These days, many people are cutting cables and saying goodbye to cable and satellite television packages in search of a more user-friendly option. However, if you don’t want to miss out on great local programs, such as Sunday football games and your local newscast, you’ll need a TV antenna that’s up to the task. We made this guide to showcase the best TV antennas on the market today and to offer you key info that will help you find the perfect TV antenna for your unique needs.
Why buy a TV antenna?
When you get rid of your cable or satellite television plan and begin utilizing a streaming service for your TV fix, you’ll probably lose access to all the local channels that you love. Luckily, if you have a high-quality TV antenna, regaining HD access to your favorite channels is a piece of cake. This is especially important since many networks don’t make livestreams of their content available for locals, or they choose to hide content behind costly paywalls. Luckily, today’s modern TV antennas are adept at picking up signals and even displaying local stations in glorious 4K HD.
What qualities should you look for in a TV antenna?
- Range: Before starting your search for a great TV antenna, it’s helpful to find out how many stations are within range. Thankfully, there’s a great online tool to help you out. After using a resource to determine which stations are reachable, look for an antenna that features a range that’s long enough to reach all the stations you desire. Depending on where broadcasts are coming from in relation to your home, you might even decide on an antenna that features a 360-degree signal pickup so that you can access stations from all around.
- Signal Type: Since over-the-air TV signals broadcast on two distinct sets of frequencies, you’ll want to make sure that your TV antenna is capable of accessing all of the stations in your area. The Very High Frequency (VHF) band used to be the standard due to its ability to carry a signal from far-away places with minimal interference. However, the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band is more popular today, as it’s ideal for HD programming due to its higher bandwidth. Despite this, there are still plenty of stations that broadcast in VHF, so if you choose a UHF antenna, you’ll likely be missing out. Luckily, most modern TV antennas allow for both VHF and UHF transmissions. However, it’s still a good idea to check an antenna’s reviews in order to determine whether a specific model struggles to pick up either signal type.
- Durability: If you’ll be opting for an outdoor TV antenna, a weather-resistant design that’s durable enough to weather the test of time is imperative. This is especially important if you plan on mounting your antenna to a recreational vehicle. When an antenna is mounted outdoors, it will have to contend with strong winds, rain, and even debris from storms. Outdoor mounting will also make the installation process more important, as a securely mounted antenna is much less likely to be moved or damaged by inclement weather. Even plastic models can offer plenty in terms of durability, but make sure that the build quality is rugged enough for its application.
Is an indoor or outdoor TV antenna better for my living situation?
When deciding whether an indoor or outdoor TV antenna is right for you, there are a few key things to consider. Naturally, your options will be somewhat limited if you’re living in a rented apartment, as mounting an outdoor TV antenna will likely not be an option for you in that case. However, modern indoor antennas are better than ever at receiving signals, even when dealing with a home’s obstructions. For the best results, however, you’ll want to place the antenna near a window. While indoor antennas tend to be less adept at picking up a signal than properly installed outdoor antennas, they’re still a great option for people who live in urban areas, and they’re much easier to install.
Outdoor antennas tend to be a more reliable option, especially for people who live in rural or suburban areas that are removed from major cities and their broadcasting towers. This is because their standard rooftop placement allows them to receive signals from much further away than indoor antennas. However, even if your rooftop is inaccessible to you, mounting an outdoor antenna on your deck, or even on a tripod, will give you a great chance of picking up a reliable signal. That being said, outdoor antennas tend to require some assembly and have a somewhat trickier installation process.
gesobyte Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna
This indoor antenna is effortless to install and sports superior signal quality versus similarly priced products.
Pros: The gesobyte Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna comes equipped with a signal booster and really does make the most of its 4K/FHD-ready design. This seems to be true even if your TV isn’t situated in an ideal location, such as near a window, making it a great choice for people who have struggled with inferior indoor antenna reception in the past. However, its 18-foot-long coaxial cable does well to ensure that if there’s a window anywhere near your TV, you’ll be able to install the antenna right where it needs to be.
Cons: While this antenna boasts a minimum 250-mile range, for most applications, it will be much lower than this. Unless you’re located on the 100th floor of the Empire State Building, expect a working range between 30 to 40 miles (which is pretty common for an indoor antenna). Additionally, while this antenna shouldn’t break the bank for most, it’s somewhat more expensive than similar models, especially considering that it doesn’t pick up VHF signals.
