In the days of analog TV, rabbit ears for VHF and a loop antenna for UHF were ubiquitous. Believe it or not, that design remains a good choice for locations where signal strength is very strong. We see good recommendations for the RadioShack Budget TV Antenna (*Est. $15) at AVSForum.com, although Pete Putman at HDTVexpert.com provides one of the most rigorous evaluations. While he credits his professional-grade receiving equipment for much of the antenna's success, its performance still leaves him impressed. Not every user who weighs in at RadioShack.com is completely happy, but the vast majority -- especially those with realistic expectations -- seem satisfied.
At first glance, the RadioShack Budget TV Antenna looks exactly like the familiar rabbit ears and loop antennas that perched atop millions of TV sets before the age of digital TV. Yet as noted in the AVSForum.com review, the antenna has a wider-diameter loop that optimizes gain in the UHF band so it falls into the heart of what's now used for digital broadcasts.
This and similar antennas are bidirectional, meaning reception is strongest from the front and back but weaker for signals received from the sides, so you might need to do a little fiddling or repositioning for different channels. The design also leaves the antenna subject to multipath interference, or reflections from hills or buildings. Back in the days of analog TV, multipath interference used to cause ghosting of faint secondary images. Today, due to the nature of digital signals, it can cause DTV television reception to disappear altogether.
For those who live in strong signal areas and need an antenna only for UHF, the good old bow-tie antenna remains a viable option. Once available everywhere, they're now hard to find at retail. However, we've seen them on auction sites and elsewhere on the Internet for less than $5.