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The best TV antennas of 2021: Tested and rated

Best TV antennas
(Image credit: Mohu)

The best TV antennas are easy to set up and provide a constant stream of live content, all for free. Whether want to cut the cord in the new year or just a backup option, a good antenna is a must-have. With HD broadcasts and access to major networks, like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, all you need is a TV and HDTV antenna to get shows, movies, sports and news, without spending a cent.

Our TV antenna reviews rely on careful testing and hands-on evaluation to find the best TV antennas available, whether it's a simple unamplified antenna that hangs on the wall, an amplified unit that's set on a shelf, or even a larger outdoor model that pulls in stations from miles away. In every review we examine not only performance, but also the equipment that's included with an antenna, and the ease of setup and use.

What are the best TV antennas?

The Mohu Leaf Metro is the best indoor HDTV antenna, delivering plenty of clear channels, often for less than $20. The ultra-affordable antenna boasts a very compact reversible design that's well-suited to apartments and other city dwellings, where the antenna's 25-mile range is perfect for pulling in local stations.

For a more affordable option, we love the popular 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna, which is an Amazon best seller thanks to its low price, excellent reception and easy-to-install amplified design.

The best TV antennas you can buy today

Mohu Leaf MetroTop Pick

(Image credit: Mohu)

1. Mohu Leaf Metro

Best TV antenna overall

Range: 25 Miles | Channels Received: 12 | Amplified: No | 1080p Reception: Yes | Cable Length: 10 Feet | Size: 11.5 x 3.5 inches

Inexpensive
Very small
Solid, dependable reception
Not amplified
Limited range and channel selection

A longtime favorite of ours is the Mohu Leaf Metro, a compact TV antenna that has an unobtrusive flat design that's smaller than most inexpensive antennas, yet pulls in channels with solid, dependable reception. It's not amplified, but with a 25-mile range capable of pulling in dozens of channels in cities and nearby suburbs, it doesn't need to be. The small size and city-friendly reception make it great for urban apartment dwellers, and the Mohu Leaf Metro lives up to its name.  If you want the best-performing, most-affordable option for over the air channels, this is it.

The compact antenna has a reversible design, with white on one side and black on the other, so you can flip it to whichever color is less obtrusive, or you can simply paint it to match the wall it's on. It even comes with mounting hardware. It's the best option for most people, since it gives you a dead simple way to pull in plenty of local channels without paying much money.

Read our full Mohu Metro Leaf review.

Best TV antenna: Winegard Elite 7550 Outdoor HDTV Antenna

(Image credit: Winegard)

2. Winegard Elite 7550 Outdoor HDTV Antenna

Best outdoor antenna

Range: 70 Miles | Channels Received: 73 | Amplified: No | 1080p Reception: Yes | Cable Length: N/A | Size: 30 x 17.5 x 5 inches

Excellent reception
Excellent interference suppression
Somewhat loose construction
Plastic roof mount

Sometimes an indoor antenna just won't cut it. When you need an outdoor antenna with excellent reception, the Winegard Elite 7550 is the smart option, and the best TV antenna for outdoor installation. It may cost a little more, but the Winegard Elite 7550 pays dividends, delivering a whopping 73 channels in our tests. Whether you're in a crowded city or a rural community, this outdoor HDTV should get the job done, pulling in more channels with better signal than any indoor model can offer.

If you're having difficulty getting local stations you want — or you just want better, more consistent reception — the Winegard Elite 7550's $120 price tag is worth every penny, pulling in dozens of free channels for less than a month's cable subscription.

Read our full Winegard Elite 7550 Outdoor HDTV Antenna review.
  

Best TV antenna: Mohu Arc Pro Indoor HDTV Antenna

(Image credit: Mohu)

3. Mohu Arc Pro Indoor HDTV Antenna

Top amplified TV antenna

Range: 60 Miles | Channels Received: 34 | Amplified: Yes | 1080p Reception: Yes | Cable Length: 10 Feet | Size: 8 x 11.5 x 2.25 inches

Attractive styling
Signal strength indicator
Pricier than most
Modest overall receptivity

The Mohu Arc Pro is a stylish amplified indoor antenna with a 50-mile range and an attractive design that stands out in a field of flat, mud flap-inspired competitors. As the follow up to a previous favorite, the discontinued Mohu Curve 50, the Mohu Arc Pro is more than just beautiful. In our reception testing it delivered more watchable channels than most of the models we've tested in recent months.

