Best ota antenna

Best ota antenna DEFAULT

If you're fed up with the high cost of subscription TV -- whether you're getting it via a live TV streaming service, from a satellite dish or over a coaxial cable -- it may be time to cut the cord and look into an antenna. That's right, TV antennas still exist and they are now much less finicky than the "rabbit ears" that people had to fiddle with in years past. If you are in an area with a decent signal, you can watch some of the most popular TV shows, specials and sports for free with an antenna and some antennas can even bring in HD channels.

For the purposes of this article, we'll be discussing over-the-air, or OTA, antennas. This type of antenna feed is great for events you want to watch live, such as sports and the evening news. Depending on where you live and your signal reception capabilities, you can watch anything on NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, PBS and some other channels like MyNetworkTV and The CW. While a roof-mounted television antenna or outdoor TV antenna would do the job, your TV already has a built-in tuner, and adding an indoor antenna can cost less than $20 shipped. 

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The downside is that in some places, the TV signal of some channels is spotty or nonexistent due to either your proximity, or lack thereof, to a broadcast tower or obstructions that break up the signal. Unlike a live TV streaming service, OTA TV is restricted to a single television, and the broadcast signal from an OTA TV antenna won't work on phones or other devices. Unless, of course, you kick it up a notch with an OTA DVR.

Now playing:Watch this: How to cut the cord for $10: installing an indoor antenna


We tested seven different indoor antennas with prices ranging from $10 to $90 (all much less than the most basic cable TV). The best TV antennas were able to pull in more channels than the others and delivered stronger, clearer TV signals, even on "problem" channels. We tested in two different locations: urban Manhattan and suburban New Jersey. We'll keep this updated as we review new products. Here are the seven TV antennas we originally looked at:

  • Channel Master Flatenna 35 ($10 plus $7.50 shipping)
  • AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna ($20)
  • 1byOne Upgraded Digital Amplified Indoor HD TV Antenna ($27)
  • Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse ($40)
  • Mohu ReLeaf ($30, discontinued)
  • Channel Master Smartenna Plus ($49, discontinued)
  • U Must Have Amplified High Definition Digital TV Antenna ($29)

The best TV antennas we tested

Best TV antenna overall

Channel Master Flatenna 35/Duo

Sarah Tew/CNET

Dec 2016

  • Detachable coaxial cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 50 in Manhattan, 61 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 9 out of 13 checked, both locations

The Flatenna 35 has been upgraded with a removable antenna since our original test. It seems that signal performance has also improved -- it's now the best of our seven models at pulling in channels, beating our previous recommendation, the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse. 

And yes, the best TV antenna is just $10 (plus $7.50 shipping) from Channel Master's website. (It's called either the Flatenna 35 or Duo depending on where you buy it from.) Best TV channels reception and low price? We have a winner.

Read our Channel Master Flatenna 35 review.

Best TV antenna for power users

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse

Sarah Tew/CNET
  • Detachable coaxial cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 39 in Manhattan, 65 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 9 out of 13 checked, both locations

Maybe you've tried the Flatenna with so-so results and want to give it another shot. The $80 Antennas Direct Eclipse won our original comparison and performed very well again this time around at receiving a broadcast signal for many TV channels. 

With its ankh-shaped and multidirectional reversible compact design, the ClearStream antenna is definitely unique. It comes with sticky tabs for attaching it to your window, which is handy. And if you need more signal oomph, there's a $20 antenna amplifier available as well.

While the Eclipse is still available, be aware that there's now an upgraded Eclipse 2 model, though we have yet to test it.

Read our Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse review.

Other top TV antenna picks

Best TV antenna for weaker TV signals

1byOne Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna

Sarah Tew/CNET
  • Detachable coax? No
  • Number of channels: 34 in Manhattan, 49 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 6 out of 13 checked, both locations

The 1byOne is one of two antennas in this list with a nonremovable coax cable, and at only 10 feet long, it may not work in some rooms where it cannot pick up a very weak signal. The black plastic feels a little cheap compared with the others, though the HD antenna model does come with a powered gain amplifier. It was toward the bottom of the pack in terms of signal performance, but this indoor HDTV antenna was the only television antenna to pick up CBS from a TV tower at our Manhattan location (see below for details).

The current price is cheaper than the others, but in our book the Channel Master is worth another buck or two.


Best OTA Antennas 2021

While cable and satellite packages once reigned supreme for television watching, rising prices have inspired a wave of cord-cutters. With both free and paid streaming services available, it’s easier than ever to watch movies, TV, and even live sports sans a pricey cable package. And one of the most essential items for any cord cutter is an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. Check out the best OTA antennas for 2021!

Why You Should Buy an OTA Antenna

Although OTA antennas may appear outdated, adoption of over-the-air antennas has skyrocketed. Using a TV antenna, you can receive tons of free television stations. And pairing an OTA antenna with a TV tuner such as a Tablo or the WeTek Play 2 Android TV box lets you record live television for a DVR. Particularly for sports fans, an OTA antenna is a great means of watching local sports matches without shelling out for a pricey cable package. Even if you subscribe to an over-the-top (OTT) live television service such as Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, or YouTube TV, an over-the-air antenna is still worth it. Since many live television streaming options lack local channels, you can supplement an OTT program with an OTA antenna.

OTA Antenna Buying Considerations

When you’re selecting an OTA antenna to fit your needs, there are several different factors to consider. First, there’s antenna range. You’ll want to figure out what channels are available in your area, and the signal strength. This will determine if you can get by with an indoor or outdoor antenna. The maximum reception of most inside OTA antennas is about 50 miles. You’ll also need to consider signal type. The majority of antennas available rock both VHF-High and UHF. VHF-Low is decidedly rare, though you can find antennas outfitted with it. Then there’s directional, multi-directional, or omnidirectional antennas. A directional antenna is capable of picking up signals from a greater distance than multi-directional and omnidirectional devices with the caveat that it’s only in one direction. So if you want to watch multiple channels that are broadcast from different directions, you’ll need a multi-directional or omnidirectional unit. Multi-directional OTA antennas pick up more interference and noise but pick up more broadcasts over a shorter distance. And omnidirectional antennas can see all around.

Price can be a factor, although the majority of indoor antennas top out at around $50 USD and are cost-effective. Depending on your signal strength, you might want an amplifier. An amplified antenna can improve reception, although an amplified OTA antenna can also boost interference and noise. A detachable coaxial cable might be necessary depending on how far you need to run the cable from your antenna to a TV or tuner.

OTA antenna buying considerations:

  • Price
  • Indoor vs. outdoor antenna
  • Directional vs. multi-directional vs. omnidirectional
  • Amplified vs. non-amplified
  • Detachable vs. fixed coaxial cable
  • Reception

The Best OTA Antenna for Most Users – Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro

The Best OTA Antenna for Most Users - Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro

Although Mohu might not be the only antenna manufacturer on the market, its flat antennas prove incredibly popular. The Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro is an affordable indoor TV antenna that boasts excellent connectivity. Its 65-mile range is more than enough to pull in even weaker over-the-air signals. With UHF and VHF capabilities, this multi-directional antenna is a solid choice for mounting anywhere. There’s a 16-foot long detachable coaxial cable and an amplifier onboard. A built-in LED signal indicator helps you find optimal antenna placement for the best possible signal strength.

Channel reception will of course vary a bit by area, but in my testing I was extremely pleased with the Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro. The signal indicator is a nice touch that makes mounting the antenna indoors a breeze. I liked the option to use it as an amplified or unamplified antenna, and the detachable coaxial cable is helpful if you need to use a longer cable instead. You may also consider the Mohu Leaf Plus with its 60-mile range, Mohu Leaf 50 with a 50-mile range, or the Mohu Leaf 30 with a 30-mile range. For the majority of cord-cutters, the Mohu ReLeaf should more than suffice.

Buy from Amazon


  • 65-mile range
  • Detachable 16-foot coaxial cable
  • Great performance
  • Unique design
  • UHF/VHF multi-directional paper-thin antenna
  • Includes an amplifier
  • Built-in signal indicator with LEDs


Buy From Amazon

Best Performing Indoor OTA Antenna – Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse - Best Performing Indoor OTA Antenna

The Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse is an excellent over-the-air television antenna with an attractive design and top-notch performance. Foregoing the industry-standard flat rectangular design, the ClearStream Eclipse instead comes in a circular shape. There are 35- and 50-mile range versions with the latter including a 15dB amplifier. And it’s feature-packed. You’ll find adhesive included, plus a replaceable coaxial cable.

