I was just told by my TV's customer service that my TV had a tuner but no Antenna as a response to my question - Can I use my TV's inbuilt Antenna to pick up over the air channels?

I was wondering if someone can elaborate on what the differences between these are.

Thanks and please let me know if this is not the most appropriate forum to post it on; I can prob move it

  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing that can lead to idea that a TV may have in-built antenna is that some components if TV's internal circuitry do actually behave as a very bad internal antenna. In some cases, if the TV signal is strong enough, it's possible to actually watch TV without an antenna as a separate component. In my experience, the signal quality is usually horrible compared to a real antenna. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 20:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This question falls on the right side of the site scope. While it is about electronic devices, a clarification on terms is useful to others without that knowledge, just like questions asking what a resistor or relay are/how they work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


An antenna is an aerial. A wire structure which, to pick up TV signals, is typically mounted at the highest point in a house and connected by a coaxial cable.

A tuner is a circuit that selects a particular signal from all those received by the antenna. Typically this is by tuning to a specific frequency.

Some small portable TVs do have a small antenna as a part of them, the older ones would take the form of an external wire loop with or without telescopic elements. I'm not aware of TVs with completely internal aerials. Perhaps they exist but I imagine reception would be very poor.


An antenna picks up aerial waves. A tuner will extract waves in one narrow range of frequencies from the antenna and do something with it, like outputting it to a component in a VCR or older TV set.

I have been successful at using antennae for short-range (802.11 range) broadcasting as well, though, when I output a RF signal from a RF amplifier. An antenna is thus a passive device, where a tuner is an active one.

Due to the advent of fractal antennae, it may be possible to cram one inside a TV. after all, this is how cell phones pick up signals today without giant extendible antennae. Though if you live in the united states, analog TV is dead, so you may need to get a converter for digital television, if your TV wasn't made after something like february 9th, 2009.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Analog TV isn't dead. The majority of Analog Over the Air Broadcasting is. Some analog low power stations are still active until 2015. Analog TVs can still be used, purchased, produced and sold (with a label saying not DTV ready). And analog cable tv is still active in a significant amount of areas. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay. This is true. I have picked up one or two stations still broadcasting (mainly religious channels) over my portable TV. For all intents and purposes, it is dead, although I personally like it because I have some old computers with RF modulators, and it's good for getting some sound effects and when I'm experimenting with things (like feeding a rf signal into a VCR and back into the TV, creates a cool effect) but usage for broadcast is nearly gone, and will be gone in just about a year and a month. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyatt Ward
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 22:37

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