TV Antenna Reviews

Editor's Note:
Judging by the number of TV antennas flooding the market, cord cutting is becoming more and more popular. Judging by the feedback these antennas receive, most don't really perform that much better than models based on age-old designs. These are the best ones.
 
Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor Antenna
Specs that Matter
Estimated range (miles) -- 50Directionality -- MultidirectionalCoverage -- UHF, high-band VHF
Best Reviewed
Best indoor HDTV antenna
Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor Antenna

If you live where an indoor antenna will work, the ClearStream Eclipse is an excellent choice. It's flexible, double-sided (black or white) and can be painted. The Sure Grip mounting strips allow for easy repositioning if required. Best of all, it's a good UHF performer that performs well on higher band VHF channels (7-13) as well. An amplifier is included, and an unamplified version for areas with strong signal strength is also available.
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Channel Master Flatenna 35
Specs that Matter
Estimated range (miles) -- 35Directionality -- OmnidirectionalCoverage -- UHF, high-band VHF
Runner Up
Best cheap HDTV antenna
Channel Master Flatenna 35

If you live in an area where TV signals are strong, the $10 Channel Master Flatenna 35 deserves consideration. Construction quality isn't the best, and the short, permanently attached cable limits installation flexibility, but in prime signal locations -- 35 miles or less from the TV towers -- it can hold its own with antennas costing three times (or more) as much. Available in either black or white, this omnidirectional antenna works well with UHF and high VHF channels.

Terk HDTVAZ
Specs that Matter
Directionality -- DirectionalEstimated range (miles) -- 45Coverage -- VHF, UHF
Best Reviewed
Best directional HDTV antenna
Terk HDTVAZ

The Terk HDTVAZ is a highly directional, amplified antenna. It's harder to hide in a room than many indoor antennas, but its design is effective in eliminating interference from reflected signals -- which can be a major headache for city dwellers. It includes receiving elements for all current HDTV channels, including low VHF channels, which can elude some less obtrusive designs. However, the directional design does mean that a bit of repositioning might be necessary to capture different stations.
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Terk HDTVAZ Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
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New: $69.99 $36.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V
Specs that Matter
Directionality -- DirectionalEstimated range (miles) -- 60Coverage -- UHF, VHF
Best Reviewed
Best indoor/outdoor TV antenna
Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V

If you live in an area where TV reception is a challenge, and an outdoor antenna is not practical, the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V could be your best bet. For indoor use, aesthetics will certainly take a back seat as this big antenna will be hard to miss in a typical room. But at distances of 60 miles or less from the TV towers, no antenna short of a roof-mounted one will perform better.
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ClearStream 2V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Mount - 60 Mile Range
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from Amazon.com
New: $119.99 $95.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Types of TV Antennas
Indoor HDTV Antennas

If you live in an area where signals are relatively strong, there's a bevy of effective antennas that earn praise from experts. However, performance in any given location can vary widely depending on how far you are from the broadcast towers, what channels your local broadcasters use, topography, intervening obstacles such as trees and buildings, and phases of the moon (we are kidding about the last one, though judging by the reviews we see, maybe not so much). Still, if you live within 30 miles of the TV towers (and even within 50 miles in some situations) it's possible to find an effective, and even economical, indoor TV antenna that will help you watch local broadcasts in full HD without shelling out a dime to a cable TV provider.

Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antennas

For distant signals, beyond 30 miles in some cases, and certainly beyond 60 miles in almost all cases, your best bet will likely be a large roof or attic-mounted antenna. However, in between sits a host of more compact antennas that can provide good performance in all but the most marginal of reception areas. These are designed primarily for outdoor use but can be adapted for use indoors, even in your viewing room -- though they won't be easy to hide - or ignore.

Getting free TV with a television antenna

Television antennas -- and the availability of local over-the-air programming -- can play a big role in deciding whether to ditch your current TV provider. Many people are abandoning cable and satellite TV providers in favor of streaming content online from Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus and more. Networks are getting into the act as well. However, in many cases, an over-the-air (OTA) antenna and a TV with a digital tuner are the only way to view local programs and network TV shows at the same time as they're originally broadcast. This is also typically the only way to see that programming for free.

However, there's a caveat. Because of the nature of digital TV signals and the frequencies many digital stations now use, receiving them with a television antenna is more of a challenge than with the old analog system. Tall buildings, hills and other obstructions create lots of complications. In addition, the signals might not cover as wide an area as the old analog ones did. All of that means you might need to pay special attention to your HDTV antenna to get the best over-the-air digital TV.

In stores, you'll see many television antennas being promoted as designed for HDTV, but in reality you don't need a special HDTV antenna design to receive digital signals. In fact, in most cases, the best antennas are those based on the same designs used for decades for analog TV reception. If you already have a good antenna with which you received analog TV, it might be all you need.

One thing to watch for when selecting a television antenna for digital TV is that many so-called HDTV antennas are only designed to cover the UHF band (channels 14 to 69), which is where most digital TV signals are found, though that band has been cut back so that digital stations are now restricted to the lower part, channels 14 to 51. The problem is that some stations asked for and were granted permission to move back to their original VHF frequencies (channels 2 to 13) once the digital transition was complete in June 2009.

If you live in an area where all the broadcasters you want to receive use UHF, that's not a concern. In addition, testing reveals that many popular HDTV antennas are at least decent performers on the upper VHF channels (channels 7-13). It's on low band VHF (channels 2-6) where things get a bit problematic. If there's a low-band VHF station you want to receive in your area, you'll need to select a TV antenna that performs well for those frequencies, as well. If you don't know what stations you can receive and what channels they use to broadcast on, sites such as AntennaWeb.org and TVFool.com can help.

Finding The Best TV Antennas
Our Sources1. TVFool.com
Check Your Address for Free TV2. AntennaWeb.org
Maximize Your Television Reception3. HDTVExpert.com
Product Review: ClearStream Eclipse TV Antenna See All

One problem with finding the best TV antenna is separating marketing spin from actual results, and that's complicated by the fact that an antenna that works great for one person because of their geographical location could be a miserable failure for someone living even a short distance away. The best reviews of TV antennas come from those who've tested a good number of them, and have done so under relatively uniform circumstances. For that, we turn to sources such as HDTVExpert.com, TheWirecutter.com, CNET, TopTenReviews.com and Tom's Guide. Likewise, user reviews can be helpful, especially for antennas that are evaluated by hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of owners. That helps normalize the feedback so results aren't skewed by those living in extremely difficult reception areas or where OTA signal strength is so strong that a bent coat hanger could work as an acceptable antenna. Amazon.com is tops for that, but we also consider feedback from other sources, such as BestBuy.com. The results are our picks as the best indoor antennas for most budgets and situations.