Help a girl out? What should I buy?

Hi there! I have been researching cord cutting for a year or two now, and I just need to take the plunge. I’m tired of giving AT&T a small fortune every month.

My current setup is this:

I live in a trilevel townhome with an attic. The attic, supposedly, holds a brand new high gain antenna that can be installed in the attic and goes to an RF outlet in the master bedroom (where I do have an older model Vizio NOT smart TV but a Roku 3 working there just fine now), and an RF outlet on the first floor living room (I see the exposed plate) - where I have an older model NOT smartTV Samsung and 1st gen Apple TV running (yes, thinking I need to upgrade that).

Then in the basement, it appears as if I have cable coming in (also running up my unit’s exterior wall and coming into my master bedroom as well). My phone line also runs to that area. I have a 57" OLD ViZIO Smart TV where apps don’t work anymore, but the tv works fine. I also have a Roku streaming stick.

Currently, I have UVerse Internet and TV. I am getting Charter Spectrum Cable Internet Saturday, so I know the UVerse will go away.

My question is - what type of antenna do I purchase? I’m about 25 minutes away from downtown St. Louis. Is the theory here that I will not have to hook each TV up to an antenna because I’ll just be using the Tablo App to access OTA programming? If that is the case, looks like I’d just need the middle level TV to be hooked up because I cannot get the Tablo app on a 1st gen Apple TV.

I will be purchasing a Tablo and a HD, but I would like to NOT have each TV hooked up to three separate antennas…and then, too, what is the best placement for my router in order to make sure WIFI signal is accessible on all floors AND so that the Tablo will be easily accessible.

Once I get a recommendation on antennas, I can call a local service to install (as I don’t think I’m gonna go up there in the attic and fish wire) and I can hook the Tablo up myself, I do believe. I’ve hooked up the Rokus and Apple TVs and Chromecast (which I also have) and an Amazon FireTV stick on this little 15" tv in my guest bedroom, so I think I could manage that by myself.

I just need some help on what antenna to purchase and if I need to split the signal amongst the three tvs or not…

Thanks for the help!

Most people go to and/or to determine what if any channels they can receive and if they are in directions that can be easily picked up by one antenna.

It sounds like you have RF/coax in every room. It may already be connected to some form of amplified splitter. It may be able to be used directly from the antenna for OTA. The tablo needs to be connected to a router.

Most older sticks are too underpowered for tablo. Unless the tablo sits very close to the router and can use 5G it’s best to use direct connect. None cheapo power line adapters work just fine.

As Zippy already suggested &/or will show you the location of towers from your address. Since you are only 25 minutes from downtown St. Louis, I suspect you will find you have multiple towers within 15-40 miles from your location. Thus a good multi-directional antenna (like the one below) mounted in your attic should work well for you.

If you are purchasing a Tablo, I would suggest a new streaming device rather than running a cable to the TV with the 1st gen Apple (but that is just me).

As far as your wifi network goes. It all depends on how big your home is & how good your router is. I would think that if your streaming devices work fine on your wifi network now then Tablo should be fine on your network. I do suggest connecting Tablo directly to your router with an Ethernet cable.

If you’re going to the Clearstream route I would recommend the 4V model rather than the 2V. Yes it is more money but the Tablo has an internal 1x4 splitter so you want the best signal going to the Tablo to avoid any signal issues.

4V model at Amazon if you prefer them.

You are asking the right questions, and thinking about this in the right way. Unfortunately, no one is going to be able to give you definitive answers–RF is just too complex for that. There are some general concepts and/or guidelines to follow when you set this all up. I look at this in two basic categories: RF distribution (Antenna stuff) and Home Network (Ethernet and/or WiFi).

RF Distribution

  1. Generally speaking the bigger the antenna the better.
  2. Run a report to get an understanding of what channels are available and their relative bearing.
  3. Speaking of relative bearing you need to understand that antennas have an aperture–that is to say that they can be narrowly focused on a tight beam (this gives the greatest gain at the cost of losing channels that are off-bearing) or wide aperture/omni-directional (gives the chance to “see” the most towers at the cost of signal strength-gain).
  4. Most HDTV channels are UHF, but some are VHF. Know the difference and also know that VHF/UHF usually requires different antennas. If you need VHF for your area (tvfool report will tell you) then you should consider a hybrid uhf/vhf antenna or two separate antennas and a combiner.
  5. If you are going to amplify the signal, the closer to the antenna the better.
  6. From the antenna’s perspective, the tablo is just another tuner (or just another television if you prefer).
  7. The Tablo unit is not well suited to channel surfing because it takes about 15 seconds to switch channels. Many users like to watch live TV directly on their television’s tuner. Running the signal directly to the TV will give you a better live TV experience, in both channel surfing and picture quality.
  8. Splitting the signal to multiple locations costs in terms of signal strength. If your signal is weak then you may be better off to not split the signal (run only to Tablo) and then use your home’s Ethernet or WiFi network to distribute to the televisions. The trade-off is poor channel surfing and some loss of picture quality on Live TV.