Unfortunately, the amplified version might actually cause interference. However, that’s more of an issue with amplified antennas and not the ClearStream Eclipse 50-mile variant directly. For an eye-catching OTA antenna, the ClearStream Eclipse is high-performing, consistently capable of pulling in loads of channels, and at a reasonable price.


  • Amplified and non-amplified versions available
  • Attractive design
  • Detachable coax cable
  • Includes adhesive


  • 50-mile amplified variant may cause interference (but that’s true of most amplified antennas)

Buy from Amazon

Best Cheap OTA Antenna – 1byone Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

Best Cheap OTA Antenna - 1byone Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

1byone offers a good, cheap over-the-air antenna. It features an in-line amplifier for tough-to-reach stations. The amplifier is USB-powered, so if your TV has a USB port, you can plug the amplifier into your television instead of using the included power brick. There’s sticky tape included for easy mounting. Reception is pretty solid with the ability to reach stations up to 50-miles away.

Unfortunately, the coaxial cable isn’t detachable. While that should be fine for most users, if you need a longer coax cable, you’ll need to use a splitter instead of being able to swap out cables. Although reception is decent, it’s not quite as robust as premium over-the-air antennas such as the Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro. Still, for the price, the 1byone is the best budget OTA antenna on the market.


  • Cheap
  • Great build quality
  • Good reception
  • Mounting hardware included
  • In-line detachable amplifier
  • VHF and UHC
  • 15-foot coaxial cable


  • Coaxial cable is non-detachable
  • Reception isn’t as good as the premium OTA antennas

Buy from Amazon

Best High-end Indoor Antenna – Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro OTA Antenna

Best High-end Indoor Antenna - Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro OTA Antenna

The Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro boasts smart capabilities. While there’s no built-in streaming support, the Flatwave Amped Pro does boast an integrated signal meter. As such, you can find a location inside with the best reception while installing the antenna. What’s more, there’s a Bluetooth signal meter mobile app so you can easily find ideal antenna placement and view a real-time analysis of the number of channels available in a certain spot. An 18.5-foot long coaxial cable is more than enough to reach from your antenna’s mounting location to a TV or OTA DVR. You will pay a premium for the Flatwave Amped Pro.

With a standard retail price over $100, it’s about the same price as most long-range outdoor antennas. You may also consider the Flatwave Amped which offers essentially the same feature set sans the Bluetooth app connectivity. Or, the Flatwave non-amped iteration works well if you don’t need an amplifier. Overall, the Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro is a terrific budget pic.


  • Amplified
  • Bluetooth mobile app signal indicator
  • 18.5-foot long coax cable
  • 60-mile reception
  • Thin and attractive
  • Good build quality


Buy From Amazon

Best-looking OTA Antenna – Mohu Curve

Best-looking OTA Antenna - Mohu Curve

If over-the-air antennas held a beauty pageant, the Mohu Curve would probably win. Instead of adopting a window- or wall-mountable design, the Mohu Curve arrives in a curved tabletop design. It’s 4K-ready and bundles in a 16-foot detachable coaxial cable. The Curve comes amplified and yields a 50-mile range. There’s a USB option for powering the in-line amplifier and performance remains impeccable. Hands-down the most aesthetically pleasing OTA antenna of the bunch, the Mohu Curve maintains the feng shui of any TV room.


  • Lovely design
  • Tabletop antenna
  • USB-powered in-line amplifier
  • 50-mile range
  • Detachable 16-foot coax cable


Buy from Amazon

Best Indoor/Outdoor Antenna – ClearStream 4Max

Best Indoor/Outdoor Antenna - Antennas Direct ClearStream 4Max

Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, the Antennas Direct ClearStream 4Max sports an incredible 70-mile range. The multi-directional OTA antenna is 4K-ready and features an adjustable clamp as well as a mast with a pivoting base. Performance is generally superb, surpassing most indoor antennas. WIth UHF and VHF support, the ClearStream 4Max can pull in virtually any channels around you. If you want the best-possible reception from a low-profile antenna, the ClearStream 4Max is hands-down the greatest choice.

It can be mounted inside in an attic or on a wall in your living area just as well as outside on a roof or balcony. However, its decidedly industrial design isn’t as pretty as the majority of indoor-only options with flat designs. And it’s a fairly pricey antenna with a normal retail price over $100 USD. Despite its stellar performance, the 4Max can’t pull in some low VHF channels, but for the majority of cord cutters, the ClearStream 4Max is an exceptional choice. You may also consider the ClearStream 2Max


  • 4K-ready
  • May be used inside or outside
  • Multi-directional
  • Mast with pivoting base
  • Adjustable clamp
  • 70-mile range
  • Excellent reception
  • UHF and VHF


  • Not as attractive as indoor-only antennas

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Best Buy

Best Outdoor Antenna – Winegard Elite 7550

Winegard Elite 7550 - Best Outdoor Antenna

Despite its fairly moderate size, the Winegard Elige 7550 can be used inside or outdoors and pulls in even weaker signals with aplomb. There’s an amplifier included, and the Winegard Elite 7550 nabs VHF-High and UHF signals easily. In addition to its amplifier, the Winegard Elite 7550 comes outfitted with an LTE filter to limit interference from 4G cell towers. Especially if you’re planning to mount in an attic or on a rooftop, the Elite 7550 delivers best-in-class performance.


  • Excellent reception
  • Inline signal amplifier
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • LTE filter built-in
  • Fantastic VHF and UHF performance
  • Low-profile design
  • 70-mile range


  • Not as attractive as indoor-only models

Buy from Amazon

Best OTA Antennas 2021 – Final Thoughts

There are loads of over-the-air antennas to pick from. Most cord-cutters should get by with a simple flat, rectangular indoor antenna. With indoor OTA antennas like the Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro, you can even pull in channels from 65 miles away. For better performance, a rooftop or attic-mounted antenna is best. Luckily, an OTA antenna is a one-time purchase and an incredible investment at that. Plus, you can benefit from the convenience of a DVR when pairing an antenna with a TV tuner.

Your turn: What OTA antennas do you recommend in 2021?

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  • We’ve replaced our runner-up, the RCA ANT3ME, with the new model, the ANT3ME1, which clearly outperforms the old model but (at this writing) costs considerably more.

July 22, 2021

As streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ grow in popularity, many people are dumping their expensive cable and satellite TV subscriptions. For those who still want to watch the occasional live event or local programming without adding subscription costs, a great indoor TV antenna such as the Antennas Direct ClearStream Flex is the simplest, most dependable way we’ve found to pull in dozens of TV channels for free.

No matter where (or in what city) we hung it, the Antennas Direct ClearStream Flex always ranked among the best in pulling in the most TV channels. Its flat design makes it easy to hang on a wall, and it’s reversible, with black and white sides (it’s also paintable). The antenna comes with a detachable amplifier that can draw power from your TV’s USB port, as well as a long, detachable cable, which is convenient if you want to replace it with a cable of a different color or length. The only downside is that the ClearStream Flex is a little larger than average for a flat antenna.

The amplifier of the RCA ANT3ME1 has a built-in signal-level meter that provides a near-instantaneous readout of the signal strength. This feature allows you to quickly find the optimum position for the antenna, a process that could take more than an hour if you instead use the TV’s internal channel-scanning process to evaluate different positions. The ANT3ME1 is essentially the same as our previous runner-up, the RCA ANT3ME, but with a slightly wider antenna design that helped it to perform roughly equal to our top pick before we used the meter. When we used the meter to fine-tune the antenna’s positioning, the ANT3ME1 sometimes outperformed our top pick. But the cable is not detachable, and the amplifier requires an AC outlet rather than USB power.

The Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro is truly a “smart” antenna, with a built-in signal meter that you control through a mobile app and a Bluetooth connection. As you move the antenna around a room, every six seconds it gives you an update on the number of channels you can receive. In every location we tried, using the app to position the antenna helped the Flatwave Amped Pro rank either first or second in the number of channels received. The amp is USB-powered, the antenna is reversible with black and white sides, and you get a generous amount of cable. However, the cable isn’t detachable, and the Flatwave Amped Pro is usually about twice the price of typical amplified flat antennas.

