Our Top Pick for 2018: 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna
Read our full review.
In years past, having an antenna for your local stations was the only way to receive the engaging content that generations have enjoyed. Today, cable companies have multiplied the availability of engaging content a hundredfold or more. As more content becomes available, the more the cable companies charge; in fact, some folks out there have actually reverted to the TV antenna style of viewership and have become “cord cutters”. These cord cutters watch many of their favorite shows on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime and get their local programming using HDTV antennas.
As the amount of TV watchers who have cut their cords increases, more and more HD antennas are becoming available on the market. To make your decision easier about which HD antenna is best for you, we’ve created a list of four of the best on the market currently. Three are of exceptional, premium quality, while the final is great if you’re on a budget. To further help you make this decision, we’ve also created a guide at the bottom of this write up that will tell you what to look for when considering one of these devices.
Quick View of Our Top Picks:
|1byone TV Antenna, 50 Mile Range Amplified HDTV Antenna with Detachable Amplifier Signal Booster,...||9,431 Reviews||$23.99||Buy on Amazon|
|EnergyPal AN51 Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna 50 Mile Range With Power Supply and 10ft Coax Cable||181 Reviews||Currently not available||Buy on Amazon|
|ClearStream 2V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Mount - 60 Mile Range||1,544 Reviews||from $79.99||Buy on Amazon|
|FLYMEI 35 Miles Range Ultra Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna with 10ft High Performance Coaxial Cable and...||89 Reviews||Currently not available||Buy on Amazon|
#1. 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna
As with the majority of the Gold Picks on our site, this HDTV antenna is considered a quality device by the majority of consumer and critical groups. Developed by Canadian electronics manufacturer 1byone, this device will ensure that you get quality reception with guaranteed performance. This antenna is a directional unit; meaning that it has to be faced in the direction of the signal to get the best performance out of the device, so consider this if you have a lot of stations coming in from various towers near your home.
Aesthetically, this device is very unique looking. It’s paper-thin and can be posted on a wall or window via the sticky tape that is provided by the manufacturer. You have the option of either white or black when purchasing this item, and either is great dependent on your TV room’s décor. Many place this style of antenna in a window, and for the most part, either on the wall placement or window placement works out pretty well for reception.
Since placement will vary dependent on signal, 1byone was considerate enough to include a ten foot cable with the device. This will hopefully allow you to extend the cable to a window from its attachment behind your TV. The cable type is coaxial so if this is still too short, you can easily get a longer length for a more understated cabling setup.
Setup is also very simple with the 1byone device. As this connects via coaxial cable, you simply place the short coax into the coaxial connector in the back of your HDTV. Next, connect the other end of the shorter coaxial cable to the device’s splitter. You’ll need to power the device at this junction, so simply wire the power cable into the connector here and attach it to a suitable wall outlet. Finally, the final connected cable is the ten foot coaxial, which feeds directly to the antenna. Once these four connections are made, you should start receiving HD broadcasts immediately. One caveat: not all channels broadcast in full HD, so you may receive some channels that only have 720p resolution when you watch them.
Fortunately, this device has a full 50 mile range, which is great for a directional antenna, but be forewarned, you may have to move this device from time to time to get all of your channels. For example, some users on YouTube have said that to receive the local NBC affiliate, they had to post the antenna on one wall and to receive the local ABC affiliate, they had to post the device on another.
1byone states that the device will function and still deliver HD signals even in bad weather. Just remember; always check ahead of time for which channels are available in your immediate area. As this is a directional model, a good rule of thumb is for you to find out which channels are coming from which directions; this way you’ll know whether a directional model is best for your TV-viewing needs.
On Amazon, there are almost 8,000 reviews of this product. Of these reviews, about 69 percent are of a four or five star rating level. Many reviewers state the fact that this device has an amplifier makes it a great purchase for those who live in areas that are more remote and may have lesser signal strength. Here is a five star review that touches on this:
“For anyone looking into switching I cannot recommend enough, get the amplified version. I’m still in my testing phase, so right now my antenna lives resting in my window, where it catches all the major networks I wanted. Depending on your TV placement you could have to place this unit without a direct view to the outside, but even when I tried that most stations still came in clearly.”
#2. EnergyPal AN51 Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
Our Silver Pick HD antenna is a great choice for those who need a multi-directional-style antenna that doesn’t cost a lot of cash. This device comes to us from EnergyPal, an electronics company that manufactures everything from iPad cases to car chargers. This company’s quality construction methods and dedication to the consumer is well-represented in product reviews and testimonials. As this is a multi-directional (not omni-directional) antenna, you might have a better overall pickup of local stations than our Gold Pick product, dependent on terrain, positioning, and broadcast range.