Home Network

  1. In general wired is better than wireless.
  2. Plan on connecting the Tablo with wired Ethernet. In practice this means that your Tablo unit should be located near your cable modem’s router. You need to plan to have an antenna feed at that same location.
  3. You can also run an Ethernet cable from the cable modem to an Ethernet switch, and then connect your Tablo there. This works well, and is what I do, but it is also more costly, more complicated, and requires some degree if IT savvy.
  4. Consider running an Ethernet cable to your televisions or streaming devices. One option is to use powerline Ethernet adaptors. These devices use your existing power wiring to transfer Ethernet. They are usually much slower than “real” Ethernet, but sufficient for video streaming.
  5. If you must use wireless, get the best WiFi router you can afford, and locate it close to your televisions.
  6. Generally speaking, streamer boxes are better than streamer sticks. The best streaming device is a matter of preference. I have had good luck with Amazon FireTV devices, others like Roku, Apple, or Android.

As you can see, this whole deal is a game of choices and compromises. Plan on experimenting a bit to find the best option for you.

Good luck!

Antenna orientation can be critical. reports contain the compass directions. Borrow a compass from an old boyscout. If the channels are in varying directions I usually start by positioning half way between LOS signals based on signal strength.

VHF signals are both low-vhf(1-6) and hi-vhf(starting at 7). Low-vhf are the hardest to obtain.

Switches are easy to use and cheap($14-$25). I can’t be too hard to plug a cable from the output port to the router and plug input devices into one of up to 8 input ports.

Range extenders can be a good option if the brand is not to el-cheapo. But range extenders do double transmit the wifi signal. Wifi signal strength varies over the course of the day based on many factors: number of users, interference, etc.

ISP routers can have crappy wifi capabilities. If the ISP knows you aren’t buying some upgraded features they will give you the cheapest router they have.

When starting out use the default 720p. Then test all of you playback devices to determine if there any problems. If the dreaded LPW message appears or the spinning wheel of death, it could be poor WIFI signal or a underpowered stick or older player is involved.

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Lots of good advice from other users here. Finding the optimum antenna system is a touch and go situation at best due to the many variables.
If all your available channels are coming from the same direction look for a good medium range unidirectional (yagi) type). If not, go with one of the omnidirectional types suggested here. Best if you can find a local source for easy returns. Good luck.

Lots of great information in the replies. Unless I read your original post wrong, why don’t you hook up a tv to the RF cable in your master bedroom that is hooked up to your antenna already in the attic and see what channels you get. Compare the channels you receive to the channels that you should be getting according to and If you get most of them, you are 1/2 way there already.

If you are satisfied with the existing antenna in the attic’s performance, try to get the rf antenna’s signal to the middle of your house using your existing RF cable. Once you get the existing antenna’s signal to the middle of the house, set up your tablo and router there, with the tablo connected to the router via a short ethernet cable.

The other option would be to set up your tablo in the master bedroom at the attic antenna’s rf outlet and with a long ethernet cable connect the tablo to your router in the middle of the house.

You could also try setting up your tablo and the router in the master bedroom, if you have a good router, but your router generally should be in the middle of the house, in order to optimize coverage of the wifi signal throughout the house.

From what I’ve read in all the forums connecting your tablo to your router with ethernet cable (as opposed to wifi) is imperative.

If you are satisfied with the existing antenna in the attics’s performance and you can easily get a rf cable feed from the antenna to the middle of the house using your existing rf cable, you are pretty much done. Connect the tablo to the rf cable and then to your router using a short ethernet cable and you should be fine.

Thinking about this some more, since you have a tri-level house (I assume it is a split level, as opposed to a 2 story with a basement), the router placed in your master bedroom may be just fine. Routers’ performances are related directly to number of obstacles such as walls and floors. So if you place your router in your bedroom, you may have the same amount of obstacles between your upper level and your basement, as you do between your basement and the 1st floor. (if the upper level is directly above the basement, and the 1st level is not directly below the upper level) Again, this is assuming you have a split level. If you have a traditional 2 story with a basement, you will probably have to place your router on the middle level.