The 1byone Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna has been our budget pick in this guide for a few years running. It performs almost as well as our top pick; if you’re within about 15 miles of the broadcast antennas, you might not miss any channels with this one. It has an inline amplifier, includes a fairly generous amount of cable, and is relatively compact. The only downsides are that the cable is not detachable and the antenna is not reversible or paintable, so your only color option is black.

Why you should trust us

I’ve been writing about TVs since I was senior editor of Video magazine in the early 1990s, where I covered the transition to high-definition and digital TV and was one of the first 10 people certified for video calibration by the Imaging Science Foundation. I’ve been an editor or writer for numerous tech-related publications, including Home Theater, Home Entertainment, and Sound & Vision magazines, and for websites such as Wirecutter, Lifewire, Mashable, and SoundStage. I’ve conducted three previous multi-product tests of TV antennas, and I’ve been a cord-cutter since 2000, relying entirely on broadcast TV, DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming for my video entertainment.

The previous version of this guide was written by Wirecutter senior editor Grant Clauser, and some of this material is based on his testing and research, done at his Philadelphia-area home and in New York City. Grant has written about AV electronics for more than two decades. He was an editor at Dealerscope, E-Gear, and Electronic House, as well as a writer for Big Picture Big Sound, Consumer Digest, Sound & Vision, and others. He is ISF-certified and has completed THX Level II home theater design courses.

Who this is for

With so much content available from streaming video services such as Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and others, there’s less need to pay for an expensive cable or satellite TV subscription. But some viewers still want the live-TV experience, be it for sports, news, special events, or local foreign-language broadcasts. For them, a live TV streaming service such as Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV is an option, but that still requires a monthly subscription fee. If most of the live-TV content you want to watch is from local broadcast channels, an inexpensive TV antenna could be the best way to go.

As long as you’re within about 30 miles of the local transmitting towers and aren’t blocked by a mountain range or rows of tall buildings, an antenna will receive free live programs from the major networks, including ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, NBC, PBS, Telemundo, and Univision. Depending on your metropolitan area, an antenna is also a good way to get free non-English-language channels.

For this guide, we focused on indoor TV antennas, which you can place in a window, on a wall, or behind your TV. These models are all easy, practical, and affordable options to install in any house or apartment. Depending on your location, you can probably receive more channels with a rooftop or attic antenna—for example, in my Los Angeles home, my large, rooftop antenna pulls in 144 channels, while the best indoor antennas get a little more than 100. However, many people can’t or don’t want to install a rooftop or attic antenna. Plus, although a good indoor antenna might not receive as many stations, the stations you can’t get are likely to be small independents with fairly weak transmitters.

How we picked

Four HDTV antennas we recommend.

We assembled an extensive list of indoor antennas that had been introduced since our last major update of this guide in 2019, and we also consulted manufacturers to see which new models they thought we should test. Then we focused on antennas that met most of the following criteria:

  • Both UHF and VHF: All the antennas on our final list were rated for both UHF (channels 14 and above) and at least high-VHF (channels 7 to 13) reception. For many years, an indoor antenna’s ability to pull in VHF signals was less important because most digital TV channels reside in the UHF range. However, recent broadcast-transmission changes have made VHF reception more important. You can read more about this in UHF vs. VHF.
  • Simple to assemble and install: You shouldn’t need tools to put together an indoor antenna.
  • Easy to mount and move: You should be able to hang the antenna on a wall without needing tools or causing major damage to your wall, and the antenna should be easy to move for better reception.
  • At least a 10-foot cable: Because location is the key to good reception, a 10-foot cable gives you more flexibility. (If you need a longer cable, an extension cable with the necessary coupler is available for about $10.)
  • Unobtrusive design: You may need to put your antenna in a visible location for the best reception, so it shouldn’t be ugly. Most indoor antennas today—and most of the ones we looked at—are flat. And flat antennas are easy to hide.

Most indoor antennas now include an amplifier, either as an add-on or permanently built into the antenna’s cable, to help boost signal strength. We didn’t make an amplifier mandatory, but under most conditions we found that the antennas we tested that offered the amp as an option, rather than as a permanent feature, performed better with the amplifier connected than without.

TV antennas often have a range rating, but we ignored that because it’s bogus. Some antennas carry range ratings in the hundreds or thousands of miles, even though the curvature of the Earth limits range in miles to approximately 1.41 times the square root of the broadcast antenna height in feet—for example, about 32 miles for a 500-foot antenna tower on flat ground, assuming a clear line of sight. Range is mostly a matter of the transmitter power and location. As one manufacturer told us, “If you had a strong enough transmitter on the moon, any TV antenna could pick it up.”

Some antennas now carry a “NextGen TV–ready” or “ATSC 3.0–ready” label, but this too is bogus. NextGen TV is a marketing term for ATSC 3.0, a recent expansion of the current ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) broadcast standards that allows transmission of 4K video, Dolby Atmos immersive sound, and high dynamic range (HDR) signals. However, ATSC 3.0 uses the same transmission frequencies as the previous ATSC standard did, so an antenna that works for a certain channel now will work no better or worse if and when that channel upgrades to ATSC 3.0.

TV antennas often include a range rating, but we ignored that because it’s bogus. Range is mostly a matter of the transmitter power and location.

Incidentally, all of these antennas should also work reasonably well for FM radio, which resides in a frequency band just above TV channel 6.

As anyone who has looked for antennas on Amazon knows, there’s a huge number of lesser-known brands. We skipped them for this guide. We had to do that to keep our testing process manageable, but if you have any models you’re particularly curious about, let us know in the comments section below.


We used to be able to ignore, for the large part, an antenna’s reception of VHF (TV channels 2 through 13, or frequencies 54 to 216 MHz) because, in the switch to digital TV, most stations abandoned VHF and shifted to the UHF range (originally, TV channels 14 to 69, or frequencies 470 to 806 MHz). However, the Federal Communications Commission recently auctioned off the radio frequency spectrum above 600 MHz (formerly TV channels 35 and higher) to wireless broadband services, which forced many TV channels to shift to lower frequencies in the VHF range.

This change, often referred to as the “FCC repack,” required existing antenna users to rescan their channel lineup to find any channels that may have moved. Some people may have been disappointed to discover that their formerly reliable antenna could no longer pull in channels that had moved from UHF to VHF. That’s because the longer wavelengths of the lower frequencies are difficult for small antennas to receive. For our latest round of testing in February 2021, we put more emphasis on an antenna’s performance in both the UHF and VHF ranges.

To find out whether you need to worry about VHF reception, visit the RabbitEars Signal Search Map and enter your zip code to see which stations in your area are broadcasting on which channels. The map also shows where the broadcast antennas are relative to your location.

Note that these changes do not affect the channel number listed in your TV-channel guide. TV stations still use the same “virtual channels” as before, so the channel that has always shown up as channel 5 on your TV will still be listed as channel 5—but it may actually be transmitting on, say, radio-frequency channel 28.

How we tested

TV reception is unpredictable. As one manufacturer explained to us, “The antenna that works great for you might not work for your neighbor because their house is constructed differently or they have to place the antenna differently. Maybe there’s a tree in the way.” So we can’t promise that you’ll get great results with the antennas that worked best for us. But in the hope of finding the antennas that would work most consistently under the greatest variety of conditions, we used them in five different locations for our latest round of testing.

I started with two rooms within my house, on the western end of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, about 30 miles from the TV broadcast towers on Mount Wilson, which are about 4,700 feet higher than my house and visible with binoculars from my rooftop. In an effort to test with a weaker, low-VHF channel, I also used locations in Los Angeles’s Los Feliz neighborhood and in Arcadia, California (about 10 and 5 miles, respectively, from the Mount Wilson antennas), as well as a motel in Oceanside, California, that put me within 25 or 42 miles of San Diego’s TV transmitters depending on which TV station I was trying to receive.

I used three different TVs for these tests: a 2020 Vizio P659-G1, a 2010 Samsung UNC46C8000, and a 2009 Philips 19PFL3504D/F7. For each round of tests, I did a channel scan with the connected TV to see how many channels I could pick up. (Note that many of these channels use multicast technology, broadcasting several channels in the space of one.) I also used a Channel Master TV signal meter, which let me measure each antenna’s sensitivity to low and high TV-channel frequencies.