In addition to pulling in some tough-to-receive stations, the Arc Pro's included vertical stand and elegant curved design will turn heads for all the right reasons, and a built-in signal strength indicator makes it easy to find the optimal position in your home. It also offers signal interference suppression, ensuring that the channels it pulls in are watchable.

Read our full Mohu Arc Pro Indoor HDTV Antenna review.
 

Best TV antenna: 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna

(Image credit: 1byone)

4. 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna

Popular Amazon pick

Range: 50 Miles | Channels Received: 46 | Amplified: Yes | 1080p Reception: Yes | Cable Length: 10 Feet | Size: 13.25 x 9.25 inches

All necessary components included
Moderately priced
Easy setup
Inconsistent performer

For a simple, indoor antenna that offers everything you need to cut the cord, the 1byone Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna offers a 50-mile range and included amplifier, all for a fairly reasonable price. With slick packaging and a basic black design, it's not only an Amazon best-seller, it's also one of the best TV antennas we've reviewed.

Measuring just 13.3 x 9.3 inches, the antenna includes everything you need to connect to the TV, with a 10-foot coaxial cable and included adhesive patches for mounting. The simple design and included amplifier delivered dozens of watchable channels, and can plug into any wall outlet or USB port. There's a good reason the 1byone is a top Amazon seller: It performs well and doesn't cost a lot.

Read our full 1byone Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna review.
  

ClearStream 2Max HDTV Antenna

(Image credit: ClearStream)

5. ClearStream 2MAX HDTV Antenna

Best indoor/outdoor antenna

Range: 60 Miles | Channels Received: 44 | Amplified: No | 1080p Reception: Yes | Cable Length: N/A | Size: 17.25 x 31.5 inches

Steady signal reception
Solid supplied stand
Indoor or outdoor placement
Relatively expensive
No coaxial cable included

When you need something with really long range, the ClearStream 2Max is a strong and flexible indoor/outdoor HDTV antenna that reliably pulls in a variety of stations. This figure-eight-shaped offers a 60-mile range and solid performance. But, unlike the competition, this antenna is tough enough to use out in the elements.

While this non-amplified antenna offers decent performance compared to other indoor antennas, the outdoor capability lets you mount the antenna where the signal is strongest, beyond the obstacles posed by walls and furniture. The antenna comes with both a tabletop stand for indoor use and an outdoor mast and bracket for mounting on a roof or exterior wall.

Read our full ClearStream 2Max HDTV Antenna review.

How to choose the best TV antenna for you

If you're shopping for a TV antenna, you're in luck, because there's no better option for getting live TV for the lowest price possible: Free! But before you pick up the first TV antenna you see at the store, you want to make sure that you're getting one that will work for you.

We recommend researching beforehand to determine what range of antenna you need, and whether you want an indoor model or an antenna made for outdoor installation. The best place to start is AntennaWeb.org, which lets you enter your address or ZIP code and see what stations are broadcasting in your area, as well as how far away the broadcast towers are.

If you're in or near a city, there's a good chance you can make do with a small indoor antenna, since you'll have several stations within a 10 or 20 mile radius that can be pulled in with a basic indoor antenna. If you're more than 30 miles from your local broadcast tower, you'll want to step up to an amplified model.

Any antenna that's rated for 50 miles or more will either be a large outdoor unit, or come with an amplifier to boost the signal it gets. Whether or not to get an outdoor antenna will largely depend upon the building you're in and the surrounding environment, since obstacles like house walls and even trees can prevent signal from getting through to an indoor antenna.

Non-amplified indoor antennas generally sell for between $20 to $40, but there are plenty of cheap TV antennas that sell for less than $20 that offer acceptable performance. An amplified antenna offers better performance, and will cost between $30 and $100. For the best performance, consider an outdoor antenna, which costs $100 or more.

