Answers. We have answers.
First, however, a reminder about recycling: While out driving recently I saw analog picture tube TVs sitting in a driveway with a sign that said "free." Trash collectors don't want old TVs, and most people desire flat-panel TVs that incorporate digital tuners.
An analog picture tube (CRT) TV is a lead mine of toxic elements, and it must be professionally recycled.
The next News-Gazette electronics recycling event is 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 12 at The News-Gazette Distribution Center, 3202 Apollo Drive, C. It will take almost anything electronic, including TVs.
Other free recycling alternatives include area electronics retailers.
Anyway, please don't leave toxic electronics at the curb.
A reader emailed the following question: "I want to buy and have someone install an over-the-air antenna. Is there a way for me to see what my reception would be like before purchasing? I am currently using the basic cable, $16 month, but I think I will get most of the same channels over the air. Can you recommend a qualified competent installer/sales person?"
It's easy to buy an indoor antenna, check the reception and return it if unsatisfactory. An outdoor antenna is much more difficult, since much of it involves the labor of mounting it and adjusting its direction. So you'll pay for the labor even if you return the antenna.
Another antenna-related reader question: "I was wondering if you could recommend a tabletop AM/FM radio that I could get reception from Gibson City WGCY 106.3-FM. In a previous article you stated to increase reception you needed an external antenna connected to a wire ran up by a window.
"I have been using a very old G.E. clock radio with the antenna in the cord. The reception was variable and only worked in one room. Starting this summer I have not been able to get the station. I live on Broadmoor Drive, two blocks behind Bottenfield Elementary School, and I get a lot of interference from other stations. Any suggestions would be helpful."
The trick is finding an FM radio with inputs for an external antenna. Most radios lack antenna jacks. At the least expensive end, the RCA Super Radio 3 (although it's spelled in a variety of ways) costs $50-$60 and can be found at Farm & Fleet in Urbana.
At the high end is the Bose Wave Radio III at $350, which includes an FM antenna input. With a good FM antenna, even rabbit ears, you should be able to receive a station from Gibson City in Champaign.
An amplified antenna might not provide a better signal than a normal passive antenna. The important quality is the gain of the antenna itself. So spending $60 for a super-duper amplified indoor antenna might not improve reception over a well-designed $25 standard antenna.
You will need a directional antenna that you can aim northwest toward Gibson City. The Super Radio comes with a standard external rod antenna, but it's not very directional.
We planned to print a rebuttal to our Aug. 15 column about cell phone providers, but it requires most of a column, so it will run next week. We always welcome your comments on this column.
Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.