For antennas that incorporated a signal-level meter, I first tested them in the same aesthetically convenient positions I used for the other antennas, after which I tried using their signal-level meters to see if that would help me find a better antenna position that would pull in more channels.

As mentioned above, we put more emphasis on VHF reception in our latest round of tests, as the longer wavelengths of those frequencies are difficult for small antennas to receive. For example, optimum reception of the lowest TV-signal frequency, channel 2, demands a 4.25-foot-wide antenna. The lowest active TV channel in Los Angeles is channel 4 (which TVs pick up as virtual channels 22 and 63), so I used the Channel Master signal meter to measure the sensitivity of the antennas to this channel as a way to gauge low-VHF sensitivity.

I finished by using a TinySA radio-frequency spectrum analyzer to look at each antenna’s performance in the frequency ranges from 50 to 300 MHz (VHF) and from 450 to 600 MHz (UHF). This step let me see how strong each antenna’s signals were within different ranges of the broadcast band, as well as how noisy their output was—a potential problem with amplified antennas, especially, because if the antenna picks up lots of noise, the amplifier will just boost the noise, and the TV will have a harder time picking the signal out of the noise. All of our recommendations produce signals that, with a clear transmission in good conditions, are typically 25 to 30 dB (or 300 to 1,000 times) stronger than the noise.

Screenshot from TinySA spectrum analyzer

Although the performance of the antennas we tested was sometimes inconsistent and thus difficult to gauge, all of our picks excelled in certain tests and at least placed in the middle of the pack in every other test.

Our pick: Antennas Direct ClearStream Flex

The Antennas Direct ClearStream Flex

Of all the antennas in our latest round of testing, the Antennas Direct ClearStream Flex was the most consistent performer. It always ranked at or near the top in the number of channels received, and in our technical tests it produced a strong signal with relatively low noise. Part of this performance may be due to the fact that it’s a little larger than average, but it’s still small enough to mount unobtrusively, and it’s reversible, with black and white sides. It comes with a detachable amplifier that’s powered by USB, and it includes a total of 15 feet of cable. Among the antennas we tested, this is one of the few that aren’t hardwired to the cable, so you can use a different cable if you like.

The ClearStream Flex did the best overall in my in-home tests, pulling in the most channels (90 out of 144) in the first room and the fourth-most channels (105) in the second room. In our tests in the Oceanside, California, area, it was one of several models that tied for second best, pulling in 21 channels. Without the amp, the numbers were a little lower: 81 and 87 in my home, and 19 in Oceanside.

Measuring 16 by 11 inches, the ClearStream Flex is a little larger than most of the flat antennas we tested, but it’s still small enough that slipping it behind a TV, a curtain, or a framed picture shouldn’t be hard. It’s reversible, with black and white sides, and paintable—which may help it blend better into your room decor.

Amplifier on the ClearStream Flex antenna.

A supplied Sure Grip adhesive strip attaches the ClearStream Flex to the wall, and you can reposition the antenna by gently peeling it off the wall and resticking it elsewhere. You can even wipe the strip off with a damp cloth if it gets dirty, thus restoring its stickiness.

The ClearStream Flex’s 12-foot black cable should be long enough for most installations, and the package includes an extra 3-foot cable to connect the amp to the TV. The cable attaches to the antenna with a threaded connector, so you can substitute a longer, shorter, or different-colored cable if you desire. The amplifier is powered by an included USB supply or by your TV’s spare USB jack. The amplifier accompanying the antenna we received was a 3-inch-long rectangle, different from the amp shown on the Amazon page.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The ClearStream Flex is one of the larger flat models we tested. Plus, it doesn’t incorporate a signal-level meter, and Antennas Direct doesn’t offer one as an option.

Runner-up: RCA ANT3ME1

RCA ANT3ME1 antenna.

The RCA ANT3ME1 is a slightly reworked version of our previous runner-up, the ANT3ME. The new model retains the signal-level meter that lets you fine-tune the positioning of the antenna for the best reception, and in our tests, a subtle change in the size of the new antenna dramatically improved its performance even before we used the meter. However, the ANT3ME1 still has the downsides we didn’t like in its predecessor: The included, nondetachable cable is a little on the short side, and its amplifier/signal meter draws power from a hardwired AC adapter rather than a USB connection, so it requires an AC outlet. In addition, it currently has limited distribution and represents a big step up in price over the original ANT3ME.

The ANT3ME1’s integrated signal-level meter is what distinguishes it from the zillions of other flat antennas. The meter incorporates five LEDs: two red, one yellow, and two green. As you move the antenna to different places in a room, more LEDs illuminate as the signal strength increases. You could use your TV to do a channel scan in each location, but with many TVs, each scan takes a long time—in the case of my Vizio P659-G1 TV, it took more than 13 minutes per scan, which might mean an hour or two of trial and error versus a minute or two with the ANT3ME1. (Once you’re done, you can turn the meter off.)

In my living room, where TV signals are fairly weak, getting even one extra LED to light up on the meter made a huge difference. When I mounted the ANT3ME1 in the same aesthetically convenient place I used for the other antennas, three LEDs illuminated on the meter and the antenna picked up 51 channels out of 144, 11 more than the older model achieved in the same position a few minutes earlier. Moving the antenna to an adjacent wall caused an extra LED to illuminate and bumped the channel count up to 115, tying the Antennas Direct ClearStream Flex and improving on the 92 channels I got with the previous model. In a different room, the ANT3ME1 pulled in 142 channels versus 130 with the ClearStream Flex and only 73 with the original ANT3ME. However, in that room, no matter where I moved the antenna, I couldn’t get the fifth LED to light, so the signal-level meter was of no help. If you already have a strong TV signal in the room where you’re placing the antenna, the meter likely won’t offer an advantage.

Even without the meter, the ANT3ME1 gave us the best results with low-VHF signals of all the indoor antennas we’ve tested—it produced a signal almost eight times as strong as what we got from the original ANT3ME, and with much lower noise. That means your TV will have an easier time tuning in channels 2 through 6, if those are used in your area. (In this case, we’re talking about the actual radio frequencies; as noted previously, the channel indicated on your TV may not correspond with the actual radio-frequency channel used for transmission.) The ANT3ME1 also outperformed the ClearStream Flex and the Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro in this respect—both of those models had strong low-VHF signals but much more noise than the ANT3ME1.

The amplifier on the ANT3ME1 antenna.

At 14⅛ by 11⅞ inches, the ANT3ME1 is narrower than the ClearStream Flex but a little more than an inch wider than the original ANT3ME. Like the ClearStream, it’s reversible—black on one side and white on the other. Four adhesive patches are provided for mounting the antenna; they’re easily removable, though the signal-level meter makes it less likely that you’d need to reposition the antenna. The ANT3ME1 also has holes that let you hang it with thumbtacks.

However, as with the original model, this version’s cable is a little short, measuring just 9 feet between the antenna and the amp and 3 feet between the amp and the TV—and it’s not detachable. Unlike with most of the antennas we tested, the ANT3ME1’s amp is hardwired to an AC power adapter, so you need a spare AC socket, and you don’t have the option of powering the amp with a spare USB port on your TV.

Upgrade pick: Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro

The Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro antenna.

The Winegard Flatwave Amped Pro inspires banal analogies—the Ferrari of TV antennas, the RCA ANT3ME1 on steroids—but those who want to dial up their TV reception to the max are likely to love it, even if it is nearly twice the price of our top pick. The Amped Pro’s Bluetooth-connected signal-level meter lets you monitor through a mobile app how many TV channels you can get in any antenna position—it’s like getting the results of a channel scan on your TV in just six seconds rather than several minutes. Although the Amped Pro is a very respectable performer even before you use the app, we found that using the app let us get dramatically better results in problematic locations. The Amped Pro is a standard size for a flat antenna, it’s reversible, and it has 18 total feet of cable when you’re using the detachable amplifier.

