As cable and satellite TV bills rise, many people are turning to free over-the-air HDTV programming to save money. There are many types of HDTV antennas available. We want to help you choose the one that will work best for you and offer you the best value for your dollar.
First Things First
Find Where Your Broadcasts Will Be Coming From
Go to the FCC's site to determine where your favorite channels broadcast from. If they all come from the same general direction, a cheaper fixed antenna may be best for you. If they come in from two general directions, you may want to consider a bowtie antenna. Some people find that their favorites come in from all different directions. If this is the case, your best choice would be either an omnidirectional or a rotating antenna.
About Amplified Antennas…
Some antennas have built-in amplifier that boost the signal they receive before passing them to your TV. They are useful for pulling in distant broadcasts and boosting signals that have been weakened by obstructions like trees and buildings around your home.
The Difference Between VHF and UHF
Channels 2-13 are VHF. Channels 14 and up are UHF. Not all HDTV antennas receive VHF signals, so consider this when choosing one.
Some TV broadcaster's frequencies will be changing soon. Go to the FCC's site, enter your zip code into the box and see whether your favorites will be changing. If so, you should get an antenna that receives both UHF and VHF to be sure you can continue to receive your favorite stations after the change, regardless of what frequency they broadcast at now.
How We Reviewed These Outdoor HDTV Antennas
We sorted through hundreds of HDTV antennas during the compilation of this list of the ten best.
First, we weeded out models that exhibited poor craftsmanship. Then we rejected the ones that made over-hyped claims. These two steps narrowed our picks considerably.
Out of the remaining antennas, we chose the ones that consistently delivered on their claims of quality. We further culled the herd of contenders by picking the best performers in the omnidirectional and single-direction categories.
The 10 Best HDTV Antennas Compared And Reviewed
This is a tough and simple HDTV antenna with a great range. It can withstand storms and high wind because of its low-profile design and mostly metal construction.
Under optimal conditions, it can pick up broadcasts from up to 150 miles away.
This model may be best for you if you will be receiving broadcasts from one direction and there are some obstructions like trees and buildings in the way.
1byone offers a one month trial on all of their antennas so their customers can return the unit if it proves to be unsuitable for their area.
You can place this antenna on your roof or in the attic with comparable results. It is weatherproof and made to stand up to any type of snow, ice, wind, sun, or rain.
It has a range of up to 70 miles and HDTV support up to 1080i. Plus, it comes with access to the RCA Signal Finder app to help you find the best towers in your area for a superior viewing experience.
It comes pre-assembled, which makes installation a snap. You get the mast, locking clamp, mounting hardware and 75-ohm transformer in the box.
This antenna may work best for you if you have station towers within 50 miles. It is also a good choice if you want a simple install.
Here is our best budget pick. The value is incredible. It has a range of up to 150 miles and a built-in amplifier. It is not omnidirectional, but it features a built-in powered rotator. Check out the FCC broadcast map at the beginning of this article. You use it to find the direction that the station you want to watch broadcasts from, then use the included remote to rotate the antenna to face that direction. The motor turns the antenna to the correct compass direction for the best possible reception without you having to get off your couch.
This is an economical alternative to pricier omnidirectional antennas.
This is a non-amplified antenna that works great for pulling in stations from two different broadcast areas simultaneously. It works best when there are no obstructions between its installation point and the broadcast towers. It should be mounted as high as possible to minimize interference from obstructions that may be too far away for you to see.
Think of this unit as two antennas in one. It folds vertically in the middle. When you set it up, you fold it in a way that one side is facing one set of broadcast towers while the other side faces another source of signals.
This antenna offers a range up to 150 miles. It is a powerhouse if you live far away from local stations. It is ideal for rural dwellers.
It offers dual tv output so you can run on two televisions, and it supports up to 1080i.
Installation is a breeze thanks to the snap-on installation. You don't need a single tool to install.
It comes with a wireless remote and 40 feet RG6 coaxial cable. The kit also includes a mounting pole.
If you're over the age of 30, you probably remember seeing this type of antenna on rooftops everywhere. It is the classic outdoor antenna that served America for many years.
It will suit you if you can get all the channels you need from a single broadcast point and there aren't many obstructions around your house.
This antenna will not pick up channels 2-4, but it will receive all other VHF and UHF channels.
Manufacturer says this can be mounted on the roof or in the attic. It gets up to a 70 mile range and supports up to 4K.
The antenna comes with a mounting bracket, mast, and all hardware. Do note it does not come assembled, so it takes some work before installation.
It does support whole home use, allowing for multiple TV connections.
This bowtie antenna is meant to be adjusted to capture signals from two cities at once. This is great is you live between two broadcast points.
We like the improved blade-style elements that are designed to withstand wind. I wish I would have known about these when I lived in the Chicago suburbs. They would have saved me a lot of climbing and readjusting!
This omnidirectional antenna is based on a design for RV antennas that work as the vehicle is travelling down the highway. Its maximum range is only about 40 miles, so it is suitable for use only in close proximity to broadcasting towers. You have to keep in mind that even amplified antennas suffer range reduction when trees and other objects obstruct signals.
If you live in the city that you will be receiving your broadcasts from, this may be a good antenna for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
My Homeowner's Association Forbids Outdoor Antennas. Now What?
Put one in your attic! Be sure to choose an antenna with an amplifier to help restore signal loss caused by your roof.
My House Is Surrounded By Trees And Buildings. Does This Mean That An Outdoor HDTV Antenna Won't Work For Me?
Obstructions do not kill HDTV signals. They scatter them. Some strength is lost, but an antenna will still pick them up. Amplifiers boost scattered signals.
Check out the FCC's tips for better reception.
Does An Antenna Have To Be On My Roof To Work?
That depends on the strength of the signal you are trying to pull in. Generally, HDTV signals are stronger at rooftop level because there are usually less obstructions at that height.
The Final Verdict
All of the antennas we've offered on our list provide you with different options. Choosing an antenna is largely based on your situation. It depends on how close you are to signal towers and the landscape between you and the towers.
You cannot go wrong with any of the picks on our list when you need an outdoor HGTV antenna that will deliver a solid performance.