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The Best HDTV Antennas for 2021

Cutting the cord on your cable company is one of the most liberating feelings, but losing access to network programming is still a sacrifice. Fortunately, there are HDTV antennas to fill the entertainment gap. No longer the roof-mounted, alien-like monstrosities of years past, many of today’s TV antennas are paper-thin, simple to program, and a breeze to relocate at a moment’s notice, whether you choose an indoor or outdoor TV antenna.

We’ve spent a lot of time reviewing how well HDTV antennas work, and along with recommending products like the Mohu Leaf Plus Amplified, we’ve collected all the best HDTV antennas for you. Additionally, every antenna on this list will support the 4K-friendly ATSC 3.0 standard that continues to roll out across the country with its upgrade performance. Whether you need an outdoor antenna for peak performance when it comes to signal strengthor a cheap indoor antenna for one or two local stations, we’ve got you covered.

Editor’s note: Not everyone lives in a neighborhood suitable for antenna viewing, so we recommend taking a look at TV Fool’s TV Signal Analysis tool or a similar site to find out which channels are available in your area before you buy.

Best HDTV antennas a glance

The best overall: Mohu Leaf Plus Amplified

Mohu Releaf Plus Amplified.

Why you should buy this:You’re looking for a future-proofed, eco-friendly flat antenna.

Who it’s for: The eco-minded cord cutter.

Why we picked the Mohu Leaf Plus Amplified:

Mohu’s Leaf Plus Amplified model is a near-perfect combination of affordability and quality. This upgraded antenna sports a 60-mile range and is able to handle 4K content (if available in your area). The flat design also places the amplifier as close to the antenna port as possible to reduce noise and improve signal clarity. With those features, it’s no surprise that the multi-direction antenna excels at picking up signals, even when lesser antennas may struggle with the job.

The Leaf Plus Amplified is also incredibly easy to set up: The thin construction is designed to be attached to any handy wall or window. You can also paint over it without worrying about loss of quality if you want it to match a specific color or decor setup. The 16-foot coaxial cable also makes it easy to find the spot with the best reception even if it’s not exactly close to your TV.

The most user-friendly antenna: Winegard Amped Pro

Winegard Amped with phone app.

Why you should buy this:You’re after a digital antenna that will deliver top-notch signal reception at all times.

Who it’s for:Those that want convenient access to signal monitoring features.

Why we chose the Winegard Amped Pro:

The Winegard Amped Pro is the only TV antenna in this roundup to utilize a mobile app as part of your TV setup. Available for iOS and Android devices, the Winegard Connected app pairs to the Amped Pro antenna via Bluetooth. During setup, you’ll be guided on where to locate the Amped Pro based on your home’s proximity to community broadcast towers, ensuring you’ll get the best signal possible based on your residence. Engineered for long-distance receiving, the Amped Pro is rated to capture broadcast signals up to 60 miles away. All this to say that signal strength certainly won’t be an issue with this model!

Along with a friendly mobile experience, the Amped Pro features Winegard’s Clear Circuit Technology, which provides boosted signal strength, cuts down on dropouts, and helps to eliminate pixelation in your TV’s received image. Reversible for a white or black antenna appearance, and mountable to windows and walls, the Winegard Amped Pro is the ideal indoor antenna for those that want to cut the cord with style.

The best budget antenna: Philips Modern Loop Rabbit Ears Antenna

Philips Modern Loop Rabbit Ears.

Why you should buy this:You’re after a non-obtrusive omnidirectional antenna that can be easily placed near your TV.

Who it’s for:Basic TV watchers that could care less about long-distance broadcasting.

Why we chose the Philips Modern Loop Rabbit Ears Antenna:

For only $12, the Philips Modern Loop antenna isn’t built for long-range performance like other antennas in this roundup. Instead, you can expect up to a 30-mile range for both VHF and UHF broadcast signals from these rabbit ears. A weighted base and rubber feet keep the Modern Loop from bouncing off your entertainment center, which is great for nosy pets and active toddlers.

If you’re finding your picture is cutting in and out, the Modern Loop’s extendable dipoles add a layer of amplification to the antenna’s reception. While it’s not glorious by any means, the Philips Modern Loop is the perfect antenna for those living close to broadcast towers, or those living further from towers that only care about receiving three or four stations.

