When it comes to free TV, new streaming services are great, but there's no beating a good TV antenna. And if you're cutting costs by dropping cable, why not shave a few more bucks off with a less expensive antenna? The best cheap TV antennas offer performance to match the more expensive models seen on our best TV antennas list, but some of the best sellers go for $20 or less.
And the best news? Even as broadcasters start switching to ATSC 3.0 in 2020 –bringing 4K broadcast to over the air TV – these antennas will all work with the new tuners.
While every antenna and every location is different in terms of reception and available channels, we strive to test each antenna we review in a way that provides consistent and comparable results. To do this, we test all antennas in the same location in New York City, an apartment that receives dozens of channels from a variety of broadcasters. Each antenna is connected to a Samsung KS9000 4K TV, so the TV tuner remains consistent, and each one is placed in the same position to generate comparable results.
We've tested some of the best (and worst) TV antennas on the market, putting them through the same paces as more premium products, and found the top performers that you can buy. These are our favorite budget-friendly TV antennas.
The best cheap TV antennas
1. Mohu Leaf Metro
The best budget antenna you can buy
Channels Received: 31 | Rated Range: 25 miles | 1080p Reception: Yes | Size: 11.5 x 3.4 inches | Cable Length: 10 feet | Amplified: No
Experienced antenna company Mohu offers one of the best-performing antennas in the under-$20 category with its Leaf Metro. The non-amplified, reversible (black on one side, white on the other) antenna is of modest dimensions (11.5 x 3.4 inches) and is designed to be tacked or stuck to a wall with velcro patches.
The Mohu Leaf comes with a detachable 10-foot cable but doesn't have an amplifier — yet it turned in very respectable results, receiving a total of 31 stations. That makes this antenna a great choice for dorm rooms or smaller living spaces, and the excellent price makes it the best bang for the buck in affordable antennas.
Read our full Mohu Leaf Metro review.
2. AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna
The Amazon best-seller
Channels Received: 34 | Rated Range: 35 miles | 1080p Reception: Yes | Size: 11.5 x 9 inches | Cable Length: 10 feet | Amplified: No
It isn't the most compact, nor is it the cheapest antenna in the group, but the AmazonBasics non-amplified antenna delivered excellent performance, pulling in 34 watchable channels in our testing. The AmazonBasics model is a flat, 11.5 x 9-inch, wall-mountable antenna. One side is black, while the other is white (in case you want to tack it to a plaster wall with the included push pins).
Constructed of solid components, such as a fully shielded, detachable 10-foot cable, the Basics model captured a total of 34 channels: an estimable result, although it still failed to tune in the elusive ABC affiliate in our area.
Read our full AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna review.
3. 1byOne Paper Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna
Solid performance for a low price
Channels Received: 28 | Rated Range: 35 miles | Size: 13.25 x 9.25 inches | 1080p Reception: Yes | Cable Length: 10 feet | Amplified: No
Demonstrating that larger, flat indoor antennas tend to make it easier to capture more stations, the very reasonably priced 1byOne Paper Thin (Model OUS00-0187) antenna was able to receive 28 watchable channels in our metropolitan test area. The 13.25 x 9.25-inch plastic antenna is by no means the most inconspicuous nor the most stylish model in this group, but it gets the job done. Major stations looked clean and crisp, and it was able to receive 28 stations, giving you most of the same channels the top performers pulled in.
4. Chaowei DVB66 Digital HDTV Indoor/Outdoor Antenna
Good for RVs and cars
Channels Received: 14 (indoor), 45 (outdoor) | Rated Range: 35 miles | 1080p Reception: Yes | Size: 2 x 5.1 inches | Cable Length: 16.5 feet | Amplified: No
The Chaowei DVB66 is an indoor/outdoor antenna that sells for under $20, but offers a unique compact design that stands apart from the mudflap aesthetics of most inexpensive antennas, plus it can be used outdoors as well as in the living room. When tested indoors, it pulled in a respectable 14 channels.
It's also an excellent choice for use on RVs and other vehicles. With it's small, sturdy design and magnetized base, it's easy to pop the indoor/outdoor antenna onto the roof of your Winnebago or Volkswagen Vanagon and start pulling in channels from miles around. In our testing, the outdoor performance was dramatically better than indoors (grabbing 45 clear channels), making it ideal for use on the road or at a campsite. Just don't try to use it when the vehicle is in motion – the magnet in the base isn't quite strong enough to handle corners.
Read our full Chaowei DVB66 Digital HDTV Indoor/Outdoor Antenna review.
5. HomeWorx Digital Flat Antenna
Decent performance and a colorful design
Channels Received: 19 | Rated Range: 25 miles | 1080p Reception: Yes | Size: 8.25 x 4.75 inches | Cable Length: 4.7 feet | Amplified: No
The bright-blue HomeWorx antenna stands out, not only for the colorful design, but because it's also a respectable performer that sells for less than $10. Whether it's for a freshman dorm or your home living room, it's a sweet deal for basic cord cutting. It comes with a clip-on stand, allowing the 8.25 x 4.75-inch antenna to sit on a tabletop or, with the aid of an included suction cup, adhere to any window.
We were able to view 19 different channels playing everything from McCloud to Miffy. And since the HomeWorx antenna doesn't have an amplifier, there's no need to worry about finding a USB port or adapter. The only limitation: a very short 56-inch cable, which will limit your placement options for receiving signals.
6. Antop AT-108 Paper Thin Indoor TV Antenna
A good backup antenna
Channels Received: 8 | Rated Range: 30 miles | 1080p Reception: Yes | Size: 9.37 x 5.43 inches | Cable Length: 10 feet | Amplified: No
Small, flat, oblong-shaped antennas are the name of the game when it comes to inexpensive TV antennas, but they aren't all made the same. The Antop AT-108 Paper-Thin antenna shows that quality can vary widely, even in the under-$20 price range. This basic non-amplified HDTV antenna is rated for a 30-mile range, but it pulled in only 8 stations.
That's likely not enough for folks who rely on broadcast channels for the bulk of their viewing, but it might be enough for someone who wants a backup option so they can check the news when the internet goes out.
Read our full Antop AT-108 Paper Thin Indoor TV Antenna review.