The 5 Best Indoor TV Antennas
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The latest Eclipse pulled in our target channels with high signal quality. Its tacky surface makes finding the right position easy, and an amplified option is available for tough locations. In my own hdtv signal options, I rely on antenna TV and streaming video services hdtv signal options all my viewing. Finding a good antenna is more than just an academic pursuit for me. Cable, satellite, and FiOS TV subscriptions can be expensive, but often we forget that broadcast TV which features some of the most popular programs is still free.
Anyone who wants a cheap and easy way to get HD programming from major and local networks should give an indoor TV antenna a try. TV antennas are perfect for people who are fed up with expensive cable TV subscriptions and get most of their viewing fix from online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Sling TV.
Depending on your metropolitan area, an antenna is also a good way to get free foreign language channels in both standard definition and high definition. We looked at models that can be placed in your window, on a wall, or behind your TV; those are generally designed for simple, unobtrusive setup.
So we narrowed our search to popular and well-reviewed models, because these are the models that most people are likely to encounter when searching online or in brick-and-mortar retailers.
Gone are the hdtv signal options of ugly rabbit ear antennas, and mostly gone are the days of oddly-shaped directional antennas. Most indoor antennas today—and most of hdtv signal options ones we looked at—are flat, a trend started with the original Mohu Leaf. Flat antennas are omnidirectional no aiming required in most caseseasy to hide, paintable, and inexpensive since they can be made very cheaply. We also felt an antenna should come with its own coax cable, which is made of a copper center conductor sometimes copper-clad aluminuminsulation, and an F-connector at the end that screws onto your antenna input.
Some resources will tell you that RG-6 cable is preferred over RGbut there was no discernible difference in our experience. Lastly, I decided to see how easy it would be to make my own flat antenna, so I wrapped some aluminum foil around a piece of cardboard, taped a bare wire from a coax cable hdtv signal options it, and connected it to my TV. The resulting Trashtenna patent pending performed surprisingly well, considering its modest origins.
But more on that later. We tested the antennas in two locations. The first was in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, a suburb north of Philadelphia. Most of the stations for this area are located in a cluster 15 to 16 miles southwest from the test hdtv signal options, though a few independent channels were 22 miles north, near Allentown. According to the website AntennaWeb. Most of the antennas in this roundup pulled in more than 40 channels, hdtv signal options the number of channels reached through a scan with the tuner would vary slightly from day to day.
The second test location was in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York within four miles of broadcast towers, though separated from them by tall buildings. The antennas were placed on the wall 10 inches from the ceiling and close to a window. We scanned for channels multiple times with each antenna.
We also tested how well the antennas responded to touching, movement, and obstructions by walking near the antennas and covering them. This tuner includes software that displays signal strength and quality on a scale of scale 1 to With the HD Hdtv signal options tuner in place and the signal meter running on a laptop, we scanned each antenna again and this time recorded the signal strength and quality of each of the target channels.
We considered signal strength and quality readings of 70 and above to indicate the best performing channels for a given antenna. The signal strength varied constantly on some antennas and on some channels more than others.
Widely fluctuating signals can be an indication of outside interference or could be caused by multipath—the phenomenon in which the original broadcast signal bounces off buildings or even the ground and then overlaps with repeated signals by the time it reaches your antenna. Often those overlaps create gaps in the signal, which is why the strength fluctuates. To ensure the results reflected a typical signal situation and not just some temporary interference anomaly, each channel was tested for more than a few minutes multiple times.
To evaluate real-world use, we also mounted each of the top antennas behind the TV and scanned them again with the HD HomeRun tuner and the signal meter. In the Pennsylvania test location, most of the antennas performed equally well some a little better when placed behind the TV, though hdtv signal options New York City, some antennas suffered slightly due to the placement.
I compared the Hatfield results with the New York City results, identifying the antennas that had the most target channels with signal strength measurements in the 80s and 90s, and I also considered the results of subjective tests with the TV. We also tallied hdtv signal options the total signal strength numbers hdtv signal options each antenna as another way to identify the best performers.
The 1byOne only had one channel with signal strength readings in the 60s or below the lowest we saw in our testing in Hatfield, while the Eclipse had two, though on a different testing day the 1byOne could not pull in PBS 12 at all it came in perfectly with hdtv signal options strength rating in the 70s on the second day. With the Eclipse, channel 69 reported a very low signal strength, but the picture still came in strong.
In New York, overall signal strength numbers were significantly higher owing to the close proximity of the broadcast towers with most antennas pulling in seven to nine channels with signal strength readings in the 90s. Many of the antennas tested claim hdtv signal options be rated for distances of 25 to 35 miles. In our tests, even the antenna that claimed the longest distance still had trouble with stations that were much closer.
If you live farther from broadcast towers than our pick is rated hdtv signal optionslook for an antenna with a stated range in excess of your needs. Our tests represent realistic expectations for most people—people who live less than 20 miles from their target channel broadcast towers. In our tests, the new mile-range Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse proved to be the best-performing antenna in multiple test locations.
