We assembled an extensive list of indoor antennas that had been introduced since our last major update of this guide in 2019, and we also consulted manufacturers to see which new models they thought we should test. Then we focused on antennas that met most of the following criteria:
To find out whether you need to worry about VHF reception, visit the RabbitEars Signal Search Map and enter your zip code to see which stations in your area are broadcasting on which channels. The map also shows where the broadcast antennas are relative to your location.
For antennas that incorporated a signal-level meter, I first tested them in the same aesthetically convenient positions I used for the other antennas, after which I tried using their signal-level meters to see if that would help me find a better antenna position that would pull in more channels.
As mentioned above, we put more emphasis on VHF reception in our latest round of tests, as the longer wavelengths of those frequencies are difficult for small antennas to receive. For example, optimum reception of the lowest TV-signal frequency, channel 2, demands a 4.25-foot-wide antenna. The lowest active TV channel in Los Angeles is channel 4 (which TVs pick up as virtual channels 22 and 63), and the lowest channels in Seattle are 6, 8, and 9 (which also display as those channel numbers).
Although the performance of the antennas we tested was sometimes inconsistent and thus difficult to gauge, all of our picks excelled in certain tests and at least placed in the middle of the pack in every other test.
A supplied Sure Grip adhesive strip attaches the ClearStream Flex to the wall, and you can reposition the antenna by gently peeling it off the wall and resticking it elsewhere. You can even wipe the strip off with a damp cloth if it gets dirty, thus restoring its stickiness.
Using the meter requires downloading the Winegard Connected app for iOS or Android and pairing your mobile device through Bluetooth. It provides a count of strong, moderate, and weak stations that it updates every six seconds. In my living room, the Flatwave Amped Pro pulled in 57 stations from the aesthetically convenient position where I also tested all the other antennas; using the meter, I quickly found a position where I could get 112 channels (exactly what the app promised). In my other room, where the five-step LED meter of the RCA ANT3ME1 proved to be no help, the detailed data in the Connected app allowed me to go from 82 channels in my original testing position to 110 channels (three more than the app promised). In our Oceanside, California, test spot, the channel count rose from 18 to 21 channels when I optimized the position. So the meter and the app definitely produced an improvement in every situation. Again, I could have accomplished the same thing doing channel scans with the TVs, but that would have taken hours rather than three or four minutes.
On all but one of our tests, the 1byone performed like antennas costing about double its price. During my in-home test, it landed in the middle of the pack in the first room, receiving only 59 out of 144 channels, but in the second room it pulled in a whopping 108 channels, which put it in third place. It was just a bit below average in our Oceanside, California, tests, receiving 19 channels.
With 13 feet of black cable permanently attached to the antenna and another 3 feet attached to the amplifier, you should have plenty of cable even if you decide to stick the antenna onto a window or an adjacent wall. The antenna comes with a USB power supply, or you can use a spare USB connection on your TV if it has one.
The Antennas Direct ClearStream Wireless antenna device works with your Wi-Fi network to distribute antenna signals around a house so all the TVs theoretically get the same optimized reception. It works, but the Wi-Fi connection was glitchy in our tests, and you lose some picture quality when the device converts the TV broadcast signal to a digital format for distribution on the network.
The Wonido Mini TV Antenna is quite compact, measuring about 8 by 5 inches, but its performance is fairly mediocre. It might be a decent choice if you need to hide an antenna behind a small, wall-mounted TV, but a larger antenna will almost certainly pull in many more channels.
An over-the-air, or OTA, antenna is great for live events such as sports and the evening news. Depending on where you live and your signal reception capabilities, you can watch anything on NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, PBS and some other channels like MyNetworkTV and The CW. While a roof-mounted television antenna or outdoor TV antenna would do the job, you can add an indoor antenna to your TV's built-in tuner for as little as $20 shipped.
Unlike a live TV streaming service, OTA TV is usually restricted to a single television, and the broadcast signal from an OTA TV antenna won't work on phones or other devices. Unless, that is, you kick it up a notch with an OTA DVR which has networking capabilities.