Firstly, you might notice that this HD antenna uses a similar form factor to our Gold Pick product. It is relatively thin, has lines indicating where the actual antenna tines are, and is about 13 x 0.4 x 11.8 inches in size. The flat antenna surface adjoins the connected ten foot coaxial cable via a square clip-style connector that isn’t much thicker than the antenna’s surface. The only available color for this device is black, but the manufacturer has stated that you can actually paint over either side of this device in order for it to blend in with your walls, and thusly, your room’s décor.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest complaints that you’ll find about this device is the fact that the manufacturer doesn’t ship it with a set of instructions, and while this doesn’t require a rocket scientist to install, this oversight has certainly cost EnergyPal a bit of consumer goodwill. Luckily, for those with an internet connection, this antenna does have online instructions; some even posted on Amazon.
To setup, simply install the shorter coaxial cable into the back of your HDTV, and plug into the amplifier junction box that comes with the device. The next step requires you to plug the device directly into the wall via a micro-USB connected UL adaptor to power it. Since this requires a micro-USB cable, you should be able to switch out the cabling with a longer length if you have one available. Finally, simply attach the ten foot long coaxial cable to the amplifier and your device will start broadcasting your area’s available channels.
The manufacturer states that you won’t need much in the way of pointing, as the multi-directional antennas should filter out signals on the FM bandwidth as well as cellular signals. This device also has a built in amplifier which can help you receive broadcasts from 50 miles away.
On Amazon, 77 percent of the 191 reviews are of a four star or five star positivity rating. Some people have had issues setting this device up, and some have reported that it hasn’t worked for them at all, but of the positive reviews, many say that the multi-directional nature of the device is great for picking up channels. Here is one example:
“I was AMAZED at how clear my local channels came in. The antenna found 23 channels. My local channels are crystal clear HD, better than my AT&T Uverse signal. Granted, I do live within 5 miles of the broadcast centers, but I was still very surprised at how well the channels came through.”
#3. ClearStream 2V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna
Our Bronze Pick is the first outdoor optional device on our list and comes to us from ClearStream, a company that specializes in producing devices of this type. Once again, this is not an omni-directional model, but has some great features that will provide you great HD service, even when the weather outside is frightful.
From a looks perspective, the first thing you’ll notice is this HD antennas very unique shape. The device features a dish-like setup, with a central rounded hub for reception. Attached to this central hub are two round structures that attach in such a way as to give the impression of the symbol for infinity, and behind all of these structures is a metal grid that helps the device pick up signals more efficiently.
While labeled as an indoor/outdoor device, as you may have guessed from the description, this antenna is a little large and cumbersome. With so many differently shaped components, it doesn’t quite work as well as an indoor device; especially when you don’t have a lot of space to work with. This, of course, isn’t to say that it can’t be placed on a windowsill or near a door; it’s just that its larger size makes it a bit harder to place than our prior picks. When you do place it indoors, the company suggests placing it in out of the way places like in a den.
Setting up this device takes a little bit more than the other antennas on our list. You’ll have to fully assemble the unit and you’ll need tools like a Phillips head screwdriver, a drill, an adjustable wrench, and ratcheting drivers. Once assembled, you can post the device on a roof, in the aforementioned den, or along a pole that extends along the outside of your house. There is no junction with this model, simply extend the 30 foot coaxial cable into your HDTV, switch signal to air, and you’ll be set up to receive stations.
Amazingly, this antenna has a full 60 mile range, so you’ll be able to receive a plethora of stations from ABC, NBC, and CBS, to public stations like PBS. As a matter of fact, this is probably the most functional device on our list, but it does lose a few points for how difficult it is to set up and for the fact that it doesn’t really work well in an apartment or dorm.
When it comes to Amazon reviews, this device has a 86 percent positivity rating. Of all the 1,280 reviews, a full 76 percent of this reviews ratings are of a five star quality level. Most reviewers do note the difficulty of setup, but gush over the quality of reception. Here is a five star testimonial:
“Had to get rid of cable, $45 for just 8 local channels? No thank you! You need to pay attention to put it together, but it was easy. Once hooked to the tv I was able to get 56 channels, including all digital and all for FREE! The only complaint is that it is a large and bulky, but I hid it in the back of the tv and all is good.”
#4. FLYMEI 35 Miles Range HDTV Antenna
Our final budget pick is a great option if you are looking to connect up to local stations on your HDTV, but are on a budget. This device doesn’t have as long a range as out other picks, only about 35 feet, but still this antenna manages to do a great job at providing HD resolutions, while leaving you a little extra change in your pocket.
Aesthetically, this antenna bears a resemblance to our Silver Pick; it has a flat, even bendable, paper-like main surface that is attached to a clip that leads to a coaxial connector. Included on the main antenna surface are two sticky pads, so that you can post this antenna onto a wall or onto a window. This is a directional model, so you may have to play around with placement in order to get the best receptions.
Setup is very easy. Simply attach the coaxial to your TV, attach the other end to the junction box in the middle, and attach the coaxial on the antenna itself to the other side. Power is provided with this antenna in two ways: firstly you can plug the attached cable and UL adaptor directly into the wall, or you can plug in the USB side of the same cable directly into the USB port on your TV.
