Home > Computers & Electronics > TV Antennas > Best Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antennas

Best Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antennas

By: Carl Laron on December 01, 2017

Inside, or out, these large HDTV antennas work where others fail

For distant signals, beyond 60 miles, your best bet will likely be a large roof or attic-mounted antenna. While we don't cover those in this report, we touch upon how to find the right choice for your location at the end of this section. But before you go there, and as long as you are willing to put up with an antenna that won't be as easy to hide or ignore in your viewing room, there are some good alternatives that are worth a look.

It's big (for an indoor antenna) and not all that attractive, but if you live where reception is a challenge and would rather not erect a large, mast-mounted outdoor TV antenna, the Channel Master STEALTHenna 50 (Est. $30) is probably your best bet. User reviews aren't very plentiful, at least compared with other antennas, but what's there looks good. The antenna also gets a bit of love from Peter Putman at HDTVExpert.com. It's tested in an earlier review there, both with and without an accessory amplifier, and either way scores well (albeit tied with a UHF only bow tie antenna -- see our discussion of Best Indoor HDTV Antennas for more information).

Most recently, it was tested by Putman against our former Best Reviewed pick, the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V (Est. $80) (see below), as well as against some newer indoor/outdoor antennas, such as the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2Max (Est. $60). When tried "barefoot," (without any kind of pre-amplification), each antenna in the trial "gave a good accounting of itself." However, when all were equipped with an Antennas Direct ClearStream Juice VHF/UHF Preamplifier (Est. $75), "leveling the playing field," the STEALTHenna was the clear winner, "receiving every possible station."

The antenna includes receiving elements for all current TV bands, including low-band VHF. It uses a Yagi design -- similar in appearance to many UHF/VHF roof antennas, but smaller -- and is somewhat directional, taking in signals over a 90 degree arc. It's rated for a range of 50 miles.

Though called compact, at 23.5 by 22.6 inches this antenna will be hard to miss if used indoors. "It's small enough to sit in a closet or attic space, or even in a room -- think of it as functional art," Putman says. Most, however, use this antenna mounted in an attic or on a porch or patio and, unlike the ClearStream, which includes instructions for mounting indoors, Channel Master doesn't provide any information or hardware for that type of use.

User reviews are good, but there are a lot fewer of them than for the 2V. Price is certainly a selling point, but most are pleased with performance. In nearly 55 reviews at Amazon, it earns a 4.1 star rating.

As for the ClearStream 2V, users continue to rate it well, but the most recent expert feedback is more mixed. Wirecutter, for example, puts it in the also-ran category. "When pointed in the right direction, it's capable of pulling in stations from a longer distance, but it didn't receive the closer target channels any better than the small antennas," Grant Clauser says. At Cordcutting.com, Richard Lovely tests it alongside the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse (Est. $60), profiled in the section on Best Indoor HDTV Antennas, and found that when used indoors, the 2V didn't significantly outperform the smaller antenna.

This antenna uses a design that's quite different from the Channel Master. It's a large two-bay UHF loop and scatter-plane reflector antenna, coupled with a VHF dipole antenna for complete coverage of all HDTV channels, present and future. Despite being able to receive signals over a fairly large angle, the design is again fairly directional, so it will be challenged to receive signals from widely spaced bearings.

But like the STEALTHenna 50, its chief drawback is its size. Measuring 20 inches long by 35.5 inches wide by 6.5 inches deep, there's no missing this antenna in a typical viewing room. Some don't mind; others find a way to rationalize living with it. Another alternative is to place the antenna in your attic and run cabling to your set, an approach favored by many.

As noted above, user reviews are both plentiful and solid. At Amazon, reviews of the 2V are mixed with that of other Antennas Direct models, but more than 86 percent of the over 1,400 users that comment only on the 2V give it 4 or, mostly, 5 stars. Given the apparent disconnect between owners and experts, it's clear that with this, and any antenna, when it comes to performance, your mileage may most definitely vary.

What about an outdoor antenna?

While a small (or relatively small) indoor antenna can do the trick for many if not most TV viewers, that still leaves a good number for which there's no alternative except a large outdoor HDTV antenna. They're more costly and difficult to install, but in nearly every case an outdoor antenna mounted as high as possible will outperform an indoor one. For viewers located more than 60 miles or so from the transmitters, an outdoor antenna is virtually a necessity. Those who are closer but surrounded by hills, buildings or other obstacles that reduce signal strength might also need to choose an outdoor antenna.

The CEA has developed a color-rating system that identifies outdoor television antennas by type and receiving strength. Antenna types range from small, multidirectional models coded yellow that are suitable for use in high-signal-strength areas to large, directional TV antennas coded violet that may be your only hope if you want to pull in a distant or weak signal. Reports by addresses generated at AntennaWeb.org includes that color code information.

While we don't specifically recommend any outdoor television antennas, choosing one for your specific needs is relatively easy: Match up the reception prediction with the color code rating of an antenna, and a good chunk of the work is done. You also need to make sure the antenna is a good performer for the channels available in your area, especially if some broadcasters are, or will soon be, on VHF.

Elsewhere In This Report
Recently Updated
TV Antennas buying guide

What every best TV Antennas has:

Read More »

Learn More »