Best Indoor HDTV Antennas of 2018

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
ClearStream 2Max HDTV Antenna Best Indoor/Outdoor Antenna 8
Winegard Elite 7550 Outdoor HDTV Antenna Best Outdoor Antenna 8
1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna Most Popular On Amazon 7

Best Indoor HDTV Antennas


After reviewing more than a  dozen HDTV antennas, our pick for the non-amplified antenna is the Mohu ReLeaf, which offered excellent reception and an easy to setup design. Our best value winner is the 1byOne Super Thin Model OUS00-0569, which costs less than $20.

Cord cutting — casting off the yoke of your cable or satellite TV provider — is ever-more popular these days as people binge watch shows available online. But Netflix and Hulu won't get you everything. To receive free local and live network HDTV channels (including news and sports), simply attach an HD antenna to your TV for less than $40.

We tested HD TV antennas in New York City and judged quality based on several factors: total number of channels received, number of major channels (such as network affiliates) received and audio-visual quality. Read below for a full description of our testing process.

MORE: A Guide to Cable TV Alternatives

Latest News and Updates (April 2018)

  • Intrigued by those infomercials that claim their cheap antennas offer cable-level quality without the expensive monthly bills? We tested three of the top models seen on TV, and you’ll want to be wary of any TV antenna you see advertised on TV. See how they stacked up against our favorite inexpensive models.
  • Looking for an inexpensive antenna? The AmazonBasics Ultra Thin 35 Mile Antenna is a simple non-amplified indoor antenna with a flat design, two color options and a 10-foot cable. With a low $20 price, basic may be all you need.
  • The Antennas Direct ClearStream View makes for a pretty picture in more ways than one. The recently-reviewed antenna has a unique solution to the visually challenging problem of how to hide an indoor antenna: It puts it in a picture frame.
  • ChannelMaster has introduced the Smartenna+, an amplified indoor antenna that has an internal processor and a variety of reception patterns that it claims is “like having the antenna in seven different positions in the room at the same time.” Adjusting the antenna for improved reception can now be done with the touch of a button instead of physically moving the antenna around the room. The Smartenna+ will be available in March for $89.
  • Mohu is bridging the gap between over-the-air (OTA) and over-the-top (OTT) content with the newly announced AirWave antenna. The hybrid device combines broadcast content with online streaming from services like Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku, with a shared on-screen guide for browsing all of your content. The Mohu Airwave will be released in May for $150.

What Do Indoor HDTV Antennas Cost?

Non-amplified indoor antennas generally sell for between $20 to $40, but there are plenty of inexpensive options 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.

What to Look For in an Antenna

Generally, amplified antennas have better reception, but you may be fine with a nonamplified, aka passive, model depending on your location. If stations broadcast within a 20-mile radius of your home, you can probably make do with a passive antenna. If not, an amplified model may help. These antennas usually promise reception within a 50-mile radius. Check the site AntennaWeb.org to see the position of broadcasters in your area.

If you want better performance than even an amplified indoor antenna can give, you'll need to think get out of the house with an outdoor antenna. These antennas are generally larger and more sensitive than indoor models, and their installation outdoors in an elevated position lets them receive channels with far less interference than an antenna in your living room.

Buy from companies with generous return policies in case you need to try different options (like amplified vs. nonamplified). Want to watch live TV over your Internet connection? Also check out Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.

Mohu recently announced the Airwave, which combines an antenna and streaming services in one device; while pricey at $149, it's a smart new avenue for cord-cutters.

MORE: The Best Streaming Video Services for Cord Cutters

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?

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  • bumpandrun
    If the RCA ultrathin has the best reception, what keeps it from being a 9 or 10?
  • PAMID7
    Do I need to buy an indoor antenna for each television?
  • 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.
  • 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
  • rgd1101
    Anonymous 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?
  • 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.
  • bigtdavis608
    may want to update your article, the mohu airwave looks to have been pulled from the market. the product was an absolute disaster.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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
  • klevisnowlle
    Anonymous said:
    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
  • klevisnowlle
    The mini yagi antennas sold by Micro Center did not stay on the shelf long.
  • bradleyr001
    Very disconcerting that the best rated (9/10) non-amplified antenna only has a 2.5 stars rating on Amazon (follow the link provided to purchase on Amazon). Also, the specs listed on this page are different than the specs listed on the Amazon page, mainly 30 mile range listed here and 45 mile range listed on the Amazon page. Makes it hard to discern between truth and fiction prior to a purchase.
  • klevisnowlle
    Learned the hard way not to trust any ratings on anything given by Amazon. Amazon is driven by greed not veracity.
  • jalabi14
    I need indoor in somalia
  • vonshaman49
    I live in a trailer with metal siding in MA. I have cut cable but want to receive local major channels which are within 35-40 miles. Will the metal siding interfere with using an indoor antenna
  • songbirdwhite
    Oh, NO -- I Hit the RED BUTTON !! So sorry -- I don't have an answer; I was just trying to find the replies other people had written to two questions on the THREAD page that interested me. I'm new to "tom's guide", and it's exasperating that there's no apparent way to connect to previously posted solutions. Hope someone shared helpful answers to you both !
  • mykill42
    My last post got deleted for some reason.Guess I made Tom mad.
  • rgd1101
    Anonymous said:
    My last post got deleted for some reason.Guess I made Tom mad.


    Yup. Please read the forum rule before posting
  • harpbri
    I have a piece of standard coaxial cable, 3-4ft long, hooked up to the antenna spot on all my TVs. They all have digital tuners. I can get all my local channels and a few others with just that. Which was free because I used the cable, cut into pieces, that AT&T used to install Uverse the year before. So all free and I have TV. So unless you live way out, I'm 25-50 miles from broadcast tower, you don't actually need any special antenna to get TV service. My TV shows signal strength and definition, I get 720p-1080p all the time.