I am new to Houston, and my husband and I bought a new HDTV two weeks ago. We want to get OTA programming since cable is really expensive for what we watch (at our old apartment, cable was included, and in a typical week, about the only cable we watched was an hour on the weekends; we mostly just watch a few sitcoms most weekday nights and Netflix, no sports). The only channels we care about are the main network channels plus PBS (so, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and PBS).
The problem is, it's looking impossible to get OTA. I began with an inexpensive rabbit ears-style antenna (RCA Basic Indoor Antenna). Initially, that got NBC, PBS (sometimes), and FOX, but not CBS or ABC. We watched one night of TV on NBC, but during the first minute of the last show, it began cutting out badly (it had been basically perfect previously), so we turned it off. Since then, we can barely get ANYTHING (usually channel 38 and sometimes 20 and others above channel 38), despite trying multiple positions (although we are limited now by a short-ish cord--maybe 3-4 feet?). So, I bought a fancy $75 antenna at an electronics store: it was a flat, multidirectional, amplified indoor antenna, and it was no better, so I returned it. The cord wasn't long enough for either of the antennas to be actually on the windowsill, but the positions pointing directly out the window didn't seem to be any better (about a foot away from the window, although also pretty low, since the only space was on top of the coffee table).
There are lots of things going against our set-up, I know: the only window in our living room (where the TV is) faces north, and so does our balcony. We are living in a second (top) floor apartment in zip code 77027 (about 13 miles northeast of the antenna farm), and Greenway Plaza is just a few blocks to the south of us, so that's probably in the way, too (the signals are pretty much all southwest of us).
So, my question is, is there anything better I can try without an outdoor antenna? Although some people have satellite dishes in my complex, they are pretty much all attached to balconies, not the roof, and I don't think an antenna would help in that case (since my balcony faces north and it would actually be attached at a lower point than the indoor antenna is located). I am in an end unit, so from one end of my balcony, I have about 5 feet to the corner; if I had an antenna that could stretch that far (or reach the corner), then it might get some signal to the south (but still, Greenway Plaza is in the way). I've seen a lot of people recommend the following antennas, but I'm not sure if any of these are likely to help in my situation:
Terk Technology HDTVi VHF/UHF HDTV Indoor Antenna
Terk HDTVa Indoor Amplified High-Definition Antenna
RCA ANT751R Outdoor Antenna
Winegard HD7696P Off-Air HDTV Antenna (rec. by hdtvantennalabs.com)
Any advice? Thanks!