Using the meter requires downloading the Winegard Connected app for iOS or Android and pairing your mobile device through Bluetooth. It provides a count of strong, moderate, and weak stations that it updates every six seconds. In my living room, the Flatwave Amped Pro pulled in 57 stations from the aesthetically convenient position where I also tested all the other antennas; using the meter, I quickly found a position where I could get 112 channels (exactly what the app promised). In my other room, where the five-step LED meter of the RCA ANT3ME1 proved to be no help, the detailed data in the Connected app allowed me to go from 82 channels in my original testing position to 110 channels (three more than the app promised). In our Oceanside, California, test spot, the channel count rose from 18 to 21 channels when I optimized the position. So the meter and the app definitely produced an improvement in every situation. Again, I could have accomplished the same thing doing channel scans with the TVs, but that would have taken hours rather than three or four minutes.

Winegard Android application.

The Flatwave Amped Pro measures 13 by 11.75 inches—smaller than the ClearStream Flex but still a little on the large side for a flat antenna—and it’s reversible, with black and white sides. It comes with two small, easily removable adhesive patches for mounting; these worked for us, but you might need more. (Fun-Tak adhesive putty will work in a pinch.)

There’s 15 feet of permanently attached white cable between the antenna and the amp, and another 3.3 feet of cable that connects the amp to the TV. The amp can draw power from the included USB supply or from a spare USB port on your TV.

Budget pick: 1byone Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

1byone Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

The 1byone Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna has been our budget pick for several years, and we’re sticking with it because it remained an outstanding performer for the price in our latest round of tests. Its ability to pull in channels was always respectable, and it performed well in our technical tests. It’s relatively small, and it comes with a generously long (but non-detachable) cable and a convenient mounting system. However, it’s not reversible like our other picks.

On all but one of our tests, the 1byone performed like antennas costing about double its price. During my in-home test, it landed in the middle of the pack in the first room, receiving only 59 out of 144 channels, but in the second room it pulled in a whopping 108 channels, which put it in third place. It was just a bit below average in our Oceanside, California, tests, receiving 19 channels.

The antenna measures 13 by 9 inches, about average for an antenna of this type. However, it’s black on both sides, and it’s not listed as paintable—so if you don’t hide it behind the TV or a picture or something, you’ll end up with a very visible rectangular thing on your wall (unless you have very dark wall paint). Three adhesive patches on its back stick to the wall easily; three extra adhesive patches are included.

With 13 feet of black cable permanently attached to the antenna and another 3 feet attached to the amplifier, you should have plenty of cable even if you decide to stick the antenna onto a window or an adjacent wall. The antenna comes with a USB power supply, or you can use a spare USB connection on your TV if it has one.

What to look forward to

We expect that, just as RCA did when upgrading the ANT3ME to the ANT3ME1, other manufacturers will release new models optimized for post-repack frequencies, and that many manufacturers will release models that are optimized for ATSC 3.0/NextGen TV. We will do our best to keep up with those announcements and test those antennas when they’re available.

The competition

We’ve done two rounds of TV antenna testing in different locations, separated by a few years, so we’re presenting our competition list in two groups: The first group features the antennas we tested in the Philadelphia and New York areas in 2018, and the second includes the models we tested in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas in 2021.

2018 testing: Philadelphia and New York

Our previous top pick, the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse, worked very well in our original Philadelphia-area tests, but as we mention below, it required the addition of an amplifier to get good results in Los Angeles, where its performance was sometimes exceptionally good but sometimes below average.

The Antennas Direct ClearStream Max is a large, indoor/outdoor antenna that, despite its size, offered no real performance advantage over the small indoor models we tested.

The Antennas Direct ClearStream Wireless antenna device works with your Wi-Fi network to distribute antenna signals around a house so all the TVs theoretically get the same optimized reception. It works, but the Wi-Fi connection was glitchy in our tests, and you lose some picture quality when the device converts the TV broadcast signal to a digital format for distribution on the network.

The Channel Master Flatenna ranked among the top performers in places where the TV signals were strong, but in places with a weak signal it tended to pull in fewer channels than our picks.

The Mohu Leaf 30 is the antenna that put flat antennas on the map. It’s still available, and it performs pretty well, but not as well as our picks. Mohu was purchased by Antennas Direct.

RCA’s Slivr uses rigid plastic to house its antenna element, which makes it bulkier and heavier than other flat antennas. It pulled in only half as many channels as the better antennas did.

The Winegard FreeVision is an indoor/outdoor antenna that looks more suited to attic or outdoor placement. It didn’t perform well in Pennsylvania, but it did well in New York, although it was very sensitive to direction.

Grant Clauser constructed his own “Trashtenna” antenna from a square of cardboard covered with aluminum foil and finished with a length of coax cable taped to the foil. It actually did very well in New York, but not so well in Philadelphia.

2021 testing: Los Angeles and San Diego

The 1byone 200NA-0005 is compact and attractive, but its performance was only average.

The Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse is our previous top pick. It worked very well in our 2018 Philadelphia-area tests, as we say above, but in our 2021 round, it required the addition of an amplifier to get good results in Los Angeles, where its performance was sometimes exceptionally good but sometimes below average.

The Antennas Direct ClearStream 1Max is an indoor/outdoor design. Indoors, its performance wasn’t impressive—except in our Oceanside, California, test location, where it weirdly pulled in 37 channels when the best any other antenna could do was 21. We also found the even larger Antennas Direct ClearStream Max-V to be an underperformer in indoor settings.

The GE Enlighten is a great design that sits unobtrusively atop a TV and provides a bias light that illuminates the area around the screen, which can ease eyestrain. Unfortunately, its performance was below average.

The RCA ANT1120E is a flat antenna that doesn’t include an amplifier. It might be a good choice if for some reason you find an amp inconvenient to use, but generally it didn’t perform as well as amplified models in our tests.

We were excited to try the extra-wide RCA ANT2160E, which we thought might outperform smaller flat antennas, but our picks generally surpassed it.

The RCA ANT3ME is our previous runner-up, replaced by the newer ANT3ME1. However, as of July 2021, the ANT3ME1 costs about 60% more. That difference may be reduced as the ANT3ME1 reaches more vendors, but people who live in urban areas with fairly strong signals and still want a signal-level meter for their antenna may wish to save a few bucks and buy the older model.

The RCA ANTD6ME is a notably attractive, fabric-covered antenna with a hard-plastic body and a curved front, plus an internal amplifier and a three-LED signal-level meter. You can hang it on a wall, but it also has legs for mounting on a table. It would be a nice choice if you don’t want to wall-mount your antenna, but in our tests it didn’t perform as well as the ANT3ME.

The UMustHave 4K-RS55 is an affordably priced flat antenna that worked pretty well in our tests, but we got better results from our budget pick.

About your guide

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth is a senior staff writer covering audio and musical instruments at Wirecutter. Since 1989, he has served as an editor or writer on audio-focused websites and magazines such as Home Theater, Sound & Vision, SoundStage, and JazzTimes. He regularly gigs on double bass (and occasionally ukulele) with Los Angeles–area jazz groups.


Best TV antennas for cord cutters 2021: Tested for real-world signal strength

Cable and satellite TV subscriptions are becoming ever more expensive, so more and more homes are ditching pay TV in favor of free, over-the-air broadcasts. Digital TV typically provides between 20 and 60 channels depending on where you live, and can save you at least $1,000 a year, based on a typical pay TV subscription.

Folks who do are often surprised by the higher image quality they get from broadcast TV. That’s because cable and satellite services compress the video signal in order to reduce the bandwidth required to stream it to your home, all so they can cram in more of the channels you probably never watch anyway.

TV antenna cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations:

So, cut that cable, ditch that dish, and join the growing number of American households that are free from monthly bills for TV service.

Putting up an antenna is easy, but before you buy one you’ll need to figure out what channels are available where you live, how strong the signals are likely to be, and what direction they’re coming from. See TechHive’s guide to choosing an antenna to figure all that out.

As a rule of thumb, indoor antennas are suitable for areas with strong or very strong signals, the attic/outdoor antennas work in areas of medium signal strength, and the larger outdoor antennas in areas of weak signals.

Once you’ve determined your needs, this article will help with your antenna purchase. But before we jump into our results, check out this video that explains how to determine which free over-the-air TV channels you can receive where you live.

Best indoor TV antenna 

If you live close enough to the broadcast towers for the stations you want to watch, a less-expensive non-amplified antenna like the Channel Master Flatenna might be all you need to cut the cord. At the time of this review, we found that Channel Master itself was offering the best price on this antenna: Just $19 on Amazon. 

