A HDTV antenna that delivers…sort of. TERK-55.
May 23, 2004 (Updated Jun 15, 2009)
Review by Alan Lake
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Descent reception, indoor/outdoor mountable, great for RV’s and apartments, non-obtrusive design, 3 mounts provided.
Cons:Still not as good as a large/ugly aerial.
The Bottom Line: A good solution for those that need something small, HDTV compliant, easy to install, and still works well.
I bought this HDTV antenna to compliment my DirecTV HDTV receiver. At the time I bought the Terk 55, CBS was the only network channel broadcast in HDTV by DirecTV. So since I was spending money, why not spend a little more on a HDTV antenna .
Recommend this product?
Type of Mounts
There are three ways to mount the Terk HDTV antenna. The one I choose mounted the antenna in a vertical fashion and was fixed to the studs by 2 pieces of plastic shaped in a C. The open end was flush against the wall or stud and screwed in. You can have the Terk HDTV antenna in the middle of the C when you screw it in or if you are like me you just slid it in after you screwed it in. Just make sure everything is level or it could slide out under certain conditions.
The second type is a series of brackens that allow you to hang the antenna just under the roof. It looked a little more complicated to mount but you get rid of the interference caused from the wiring and solid matter. This would be a good mount for an apartment, 2nd story building, or someone that doesn’t care about getting their antenna weathered.
The third mount merely requires a pole. You clamp in the HDTV antenna then clamp it into a pole. Nice if that is your only option or have an existing pole on your roof.
For me the mounting the Terk HDTV antenna was easy. I really didn’t need to look at the directions to figure it out. The hardest part was going into the attic with my cordless drill and drilling the brackets into the roof beams and hanging the antenna. I already had a good idea which direction worked best for reception so I just hung it that direction. It took about 20 minutes to string the coaxial cable along the wall and through the ceiling, 5 minutes to decide how to mount the sucker, and about another 20 minutes to do the actual mounting. I did the whole process by myself and I think anyone could do it alone, but help would make it go faster.
Type of Connection and the “Power Injector”.
The Terk HDTV antenna accepts the standard coaxial cable connection. I just used some RG6 cable I had left over and used that with some basic coaxial ends that I just crimped on with my crimping tool. The adapter has a female end permanently attacked to the unit.
If you want, you can attach a “power injector with AC-to-DC adapter” directly between the Terk HDTV antenna and the coaxial cable itself. This needs to be plugged into a power supply or any AC current. I played around with turning the adapter on and off on several different stations (before I installed it in the attic) and it did make a noticeable difference. On some stations that were unviewable, the adapter made them viewable (but there was occasional interference.) It didn’t help channel 9.1 or 13.1 at all.
Living in a Radio-Free Hole
My house sucks for radio and TV reception. We are surrounded by several hills, one of which is between us and L.A. Basically I live in a hole inside a small mesa. For the record, I like things that block L.A., but not my T.V. signal. If the Terk HDTV antenna works in my neighborhood, then it will work in 95% of homes in America.
Having bad reception is not new. My first mobile from AT&T did not work in my house or yard. I had bad reception with my handheld transceiver in the 2m and 440 bands. AM and FM radio signals are very poor. Only my nicer audio equipment will work, and that is because of the power they have and the antenna that come with them. Even then, I still don’t get all the stations I want.
How The Channel System Works.
I am using a Sony HD receiver that doubles as my DirecTV receiver. The receiver integrates both the Terk HDTV antenna signals and the DirecTV signals onto one guide with no special switching between them.
The normal analog channels are listed as normal (ex. 2,4,5,7,9,11,13,28, etc.) These all have perfect signals with the antenna in the attic. There is no noticeable difference between them and the channels on DirecTV.
The digital television signals have a number behind them to differentiate them from the analog stations (ex. 2.1, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 9.1, 11.1, 13.1, 28.1, 28.2, etc.)
