HD Antenna Guide


HD Antenna

Guide to the Best HD Antennas

Cable and satellite are becoming very expensive TV habits for the average consumer. With So many streaming TV options available, cable and satellite aren’t quite worth what they used to be. It’s time to cut the cord! But first, you need to purchase a HD Antenna.

The biggest challenge to cutting the cord is replacing access to local broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS). Even with all the streaming options, there is no internet-based solution to gain online access to local networks.  The reason for this is more around politics, the FCC and all sorts of business and court battles, but at the end of the day it’s the consumer who loses out.

Enter the HD antenna.

An HD antenna allows consumers to watch local and public access channels for free, instead of paying a hefty monthly fee to cable and satellite companies.  The quality of the HD picture, ironically, is normally better than anything you’ll see on cable or satellite. The two main challenges with HD antennas are:

  • They require an upfront investment (that can be pricey if you don’t know what you’re looking for).
  • Some installation may be required depending on the HD antenna you purchase

So with so many HD antenna options on the market today, how the heck do you know which one is right for you?!?

 

Top HD Antenna Guide

The following is a curated guide to some of the best HD antennas on the market. By the end of this guide, you will:

  • Learn the difference between Set Top, Indoor and Outdoor HD antennas
  • Explore the pros and cons of each type of HD antenna
  • Review the major brands in the HD antenna space
  • Understand the importance of signal range of your HD antenna (and a simple hack to learn how much signal you need)
  • Identify the best HD Antenna for your situation.

Getting Started

The first thing you should do before researching HD antennas is to determine the distance from your home to the broadcast towers of your local networks. While this might sound difficult, it’s really a simple activity.

Go to TVFool.com and enter your home address. You’ll get a list of local broadcast networks and the distance and direction from your home. The important thing to understand is, how far away are the channels that you need access to?  10 miles? 50 miles? 100 miles?  The farther the distance the more powerful the HD antenna you will need.

Now that you know the distance to your local affiliate channels, it’s time to discuss the different types of HD antennas available.

SET TOP HD ANTENNAS

Set top antennas are compact, convenient, and cost effective.  They work best at lower signal range (less than 30 miles) and are usually used for a single TV.  They come in many shapes and sizes and are built off those old “bunny ears” antennas we all used before the cable TV days.

While there is no hard and fast rule, if you’re less than 30 miles from broadcast antennas and you need a solution for one or two TVs, a set top antenna is the most cost effective solution.

Below we’ve identified three of the more popular set top HD antenna options on the market today. We’ve also provided our favorite of the three.

Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna – Made in USA

Mohu is the “Apple” of HD antennas, and this product is one of their biggest sellers. A HD antenna using US military technology, this paper thin device is easy to setup and can be purchased for under $50.

Technical aspects:

  • 30 mile range
  • Access to all free HD channels in your area
  • Supports 1080p resolution
  • 10 ft coaxial cable included
  • Made of paintable material
  • One year warranty

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Thin design
  • Easy to setup

Cons:

  • Minimal upgrades/improvements from previous Mohu models
  • Limited range

Summary

If you’re looking for an inexpensive HD antenna that can fit almost anywhere, the Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin HDTV Antenna is the right product for you. Performance is superior to other set top antennas, which is the main reason why this antenna is so well-liked by consumers. You can paint both the device and the cable to make it fit your room design, and once you set it up, you will not even notice it being in the room.

AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

If you are looking for a barebones HD antenna, this product from AmazonBasics is exactly for you. While not sporting the best performance, it comes at a cheap price and it gets the job done. The 50 mile range is actually better than most entry level HD antenna options.

Technical aspects:

  • 50 mile range
  • Access to ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and Fox among other free HD channels
  • Supports 1080p resolution
  • 18 feet of coaxial cable are provided
  • Paintable cable
  • One year warranty

Pros:

  • Great deal for the price
  • Range up to 50 miles

Cons:

  • Performance can be iffy at times
  • Non-amplified

Summary

While not the top performing HD antenna on the market, the  AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Amplified HDTV Antenna is a good deal for the price. The good news is that it blends with any room layout, and the cable can be painted, for an even less intrusive presence. The model has a black side and a white side, so some design versatility is provided.

