A couple weeks ago, a co-wroker told me he could get OTA from Denver and get a number of channels. I know with analog, trying to get signals, where I live, was next to impossible. So, I bouught one of those powered flat antennas, and it could easily pull in 38 main and sub-channles. Including channels like MeTV, AntennaTV and the like. I thought, how cool it would be to integrate my antenna with an AM21.
So, I purchased an AM21, hooked it up and discovered the following:
1. With an HR34, it will scan for channels. which is not bad, when you think about it.
2. The AM21 uses a database,, which is no longer maintained by DirecTV, thus you do not get newer subchannels if they beocme available.
3. The AM21 could only pull in half the channels, it did find in the database, than my Sony Bravia could do with its own tuner.
4. It has a very bright blue light that stays on all the time and the unit does not turn off when you turn off the receiver.
So, I thought, for the missing channels in the database, I would just add them; feature does not exist with the AM21. Because of this limitation, I could not get AntennaTV and GetTV, among others. In these two caes I would only get the primary channel, not the subchannels, because the subchannels were never put in the database. Some users, have resorted to adding an out of market city, with the missing PSIPs, to try to get the missing channels; milage will vary if this works or not. I did try Houston, but it did not work.
So, Instaad of 38 channels, I was left with somewhere around 19 or 20. I tried several thinsg with the antenna to no avail. And most of those channels I get with DirecTV anyway. So, I thought, well my master bedroom, is 2 1/2 stories up and has a clear line of sight to broadcast towers in Denver and Longmont; surely it would work better. I have an HR25. So, it does not scan, it just loads in channels from Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder. Same good powerful anteanna, but again, it could only pick up 19 or 20 channels out of the 38 available. My upstairs TV does not have a tuner, but its antenna has a better line of sight than my living room TV does.
So, I returned the AM21 to Amazon. I decided that a simple switch, on my TV remote, will allow me to go between OTA and DiecTV. For teh upstairs, for less than the price of an AM21, I bought a tuner, with the capabiity of a DVR, if I want it.
The AM21 seems like a first generation OTA tuner. Maybe I am being too kind, the tuners made available, for free by the FCC, were actually better. My TV is circa 2006, and there are tuners now which perform even better.
So, anyone consireing buying the AM21, should be aware that it has a number of limitations. Some I mention here and some I saw mentioned on various blogs.
I know DirecTV is in the pay TV business and wants their customers to watch their content. The AM21 certainly woudl discourage people from even attempting OTA.
So, if you want OTA, I would buy one of those OTA tuners, with DVR capbility, and add it to a spare HDMI slot on your TV. While not ideal, it is more modern than the AM21.