An RF antenna input is still used to this day, though it has since surpassed its prime. In this day and age where “high-definition” or “HD” reigns supreme, an RF antenna input is a relic of the past. At one point it was the pinnacle of what a video signal could output, but not anymore. Of course, it begs the question: what is an RF antenna input?

Well, believe it or not, you come in contact with one everyday – you just don’t realize it. And its existence provides all manner of legacy functions that are rarely used today, but it hasn’t disappeared yet.

Let’s take a look at what an RF antenna input is and what it does.

What Does an RF Antenna Input Look Like?

In the back of your TV you’ll see all kinds of ports. Most ports in the back are “female” ports. That means the ports themselves are designed to accept the various cables they’re associated with. However, an RF antenna input works differently. Instead, you’ll see a screw-like protrusion around the video inputs. It’s designed in such a way to accept coax cables.

The Function of an RF Antenna Input

Now, as far as functionality goes, an RF antenna input provides a video signal for the device that’s in use – primarily legacy devices such as VCRs, DVD players, satellite receivers, and a few old video game consoles. Not only does it create an image for you, it also provides audio.

How you use it is simple: take one end of a coax cable and screw it to your cable box or VCR, and the other end is then screwed into your TV. Do make sure it’s as tight as you can make it with your thumb and finger. This is due to cable and input being inherently unstable. Simply jostle the cable and you’ll see the image flicker.

Unfortunately, this form of video signal comes with limitations, and due to those limitations it goes largely unused.

The Usage and Limitations

The video and audio quality an RF antenna input provides, compared to today’s standards, is hilariously terrible. With the advent of HD, RF was tossed to the wayside. With that being said, most HDTVs still have an RF input simply for the sake of legacy devices. Chances are you have an old DVD player or gaming console that needs it. And, to be fair, it still gets plenty of use.

One of the glaring limitations is the lack of high-definition. RF simply can’t provide 720p, let alone 1080p or even 4K resolution; in fact, it can’t transmit in HD at all. On top of that, you can easily disrupt the signal by other devices giving off radio waves. Something as old as cosmic microwave background radiation, the echoes of the birth of the universe, is adding to some of the static you get when using RF. That’s a telling sign of its inability to be stable.

RF antenna inputs have nothing on HDMI, a far superior video signal.

Bottom Line

Aside from some old playback devices, RF antenna input is a dead technology or rather, nearly dead. It’s definitely needed when you fire up your old SNES, but if you’re looking to step into modern gaming, HDMI is the only option available.

It had its day to shine and perhaps one day it will be gone for good. Until then, it will stay on life support.