Facebook Pixel Code
x
BestReview's Logo
Best For Your Buck Product
Best bang for the buck
1byone
Check Price
Best Of The Best Product
Best of the best
Mohu
Check Price
BestReview's Logo

Best TV Antennas

Updated May 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 76 Models Considered
  • 14 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 134 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for the best TV antennas

    Last Updated May 2018

    Nearly a decade ago, the U.S. government flipped the switch on television broadcast signals across the country, getting rid of Standard Definition (SD) and converting everything to High Definition (HD). But because not everyone owned an HDTV, new digital antennas were made available to the public so they could pick up an HD signal on their older TVs.

    Since then, many people have switched to HDTV. But a significant portion of the population elects not to buy a cable or satellite package. These viewers are content with the standard broadcast channels available in their area. With the improvements constantly being made to those channels and signals, it’s wise for these viewers to have the best antenna possible.

    A digital antenna works rain or shine to bring you access to the news, weather, sports, events, and other entertainment provided by local broadcasters in your area.

    What’s more, digital antennas don’t suffer service outages like cable and satellite sometimes do. This makes their content a great backup in case of emergencies.

    Esther
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    Longtime writer Esther Schindler has translated geek-talk into English since 1992. She loves to explain how technology can, indeed, improve the quality of life. Find her on Twitter at @estherschindler. Bring chocolate.


    Esther  |  Technology, Product Review Researcher
    At times, severe or inclement weather may hamper the quality of the signal transmitted to your TV.

    At BestReviews, we want our readers to enjoy the best products they possibly can. To that end, we spent hours compiling this TV antenna shopping guide and product recommendation matrix. Our goal is to provide consumers with the independent, unbiased product reviews they need to make the right purchasing decisions.

    So toss out those old rabbit ears; we’re here to help you figure out which TV antenna will bring you the best reception today and in the years to come.

    EXPERT TIP

    Not every station has bonus “.2” channels. Some smaller broadcast companies and affiliates are content running one station on their equipment. Consult a local television guide to see what’s available in your area.


    Rafe  | Technologist, Product Review Professional

    What is a TV antenna?

    An antenna is a device that you hook up to your television to pick up localized signals in your area. These devices are a spinoff of older tech in which users would place an antenna on the roof or “rabbit ears” on top of the TV.

    Many of the TV antennas for sale today are digital, though the products may vary in design. For example, some can reach up to 50 miles and are designed to pick up any signal with 4K broadcasting properties. Some include filter technology that allows them to be pointed in any direction. And some antennas constantly scan for new channels as they're made available for broadcast.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    While the technology may differ, a broadcasted signal is actually much stronger than a satellite signal, and it often has a better picture than cable.

    Local channel offerings

    You don’t have much control over what channels are available to non-cable subscribers in your area. There may be a large selection, or there may be just a few. This depends largely on your state, your local terrain, and what each available station offers.

    The standard channels you should be able to receive, regardless of your location, include ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. The availability of channels beyond that is based on location. Check your local listings to see what’s available.

    Antenna range

    Because you can’t control the free channel offerings in your area, it’s wise to choose an antenna with a great range. Many of the best TV antennas for sale today can pick up channels from 50 miles away. 

    Service providers often apply signal compression to local network programming in order to get the signal in their area out to thousands of subscribers. However, broadcast signals still give you the best picture.

    Range amplifier

    A range amplifier is a device that hooks onto your antenna through your wiring to give your antenna a boost of power. Makes and models vary, but the essential purpose of a range amplifier is to increase the distance your antenna reaches out for a signal.

    The average antenna scans a 50-mile radius from where it’s positioned. An amplifier makes that radius bigger and attempts to pick up signals outside the antenna’s normal range.

    If you don’t live in the best of reception areas  let’s say you live in the countryside, far removed from any broadcast towers  a range amplifier could serve you well.

    Antenna shape

    Gone are the days of bunny ears and circle-shaped receivers. Today’s TV antennas are flat, rectangular surfaces. This broad shape acts like a large, invisible net that’s designed to “catch” a wide range of transmissions. Professionals in the industry comically refer to it as “the fly swatter.”

    Installation

    An issue you may grapple with as a new TV antenna owner is that of installation. Most antennas plug into the TV with a coaxial cable, and most TVs have this installation.