The only downside of this inexpensive HD antenna is its inconsistent performance. If you are the type of person who watches TV every once in a while, especially public channels, you will find the antenna is a very good deal. If you’re looking for perfection, you may want to look elsewhere.

Solid Signal HDBLADE Wide Amplified Slim Indoor HDTV Antenna (HDBLADE100VA)

An inexpensive indoor antenna you can set up in the same room with your TV, this product from Solid Signal is intended for consumers who are interested in getting HD channels from an antenna that snaps right onto their television.

Technical aspects:

  • 30 mile range
  • Access to UHF and VHF band channels that are free in your area
  • Capable of receiving and transmitting 1080p resolution content
  • Multi-directional design
  • You can add cable or an amplifier
  • Only .017 inches thin

Pros:

  • Good pricing
  • Extremely thin and unobtrusive
  • It can be redirected to access harder to reach channels

Cons:

  • No extra cable is provided
  • An amplifier may be needed for better reception in some areas

Summary

The Solid Signal HDBLADE Wide Amplified Slim HDTV Antenna (HDBLADE100VA) is a good deal for the money. Its paper thin design makes is attractive, but the fact that an extra cable is not provided is a tad annoying. Good overall reception and a very thin design make this a decent entry level HD antenna option.  You may find that you need to purchase a separate amplifier with this antenna to reach maximum effectiveness.

Our Favorite Set Top Antenna

In the Set Top Antenna space, the Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Antenna – Made in USA takes the cake as our favorite for the price. While the specs limite the range to 30 miles, the size, price and performance can’t be beat.  If your located near the broadcast stations your looking to access, and need a one television solution, the Mohu would be our choice.

INDOOR HD ANTENNAS

Indoor antennas are medium range solutions and depending on product can be used for one or many televisions.  If you live up to 50-60 miles from your local broadcast signals, have attic space (or can mount externally), and are looking for a multi television solution, an indoor HD antenna is probably the right solution for you.

Indoor HD antennas are generally a bit more expensive, and some can be quite large in size. Most of the larger indoor antennas can also be mounted externally, though make sure to confirm the specifics with the manufacturer (i.e. read the instructions).

Below we’ve identified three of the more popular indoor HD antenna options on the market today. We’ve also provided our favorite out of the three that we’ve reviewed.

TERK Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

For TV watchers who want an amplified indoor HD antenna, this is a fairly solid choice. It sports a respectable price tag and can be used to access channels in the VHF and UHF range.

Technical aspects:

  • It can access VHF channels 2-13 and UHF channels 14-69
  • Amplified
  • Access to both HDTV and DTV channels
  • Full resolution broadcast
  • Integrated 75-ohm coaxial cable
  • Both horizontal and vertical orientations can be used

Pros:

  • Good reliable signal
  • Easy installation
  • It can be reoriented for optimum broadcast reception

Cons:

  • Signal power depends on your location
  • It is a bit large, so you may have to find a good place for it

Summary:

This indoor antenna is a great choice for people who need something a bit more powerful than a set top antenna. One aspect to keep in mind is that this antenna is a bit large, and you may need to manipulate it in order to maximize the reception. Like other indoor antenna, even if its capabilities are superior, your still dependent external factors like location and weather, which can ipact signal quality.

Having a built in amplifier is another plus for the Terk antenna, as this needs to be purchased separately with many antennas.

Antennas Direct C2-V-CJM ClearStream 2-V Long Range UHF/VHF Indoor/Outdoor DTV Antenna with 20-Inch Mount

If you’re looking for a powerful antenna to receive a wide range of HD channels, this versatile product is a great option. While many consumers prefer it for indoor use, you can successfully mount it outside for a strong and clear signal.

