Channel Master just unveiled an $89 “smart” antenna, featuring “seven different reception patterns.” And I had the same question as you – what does that even mean? So I rang up VP Joe Bingochea to get some answers.
It turns out the company has partnered with Ethertronics to integrate a variant of their “active steering” technology, also implemented within Samsung handsets for years and years. The amplified SMARTenna+ incorporates a tuner and some digital circuitry that will automatically scan the airwaves at first power up and then polarize the antenna elements for max receptivity – in this case, they’re going with the highest channel count as the preferred “pattern” (and presumably, in case of tie, higher quality signals would prevail). However, Channel Master recognizes your favorite channel may be an outlier, so the button on the bottom of the antenna manually steps through those patterns, should one need to fine-tune… in the literal sense. As an analogy, Joe reminded me of those old, powered rabbit ears that sported a dial.
Of course, the pinnacle of this technology would be a bundled antenna and set-top to match optimal “pattern” with currently tuned channel on the fly – something it turns out Sezmi had actually implemented back in the day and something Channel Master may look to in the future.
After watching the video, another question I had: Given that single coaxial connection, how does it receive power? It turns out Channel Master filed a few coax-related patents, including a push button connection. But beyond that, both data and power flow over “mini” coax and are split at the power adapter (as shown below).
Channel Master is currently accepting pre-orders and intends to begin shipping the SMARTenna+ in March.