Like the other devices of its type on our list, this HD antenna comes with a ten foot cable. Also, as a concession to your décor, you can paint the device without worrying about any negative effects on your reception.
69 percent of the reviews on Amazon are positive, four or five star rated reviews. Here is a review for our ballin’ on a budget pick that will hopefully give you an impression of its quality:
“Very impressed with the amount of channels that we got and the quality of the picture. Just got a new tv for a spare room and hooked up this antenna. With it just sitting on the entertainment center we were able to pick up all local channels. This is definitely worth getting and makes “cord cutting” more and more tempting.”
Location, Location, Location
The chief concern you should think about when looking into one of these devices is location. This consideration should affect your decision in two ways:
• Location in your home – Since these receptions are carried by radio wave, you’ll certainly want to consider the best positioning in your home when buying one. Some parts of your home may interfere with the reception; hotspots that have aluminum siding or are lower than ground level can negatively affect your antenna’s reception.
• Where you live – This can directly affect what channels you’ll be able to access. Some remote areas don’t receive the TV signal very well, and since this uses the same technology that was used to broadcast analog signals, lower reception will mean gaps in service.
A great way to get an idea about what stations are available to you in your area is to use sites like http://www.tvfool.com/ (TVFool) and http://www.antennaweb.org/ (Antenna Web), are great services that will help you find out what stations are available in your area, either on UHF or VHF.
For TVFool, you simply register and give your address; the site will then automatically detect the local stations and group them by the signal strength of your home. You’ll easily be able to know which channels will come in strongly, which will come in with a bit of interruption, and which won’t make it to your HDTV at all.
Antenna Web, on the other hand, also includes information on the types of OTA antennas you can purchase in addition to giving you a detailed rundown of what stations are available to you in your immediate area. Both of these sites will group channels by callsign and will present the information about which networks each callsign represents. Overall, they are a great resource for when you want to get started with the HD antenna experience and will help get you situated.
Type of Antenna
Location isn’t the only consideration for your new antenna. There are actually two different types of antenna that you will have to choose from. Here is a rundown of these two specific types:
• Omni-directional – As the name indicates, this type of antenna picks up signals coming from multiple or every direction. This is the perfect antenna if you live in an area where there are a lot of networks being broadcast from numerous sides. In this situation, the antenna will be able to pick up these networks freely and you’ll not have to move the antenna when you want to access different programming.
• Directional – This is the style of antenna that you can use if you have a relatively limited amount of coverage in your home area. If you find that you have a few channels with limited coverage that are coming from the same general direction, this is for you. Directional antennas are able to pick up signals from a single direction better than an omni-directional can pick up multiple from a few sources, so consider this is you live in a more remote area that has fewer channels to choose from.
Also, if you want to pick up multiple frequencies, all antennas can pick up either UHF signals, VHF signals, or sometimes both. UHF covers the higher numbered channels and VHF covers the lower numbers. Try to err on the side of an antenna that can pick up both bands of broadcasting, as you’ll have a larger variety of programming to choose from. Also, if you live in a remote area, you are much more likely to be able to receive UHF than VHF, though VHF is where you are more likely to find network affiliates.
Analog vs. Digital – How Antenna technology has changed
Anyone who grew up in the era before the advent of digital technology probably remembers how antenna tech worked in that time. When using one of these antennas, if you had a lower reception, you could try moving your antenna or “rabbit ears” a bit and hopefully this would remove some of the static. Today, antenna technology is virtually the same, but with digital feeds, static can happen, but you are most likely to lose reception of your channel when your antenna isn’t in the proper alignment. Because of this change in the broadcast type, you should be 100 percent sure that when you get a new HD antenna, that you are well covered, because consistently losing your signal when watching your favorite programming would be annoying to say the least.
For those who experience little coverage, an external amplifier can be an option that will help you receive better reception, though there are some caveats that go with this device. Some antenna models actually incorporate an amplifier into their design, so if you are in this situation, consider these as well.
To start, the Consumer’s Electronics Association (CEA) has stated that using an amplifier is the best way to get weak signals. That being said, an external amplifier can also harm regular-strength signals as well. When picking up regular signals, the amplifier will increase its strength to the point where the signal will overload the digital tuner; resulting in decreased reception. Also, since amplifiers amplify noise as well as signal, the result of using an amplifier on a standard signal will be no noticeable improvement. In the end, if you do decide to pick up an external amp, know what level of signal you receive around your home, using one of these when you have perfectly stable signals locally, defeats the purpose of buying one of these types of devices.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
There was a time when many thought that the day of the rabbit ear antenna was long gone, but now with the advent of the cord cutting generation, the heyday of these types of devices is once again returning. We hope that our write up gave you a great starting point for joining the cord cutting movement, which will allow you to bring local broadcast channels to your home for free, for life. Take a look at the models we reviewed and utilize our pre-purchase considerations as a way to find the new HD antenna that you’ve been looking for.