Technical details:

  • Over 50 mile range
  • ATSC compatibility (it can accommodate most tuners)
  • Enhanced UHF and VHF broadcast power
  • Ability to access HD resolution content
  • Energy Star certified
  • Lifetime limited warranty

Pros:

  • It offers superior performance
  • Its range is bigger than most antennas
  • It has a great reception angle

Cons:

  • The design does not appeal to most people
  • It may be too large to use indoors
  • Cable cord sold separately

Summary

For those who want to watch channels from the UHF and VHF ranges, the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2-V Long Range UHF/VHF Indoor/Outdoor DTV Antenna is a good and reliable choice. While it’s a tad large in size, the simple design and lifetime warranty, make this indoor antenna a good purchase.

We’re currently using this HD antenna in our home and I have it mounted up in my attic.  I have it wired to three televisions in the house and we have no issues accessing all the area broadcast signals.

Mohu Sky 60 Amplified Attic/Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Mount

Not as complex as other indoor antennas, this Mohu product offers a light-weight, long-range HD antenna option that can be mounted in your attic or to the exterior of your home.  Similar to the Mohu set top antenna, this product is a very popular option for those looking for an indoor/outdoor long-range antenna.

Technical details:

  • 60 mile range
  • CleanPeak technology for reducing interference
  • 30 feet of cable are provided
  • USB or cube powered
  • Full 1080p quality
  • One year warranty

Pros:

  • Easy to setup
  • Good HD picture quality
  • Great access range

Cons:

  • Not as easy to accommodate indoors as other smaller antennas

Summary

Mohu is a company renowned for making HD antennas, and this is one of their most popular products. One of the largest benefits of the Mohu Sky 60 Amplified Attic/Outdoor HDTV Antenna is it’s multi-directional, so you will not have to adjust it too much to get good signal. This antenna is frequently a top rated antenna on several leading Ecommerce platforms.

Our Favorite Indoor HD Antenna

In the Indoor HD antenna space, our favorite is the Antennas Direct ClearStream Long Range UHF/VHF Indoor/Outdoor DTV Antenna.  This was a toss up between the ClearStream and the Mohu antennas.  The Mohu is actually a bit easier to put together, lighter and comes with 30 ft of cable, but the ClearStream is the actually antenna we are currently using in our attic.  It’s provided us crystal clear HD pictures and it’s tough to go against what is working great for us today.

OUTDOOR HD ANTENNAS

Outdoor HD antennas are for those folks who like BIG STUFF.  They’re large in size and generally provide the most powerful signal to reach local broadcast stations greater than 50-60 miles away. While they are extra large in size, they normally come with a lower price point than indoor HD antennas.  For those that don’t mind having a metal structure mounted to the side of their house, outdoor HD antennas can be a very cost effective solution for those that need multi television access.

If you live a far distance from local broadcast signals, or are just looking to maximize your signal power, an outdoor HD antenna may be the right solution for you. It should be noted that many outdoor HD antennas could potentially be mounted indoors, but due to their size and stature its not normally an efficient option. As we mentioned above, please check the manufacturer’s specifications before determining ability to mount indoors.

Below we’ve identified three of the more popular indoor HD antenna options on the market today. We’ve also provided our favorite out of the three that we’ve reviewed.

Winegard HD7694P High Definition VHF/UHF Antenna

If you don’t have attic space for an indoor install or you need a bit more signal strength that an outdoor HD antenna has to offer, the Winegard HD7694P High Definition VHF/UHF Antenna is one of the best choices you can make. With its decent access range and good quality signal, it is a highly recommended option.

