Cable television and online streaming services have pushed TV antennas into the category of “ancient technology.” With cable, you get access to hundreds of high-quality HD channels, as opposed to a limited number of local channels. So, if that’s the case, why haven’t antennas completely disappeared already? There are still many advantages to buying an indoor antenna: it’s cheap, convenient, practical, and you get access to HD channels for free.
On the other hand, if you are happy with your cable provider or streaming service, you most likely don’t need to buy an indoor antenna. But, keep in mind that a classic antenna could be used as a backup or a free alternative to cable.
Even today, the indoor antenna market is crowded. To help you choose the best one, here is a short list of the best indoor HD antennas.
#1: Editor’s Pick — ClearStream Eclipse 35 Mile
This indoor HD antenna has a unique and versatile design. It’s easy to set up because it grips to any smooth flat surface — walls or windows. Also, you can change the color of the antenna so that it blends in better with the overall design of your room. Use the white side for placement on walls and the black side to blend in with darker surfaces.
In addition, the ClearStream Eclipse antenna can pick up frequencies within a 35-mile range and comes with a 12-foot detachable cable. The overall channel count with this antenna is significantly higher than with other similar antennas.
- Comes with a 12-foot detachable cable
- An amplifier is not included
- Advertised number of channels: 46
- Actual number of channels: 74
Modern and functional design
The ClearStream Eclipse indoor antenna doesn’t have that classic antenna look. Its patented ring-shaped design is sleek and won’t distract you while you are watching TV. In addition, this antenna is not as bulky as other classic antennas. So, the area around your TV set will seem less cluttered.
If you have guests over, this antenna will quickly become a discussion topic. They will be intrigued because i looks nothing like “ancient technology.”
Other than that, the ClearStream antenna is functional because it comes with a detachable cable. If you have to move things around in your room or just want to clean up, the detachable cable feature will make your life easier. Essentially, you won’t have to detach the antenna from the wall or window during cleaning or moving.
The Clearstream Eclipse antenna has a better signal reception than other antennas. You might be able to pick up as many as 74 channels, depending on the number of TV channels broadcast in your area. As an added bonus, there is no need for an amplifier to get that many channels.
With most other antenna brands, you only get a one-year warranty. However, with the ClearStream Eclipse antenna, you get a lifetime warranty on parts from its manufacturer Antennas Direct.
Amplifier not included
This antenna doesn’t come with an amplifier. If you need amplification, you’ll have to buy the model with the 50+ mile range or a third-party amplifier. But, in most cases, you won’t need an amplifier because it might add only a few more channels.
The ClearStream antenna is among the more expensive indoor antennas on the market. For example, the Vansky antenna has a longer range at half the price of the ClearStream antenna. On the other hand, the ClearStream is capable of pulling in more channels compared with the 50+ mile range Vansky — with an attached amplifier. All in all, it’s worth the money since you have to pay for this antenna only once — when you buy it — and you’ll be set for a long time.
#2: Cheapest Antenna w/ Lots of Channels — Vansky
The Vansky’s antenna might not have the most appealing design, but it’s on the list as one of the favorites.
- 16.5-foot cable is not detachable
- Comes with an amplifier
- Advertised number of channels: Not specified
- Actual number of channels: 72
- Amplified number of channels: 73
The Vansky antenna is inexpensive and practical. For a one-time 20 dollar expense, you can start watching HD channels free of charge. In addition, you won’t need to buy any extra equipment. Having in mind that cable TV subscriptions sometimes cost even five times that amount, this antenna is truly a bargain.
If for some reason you are not satisfied with the quality of the product or signal reception, don’t stress because there is a 45-day money back guarantee. You also get a standard one-year warranty.
The setup process for this antenna is straightforward. Just plug the cable into your TV, stick the antenna on a wall or window and scan the channels. You will most likely have to move the antenna around and rescan the channels until you find the optimal location.
Cable not detachable
This antenna comes with a non-detachable 16.5-foot cable, which is longer compared with other antenna brands. But, do still consider the cable length if you intend on buying this antenna. Non-detachable cables can’t be replaced with longer cables. If the cable gets damaged, you will have to replace the entire antenna.
The Vansky indoor antenna has a simple, flat design — as do other similar antennas on this list, excluding the ClearStream brand. Vansky’s simple design isn’t necessarily a drawback, but it’s just that — a basic antenna. There is nothing wrong with wanting an antenna that has an appealing design. However, if you are simply looking for a powerful antenna that will do its job — grab sounds and images out of thin air — then, look no further.
#3: Best Two-Sided Antenna — Mohu Leaf 30
The Mohu Leaf 30 antenna can cover a range of up to 40 miles and comes with a 10-foot detachable cable. Even though the design is not as stylish and it doesn’t come with an amplifier or a table stand, it will give you access to free HD channels.
- Cable is detachable
- Comes without an amplifier
- Price: $69.99
- Advertised channel number: 65
- Actual channel number: 55
Cable is detachable
Mohu Leaf has a versatile black and white design that comes with a white detachable cable. Generally, you won’t be attaching and detaching the cable very often, but it’s helpful while cleaning, moving or replacing it with a longer cable.
Most of the antennas on this list have two sides — a dark side and a light side. As a result, you can blend the white side of the Mohu Leaf antenna with your walls and the black side with darker surfaces without investing additional effort.
Short, thick cable
Of all the antennas on this list, the Mohu Leaf antenna has the shortest and thickest cable. For that reason, you might want to replace it with a longer one. As for the size, the Mohu Leaf antenna is similar in size compared with other antennas on this list.
In most cases, your antenna won’t need to be amplified. However, some people like having the amplification option just in case. Particularly, people living in more isolated areas may need to get an antenna with a longer range or buy an additional signal booster.
#4: Nicest Looking Antenna — BESTHING
BESTHING’s digital TV antenna is not your ordinary indoor antenna. Apart from its exceptional design, it comes with a stand and a signal booster.
- Cable is not detachable
- Comes with an amplifier
- Advertised channel number: Not specified
- Actual channel number: 59
- Amplified number of channels: 61
In general, most antennas that come with amplifiers also include a detachable cable and a power supply. However, with the BESTHING antenna, the amplifier and the USB cable are integrated into a single adapter. This set-up is practical because there are fewer parts that you have to assemble.
On the other hand, keep in mind that, if one cable fails, you’ll be left with a semi-functional adapter.
Comes with a stand
For those who want to place their antenna next to or on top of the TV, the BESTHING antenna comes with a stand. However, to get the strongest signal reception, keep it close to a window. You are welcome to place the antenna on a table or your entertainment console if there is no interference with the signal.
As mentioned already, detachable cables are more convenient if you need to replace it with a longer one.
#5: Indoor Antenna w/ High Range — 1byone
With a 50-mile range and an included amplifier, 1byone antenna has all the essentials needed to successfully pull in all your favorite HD channels for free.
- Non-detachable cable
- Comes with an amplifier
- Advertised channel count: Not specified
- Actual channel number: 56
- Amplified channel number: 58
Comes with an amplifier
In order to avoid interference and increase the number of channels, you need to make use of the amplifier by plugging it into the antenna. With the 1byone antenna, there are two ways to amplify the signal. You can either plug the USB power cable into a USB port on your TV or into the included power supply.
Cheaper than other antennas
The 50-mile range 1byone antenna has a competitive price at only $24.99. However, it’s a bit more expensive compared to the Vansky antenna, for example. But, if you search Amazon for other variations of the same product, you’ll find some models that go for as low as $9.99.
Not as many channels
The 1byone antenna has a weaker signal. For example, you can pick up around 58 channels with the signal booster activated. It’s unclear why this antenna pulls in fewer channels than others, but it could be due to the quality of the design and materials.
If you are concerned with the price, consider getting the Vansky antenna instead of the 1byone. In fact, it’s $5 cheaper than 1byone.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Indoor Antenna
Over-the-air broadcast channels such as CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and others can be picked up for free with a standard indoor digital antenna. Not many people are aware of that fact. Antenna prices can vary anywhere from $9.99 to $79.99. Similarly, the channel count can range from about 40 channels to as many as 70 channels. Surprisingly, the ClearStream HD TV Antenna picked up 74 channels. As for the signal strength, indoor antennas can range from 25 miles to about 150 miles. However, at the range of about 60 or 70 miles, antennas start to fall into the category of outdoor antennas.
Things to Look Out For Before Buying
First, try to figure out which antenna offers the best price to quality ratio. Should you spend around 40 bucks on an indoor antenna when the $19.99 model would get the same job done, but at half the price? Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with wanting to save some extra cash if you have the opportunity.
There isn’t much variety in the antenna market in terms of design. Most antennas look the same. Basically, they come with a flat receiver with sticky surfaces attached to a cord with a coaxial connector that you plug into your TV. That’s all there is to it. However, a unique antenna design could quickly become a conversation starter among your friends or family members. But, if your antenna is bulky and strange-looking, it’s likely that you would prefer to keep it out of sight.
Will you run into difficulty with the setup process? Unlikely, because antennas nowadays are quite simple and the setup process is straightforward. If you have to move your antenna for whatever reason, just take it down and stick it somewhere else. Could the setup process be any simpler?
Detachable and non-detachable cables
One of the essential features of any antenna design is whether the cable is detachable or not. Depending on the distance from your TV to the wall or window, the cable length can have an impact on the overall presentation. Will your antenna blend in or will it look sloppy?
Most people prefer antennas with a detachable cable. That way, it’s easier to replace the original cable with a longer one or a new one if it gets damaged.
If you live in isolated rural areas, chances are your antenna will require a signal booster to maintain a strong signal reception. If your antenna comes with an amplifier try it out to see if it pulls in additional channels. On the other hand, if you don’t get any additional benefits from an amplifier, you probably shouldn’t use it. Keep in mind that it all depends on your setup and where you place the antenna.