Best amplified indoor TV antenna

This antenna impressed us with its ability to pull in more broadcast channels than the competition. Further, those it did receive were a little stronger than from our runner-up which should make for happier TV viewing. (Read our full review.)


The word "smart" gets bandied about quite a lot these days, but it's more than just hyperbole in the case of Channel Master's Smartenna+ over-the-air TV antenna. This amplified antenna has a tiny tuner onboard that can virtually change its reception pattern  to pull in the most stations possible. We like it a lot.

Best roof-mount TV Antenna

Antennas Direct DB8e

The Antennas Direct DB8e is a large outdoor antenna for reception of medium to very weak TV signals. In our tests, it was very good pulling in distant stations with minimal interference.

The Antennas Direct DB8e’s reception is just as impressive as its looks. This is a large, heavy antenna cleverly designed to receive weak signals with two antenna arrays, or in areas of better reception to point to towers in different directions. (See our full review.)


The Antennas Direct 91XG is a classic antenna design that has worked well for years. This antenna is quite directional and good at rejecting interference from the sides while picking out weak signals from the noise. It narrowly missed out on the top spot and would also be an excellent choice for people dealing with long-distance reception. (See our full review.)

Best attic/outdoor TV antenna

The Winegard Elite 7550 immediately impressed with its ability to pick up more broadcast channels than the competition at higher signal levels. It has a built-in amplifier and performed well on both VHF-High and UHF broadcast bands. Because of its size you’ll want this one in the attic or outside of your house. (See our full review.)


Antennas Direct Clearstream 4 Max

The Clearstream 4 Max is an excellent choice for areas with strong to medium strength signals and with multiple TV transmitters in different locations. It's well made, easy to assemble and supplied with all the required mounting hardware.

The Clearstream 4 Max is a little larger than our top-ranked choice and wasn’t quite as good at pulling in stations but it’s still a solid antenna. Its unique double figure-eight design is sure to look distinctive and it can receive signals from different directions, which is useful if you live in an area with stations in multiple places. (See our full review.)

How we tested

TechHive tests TV antennas in a location in the Washington, D.C. metro area. (Until 2020, we tested in the San Francisco Bay Area, so you might see references to that location in older reviews). The D.C. location receives strong signals from local TV stations, but presents several challenges: There are a large number of trees around to influence reception; some of the independent D.C. TV stations are weak and difficult to receive; and with a good antenna, distant reception of Baltimore market stations is possible.

Indoor antennas are tested indoors and outdoor antennas outdoors. Each time we test a new antenna, we retest our current top pick to ensure a fair benchmark.

We use a set-top box to scan for channels and record the number of RF channels received by each antenna and their strength. Each RF channel carries a number of digital stations, but the number is different per channel and can change, so digital stations received isn’t as useful a measurement. We scan several times and adjust the direction of the antenna on some rescans.

Our picks are the antennas that receive the largest number of stations with the highest signal level in both the UHF (channels 14 through 51) and VHF-High (channels 7 through 13) bands, which are the primary TV broadcast bands.

Our latest TV antenna reviews

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

  • The Antennas Direct DB8e is a large outdoor antenna for reception of medium to very weak TV signals. In our tests, it was very good pulling in distant stations with minimal interference.


    • Good reception of weak signals
    • Antennas can be pointed in two different directions
    • Easy to assemble


    • Large size requires a strong mount
    • Not designed to receive VHF TV stations
  • The roof-mount Antennas Direct 91XG does a great job of pulling in weak TV signals.


    • Good reception of weak signals
    • Directional to help avoid interference
    • Sturdy construction to stand up to the weather


    • Roof mounting is more complicated than indoor mounting
    • Might require a rotator is the broadcast towers you're tuning into are far apart
    • Designed only to receive UHF stations
  • The Channel Master Flatenna performs well and has a price that can’t be beaten. It pulled in all major local channels with consistent quality and is a solid choice if you an indoor antenna is a must.


    • Very low price
    • Well made
    • U.S.-based customer support


    • No coax cable included (see review regarding limited-time offer)
  • Winegard's FlatWave Amped delivers great performance for an indoor antenna. It's small, lightweight, and should work well in areas that enjoy strong local TV reception.


    • Strong reception, clear picture quality
    • Amplifier contributes to good range
    • Amplifier can be powered by a wall wart or your TV’s USB port


    • Not the best-looking thing to have on your wall or window
    • Excess cable can get messy quick
  • The Clearstream Flex is one of the best performing indoor TV antennas in its class, but don't try to push its range too much as performance falls off as signals get weaker.


    • Flat design makes it easy to mount inside your house
    • Inline amplifier helps boost signals


    • Won't work well in an area with medium strength or weaker signals
    • Indoor use means it's more susceptible to interference
  • The Clearstream 4 Max is an excellent choice for areas with strong to medium strength signals and with multiple TV transmitters in different locations. It's well made, easy to assemble and supplied with all the required mounting hardware.


    • Good reception of strong to medium level signals on UHF and VHF-High
    • Multidirectional reception for areas with transmitters in different locations
    • Sturdy mount with mounting hardware for attic or outdoor installation


    • No built-in amplifier so you might need one for weaker channels
  • The Channel Master Smartenna+ is the highest-tech antenna we’ve reviewed, with a built-in tuner that adjusts to pull in the maximum number of channels possible.


    • Automatic tuning to receive the greatest number of channels
    • Push-on antenna connector
    • Sturdy design and build quality


    • Requires a power outlet
    • Bulkier than other amplified antennas
  • The Mohu Blade is a sturdy indoor and outdoor TV antenna that did a great job receiving UHF and VHF-High signals in TechHive reception tests.


    • Inline amplifier supplied
    • Good reception of strong to medium level signals on UHF and VHF-High
    • Can be mounted indoors or outdoors


    • Unsuitable for weak signal areas
    • Cannot be window mounted
  • The Winegard Elite 7550 is a sensitive TV antenna suitable for areas with strong to medium strength signals.


    • Good reception of strong to medium level signals on UHF and VHF-High
    • Inline amplifier helps boost signals
    • Suitable for attic or outdoor mounting


    • Plastic mounting bracket feels a little cheap
  • RCA’s model ANT3ME indoor TV antenna is a relatively good performer for the money, but it's not one of our top picks.


    • Good reception of strong, local channels
    • Built-in amplifier and cellular filter


    • Lacks sensitivity for weaker channels
    • Signal meter is very basic
    • Amplifier function requires an AC outlet
  • The Eclipse is a small, compact TV antenna designed for places like cities with strong TV signals and no room for external antennas.


    • Small, compact design means it won't draw attention on your window


    • Even with the amplifier it won't pull in weaker stations
  • The GE Enlighten TV antenna neatly combines an indoor antenna and bias lighting in a single package, but one features limits the utility of the other.


    • Compact antenna that can sit on a TV
    • Built-in bias lighting


    • Design restricts where the antenna can be mounted
    • Bias lighting feature isn't big or bright enough for a large TV
  • The Mohu Basic 50 is a thin, flat antenna for window or wall mounting that is suited to areas close to TV towers with strong or very strong signals.


    • Thin design makes mounting easier
    • Mohu will credit the cost of the antenna if you need a more sensitive one
    • Suitable for areas with strong or very strong signals


    • Weak reception of VHF-High stations
  • The Mohu Curve 50 is a good-looking antenna, but there are other, perhaps less-attractive indoor antennas that perform better.


    • Stylish design
    • In-line signal amplifier
    • You can connect a longer cable if need be


    • Average performance
    • No VHF reception
    • Cannot be mounted to a wall or a window
  • The GE Signal Finder HD Amplified Antenna is an indoor with a built-in signal finder. In our tests it did a mediocre job of pulling in TV stations.


    • Built-in signal finder
    • Inline signal amplifier


    • Average performance
    • No VHF reception
  • The Mohu Leaf Glide didn't do well in our reception tests, despite its large size, failing to receive anything but very strong signals.


    • Thin design makes mounting easier
    • Inline amplifier helps boost signals


    • Poor reception of anything but the strongest channels
    • Relatively expensive for an antenna in this class

Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C..


Ota antenna best

Best indoor TV antennas 2021: 6 digital TV antennas worth having

The best indoor TV antennas are a must-have if you’ve cut the cord for good when it comes to cable TV. Buying an indoor TV antenna for your home is one cheap and easy way to get access to many free over-the-air channels in HD for no monthly fee.