Technical details:

  • 50 mile access range
  • UHF and VHF channel broadcasting (7-69)
  • DTV transition ready
  • 65 inch turning radius
  • Yagi form

Pros:

  • Good for both HD and DTV signal reception
  • Lightweight
  • Good impedance for reduced interference

Cons:

  • A bit too bulky
  • Not as competitive as similar, smaller antennas

Summary

For consumers looking for a good antenna, the Winegard HD7694P High Definition VHF/UHF Antenna is right in the ballpark. One thing to take into consideration is its size, as it may not be easy for you to accommodate it just anywhere.

Eagle Aspen EASDTV2BUHF Directv Approved 2-Bay UHF Outdoor Antenna

A good solution for receiving HD signal in metropolitan areas, the Eagle Aspen 2-Bay UHF Outdoor Antenna is easy to setup and it is considered a great choice by many consumers. If you are among TV watchers with a particular interest in watching both digital and analog channels, this can be a good product for you.

Technical details:

  • HDTV compatible
  • Access to UHF and VHF 14-69 channels
  • Handles both digital and analog reception
  • Retrofit installation

Pros:

  • Great value for the price
  • Good for receiving HD and DTV signal
  • Simple assembly and installation

Cons:

  • It does not come with its own mount
  • Cable is not included

Summary

Having one of the lowest prices in the outdoor HD antenna market, the price of the Eagle Aspen EASDTV2BUHF Directv Approved 2-Bay UHF Outdoor Antenna more than makes up for the funky size/shape of the antenna. It’s lightweight, easy to install, and handles up to 40 miles away.

Channel Master 4221HD Outdoor HDTV Antenna 65M

Not to be confused with Channel Master CM-4220HD UHF and HDTV Antenna, the Channel Master 4221 HD antenna is multi-directional antenna with decent signal range.  The Channel Master 4221HD Outdoor HDTV Antenna 65M is a good recommendation for TV watchers who are looking for a device to help them cut costs on cable TV. Although it can be installed outside, this antenna can also be placed in any attic or directly on the roof.

Technical details:

  • 60 mile range
  • HD and UHF access (channels 14-69)
  • Works with 75-ohm coaxial cable
  • Energy Star certified
  • Multidirectional
  • 180 degree span

Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Good quality signal
  • Good VHF and UHF reception
  • Wide reception angle

Cons:

  • A bit bulky
  • Coaxial cable and amplifier not included

Summary

Most consumers praise this antenna for its long range and some indicate that even reception remains reliable far past the 60 mile range (especially when paired with an amplifier). If you are looking for an outdoor antenna that offers good quality signal in slightly remote areas, the Channel Master 4221HD Outdoor HDTV Antenna 65M is a very good alternative to cable TV. The antenna comes pre-assembled, so all you need to do is to mount it on a mast. Here at FreeTvReview.com, we love it when stuff comes pre-assembled!

Our Favorite Outdoor HD Antenna

In the outdoor HD antenna space, our favorite antenna is the Eagle Aspen 2-Bay UHF Outdoor Antenna. Coming in at a very low price point, the Eagle Aspen is a very cost effective way to get access to your local HD stations.  While it is a UHF only antenna, in most markets this is sufficient to ensure you have access to your basic CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox.




Let’s Wrap This One Up

A HD antenna is a great alternative to cable TV because it helps cutting costs when you want to watch public and local channels. Most models are decently priced, so the initial investment is very small. Depending on your needs, there are plenty of competitive models to choose from, for both indoor and outdoor use.

Other Helpful HD Antenna Links

Antenna Reference Guide. – A handy FCC guide to broadcast antennas

Digital TV Antenna (Blog Post) – What can we say? We love to talk about HD Antennas!

 

What Else Do I Need Besides the Antenna?

Now that you’ve got your HD Antenna taken care of, there are two remaining big ticket items you’ll need to complete your journey to cut cable:

  1. Streaming TV Devices – We’ve compiled a curated list of the topic streaming devices currently on the market
  2. DVR Devices (without cable) – The biggest challenge for most cable cutters is replacing their DVR device.  We’ve got four solutions to make the impossible become possible!



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