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Cable Amp FAQ


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How does my Cable Service work?
One of the more common means of receiving TV signals on your TV set today is Cable TV. Cable TV allows reception of many more channels than can be received by conventional broadcast TV. The video signal is fed from the cable TV company through a distribution network, and finally through a coaxial cable (typically RG6 - 75 ohm cable) to your home. This cable is about 1/4" in diameter, consisting of a center conductor (this carries the signal) and an outer shield (this shields the signal from any outside interference) separated by an inner insulator.  The cable is connected to the TV set, VCR or cable TV box (necessary if you want to receive premium, pay channels) by screw-on or push-on "F" connectors. The cable company must connect you to the service (for a monthly fee) and then the signal can be routed throughout your home over additional cables. The signal can be split to different rooms of the home using TV splitters (coaxial cable cannot be spliced together like telephone or speaker wire). Since long cable runs and multiple splitters can produce substantial signal loss (and therefore degrade the picture quality), signal amplification may be necessary in those cases. 

How do I get the best Cable TV signal and good Cable Modem service? 
The best strategy for keeping a good strong signal is to keep the splitters to a minimum. When that can't be done, then an amplifier is your best bet. But even when using an amplifier you need to be very aware of where your cable modem is installed - if you have one. Usually the cable company will install a splitter very close to where the cable comes into the home, and run one connection to the cable modem, and the other connection to the TVs in the rest of the house. Depending on how well your cable modem works, you may need an amplifier for the cable modem AND the TVs, or you may need it just for the TVs.  The basic idea here is that if your cable modem works well, then you do NOT need an amplifier for it. You will be best off by amplifying only the signal going to the TVs/VCRs/Cable boxes in the rest of your house.

What is a Cable Amplifier? Why do I need one?
Simply put, a cable amplifier is a box that boosts your antenna or cable TV signals. When your cable signal comes into the house, it is generally strong enough to provide a good signal to two or three televisions. However most homes have many more than three TVs - and that doesn't even include all of the TV accessories! Cable TV boxes, VCRs, TiVo, ReplayTV - all of these boxes require a good strong signal to provide you with a good picture.  When your cable comes into your house, it starts getting split into different directions. It is these splits that cause your cable signal to suffer. Every time your cable signal is split, the signal gets weaker - causing graininess and in severe cases, SNOW. I had these same problems in my own home before I went on a search for a good product to give me strong, clear reception. Like other people, I had several TVs in my home, and in some rooms I had a TV, VCR, and a cable box. In order to feed a signal to those three devices, I had to connect a three-way splitter to the cable coming out of the wall. I didn't think twice about all those splitters in my house until I started having problems. My TV picture started getting "grainy", and when I recorded TV programs on my VCR, the picture would be blotchy and lack good clarity. I realized I was not getting a strong enough signal at my TV and VCR to give me a good clear picture.

What is a Drop Amp (Drop Amplifier)?
In Cable company terms, each customer has a cable running from a utility pole or pedestal to their home. The "pedestal" is a cable company distribution box - where they hook up a whole bunch of homes to one place. It is generally where you see the cable guys working a lot. The cable company refers to the connection from their "box" to your home as a cable "drop". Years ago when the signal was too low at a customer's house, the cable company used to go out and install a "drop amplifier" pretty much for free, just inside the customer's house. Nowadays, Drop Amplifiers are available from the cable company to compensate for weak signals or multiple TVs, but they charge you a premium for them, and generally don't give you a choice of models (1,2,4, or 8-port models).  So the term "Drop Amplifier" is a cable company term. 

Why Viewsonics?
Just like other products, cable amplifiers come a variety of flavors.  Cheaper models typically sold to consumers through electronic stores often do nothing more than take money out of your pocket. Many times they will actually CAUSE problems such as ghosts and other strange interference because of their cheap design and construction. Viewsonics amplifiers are high quality professional grade models that demonstrate that "you get what you pay for". Viewsonics cable TV amplifiers cost more than the typical electronics store "cheapies", but they are well worth it. Why are they better? Quality amplifiers are made totally differently than the 'cheapies'. They use high quality components and a sealed PC board (PCB) design.

What is a Splitter?
Coaxial cable cannot be spliced together like telephone or speaker wire. Therefore in order to 'connect' the two or more coaxial cables together a splitter is required. Splitters allow multiple coaxial cables  to be connected together.  Splitters range from 2 way (one cable in and two out) to 8 way (one cable in and eight out) to suit various needs. Whenever a splitter is used, it degrades the signal.

Why shouldn't I buy a similar amplifier from a retail store? They are much cheaper!
Yes, they are CHEAPER. Although they will not provide similar functionality, many of them are made using cheaper components and manufacturing facilities. The result is that these amplifiers cannot provide the CLEAN, STRONG signal that Viewsonics Amps provide. Why settle for less? Other amplifier manufacturers also provide little or NO WARRANTY. Why spend $30-35 on a lower quality amplifier, made of cheap components, with NO WARRANTY? Spend a few bucks more and get peace of mind. 

I have a bunch of TVs and a cable modem. Do I need to buy more than one amplifier?
Generally, NO. There are specific circumstances where you may need to purchase multiple amplifiers. Most homes do not need more than one amplifier to fix cable reception problems. In the rare situation where you think you may need more than one amplifier, please ask for help before purchasing. In general it is better to err on the side of LESS amplification than more amplification.

I need to mount the amplifier outside. Is it safe to do this?
According to the manufacturer, the amplifiers can be mounted indoors or outdoors. When mounted outdoors, the connections need to be protected so that moisture is kept out. This will insure proper operation of the amplifier for many years. Any time the amplifier is mounted outdoors it should be properly grounded. The amplifier comes with instructions for grounding. Check with your municipality to determine the proper regulations regarding grounding.

I need to mount the amplifier in the attic. Can it take the heat?
Yes. The manufacturer states that the amplifier can run within -40 to +60 degrees Celsius (-40 to +140 degrees Fahrenheit). This means that it can take most attic temperatures.

How Do I Choose The Right Amplifier?
Choosing the correct amplifier for your situation is based upon your needs and specific problems you are trying to address and correct.  Choose one of the following statements that best describes your situation for guidance as to which product is best to resolve your issues:

I have a Cable Modem in my house that works just fine, however, I could use a product that will clear up my Cable Television reception and/or boost the signal.

I have a Cable Modem in my house, however, it is slow, often unreliable and/or frequently looses sinc.

I do not have a Cable Modem, however, I wish to clear up my Cable Television reception and/or boost the signal.

I do not have a Cable Modem, however, I wish to clear up my Cable Television reception and/or boost the signal, and I have the need to run a cable that is over 150 feet long

I do not have Cable, only an outdoor antenna

I purchased an Amplifier and its not working as expected.  Is there some basic troubleshooting information I can use to make sure I have it hooked up correctly?
Yes. These amplifiers are top of the line cable equipment, and should definitely enhance your picture. Although the hookup is fairly straightforward, there are a few simple steps to make sure that it is done correctly.  Please visit our Basic Troubleshooting Section which can assist you in diagnosing the problem.

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We hope the information provided here on our site helps you to make a more educated decision about your cable amplifier purchase. We are fair and honest sellers of Cable TV Amps and accessories. That is all we sell, and we know our stuff!

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