Back in the day, you couldn’t get a respectable signal without a wiry TV antenna or giant satellite sticking out of your roof. And even then, you may not be guaranteed a perfect signal day-in and day-out, especially if it started raining or snowing.
When 4K was introduced to the public, people’s expectations for their TV’s resolution increased. Grainy, streaky images were a thing of the past. Today, everyone wants the clearest image possible all the time.
But can you get 4K resolution with a TV antenna? Here’s everything you need to know.
Can You Watch 4K with a TV Antenna?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to watch 4K with a TV antenna.
There are a lot of promising commercials out there that insist their antenna is different. They say their product can transmit and broadcast 4K signals with ease so there’s no need to transfer over to internet streaming services that connect to the wifi.
However, all of these commercials are not entirely truthful. Playing any content in 4K with an over-the-air (OTA) signal is near impossible. That doesn’t mean that you’re destined to only way low-resolution content, it’s just not going to be Ultra-HD.
It’s also important to consider what channels your TV antenna provider broadcasts. We like to imagine that giant news corporations broadcast in 4K because they have a lot of money and it’s the most desirable resolution right now. But the reality is that most large TV channels don’t broadcast in 4K. It’s expensive and for the most part, unnecessary.
If over-the-air signals can’t transmit 4K video, why should they go to the trouble to broadcast it? Fifteen years ago, broadcasting channels spent a small fortune upgrading their technology to HD. The investment paid off. Today, there is little evidence to show that enough people are interested in 4K or are watching TV from 4K-compatible TVs.
Broadcasts are currently more concerned about other upgrades like emergency alerts, so the upgrade to Ultra HD will have to wait.
Do You Need a 4K Antenna for a 4K TV?
No, there is no such thing as a 4K antenna!
Commercials and companies want to convince you that their antenna is different and will finally provide you with the crisp 4K image you’ve been craving. Unfortunately, this is not possible.
If you have a 4K TV and are using an antenna, keep in mind that you will never enjoy 4K content provided through your antenna. A 4K TV can only display resolutions transmitted to it, and no antenna is compatible with that high level of video clarity.
So how can you watch 4K TV? The best way to do so is to go through a paid TV provider like Comcast.
If you’re looking for a simple and affordable way to watch 4K content, signing up for one (or multiple) streaming services is the best way to go. Although, there are a couple of downsides to this.
To start, you will need a stable internet connection. For some, an antenna is a great way to watch TV without dealing with internet providers. The shows and movies provided on streaming services also change regularly, although most people can still regularly find something enjoyable to watch.
Is There a 4K Digital Antenna?
If you’re going to go for an antenna, choosing a digital one may be the right option. The signal is uncompressed and there are usually more channels available to enjoy.
However, digital antennas aren’t for everyone. If you don’t live close to a broadcast tower, the signal may be unstable and choppy– particularly if you’re using an indoor digital antenna. You may need to move it around the room or up the wall to improve the signal. On a more positive note, it is easier to install.
There are a lot of digital antennas on the market and most of them look quite modern, but when you read the names of the products and their descriptions, you’ll notice they only say “HDTV”.
High definition is not the same as 4K. With that in mind, you’ll quickly find that there are no 4K digital antennas available. That’s not to say that there aren’t companies advertising their digital antennas as 4K– they just aren’t being honest about their products’ capabilities.
Will TV Stations Broadcast in 4K?
We may be able to start enjoying 4K broadcasts in the next five years or so.
People are optimistic about when stations will begin to broadcast in 4K. Nowadays, practically every television being sold is 4K. It’s becoming the new standard, and people (specifically younger people) are developing higher standards regarding what resolution they watch their content in.
With that being said, only about 31% of Americans use 4K UHDTV products. Older generations probably aren’t as concerned about 4K broadcasts, and since they watch more traditional TV, broadcasters see no reason to rush into updating their equipment and broadcasting practices.
We are also waiting for ATSC 3.0 to launch and popularize. ATSC 3.0 “enables 4K HDR viewing, DTS-X, and Dolby Atmos experience. Slowly, TV manufacturers are incorporating ATSC 3.0 tuners into products. This development will make broadcasting in 4K easier and readily available.
It’s not going to happen overnight, though. So don’t throw out your old antenna or TV set just yet.
Wrapping Things Up
As of today, watching 4K content with a TV antenna is not possible. Lots of customers are left confused and disappointed by this revelation because antenna providers do a fantastic job at hinting at and promising 4K broadcasts when they know very well they can’t deliver.
If you’re desperate to watch 4K content, signing up for a streaming service is your best bet. It’s simple and affordable, unlike trying to deal with a wiry antenna stuck on your roof or moving a digital antenna around a room.
You can also try paid TV providers. Just be sure to do your research as some are more reliable than others, especially when it comes to weather-related interruptions.
Luckily, we’re moving in the direction of progress. Sooner or later, we should be able to enjoy 4K broadcasts. There’s even talk of these broadcasts being free, which means getting important information like the news in 4K will be easier than ever.
Have you struggled with getting clear broadcasts with a TV antenna? Are you looking forward to 4K broadcasts? Let us know in the comments below!
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.