector panel ? Do you aim the flat side towards a broadcast tower ? Signal from the sides ?? Signal from the back side with the reflector in the way ??
So many questions, so few answers
What Andrew was referring to in that statement above was the prevalence of UHF and high power VHF signals, for which an antenna like this is perfect.
Incidentally, the 4th station we didn't get was a lower power VHF.
And as you know, Frank, the new antennas no longer make use of those "weather vane-shaped" structures, which is why we talk about them as being "digital" or "HD". I've seen guys want to go out and use these huge old-school antennas when in reality they aren't necessary for HD and DTV signals in most locations.
This notion is false. Digital and analog broadcasting use identical reception systems, the difference is all in what you do with the signal at the opposite end from the antenna.
There are practical issues to be sure, such as intolerance to drop-outs that make digital TV an all-or-nothing proposition, requiring more antenna for a digital signal than analog. A reduced broadcast spectrum (few VHF-low stations and none above Ch 52/700MHz) also allows for a more compact antenna, especially if VHF-high is also not required. But these are gain- and bandwidth-related, not encoding-related changes so analog/digital remain irrelevant.
By way of review content, I'd like to know what real channels (not virtual) you normally get, what channels this antenna added, and from what transmitter distances? VHF-low is not gone and 2 of 5 stations in my area are VHF-high. If your 30 stations are virtual stations from 10 UHF channels, I could lose stations I currently receive.
Then again, maybe they're on to something, have a unique technology that works better (fractal antennas come to mind at that size and form factor), but I see no evidence of it in this review. At least you didn't quote amplifier gain as an important antenna characteristic (it's not, unless you have a long cable run).