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"Go big or go home" could be the motto for Antennas Direct's ClearStream 2Max HDTV antenna. Its design makes a bold statement, but it also contributes to its ability to lock into signals. The $80 2Max is pricey compared to similar performers, like the $43 Mohu Leaf, but unlike the competition, the ClearStream 2Max is tough enough to endure outdoor conditions. It's one of the best TV antennas we've reviewed, and our top pick for indoor/outdoor use.
Design: Big 8
The 2Max design is bigger and more conspicuous than typical flat indoor antennas that can be stuck to a wall. The ClearStream antenna stands upright like a big figure 8 and has dipole antenna bars in the back that swing out to the sides and snap into place. The 2Max is rated to pull in stations as far as 60 miles away, and it's a nonamplified antenna, so you don't have to place it near a power outlet.
The package includes a table-top stand, which we used. There's also a J-mount mast and bracket included with all the necessary nuts and bolts for outdoor installations. Antennas Direct does not include a coaxial cable to make the connection to your TV; how much cable you need depends on your particular installation. (You can purchase a 50-foot roll of shielded cable for less than $15 online.)
Channels Received: 44
Range: 60 miles
1080p reception: Yes
Cable Length: N/A
Size: 17.25 x 31.5 inches
Performance: Stable Stations
For our tests, we situated the ClearStream 2Max indoors in order to gauge its performance from the same position in the New York City apartment we use to test other antennas for Tom's Guide. Because the 2Max doesn't come with a coaxial cable, we used our own shielded, 6-foot cable to hook it up.
A preliminary scan using our test Samsung KS9000 4K TV's tuner found 56 stations. In our viewing tests, 44 stations came in clearly — a strong performance. We deemed the rest unwatchable due to signal breakups and distortion.
All of the major network affiliates came in clearly at up to 1080i resolution. Even the cantankerous ABC affiliate, which can be difficult to capture, was stable and clear. We were also able to enjoy secondary channels, like Movies, which was running a pristine print of Escape from New York. Other channels that often prove tricky to tune in, such as the retro game show station Buzzr, came in easily with the ClearStream 2Max.
The ClearStream 2Max may not win any awards for aesthetics, but it is capable and built to handle outdoor installations. However, if you plan on keeping the antenna indoors, there are less expensive models, such as the Moho Leaf, that perform just as well.
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John R. Quain has been reviewing and testing video and audio equipment for more than 20 years. For Tom's Guide, he has reviewed televisions, HDTV antennas, electric bikes, electric cars, as well as other outdoor equipment. He is currently a contributor to The New York Times and the CBS News television program.