Quick test report with the Winegard FV-HD30
I gave my son a FV-HD30 for Christmas and we installed it in his fourth floor apartment over the holidays. He lives 10 miles away from the towers which are located on top of a nearby mountain. I compared the FV-HD30 versus two rabbit ear/loop indoor antennas (RCA-111 and Radio Shack 1874) using the margin to dropout method. Higher margins are better and a minimum margin of 15 dB or higher is desirable. All three antennas were mounted in the same location.
Test results are shown in the attached graph. All three antennas had acceptable margins to dropout for the channels of interest. However, the FV-HD30 clearly beat the two indoor antennas on both VHF and UHF reception. Is it really 10 dB better than the loop/rabbitear antennas? It was in this test but given the vagaries of indoor antenna installations, YMMV and likely will vary.
Given the positive results, we added a splitter and ran cable to a second tv up in the bedroom loft. Margin to dropout decreased by 4 dB (tv 1) to 6 dB (tv 2) after adding the two way splitter and extra cable run. Signal strengths on the main tv (new Samsung LCD) were 100% for all stations except ch 39 which was 80%. The second tv has a zenith converter box and all stations were ~85 to 90% on it (shows a SS bar only, but no numeric value).
My son and I were very pleased with the positive test results and easy installation! IMO, the FV-HD30 is a viable competitor in the indoor antenna market. It is more expensive than the rabbitear/loop antennas but had superior performance and a smaller form factor than the two indoor loop antennas. Plus, it can be mounted on the wall and painted, if desired.
During the Boise test, I also compared the FV-HD30 to a reflectorless mclapp 2 bay antenna. The mclapp is a DIY antenna with 10 inch whiskers, 9-1/2 inch bay spacing, and 1-3/4" phase line spacing. It costs less than $5 to build. Results are shown in the attached graph. The FV-HD30 had slightly better high VHF performance than the mclapp while the mclapp tended to have higher performance on UHF. These results are consistent with a comparison in my home town, using the same two antennas. Adding a reflector to the mclapp increases UHF reception by ~3 dB but reduces VHF reception by 9 dB. The DIY mclapp 2-bay is a viable option for the cost conscious buyer. It (mclapp 2-bay) is very spartan in appearance and would be more appealing in situations where it can be hidden (near an outside wall) rather than mounted on the wall in plain sight. All tests were conducted indoors. Results may have varied with outdoor testing.