The best TV antennas offer a portal into the world of sports, sitcoms, news, and more that are all on offer across America’s most popular TV networks – and all for free. This fact is largely obscured by cable companies because they’re keen to sign you up for an expensive cable plan.

But what you can get with a TV antenna isn’t without its limits. Over-the-air broadcasts offer less choice than any cable package out there. But the plus side is they're totally free and still usually carry many of the biggest sports events (the NFL on Sunday, the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup), as well as a solid selection of sitcoms, dramas and comedy shows from NBC, ABC, CBS and more. 

But there’s a lot of choice. So which is the best indoor antenna for your smart TV? That's exactly what we wanted to find out, so we’ve tested a whole range of them from different tech brands and put them to work. What you'll find below is our round-up of the best indoor TV antennas on the market in 2021. Keep checking back as we’ll be adding new antennas to this list.

Just be careful you don't fall for misleading product pages elsewhere – some outlets promise outrageous features like a 120-mile range (which isn't possible, given the curvature of the earth). You can get 4K resolution though a regular antenna, though, with the next set of ATSC standards called NextGen TV.

Best indoor TV antennas 2021

1. Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse 2

A pricier antenna, but potentially worth it


Range: 60+ miles

Amplified: Yes

Dimensions: 16.5 x 8.6 inches

Cable length: 15ft

Reasons to buy

+Strong signal pull +Distinctive design +Long range

Reasons to avoid

-It's a pricier option

The ClearStream Eclipse 2 is similar to Amazon's thin, plastic antenna at its core, but this very distinctive figure-eight design is one of a kind. Whatever engineering Antennas Direct did to pin down this kind of design clearly worked, however, as this amplified long-range antenna does an excellent job of picking up channels.

It's rated for 60+ miles and consistently delivered strong reception while pulling in all of the channels we expected to see. It also comes with curved double-sided tape pads that sit on the upper and lower backs of the design, ensuring a snug fit to your wall. It's a pricey option at $70, but that's an investment in a quality product.

2. Antop HD Smart Bar AT-500SBS

Huge and pricey, but plenty powerful


Range: 80 miles

Amplified: Yes

Dimensions: 30 x 8.1 x 3.9 inches

Cable length: 15ft

Reasons to buy

+Maximum range+Can mount to wall or sit in stand  

Reasons to avoid

-Bulky and hard to hide -Most expensive

If you live far from a broadcast source and/or you've had trouble with other antennas, the Antop HD Smart Bar (AT-500SBS) could solve your issues—if you're willing to pay a steep price and tolerate the very large size.

The Antop HD Smart Bar is a hard-plastic antenna that measures 2.5 feet wide and can be mounted on your wall like a soundbar, or you can use the included base stand to prop it up vertically. In any case, it's much more visible than nearly any other indoor antenna on the market, but the trade-off is a much longer promised range of 80 miles. It also has a 4G signal filter, an FM tuner, and the ability to connect to a second TV, plus the reception was excellent in our testing. However, with a $119 price tag, we recommend trying cheaper alternatives first to see if they'll meet your needs.

3. Antop HD Smart Antenna SBS-301

A feature-rich option for folks who want to spend a bit more


Range: 70 miles

Amplified: Yes

Dimensions: 17.6 x 8.9 inches

Cable length: 10ft

Reasons to buy

+Extra perks +Long range  


The best TV antennas of 2021: Tested and rated

Getting one of the best TV antennas is your quickest route to hours of entertainment without paying a cent in subscription fees. Over-the-air (OTA) programming brings you news, sports and popular shows for free, and all you need is an HDTV antenna and a TV. Whether you want to cut the cord or just have a backup option when the cable is out, a good antenna is a must-have.

Our TV antenna reviews combine careful testing and hands-on evaluation to find the best TV antennas available, from basic indoor antennas to amplified models and larger outdoor antennas. In every review we examine not only performance, comparing the number of channels pulled in and whether those channels are watchable, but also the equipment that's included with an antenna, and the ease of setup and use. We also offer advice from industry experts on how to get the best reception with whatever TV antenna you have.

What are the best TV antennas?

The best TV antenna overall is the Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro , which combines that basic flat mudflap design with an extra wide profile and a built-in built-in amplifier to boost the number of watchable channels. An integrated signal strength meter even helps you find the spot for best reception.

If you need the best reception, you'll want to upgrade to an outdoor antenna, and our favorite is the Winegard Elite 7550 Outdoor HDTV Antenna. With a 70-mile range, it's perfect for pulling in channels that are harder to get with smaller indoor antennas.

Our budget pick is the Mohu Leaf Metro. With a small size and good reception in a channel-rich environment, it's a great option for city-dwellers. And the low price doesn't hurt, either.

The best TV antennas you can buy today

1. Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro

Best TV antenna overall


Range: 65 Miles

Channels Received: 42

Amplified: Yes

1080p Reception: Yes

Cable Length: 16 Feet

Size: 12 x 21.5 inches

Reasons to buy

+Solid reception+Simple set up+Detachable cable

Reasons to avoid

-Sizable presence on your wall

For the best overall TV antenna, it's hard to beat the capable Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro. The wide design goes big to pull in more stations. With a bigger and thicker design than most flat antennas, this chunky antenna boasts a built-in amplifier with an integrated signal-strength meter, helping you find the optimal spot for pulling in channels.

And pull in channels it does, leveraging it's wide surface area to nab more than 40 watchable stations, outperforming some of our favorite indoor antennas. The antenna has a unique detachable coax cable and includes a 3-foot USB power cable for powering the amplifier, but it comes rolled up in the box, and does need to spend some time unfurled before it will lay flat. But all of the quirks are worth it for the solid reception it offers, and the Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro is an excellent indoor antenna for suburban areas that may need a boost to get the most channels.

Read our full Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro HDTV Antenna review

2. Winegard Elite 7550 Outdoor HDTV Antenna

Best outdoor antenna


Range: 70 Miles

Channels Received: 73

Amplified: No

1080p Reception: Yes

Cable Length: N/A

Size: 30 x 17.5 x 5 inches

Reasons to buy

+Excellent reception+Excellent interference suppression

Reasons to avoid

-Somewhat loose construction-Plastic roof mount

Sometimes an indoor antenna just won't cut it. When you need an outdoor antenna with excellent reception, the Winegard Elite 7550 is the smart option, and the best TV antenna for outdoor installation. It may cost a little more, but the Winegard Elite 7550 pays dividends, delivering a whopping 73 channels in our tests. Whether you're in a crowded city or a rural community, this outdoor HDTV should get the job done, pulling in more channels with better signal than any indoor model can offer.

If you're having difficulty getting local stations you want — or you just want better, more consistent reception — the Winegard Elite 7550's $120 price tag is worth every penny, pulling in dozens of free channels for less than a month's cable subscription.

Read our full Winegard Elite 7550 Outdoor HDTV Antenna review.

3. Mohu Leaf Metro

Best budget TV antenna


Range: 25 Miles

Channels Received: 12

Amplified: No

1080p Reception: Yes

Cable Length: 10 Feet

Size: 11.5 x 3.5 inches

Reasons to buy

+Inexpensive+Very small+Solid, dependable reception

Reasons to avoid

-Not amplified-Limited range and channel selection

A longtime favorite of ours is the Mohu Leaf Metro, a compact TV antenna that has an unobtrusive flat design that's smaller than most inexpensive antennas, yet pulls in channels with solid, dependable reception. It's not amplified, but with a 25-mile range capable of pulling in dozens of channels in cities and nearby suburbs, it doesn't need to be. The small size and city-friendly reception make it great for urban apartment dwellers, and the Mohu Leaf Metro lives up to its name.  If you want the most affordable option for over the air channels, this is it.

The compact antenna has a reversible design, with white on one side and black on the other, so you can flip it to whichever color is less obtrusive, or you can simply paint it to match the wall it's on. It even comes with mounting hardware. It's the best option for most people, since it gives you a dead simple way to pull in plenty of local channels without paying much money.

Read our full Mohu Metro Leaf review.