The best flat antenna: ClearStream Eclipse

ClearStream Eclipse on a wall.

Why you should buy this: It’s a discreet yet powerful HD antenna with a novel design.

Who it’s for: Those who don’t mind paying a little extra for performance.

Why we picked the ClearStream Eclipse:

The ClearStream Eclipse omnidirectional antenna offers top-rated performance when it comes to picking up your favorite local channels. This is true of all four available Eclipse models, which come in estimated signal ranges, from 35 miles up to 70, netting you optimized antenna reception at multiple price points. The antenna is two-sided — a black side and a white side — to match your decor. Not only is the material adhesive on both sides (meaning no tape), but it also can be painted over, so it can easily become a discreet addition to any room.

Even better, it being a multidirectional antenna, the ClearStream Eclipse can be mounted virtually anywhere and doesn’t require precise aiming to catch a signal. Unlike many indoor antennas, most of which use a square or rectangular design, the circular design of the ClearStream Eclipse is better at picking up UHF signals, which can be a struggle for many indoor antennas. Those specs make it a great choice for those ready to ditch cable, regardless of where you live.

The best tiny antenna: Leaf Metro

Leaf Metro on a window.

Why you should buy this: The Leaf Metro is the smallest antenna of the bunch, but it’s no less capable of providing stellar TV signal.

Who it’s for: City apartment dwellers who need something compact.

Why we picked the Leaf Metro:

Though admittedly weaker than Mohu’s larger Leaf antenna, the Leaf Metro antenna is the perfect tiny antenna for compact living spaces. Mohu designed the Leaf Metro for discreet installation in homes located close to broadcast towers. As such, those living in downtown or urban areas are most likely to get the best results from the Leaf Metro, which has a range of approximately 25 miles.

To compound the versatility enabled by its tiny size, the Leaf Metro digital TV antenna also comes in either black or white, so users have the ability to paint it to match their interior. Plus, its adhesive coating means it’ll stick to almost any surface and can be moved to other locations with ease. An included 10-foot coaxial cable allows for fairly flexible installation.

The best indoor/outdoor antenna: Clearstream 2Max HDTV Antenna

Clearstream 2Max HDTV Antenna beside TV.

Why you should buy this: It delivers long-distance reception for even the farthest broadcast tower, even in less than ideal environments.

Who it’s for: Those who live a long distance from signal s.

Why we picked the Clearstream 2Max HDTV Antenna:

Whether you’re using it indoors or as your dedicated outdoor TV antenna, the Clearstream 2Max is quite simple to use and assemble, utilizing clamps or a base for installation. Despite the antenna being larger than almost every other antenna listed here, it’s not so big that it can’t fit behind a TV or mount to the wall of your living room. For outdoor installation, a 20-inch mast is included.

While we’re recommending the Clearstream 2Max HDTV Antenna with 60-mile reception, if you live wayout in the boonies, it may also be worthwhile to look into the larger and pricier 4Max version of the outdoor antenna, which features a 70-mile reception range and (some say) more reliable connection. Similarly, if you live closer to a signal, the 1max, which has a 40-mile range, is also a good option for an amplified antenna. With such a range of options available in the Clearstream Max line, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a great way to get free HD TV in the countryside.

The best outdoor antenna: Channel Master STEALTHtenna

Channel Master STEALTHtenna.

Why you should buy this:Your home falls outside the reception range of the most powerful indoor antenna on our list.

Who it’s for: Those for whom an indoor antenna simply won’t cut it.

Why we picked the Channel Master STEALTHtenna:

For most users, an indoor HDTV antenna will nab the channels you desire. There are some spots, however, where only an outdoor antenna will do the job. With a reception range of over 50 miles (sometimes more depending on your location), Channel Master’s STEALTHtenna provides incredible performance and impressive signal quality. This is thanks in part to the antenna’s tough powder-coated aluminum body that can withstand the mightiest winds and nasty weather, allowing your signal to shine regardless of how gloomy the skies are.