    However, newer televisions on the market only contain HDMI inputs. Double-check your own television to make sure you can hook up an antenna like this.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    While there are no official adaptors by TV manufacturers, there are third-party companies that make HDMI adaptors that hook into coaxial ports. Be sure to research these brands before purchasing.

    Positioning

    Because modern TV antennas are more sophisticated than their predecessors, there’s little need to mount them on the roof or any other elevated location. However, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that your signal has the best quality at all times,

    • Keep the antenna near a window so the signal has an easier time reaching you.

    • If possible, aim the antenna at a broadcast tower in your area. (You may need a longer cable to do this.) A Google search can help you locate nearby broadcast towers.

    • Keep your antenna in a high, flat, horizontal position for the strongest signal.

    • If you wish, you can move your antenna outside, mounting it on a patio or even the roof. However, this isn’t always advisable. Check the specs of your antenna before installing it outside.
    EXPERT TIP

    A digital signal can be affected by physical objects. Buildings, trees, hills, and cell towers can warp and bend a signal, causing reception problems.


    Richard  | Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

    Picture quality

    Sometimes, TV picture quality hinges on your signal and the placement of your antenna. There are no special features in any of these devices that guarantee a crystal-clear signal across every available channel; that depends on your location and your tower signals.

    If a specific channel isn’t coming in clearly, you may need to experiment a bit with the placement of your antenna.

    In some areas, the picture quality isn’t the fault of the antenna but of the broadcaster’s signal and tower. If you’re having issues with a particular station while the rest come in fine, it may be helpful to contact the station’s engineering department to see if they know how to position your antenna or check to see if there’s a problem with their signal.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Sound

    Much like picture quality, there’s no way around the fact that you’re going to encounter static at some point. Plenty of potential causes exist, but the most likely culprit is audio interference.

    If you’re looking for an antenna that minimizes your chance of sound interference, look for a product with audio-filtering tech that is supposed to eliminate things like radio station signals, wireless radios, and cell phone signals  the elements that commonly cause interference.

    EXPERT TIP

    Most in-home signals have little to no impact on an antenna’s reception. A single cellphone is not capable of scrambling a signal. Interference that causes static usually comes from being near some sort of transmission or broadcast tower.


    Esther  | Technology, Product Review Researcher

    Price

    Thankfully, digital antenna technology has become so commonplace that you won’t have to break your budget to get a great deal.

    • There are many sleek digital TV antennas that cost in the neighborhood of $50. TV antennas in this range may have some filtering tech that other products don't.

    • You'll find budget-priced TV antennas that hover around the $25 mark. Many of these are fine models that will get the job done. Cable length and aesthetics may be some of your deciding factors if you're shopping in this price range.

    A search on Google can help you learn more about the broadcast towers in your area. You can then determine which channels would reach your location with the help of an antenna.

    Tips

    • Some antennas need a brief internal software setup that requires you to find the signal. Look for a spot where the signal is “present.”

    • Connect your antenna directly to the TV, and avoid as many split connections as possible. The greater the connection, the better the quality.

    • If you choose outdoor installation, check to see how durable your antenna is. Will you need to do anything special to ensure that the antenna withstands the elements?

    • If you use a splitter to send your signal to multiple TVs, install a low-noise amplifier to compensate for any signal reduction.
    If you live far away from a tower, your signals will obviously be weaker. But the terrain in which you live also affects your reception. For example, if you live in a big city surrounded by lots of tall buildings, your signals might not be as strong.

    FAQ

    Q. Will my antenna be able to pick up everything in my area?

    A. This depends on your location. In smaller areas, it may be possible to pick up everything you’ll ever see on broadcast television. In larger areas, there are some channels you won't be able to reach.

    Q. Will a digital antenna work on an older TV?

    A. No. You must have a television made after 2009 in order for the signal to work. Any television made prior to this date does not have the right technology to receive digital signals from the antenna.

    Q. How do I connect an antenna to a TV that already has cable/satellite box?

    A. You have two choices here. The first is to select a secondary input for the antenna and switch to it using your remote, like you would a DVD player. The second is to use a coaxial splitter, which would require more installation and some new wiring.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Heather
      Heather
      Chief Content Officer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Jess
      Jess
      Researcher
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor