Making an HD TV antenna attractive should garner some respect, and the $59 GE UltraPro Signal Finder certainly accomplishes that, while also offering a unique signal indicator on its facade. But looks aren't everything. The truth is that this antenna's skills at pulling in stations are less than ultra, and even if a pretty face is important to you, there are better performers in this price range, such as the Mohu Curve 50.
Design: Svelte and laid back
The GE UltraPro is a flat, angled, brushed-black plastic antenna whose design is intended to accommodate different indoor situations. This antenna comes with a plastic stand for tabletop placement, but it can also be hung on a wall or laid down flat on a shelf.
The thin coaxial cable is not detachable, nor is the antenna's in-line amplifier. The amplifier, which is smaller than a pack of gum, comes with only an A/C adapter, so you need to plug into another wall outlet rather than having the option of using a USB port (a feature many others, like the Mohu Leaf Glide, offer).
Setup: Searching for signals
The U-shaped tabletop stand that GE supplies clips neatly into the back of the antennae so that it can perch at an angle on a shelf or desk. The wall mount consists of two screws with drywall anchors. We used the stand to position the antenna in our standard test location.
The much-touted signal finder is two rows of blue LEDs on the front of the antenna. The top three indicate signal strength, while the bottom five indicate the best orientation for the antenna. The lights may flash as signals wax and wane. If you find this distracting, or just don't want yet another LED blinking in your room, you can turn the signal meter lights off with the push of a button next to the lights.
For a breakdown of the channels available over the air in your area, we suggest checking AntennaWeb. You can then experiment, moving the GE antenna into various positions to find the most stations.
GE UltraPro Signal Finder Specs
|Cable Length||10 feet|
|Size||9 x 12 inches|
In our standard test location in New York City using the built-in tuner on a Samsung KS9000 4K set, an initial channel scan retrieved a preliminary list of 28 channels, of which only 13 were deemed watchable.
There was Hoda on NBC's crystal-clear HD station, and Rachael was fine on the local ABC affiliate. And several substations featuring reruns of Columbo and All in the Family were received loud and clear. However, Fox and CBS channels were nowhere to be found, and many regular stations, like NYC's community-access channels, failed to tune in. It wasn't until the upper reaches of the dial that everything became clear; there, we found Spanish-language Univision in perfect high definition and another group of stations running old syndicated shows.
For comparison purposes, we test all of our antennas from the same location. But the GE UltraPro's signal-strength LEDs indicated that we had a low signal strength in that spot. So we experimented with its position, putting the antenna in a variety of locations in the room and adjusting its orientation each time.
In several spots, we received the same signal strength and orientation levels but not the same number of channels. On one shelf, for example, we received fewer stations in an initial scan (20) and only 11 of those were deemed watchable. In another location in the middle of our test room, a scan generated a list of 46 stations with the same signal strength and orientation LED levels; unfortunately only 21 channels were viewable.
By way of comparison, consider that the Channel Master SmarTenna+ received 22 viewable channels in our tests. On the other hand, the $70 Mohu Curve 50 captured 58 watchable channels, 45 more than the GE UltraPro.
Ultimately, the GE UltraPro's LED signal-strength indicators may not be as helpful as they appear. We received different stations in different locations and more or fewer channels overall, all with the same LED levels. So, it may help you determine whether you have any HD TV signals at all, but the UltraPro's signal finder feature won't help you fine-tune your reception.
Some excellent design and feature ideas will attract cord-cutters to the GE UltraPro antenna. It's not going to mar one's interior decor, and the signal-strength LEDs up front are still welcome. We'd like to see such a feature in other antennas. But for all its handsome features, ultimately, the antenna delivers only modest performance compared to similarly priced models like the Mohu Curve 50 (which delivered dozens of more channels in our tests).