The Channel Master STEALTHtenna is a small and light OTA antenna, making it easy to find the proper location for mounting, and includes installation hardware for mounting the antenna to a flat wall, eaves, or fascia board. Two included U-bolts also allow you to mount the antenna to a mast or pole. Better yet, if you’re dropping your satellite service, you can use the U-bolts to mount your Channel Master to your old Dish Network hardware. For performance, easy install, and durable design, look no further than the Channel Master STEALTHtenna.

How we test

The majority of these picks were tested in our downtown Portland, Oregon, offices, as well as in residential locations to get the best possible impression on the signal strength of each antenna. We then cross-referenced our findings with those of other experts and consumers to assess any differences and gauge the relevance of inconsistencies (if there were any to begin with) for our final rankings. For the few choices on this list, we did not get hands-on time with, we based our appraisal on the opinions of fellow tech publications, expert outlets, and user comments.

NextGen TV coverage map.

Where’s 4K?

All of the products we’ve highlighted will support the 4K-ready ATSC 3.0 standard (and you’ll also need a TV that supports 4K for optimal results). Is ATSC 3.0, a.k.a. NextGen TV, available in your area? That’s a more complicated question. These free 4K broadcasts have been steadily rolling out across the United States, especially in metropolitan areas, but they may not be available in your area quite yet. You can check current availability to learn more.

A word on signal strength and quality

We’d love to tell you there’s an ideal location in your home in relation to a signal tower, but the truth is there isn’t. In reality, like so many other things in life, the process of finding the best spot for an antenna requires trial and error, some finesse, and maybe even a little luck. This inconsistency is true not just in different geographical regions, but in variations between antenna models. What may be the best location for one antenna may not be as effective for others.

Further, there are differences in the signal types that your antenna will be picking up, and some antennas may be better at picking up certain signal frequencies than others. The two main signal types are VHF and UHF. The basic difference between the two is the channels broadcast in those frequencies. Channels 2-13 are broadcast in VHF, while channels 14-51 are UHF. Most antennas can pick up both VHF and UHF, but some can only pick up one or the other. This will be noted in an antenna’s product description.

Also important to note is that a channel’s number doesn’t always correspond to that channel’s actual broadcast frequency. This exception doesn’t typically apply unless you’re pairing your HD antenna with a third-party interface, such as a DVR OTA receiver. Tablo, for example, lists CBS 6 in Richmond, Virginia, on its channel 6 slot, which you would think requires a VHF antenna, but the content actually comes in over the UHF-bound channel 25. This should be a non-issue in most situations, but keep this outlier in mind if you ever run into any issues.

Otherwise, here are some general tips to ensure the best possible reception.

  • Face your antennas directly toward the nearest towers, if possible. Some antennas are omnidirectional — meaning the orientation of their placement won’t dampen matters much — but you should try and get it as close into the tower’s general direction within your house as possible.
  • Place your antenna with as little geographical interference (mountains, hills, trees, buildings, etc.) as possible.
  • Buy an amplified antenna if you find yourself afflicted by the issues above. They’re a bit costlier, but they typically perform better in less-than-ideal conditions, and they’ll save you time (and sanity) in the long run.

Try to keep interference from radios, cell phones, or other electronics to a minimum. This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping the antenna away from your TV. In some instances, however, the best location for an antenna may well be directly behind or under the TV.

In general, the ranges listed by manufacturers are estimates and shouldn’t be taken at face value. While it’s still best to opt for an antenna listed with longer reception ranges for locations far from broadcast towers, there are no universal testing criteria for establishing what an antenna’s operating range is. Plus, environmental factors will impact accuracy.

Finally, while we have recommendations for amplified antennas, we aren’t entirely sold on the efficacy of that technology. Despite the name, “amplified” antennas or in-line amplifiers do not boost the signal reception itself. Rather, they strengthen the signal that is being picked up, meaning if you’re getting a slightly fuzzy signal, the amplifier will try to artificially boost the quality on the TV. We’ve had varying degrees of success there, but in general there often isn’t going to be an appreciable change in quality. It’s also important to note that amplifiers should not be used in areas where signal strength is stable. This can cause noise and other picture quality problems.

Editors’ Recommendations

Above article is first published by the link. We curated and re-published.

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