HD-BLADE Generation 1 vs. Generation 2: Is newer better?

Our top-rated HD-BLADE is back for 2014 and better than ever! We’ve added a new Clear version as well as a slimmed down model, and we didn’t stop there. It’s all about the accessories for this year, and that includes the HD-BLADE Stand and our new HDX amplifier at an industry-leading price. The question is, how do these antennas perform? We’ve lowered the price on most models, but do they still bring the goods?

The clear HD-BLADE does a better job of fitting in with most walls, and can be mounted on a window without losing light. The original black version is also still available.

For this year, we’ve introduced the HD-BLADE Slim, (also available in black) which was designed to give nearly the same performance as the full-size antenna in an even smaller package.

The HDX amplifier helps with distributing the signal to multiple TVs or getting fringe signals. We’ve engineered it ti be more affordable than any other amplifier with its power level.

Testing parameters

In theory, the parameters shouldn’t matter as long as they are consistent but we’ll publish them here so you know that we were trying to be as scientific as possible.

All testing was conducted at our West Coast Operations Center outside of Los Angeles, California. Testing was conducted indoors with both antennas vertical at a height of one meter from the floor and pointing exactly toward Mt. Wilson where most LA area broadcast signals originate.

The test instrument was a Solid Signal DIGIAIR-PRO ATSC meter set to measure digital signals. With a 75 ohm terminator, the instrument measured 31.3dBμV (displayed on the instrument as dBuV) corresponding to -77.45dBm. This represents its lowest observable signal level.

The cable used for testing was a Solid Signal custom 3 foot RG6 cable with solid copper center conductor. It had previously been tested for continuity and signal and is believed to be representative of a typical well-made cable. The same cable was used for all testing.

The TV used for ATSC channel scans was the Insignia NS19E310A13.

The antennas tested were:
Solid Signal HD-BLADE Indoor Digital Flat Clear Indoor TV Antenna (HDBLADE100C)
Solid Signal HD-BLADE SLIM Clear Flat Indoor HDTV Antenna (HDBLADE100VC)
and the original HD-BLADE.

In addition, we tested the Clear HD-BLADE with and without Solid Signal HDXAMP100 Digital TV Antenna 20dB Amplifier (HDXAMP100) to determine the amount of amplification provided by the amplifier. The manufacturer provided data telling us that there is less than 1dB insertion loss, and gain data is shown including insertion loss.

All testing took place during the same one-hour interval with sunny skies and no noticeable obstructions, at a distance of roughly 90km from Mt. Wilson, at an elevation of approximately 450m above sea level.

All three antennas were placed in the same position and a regular ATSC channel scan was run. Only digital channels were scanned. Channel number totals include subchannels.

Generation 1 HD-BLADE: 68 Digital Channels

Generation 2 HD-BLADE: 71 Digital Channels

HD-BLADE Slim: 61 Digital Channels

Tests on including the amplifier were inconclusive and did not change the number of scanned channels. The conclusion we drew is that none of the channels we scanned for were in that marginal range where an amplifier was necessary, and since there was only one TV and a short cable, there was no need to compensate for loss due to distance.

Signal Meter test results

All observed measurements have been converted to dBm to correspond with TVFool.com’s benchmark readings for those frequencies. With the exception of the bare wire measurements, any frequency measurements that were close to the meter’s lowest observable level of -78.5dBm were discarded.

The data showed consistent improvement in most frequencies, and the HD-BLADE Slim showed gain that exceeded the original HD-BLADE in many frequencies. None of the antennas were particularly powerful in the 580-600MHz band.

Frequency (MHz) HD-BLADE (Gen1) HD-BLADE (Gen2) HD-BLADE Slim
177 -61.95 -54.35 -54.25
189 -62.35 -60.15 -59.25
213 -59.85 -62.55 -60.05
533 -57.95 -61.25 -59.15
557 -70.55 -63.65 -63.95
563 -65.85 -58.45 -60.65
575 -59.95 -57.95 -64.65
581 -64.65 -62.15 -64.55
587 -69.15 -67.65 -62.45
593 -70.35 -72.65 -68.35
599 -72.25 -66.15 -69.75
605 -60.05 -65.25 -59.65
623 -63.65 -62.35 -64.15
641 -67.05 -60.65 -66.55
647 -62.95 -63.55 -63.15
671 -65.35 -66.65 -62.65
677 -60.85 -58.35 -61.85
683 -67.25 -63.25 -65.45

Signal Meter test results (amplifier)

Measurements were taken by first taking a new signal strength measurement and then disconnecting the meter from the antenna then attaching the amplifier inline and measuring again. The amplifier was powered by a standard USB power adapter. Power readings are net of insertion loss.

Overall this amplifier performed well, delivering 15dB or more and in one range exceeding 25dB. The test bench was not set up to calculate signal to noise ratio so we will have to rely on manufacturer data which suggests a noise figure under 3dB throughout the spectrum.

Frequency (MHz) Amplification (dB)
177 18.5
189 22.2
213 24.3
533 18.3
557 21.7
563 23.6
575 22.3
581 19.1
587 15.3
593 15.3
599 25.2
605 20.1
623 22.2
641 21.4
647 19.2
671 14.1
677 20.3
683 21.8

Antennas are an art, not a science, but we did our best to apply good, consistent scientific methods when testing our new antennas. All-new measurements were used, which led to some slight inconsistencies from previous measurements of the same exact antenna. However, this meant there was a truly level playing field.

We are proud to say that our new antennas consistently outperform the generation 1 model and do so at a price point roughly 33% lower than last year’s models. In addition, these antennas were designed from the ground up as Solid Signal models, using the latest reference designs and then extensively modifying the balun design to offer better performance.

Advantage: Generation 2 HD-BLADES

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.