Antennas are crucial components in radio and television broadcasts because they convert electric energy into radio waves. This capturing property is what enables broadcasters to stream programs into subscribers' homes.
Antennas are differentiated based on wavelengths and whether they can receive electromagnetic signals from one or more directions (directional and omni-directional). Those meant for radios cannot be used on TVs and vice versa.
Radio antennas are primarily used in cars as television has slowly replaced radios. Those unable to afford TVs or receive signals make up a chunk of the buyer base.
• Car radios: Car radio antennas are typically omni-directional (able to receive signals from multiple locations). They don't transmit signals, however. Antennas are not large in keeping with the overall aesthetics and size of vehicles.
• CB radios: Citizens' Band radio or CB radio allows short distance communication between users. Using low frequency wavelengths, range extends to about a maximum of 1,000 feet and the antennas themselves are very long, as much as 10 feet in height.
CB radios are generally used between vehicles as broadcast takes place between the two.
• Satellite radios: Satellite radios work differently than car and CB radios. They're directional (one direction), the antennas point towards the satellite's location and don't have to be mounted outside a vehicle. Reception quality can be terrific and the range of channels included in a subscription package is very vast. However, atmospheric issues like bad weather can destroy signals.
• Two-way radios: Two-way radios function like CB radios but are much smaller and don't have to be mounted. Commonly called walkie-talkies, they allow verbal communication between users and are considered to have more privacy. This isn't necessarily the case, however.
Television antennas also come in a range of types and are especially useful for consumers living in rural locations where quality reception cannot otherwise be had.
• Outdoor antennas: Outdoor antennas are designed to be more robust than indoor models. They pick up signals from farther away. Due to their large size, installation is usually done by a professional. An example of outdoor antennas is the ones we usually mount outside our houses.
• Indoor antennas: Indoor antennas are small and compact. They're plugged into televisions and mounted atop TVs and shelves. These antennas work best in urban and suburban houses where signals are clear. Rural inhabitants do better with outdoor ones as signal strength is weaker.
• Digital high definition: High definition quality is what most of us prefer today and in order to make sure televisions broadcast flawless picture quality, it's necessary to install a digital HD antenna.
HD broadcasts can't be picked up by ordinary UHF and VHF antennas though digital HD antennas can still receive standard signals. This feature makes them a preferred choice in many houses as consumers get the best of both worlds.
• Amplified antennas: Amplified antennas are used when signal strength is weak. Sometimes they're the only option for consumers unable to use standard and satellite antennas. There are different amplified models for different antennas.
• Satellite dish: A satellite dish works the same way a satellite radio does: it picks up signals from a satellite. Most satellite TV dishes have to be mounted outdoors as they need a clear, unobstructed path to a satellite.