4. 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna

Frequent best-seller


Range: 50 Miles

Channels Received: 46

Amplified: Yes

1080p Reception: Yes

Cable Length: 10 Feet

Size: 13.25 x 9.25 inches

Reasons to buy

+All necessary components included+Moderately priced+Easy setup

Reasons to avoid

-Inconsistent performer

For a simple, indoor antenna that offers everything you need to cut the cord, the 1byone Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna offers a 50-mile range and included amplifier, all for a fairly reasonable price. With slick packaging and a basic black design, it's not only an Amazon best-seller, it's also one of the best TV antennas we've reviewed.

Measuring just 13.3 x 9.3 inches, the antenna includes everything you need to connect to the TV, with a 10-foot coaxial cable and included adhesive patches for mounting. The simple design and included amplifier delivered dozens of watchable channels, and can plug into any wall outlet or USB port. There's a good reason the 1byone is a top Amazon seller: It performs well and doesn't cost a lot.

Read our full 1byone Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna review.

5. Antop AT-800SBS HD Smart Panel Antenna

Best indoor/outdoor antenna


Range: 85 Miles

Channels Received: 68

Amplified: Yes

1080p Reception: Yes

Cable Length: 40 Feet (plus two, 5-foot coaxial cables)

Size: 21.7 x 10.4 x 4.1 inches

Reasons to buy

+Excellent reception+Indoor or outdoor use+Variety of mounting materials included

Reasons to avoid

-More expensive than most-Bulky

Made for use inside and out, the Antop AT-800SBS HD Smart Panel offers some of the best performance we've seen, easily topping many of the indoor/outdoor models  we've reviewed. And with an adjustable amplifier, included mounting hardware and optional FM connection for radio, it's a versatile best HD antenna option for anyone who's serious about cord cutting.

The Antop AT-800SBS also has a table-top stand for indoor use, but this 85-mile antenna was at its best out in the elements, where it pulled in 68 watchable stations. A 40-foot cable is included for easy installation, and the adjustable amplifier lets you dial in the right amount of power boost to help you grab the stations you want. It's the best indoor/outdoor antenna we've tested, and well worth the premium price.

Read our full Antop AT-800SBS HD Smart Panel Antenna review. 

6. ClearStream MAX-V HDTV Antenna

Another great indoor/outdoor antenna


Range: 60 Miles

Channels Received: 51

Amplified: No

1080p Reception: Yes

Cable Length: N/A

Size: 17.25 x 27.5 x 3.5 inches

Reasons to buy

+Good reception+Works indoors or out

Reasons to avoid

-An eyesore in living rooms-Necessary cable not included

While its aesthetics may leave something to be desired, the ClearStream MAX-V is a very capable antenna that delivers more stations than even competing amplified antennas, even models costing much more. If you want to improve over-the-air TV reception, it's one of the best TV antennas we've reviewed.

Rated to capture stations as far away as 60 miles, the ClearStream MAX-V from Antennas Direct will work indoors or out and is competitively priced. Not only did it do better than many of our favorite indoor antennas, it also matched some of the best outdoor antennas, making it a great choice for mounting on a roof, hanging in an attic or just tucking it out of sight – which may be difficult given the bulky figure-8 design.

Read our full ClearStream MAX-V HDTV Antenna review

7. Antop HD Smart Antenna SBS-301

A double-duty antenna for TV and radio


Range: 70 Miles

Channels Received: 33

Amplified: Yes

1080p Reception: Yes

Cable Length: 10 Feet (plus two 5-foot coaxial cables)

Size: 8.9 x 17.6 inches

Reasons to buy

+Amplifier that can be tweaked for specific stations+Built-in FM antenna

Reasons to avoid

-Expensive-Modest overall performance

With a 17-inch wide side-by-side design, the Antop SBS-301 is essentially twice the size of typical flat indoor-HDTV antennas. But it also does more than most TV antennas, doubling as an FM radio antenna, complete with a second output to connect to your sound system. With a simple two-sided design that's white on one side and black on the other, you should be able to set it up easily without disrupting your home decor much.

The indoor antenna includes a snap-on stand for tabletop, as well as pins and Velcro patches for hanging it on a wall, sticking it behind your TV, or even more permanent mounting with included drywall anchor screws. Antop beefs up the SBS-301 with the Smart Boost adjustable amplifier, which lets you dial in the right power boost to pull in the channels you want to watch – depending upon the amplifier setting, we pulled in between 23 and 33 channels during testing.

Read our full Antop HD Smart Antenna SBS-301 review. 

How to choose the best TV antenna for you

If you're shopping for a TV antenna, you're in luck, because there's no better option for getting live TV for the lowest price possible: Free! But before you pick up the first TV antenna you see at the store, you want to make sure that you're getting one that will work for you.

Location and range: If you're in or near a city, there's a good chance you can make do with a small indoor antenna, since you'll have several stations within a 10 or 20 mile radius that can be pulled in without a big aerial or powered amplifier. If you're more than 30 miles from your local broadcast tower, you'll want to step up to an amplified model. Any antenna that's rated for 50 miles or more will either be a large outdoor unit, or come with an amplifier to boost the signal it gets, if not both.

Indoor or outdoor: Whether or not to get an outdoor antenna will largely depend upon the building you're in and the surrounding environment, since obstacles like house walls and even trees can prevent signal from getting through to an indoor antenna. Outdoor antennas are larger, and work better when positioned as high up as you can get it – a rooftop mast being the ideal installation.

Non-amplified or amplified: An amplified antenna uses an additional signal strength booster that can help weak signals come in clearly with a little extra juice. But that also means having another device to plug in, and another power outlet to give up. It also means a slightly higher price.

Non-amplified indoor antennas generally sell for between $20 to $40, but there are plenty of cheap TV antennas that sell for less than $20 that offer acceptable performance. An amplified antenna offers better performance, and will cost between $30 and $100. For the best performance, consider an outdoor antenna, which costs $100 or more.

Our best TV antenna advice

Simply having an antenna won't automatically solve all of your over-the-air TV woes. Better antennas and optional amplifiers will go a long way toward bringing in more channels, but that's only part of the equation. 

We recommend researching beforehand to determine what range of antenna you need, and whether you want an indoor model or an antenna made for outdoor installation. The best place to start is, which lets you enter your address or ZIP code and see what stations are broadcasting in your area, as well as how far away the broadcast towers are.

Worried about future proofing for ATSC 3.0 as it rolls out to new cities? The good news is that your existing antenna will work, and may even pull in more channels under the new standard. The bad news is that you'll need to buy a new tuner or an ATSC 3.0-equipped TV, and these are only now coming to market.

And check out our other advice for TV antennas to help you get yourself properly equipped and set up for the best reception:

Using a TV antenna with smart TVs and streaming devices

While streaming services like Netflix and HBO Max may be taking a more prominent place in the living room, there's still room for over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV. Whether you want free access to local news or just want to get more sports without shelling out for another subscription service, an HDTV antenna can still provide plenty of great stuff to watch, and having a smart TV or one of the best streaming devices doesn't prevent using an antenna.

All of the best smart TVs for streaming also have built-in tuners for pulling in broadcast channels, and getting your TV channels programmed is an automatic process, with the TV scanning for stations and putting together a browsable channel guide in just a few minutes.

And several streaming devices are built with OTA content in mind. The Amazon Fire TV Cube, for example, can switch over to your TV's built-in tuner seamlessly, without having to swap TV inputs or juggle extra remote controls. You can even get something like the Amazon Fire TV Recast, a DVR that lets you record OTA content, and enjoy it all using the same Fire TV interface your TV might already be using.

How we test TV antennas

All of the TV antennas we review are tested in the same location in New York City, an apartment that receives dozens of channels from a variety of broadcasters. Each antenna is connected to a Samsung 4K TV, so the TV tuner remains consistent, and each one is placed in the same position to generate comparable results.

With more than 100 over-the-air channels available in Manhattan, it provides an excellent testing location for antenna reception of any range, with more sensitive, long-range antennas pulling in a higher number of channels. It also gives us a chance to determine the quality of that reception, by seeing whether or not those channels are clear and watchable. The best antennas will pull in more channels, with a higher number of watchable results.

Your experience may differ from our test results. Depending upon how many stations broadcast in you area, and unique geographical impediments to over the air signal – such as buildings, trees and mountains – your own channel selection will vary considerably.

And check out some of the best accessories for your TV:

Best TV mounts | Best Bluetooth TV adapters | Best Bluetooth speakers | Best Soundbars | Best cheap HDMI switchers 


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