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The sub-$20 Viewtek Amplified HDTV Antenna is for serious bargain hunters who want to experiment with over-the-air TV reception but may not use it as their primary viewing source. Unfortunately, spotty reception prevents us from recommending this device over better, and nearly as inexpensive, competitors.
Design: Basic Black
The Viewtek Amplified antenna comes in basic black, and the flat design is about 13 x 12 inches — roughly the same size as models such as the Holisouse HD Antenna.
Viewtek includes a detachable amplifier about the size of a 12-volt USB power adapter on a 38-inch power cable. (The coaxial cable is 13 feet long.) However, an additional power plug is not included, so it either has to draw electricity from a TV's USB port or you need to supply your own USB AC adapter.
Furthermore, the antenna includes minimal documentation, and it’s not terribly helpful. (For example, I suggest you position the antenna for the best reception first, before sticking it permanently to a wall.)
Channels Received: 35
Range: 50 miles
1080p Reception: Yes
Cable Length: 13 feet
Size: 13 x 12 inches
Performance: Mediocre at Best
An initial scan of the local over-the-air stations using our test TV, a Samsung KS9000 4K set, yielded an initial count of 53 stations. Some nonamplified antennas have done as well or better, such as the $27 Holisouse HD Antenna. One downside, however, is that approximately 18 of the 53 initially scanned stations did not come in consistently or clearly enough to watch.
Most of the major stations in our viewing area where handled well enough by the Viewtek antenna. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all proved watchable. PBS stations and some sub channels showing old reruns also came in cleanly. However, several major Spanish language channels, including versions of Telemundo and Unimas, were glitchy and filled with breaks and drop outs and thus too distracting to watch.
To be fair, many of the missing stations were secondary sub channels and community broadcasts. However, there were a few I truly missed, such as the retro game show station Buzzr. Other viewers may be disappointed to discover several shopping channels from HSN and QVC failed to come in clearly.
Your location matters when you're trying to pull in over-the-air stations. So if you're in the middle of a metropolitan area with lots of broadcasters, you might do all right with the inexpensive Viewtek antenna. But everyone else should consider paying a little more to get better reception; for example, the Holisouse HD Antenna is a good option.
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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.