Best Indoor HDTV Antennas of 2017

Best Nonamplified Antenna

Mohu Releaf HDTV Antenna

For TV viewers who want to eliminate the monthly cable bill but still receive local stations, the $43 Mohu ReLeaf is a no-fuss, top-notch indoor antenna. This flat, rectangular device looks and feels like cardboard because it is — Instead of plastic,...

9/10
Superior
Product Use case Rating
Mohu Releaf HDTV Antenna Best Nonamplified Antenna 9
1byOne Super Thin Model OUS00-0569 Best Value 9
Mohu Curve 50 Amplified Designer Edition Best Amplified Antenna 9
1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna Most Popular On Amazon 7
Best Value
1byOne Super Thin Model OUS00-0569
Best Amplified Antenna
Mohu Curve 50 Amplified Designer Edition
$79.99 Amazon
Most Popular On Amazon
1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna
$29.99 Amazon

Best Indoor HDTV Antennas

How We Tested HDTV Antennas

We tested HDTV antennas in a New York City apartment and then in a rural Vermont home. In both settings, the antennas were identically situated to replicate a typical home installation alongside a living-room television. We followed each manufacturer's instructions; we didn't go to extraordinary lengths — such as stringing additional cables or hanging them out a window — to find optimal reception areas. However, we did determine a position where stations could be consistently received in a convenient and repeatable installation.

With each antenna, we conducted a new scan of available channels, repopulated the program guide, and then checked each station's reception for video and audio quality. Some stations listed as captured proved to be unwatchable when we checked them individually. Many channels suffered from pixelated video artifacts and stuttering soundtracks, the sort of distortion experienced on satellite services when there's a major storm.

MORE:How to Watch Live TV Online

In the New York City location, there were more than 100 possible channels (including subchannels) available in our ZIP code, but were never able to receive all of them clearly. In urban areas, there are many obstacles that thwart reception, so there's no guarantee you'll even be able to get all the major networks that are available over the air. The local ABC affiliate, for example, rarely came in clearly in our Manhattan location. Conversely, several Spanish language channels were consistent performers.

Your experience may differ from our test results. In Vermont, for example, we were unable to pick up any channels, even using amplified antennas that claimed reception distances of 60 miles. Given the mountains and other impediments, this was not unexpected. However, in a more level rural area with few obstructions, owners may be able to pull in stations 30 or more miles away. The point is to be realistic about your cord-cutting expectations.

What to Look For When Buying an HDTV Antenna

Amplified vs. Nonamplified

Typically, HDTV antennas are divided into two categories: those with amplifiers and those without.

Nonamplified antennas don’t require any additional power source; simply plug it into your TV and you’ll be ready to go. However, these antennas typically aren’t as good at receiving signals from longer ranges, so they’re better suited for cities and more urban areas, where the broadcast signals don’t have to travel as far.

Amplified antennas are best for the suburbs and rural areas, where a TV signal has to travel a greater distance. They also tend to perform better in rainy or stormy conditions, which can also affect how well a signal travels. However, amplified antennas require their own power source, which will require you to plug them into an outlet, or in some cases, a USB port in your TV.

Range

When buying an HDTV antenna, you want to first determine how close you are to broadcast signals, so you can see what range antenna you’ll need. Sites such as www.nocable.org and www.antennaweb.org will let you enter your address to see how many stations are within your area.

HDTV antenna makers will advertise an effective range for their antennas, which can go from 25 miles up to as far as 85 miles. The larger the range, the longer the reach—and the more expensive the antenna.

Design

Most HDTV antennas look like, and are about the same size, as a sheet of paper with rounded corners. They’re designed to attach to an interior wall or window, and blend in with their surroundings.

Antennas with a greater reach (more than 50 miles), such as the 1buyOne 85-mile, are designed to be mounted outdoors or in an attic, and tend to look like the old-school roof antennas from before the days of high-def TV.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

For most people, an indoor 25- or 50-mile indoor antenna will suffice. These are typically mounted on the inside of a window, and come with double-sided 3M tape. You need to consider how far the window is from your TV, and get an antenna with a longer coaxial cable.

If you live in more rural areas, you may need an antenna with a longer range, or one with an amplifier. Long-range antennas are mostly designed for outdoor installation, so you’ll have to think about their placement, as well as how you plan to run a wire from the antenna to your TV.

MORE: Help me, Tom's Guide! What TV Antenna Should I Get?

Create a new thread in the Audio forum about this subject
3 comments
    Your comment
  • bumpandrun
    If the RCA ultrathin has the best reception, what keeps it from being a 9 or 10?
    0
  • PAMID7
    Do I need to buy an indoor antenna for each television?
    0
  • 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.
    0