Its design and extra features, alongside its overall strong performance, made it our pick. The Eclipse takes the Leaf flat-antenna concept in a hdtv signal options different direction by eliminating much of the plastic casing. A foot removable cord is also included. The design is interesting because basic loop antennas have been around for years—the design is excellent at pulling in broadcast signals, especially in the UHF band, which covers most digital stations. While the original Eclipse came with a tacky Sure Grip surface hdtv signal options one side, the new Eclipse allows you to adhere the Sure Grip tape to either side.
This lets you remove the Eclipse from the wall peel slowly so you can reattach it in a new location. If tree leaves block your signal certain times of the year, this feature will allow you to move your antenna seasonally to maximize reception.
The amped version costs a little more, and in our tests the unamped antenna worked well enough that we suggest you try that model first. In New York City, without the amplifier, the original Eclipse pulled in nearly all As; every target channel hdtv signal options signal-strength numbers in the 90s or with the exception of ION, which still scored a 76—more than enough for a good picture.
Once we plugged in the amplifier, those scores jumped to with equally strong signal-quality numbers. On the Philly-area TV test, without the amplifier the Eclipse pulled in 50 channels the larger Antennas Direct ClearStream V2 got the highest number of any antenna with 51 and did a good job with all the target channels, including CW. When placed behind the TV, it pulled in those seven channels with scores of 80 and above. When we added the amp in the Pennsylvania tests, most of the strength scores shot up tothough the signal-quality numbers bounced around a bit, suggesting that the tuner was getting confused by too much signal.
In hdtv signal options case, the amp worked well on some channels and not on others, leading us to prefer the antenna without the amp. Should you buy the amped or nonamped version? We suggest you try the nonamped version first, especially hdtv signal options you are within 15 miles of the broadcast towers. You can purchase the matching amp separately. Among the flat antennas, the Antennas Direct is the least flat. The point where the cable meets the antenna called the balun is about a half-inch thick.
The coax cable coming out of the antenna is thin, so if you run it over with the vacuum cleaner, it could get easily damaged. The Flatenna is basic, with the antenna wire embedded in thin plastic.
Another knock against it is hdtv signal options short, nonremovable cord. In our initial tests in Pennsylvania, the Channel Master pulled in 49 channels. All hdtv signal options target channels came in, even the distant channel 69, but NBC had some slight breakup though not enough to make it unwatchable. In New York, the Flatenna pulled in nine channels with strength scores of 90 or above and no channel under While the other antennas we tested varied in performance a little in our two testing locations, owing to differences in the local broadcast environment and necessities of placement, the Channel Master Flatenna, 1byOne, and the Mohu Leaf did very well in both places.
This was a surprise standout in our tests. Honestly, hdtv signal options feels cheap, too, so that may be an issue if you expect to reposition it often or otherwise need your antenna to take a lot of abuse. Hdtv signal options the Pennsylvania location this was one of hdtv signal options strongest antennas, pulling in eight of the target channels with signal strengths of 70 and up.
The only target channel that it did poorly with was channel 69, the Allentown independent channel located 22 miles away. This channel only registered signal strength scores in the 40s and low 50s; it was basically unwatchable. Hdtv signal options, all those numbers were good enough to lock onto the stations, and all were watchable in subjective testing.
The Leaf is the antenna that put flat antennas on the map. The made-in-USA Leaf is clearly better constructed than any of the knockoff flat antennas. The two sheets of plastic one side black, one side white that cover the antenna elements are much heavier than most and resist bending and creasing better than antennas like the Channel Master and 1byOne. Unlike the others above, the Leaf includes a sturdy, removable RG-6 foot cable and push pins for mounting.
The pins fit into hdtv signal options holes at the top of the hdtv signal options. It can also be mounted with double-sided tape just expect to tear paint off the walls when removing it. The Leaf antenna did much better another day when connected to the HD HomeRun, pulling in six channels at 70 signal strength and higher, but only two scored in the highest range.
When placed behind the TV which happens to be where I use mineperformance improved, getting seven of the target channels in at 70 points or higher and five of those 75 or higher. In New York, the Leaf pulled in seven channels in the 90s or above, but no channel scored below 83 in signal strength. The mini is a newer, smaller cousin of the HD Frequency Cable Cutter antenna we recommended in the earlier version of this guide. That antenna is still a good performer, but in our tests the Mini performed better, hdtv signal options its size makes it significantly more indoor friendly; it has also been well-reviewed by other sites.
Like the Mohu Leaf, this antenna comes with a removable RG-6 cable. The foot cable is longer than provided by the Leaf. It also ships with a 3D adhesive tab for mounting to a wall.
Be warned, though—we pulled paint hdtv signal options drywall backing off the wall when trying to remove that tab. In New York, the Cord Cutter outperformed most of the rest of the antennas by scoring all ten target channels with strength readings of 90 and hdtv signal options.
We tried two different 1byOne antennas, and the one we liked best depended on the location. The round one, noted above, worked much better in the Pennsylvania tests, while the square one worked better in New York with the exception of MNT. In Pennsylvania, the square version did poorly on four of our target channels.
The foot cable is attached. The antenna comes with double-sided tape for wall placement.