The fuzz-free TV antenna
Few people know they can get extra-sharp digital broadcast television signals with an old-fashioned antenna, on which millions of American homes still depend for free TV. All that's required is an external box called a digital tuner (starting at about $150) that decodes the new signals simulcast now by most stations, and it's easy to connect. The digital signals arrive crystal clear, with no fuzzy or ghosted images. Beginning next spring, the digital tuners will be built into most new sets as Congress pushes us toward all-digital TV. Already, RCA sells a 27-inch standard model TV with a built-in digital tuner for about $300.
The digital broadcasts aren't as sharp as luxurious HDTV, but they do offer a DVD-caliber picture. And there's another bonus: Local stations can broadcast several digital channels. My local PBS station has three, including one with all-day kids programming that, by the way, isn't available on cable or satellite.
This story appears in the December 26, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.