The Flatenna 35 has been upgraded with a removable antenna since our original test. It seems that signal performance has also improved -- it's now the best of our seven models at pulling in channels, beating our previous recommendation, the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse. This Flat antenna is great for those who are not capable of installing an outdoor antenna.
And yes, the best TV antenna is just $20 (including shipping) from Channel Master's website. (It can be called either the Flatenna 35 or Duo depending on where you buy it from.) Best TV channels reception and low price We have a winner.
With its ankh-shaped and multidirectional reversible compact design, the ClearStream antenna is definitely unique. This multi-directional antenna comes with sticky tabs for attaching it to your window, which is handy. And if you need more signal oomph, there's a $20 antenna amplifier available as well.
We tested seven different indoor antennas with prices ranging from $10 to $90 (all much less than the most basic cable TV). The best TV antennas were able to pull in more channels than the others and delivered stronger, clearer TV signals, even on \"problem\" channels. Here are the seven TV antennas we originally looked at:
We tested the antennas in two main locations: in midtown Manhattan just a half-mile from the broadcast antennas on the Empire State Building -- albeit obscured by other buildings -- and in suburban New Jersey, 9 miles from the closest broadcast towers. Depending on your location, you might receive broadcasts from multiple antennas. Hills or large buildings in the way will have an effect on frequency range and reception of TV channels.
We situated each antenna in the same spot and connected it to the Channel Master DVR Plus, which gives signal strength data as well as a total channel count. We used two different metrics to determine which TV antenna performed best. The first was a raw measure of the number of channels it could detect, while the second involved a number of predetermined \"problem channels.\" For these, we consulted a list of channels culled from various forums, for both testing areas, and gauged how well the antennas pulled in each channel.
Most of the TV antennas are based on the same rectangular design, but there was one important consideration: the cable. Did the antenna have a long, high-performance coaxial cable or, even better, a detachable one You'll be sticking one of these in your window, which could be a long way from your TV, so longer is better.
It's worth noting that some of these antennas -- the 1byOne and the Channel Master Smartenna Plus -- include gain-boosting amplifiers. While the 1byOne will also work without the amp attached, the Channel Master won't. Based on our experiences in a number of locations, however, amplifiers offer a wildly unpredictable signal strength benefit. If you can't get TV reception with an indoor antenna, a gain amp may not actually help you, and in other cases, it could make your reception worse by overloading channels that already have a strong signal.
The main difference between a television and a monitor is that a TV has an OTA tuner onboard, even if most people never use it. The advent of smart TV means that cord-cutters can now connect directly to the internet and get on-demand streaming, as well as live TV. Streaming usually costs a subscription fee, while an antenna can receive free signals and without an internet connection. While you don't need an antenna to use smart TV, the two do complement each other very well.
Depending on where you live, an indoor antenna can work really well, or not at all. If you live in the middle of a city, it's likely you're very close to a broadcast antenna. However, if you live a little further out then you may not be receiving the strongest signals and checking digital TV coverage maps first may help you somewhat.
Correspondingly, if you do live in a poor coverage area, with weak signals, an indoor antenna may not be for you. We tried using the antennas at a semi-urban location in New York State's Hudson Valley miles from the city and none of them worked at all, even the signal-boosting Smartenna. That's why it's best to test the signal strength waters with a cheap antenna first, instead of spending a hundred bucks on something that might not work in your location.
ATSC 3.0, also known as NextGen TV, is the next evolution of OTA broadcasts, and it promises higher resolutions, enhanced audio and interactivity. While these NextGen TV features are still a ways off -- in 2023 the service is in the process of rolling out -- the good news is that it's designed to be backwards compatible with the existing ATSC. So yes, your existing antenna will still work, though you will need an ATSC 3.0 compatible tuner or TV, and an active internet connection for any interactive or on-demand features.
When you install it, you will definitely need to experiment with the placement. A wall may actually be better than a window, depending on the orientation of your living area. Also, if possible, keep the antenna away from magnetic metals such as security bars or the like since they can interfere with your signal strength. 59ce067264