ClearStream View Wall-Frame HDTV Antenna Review: Nearly Picture Perfect

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TV antennas are the ugly ducklings of consumer electronics. No one wants to see them stuck on the wall or dangling from the ceiling. Unfortunately, hiding an antenna behind furniture or a TV harms its performance: To receive stations clearly, antennas have to be out in the open. So Antennas Direct devised an interesting solution for its ClearStream View model.

Looking like something one might buy at Hobby Lobby, the $70 ClearStream View is a large, black picture frame with cutouts for family photos. Concealed in its back is a flat HDTV antenna.   

Design: Take a picture (or two)

The ClearStream View emphasizes design. The plastic 14.25 x 18.75 frame can fit in with any kind of decor (it can even be painted), and it hangs on a single hook or nail. The white collage mat, into which you insert personal photos or artistic endeavors, can accommodate nine pictures ranging from 3.5 x 3.5 inches to 3.5 x 5 inches. You could also simply put one large, say, Monet print in the frame.

It's a simple-yet-elegant way of concealing an HDTV antenna, which can be an ugly appendage on a svelte flat-screen TV. However, the ClearStream View still retains a tail: the black coaxial cable that attaches it to your TV.  On the other hand, the supplied coaxial cable is 15 feet long, giving you some freedom as to where to place it for the best reception (and photo viewing).

Additionally, the ClearStream View includes a USB cable for the power adapter. The in-line adapter is rated to deliver a 20-decibel signal boost.

Channels Received: 33
Range: 50 miles
1080p reception: Yes
Cable length: 15 feet
Size: 14.25 x 18.75 x 1.1 inches

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Performance: Modest reception numbers

To test the ClearStream View, we used the same Samsung KS9000 4K TV and New York City location that we employ to test all HDTV antennas.

An initial scan of our broadcast options returned a total of 52 stations. But an assessment of each of the channels revealed that only 33 of the stations could be viewed consistently. Those channels included all of the major networks' local affiliates, including the ABC channel that offers less-than-perfect reception coverage in our area. Channels ranging from the CBS station in 1080i to rerun-speciality stations in 480p, such as Buzzr, also looked crisp and clear.

Stations that were missing from the ClearStream View's reception profile tended to be those with weaker and smaller footprints. None of the local access channels, such as NYCgov, came in with any reliability, for example. A couple of channels featuring old TV Westerns, like Death Valley Days, also proved unwatchable.

MORE: 10 Cheap TV Antennas (Under $20) Ranked Best to Worst

Bottom Line

Overall, the Antennas Direct ClearStream View antenna turned in average performance. Its unique design is really the main attraction, and it is priced comparably to our favorite — and also attractively designed — amplified antenna, the Mohu Curve. Nevertheless, the View doesn't have the sensitivity of the Curve, although it still pulls in a respectable number of stations compared with inexpensive — and more obtrusive — flat indoor antennas.

Credit: Antennas Direct

John R. Quain

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.