What is really cool is I receive extra channels that I would not get otherwise when using the Terk HDTV antenna. KCET has two feeds going on and KABC has 3, as does other stations higher up the band. KABC has the normal digital station, a news station (that is not in hi-def), and a station the broadcasts the radar signal. I’d rather look at the radar online, but it is a cool novelty.
If you’re a Spanish speaker (I am not) then there are several Spanish stations that have multiple broadcasts, just like KCET and KABC. And the Spanish stations also come in perfectly.
Reception of the Terk HDTV antenna when mounted above the TV
When the Terk HDTV antenna was sitting on top of our TV I was getting pretty upset. The reception sucked and we really only got half of the main channels coming in. In fact when the Lakers were playing in HD that first night, I could not stand the interrupted reception so I just switched to the DirecTV feed, which was not in HD. It sucked because I hurriedly hooked everything up just so we could watch the game in HD. By the way, the antenna was not in the attic for about another 4 days.
When messing with the Terk HDTV antenna I noticed that it was directional. The positioning helped a little, but not much. What I really needed was to elevate the Terk HDTV antenna.
I can’t recommend mounting it above the TV for two reasons. The first is that you get better reception from any HDTV antenna the higher you can mount it. So unless you have a vaulted ceiling, then I don’t recommend it.
The other reason is because the Terk HDTV antenna is ugly. It is just a log. Beauty is subjective of course. So someone that likes silver and black rods as decorations will disagree with me.
Reception of the Terk HDTV antenna when mounted in my attic
After I mounted the Terk HDTV antenna in the attic the reception was wonderful. We only have a one-story house so it only increased the height by about 10 feet. I am not sure if the height helps that much or if a hilltop just sneaks out of the way; but height was a contributing factor in either case. We got all our local digital station and analog stations crystal clear now, with the exception of UPN. The one show in high definition that I watch consistently (Enterprise) was unviewable. But the analog station was just fine as is the DirecTV feed.
What This Product Will Not Do.
-The Terk HDTV antenna will not make a non-HDTV broadcast convert to a HDTV signal.
-The Terk HDTV antenna will not turn a non-HDTV television into one that can receive HDTV signals.
-The Terk HDTV antenna will not receive transmissions that don’t exist or are blocked by a hill.
-The Terk HDTV antenna will not tell you which way the transmissions are coming from.
-The Terk HDTV antenna will not move on it’s own and I know of no solution for a moveable mount.
-The Terk HDTV antenna will not improve signal strength if it is mounted low to the ground.
Why I would recommend the Terk HDTV antenna.
I do not have great reception in my area and when I have a product that works then I get pretty excited. With a couple of exceptions, the signals it receives are great (but the signal strength is still not as high as my DirecTV signal.) The mounting options should cover any mounting need you may have including an RV and other temporary locations. The signal boost is easy to attach and it really does work, I just wish there was an industrial signal booster. The antenna is usable indoors, outdoors, and is apartment friendly (I can see this being installed outdoors without the manager noticing.)
The Terk HDTV antenna is a great solution for those that need an antenna and don’t want to mount a big aerial. It’s easy to install and the adapters that you get will cover any mount you need. I think it’s the ideal solution for apartments, RV’s, camping (?), or homes that aren’t allowed to have external antennas. It is not a perfect solution, but it is the best product out there (that I know of) for the previously listed situations. The only people I cannot recommend it to is those that can and want to install an aerial.
Screwdriver/drill (for pilot holes and screws).
Volt meter to test connection of wire if you run into problems
Warning: boring specs. From Terk's website, here for your convenience.
Dimensions: 46” W x 3.50” H x 2.25” D
Element Type: Helical, Coiled Broadband Single Element
Operational Bandwidth: 54 - 806 MHz
Amplifier Gain: 10dB (amplifier utilizes patented
Power Supply: 12V DC, 100Ma, UL listed
Output Gain: 75 ohms
Weather Resistent: Silicone Sealed
(1) Power injector
(2) Sill Mounting Brackets
(1) Mast Mounting Brackets
(1) Flat Coax Cable
End of boring stats.
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