Worried about future proofing for ATSC 3.0 as it rolls out this year? The good news is that your existing antenna will work, and may even pull in more channels under the new standard. The bad news is that you'll need to buy a new tuner or an ATSC 3.0-equipped TV, and these are only now coming to market.

How we test TV antennas

All of the TV antennas we review are tested 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 4K TV, so the TV tuner remains consistent, and each one is placed in the same position to generate comparable results.

With more than 100 over-the-air channels available in Manhattan, it provides an excellent testing location for antenna reception of any range, with more sensitive, long-range antennas pulling in a higher number of channels. It also gives us a chance to determine the quality of that reception, by seeing whether or not those channels are clear and watchable. The best antennas will pull in more channels, with a higher number of watchable results.

Your experience may differ from our test results. Depending upon how many stations broadcast in you area, and unique geographical impediments to over the air signal – such as mountains – your own channel selection will vary considerably. We encourage antenna shoppers to be aware of what channels are available to them by using an online look-up tool like AntennaWeb.org. We also offer a handy guide to better antenna reception to help you cut the cord more easily.

  • bumpandrun
    If the RCA ultrathin has the best reception, what keeps it from being a 9 or 10?
    Reply
  • PAMID7
    Do I need to buy an indoor antenna for each television?
    Reply
  • Andrew_B20017
    I have a rather large antenna in a spare bedroom on the upper floor of my home. I got a powered splitter that I attached to it and connected the upstairs TV's as well as connecting an existing cable that ran to the basement. I attached another powered splitter in the basement to connect cables for my downstairs TV's. 1 antenna and 4 TV's. I'm in a rural area and I still pick up over 30 channels. If you do a set up like this make sure the first splitter is close to the antenna for the best signal distribution.
    Reply
  • t.bargy
    If you order from these people.......BEWARE ABOUT RETURNING....COST ALLMOST AS MUCH TO RETURN ITEM ..IF NOT MORE... WITH THESE PEOPLE AS IT DID TO BUY IT....SO IF YOU THINK YOUR GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK ....YOUR NOT......SO YOUR SCREWED......I'LL NEVER ORDER FRROM THIS PLACE AGAIN
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    20352579 said:
    If you order from these people.......BEWARE ABOUT RETURNING....COST ALLMOST AS MUCH TO RETURN ITEM ..IF NOT MORE... WITH THESE PEOPLE AS IT DID TO BUY IT....SO IF YOU THINK YOUR GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK ....YOUR NOT......SO YOUR SCREWED......I'LL NEVER ORDER FRROM THIS PLACE AGAIN

    Who are these people? the article only use amazon. And what with the all caps?
    Reply
  • klevisnowlle
    The MOHU Leaf/Releaf antennas are available at Fry's and Walmart (can be returned). MicroCenter sometimes has a Yagi style mini antenna for about $14.99 which works reasonably well.
    Reply
  • bigtdavis608
    may want to update your article, the mohu airwave looks to have been pulled from the market. the product was an absolute disaster.
    Reply
  • klevisnowlle
    I am using an $19.00 Mohu Leaf antenna from Wal Mart plugged into a $25.00 Digital converter from e-bay. Mohu rates it 30 mile capable - although it may receive up to 40 miles. One thing almost all companies fail to mention is that the antennas are directional. My antenna receives regular HDTV positioned N-S best and medium powered religious stations best lying flat.
    Reply
  • wmy77
    Purchase these antennas only from a retailer where you can return them without any extra costs or hassles.....depending where you live such as cottage country, the TV signals are too weak to allow any type of satisfactory reception...they may work in your area & they may not...placing the antennas outside & as high as possible will give the best reception...good luck...
    Reply
  • cwoodphotos
    This review of antennas has both misinformation and omitted information.

    First, there is no such thing as an HDTV antenna. Antennas are designed for the frequencies and polarity of the transmissions they need to cover. The antenna is agnostic. It responds to analog and digital transmissions and care less whether or not the signal is 480, 720 or 1080. And by the way, there are no 1080P over the air transmissions in this country.

    Some locations that have strong multi path reflections (city buildings, mountainous regions) will require an outdoor antenna, with a yagi being the preferred design as simple dipole or dipole with reflectors have a broad beam width and will reject unwanted signals/reflections more poorly than a yagi design
    Reply