Bottom Line: With crystal-clear reception but a somewhat limited range, this is an ideal antenna for people who live in urban areas where there are plenty of signals to pick up. For people who are far removed from the nearest stations, don’t let the advertised 250-mile range fool you, as you’ll be much better off choosing a long-range outdoor TV antenna.
GE Outdoor TV Antenna
Featuring rugged construction that is perfectly suited for the attic or outdoors, this antenna is a great choice for suburban homes.
Pros: This TV antenna from GE is definitely more rugged than most options at its price point, and sports a weather-resistant design for outdoor mounting applications. However, even when mounted in the attic, it’s adept at picking up VHF and UHF signals with crystal-clear quality. This antenna also features a fairly impressive range, even without the use of a signal amplifier.
Cons: The issues facing this TV antenna start after you open the box, as it comes in many pieces, and the manual isn’t exceptionally clear in regards to the assembly process. While the assembly and installation process is straightforward enough for most people to figure out even with the manual’s comically tiny text, it’s still a factor that’s worth considering.
Bottom Line: All things considered, this is a high-quality TV antenna that’s worth the investment, especially for people who live away from major cities. Whether you end up installing it in your attic or on your roof, its signal will likely impress. That being said, this is a model that can definitely benefit from a signal amplifier, especially if your home is far off the beaten path.
ANTAN Indoor Window HDTV Antenna
This budget-friendly TV antenna features a respectable range for its price as well as an easy-to-install design.
Pros: If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, no other indoor TV antenna offers more for less. This one also impresses with its low-profile design and good signal, making it a great choice for mounting behind your TV. Like similar indoor antennas, this one is virtually effortless to install, and its UHF and VHF signal capabilities and HD support make it a great asset at its price point.
Cons: This product lacks the range of outdoor TV antennas and even many indoor models. While people who live in cities will likely be able to pick up a ton of channels, suburban and rural customers will be largely out of luck. Additionally, you’ll need to install it near a window for the best results.
Bottom Line: Given this antenna’s low price, it’s not exactly surprising that this model isn’t providing any technological breakthroughs. However, for people who live in urban areas where network signals are a dime a dozen, there’s no better or more cost-effective way to get all the stations that you crave on your television in glorious HD.
Winegard Elite 360 Pro
For its premium price, this antenna allows you to snag signals at 360 degrees and simplifies the installation process.
Pros: The Winegard Elite 360 Pro can be installed just about anywhere outside of your home and comes equipped with a free app to help you figure out the perfect placement for your new TV antenna. It also sports a built-in preamplifier and a 360-degree signal pickup, making it likely that you’ll pick up many more channels with it versus more budget-friendly options. It also scores points for a fairly low-profile design that won’t create an eyesore on your home.
Cons: While this antenna has a lot to offer, some might question whether it’s worth its premium price tag. This is especially true since the overall build quality feels slightly flimsy for the cost. This antenna is also somewhat trickier to install than others and will require you to do some assembly work before it’s ready to be affixed outside of your home.
Bottom Line: Although this TV antenna offers a lot of features that others don’t, many would be just fine with a more cost-effective option. However, for people who feel overwhelmed by the trial and error required when purchasing and setting up a new TV antenna, this one offers enough helpful features to make it worth the investment.
KING Jack HDTV Antenna
This TV antenna makes it simple to find signals for HD television while on the road.
Pros: TV antennas made for RV use can be extremely hit-or-miss, but this one really gets it right in terms of reliably being able to acquire a signal. Thus, if you’re replacing an old RV antenna for this one, be prepared to pick up more channels with less hassle than before. This TV antenna also allows for simple 360-degree rotation and is HD-ready, making it an excellent option for people who need access to their favorite programs on the go.
Cons: While this antenna is fairly easy to install on your RV, it will take a little more effort to make it work for RVs with rounded roofs. Additionally, it feels a little flimsy, given its price point, but seems to hold up well (as long as you avoid low branches while driving).
Bottom Line: Although this TV antenna is pretty expensive, it’s more or less comparable to other popular RV antenna options. However, it’s also smaller and more effective than similar products and comes with some nice features that will make your life easier when you’re trying to watch television in your RV. However, people who are on a budget can find a nice antenna for far less, although it will lack the bells and whistles.
These days, everyone is cutting cords, which makes TV antennas a really attractive purchase. However, if you don’t shop wisely, you could end up buying two or three antennas before finding one that really works for you. For this reason, it’s important to pay close attention to the product details and to take merchant range estimates with a grain of salt, as these are almost always exaggerated. However, if you take the time to make an educated purchase, it won’t be difficult to find a TV antenna that will serve you well for many years to come.