Which HDTV antenna is best?

HDTV antennas have improved significantly since their inception, evidenced by the incredible picture qualities many users now garner from the hardware. Still, choosing the right antenna can seem daunting if you aren’t sure what you need. Most importantly, you’ll need to consider what range you need your antenna to include and where you plan to mount it before making your choice. The Winegard FL-5000 HDTV Antenna is a good, affordable pick with a range suitable for most users.

What to know before you buy HDTV antennas

Outdoor vs. indoor antennas

Even when looking at the best HDTV antennas, one of the most important things to consider is whether you plan to mount the unit inside or outside. Many antennas are made to be weatherproof, though not all of them are. Outdoor units also tend to have reception benefits over those mounted indoors. If you aren’t sure which to choose, it’s almost always worth upgrading to outdoor antennas that won’t be blocked by building structures.

Broadcast distance

Along with mounting location, your antenna’s distance from its broadcasting location matters immensely. If your antenna’s range isn’t far enough to reach the UHF or VHF broadcasts you want, you won’t be able to watch them. Certain channels may also vary in distance from your antenna, so matching your antenna’s range with any preferred channels is critical. For that reason, it’s essential to figure out how far your local broadcasting towers are from your house to make sure your antenna has a high enough range.

Cord-cutting

Instead of using cable TV, many have moved on from cable boxes for a combination of streaming and local broadcasting — often referred to as cord-cutting. Users who do this usually use antennas for access to local channels, which now offer high-quality 1080p broadcasting signals with 5.1-channel surround sound. In addition, they’ll use streaming services and the internet for TV, movies and other online media.

What to look for in quality HDTV antennas

Range

Most importantly, you’ll need to ensure your HDTV antenna has enough range to host the broadcasts you want. TV antenna ranges have increased significantly in the past few decades, so most can find a model suitable for them. Antennas can vary from as short of range as 40 miles to over 300 miles. If you live in a remote location far from your preferred broadcasting channels, you’ll want to go with a long-range antenna.

Easy installation

For the most part, installing antennas is straightforward and only includes a few parts. However, buying a unit that includes mounting hardware and an easy-to-install design can still save you time and hassle. Indoor antennas will often be easier to install than outdoor models, which require extra mounts and overall stability, not to mention additional weatherproofing elements.

Signal amplifiers

While you can find many long-distance antennas today that have them built-in, many also choose to buy signal amplifiers to increase reception at long ranges. Signal amplifiers are best for those who already get a little bit of reception but want to improve picture quality. These models connect your antenna to the TV and boost the overall broadcasting signal sent to your TV.

How much you can expect to spend on HDTV antennas

A cheap HDTV antenna may cost as little as $15, though higher-quality models will cost a little more. Most mid-tier and high-end antennas will cost somewhere from $30-$90.

HDTV antennas FAQ

Can you get true 4K broadcasting with HDTV antennas?

A. Unfortunately, broadcasting services can’t offer true 4K at this point. However, you can get High-Definition (HD) broadcasts at 1080p. There is also a development program in the U.S. for ATSC 3.0 4K broadcasting.

Do HDTV antennas work in rural places?

A. HDTV antennas are a common cable solution in place of cable for those living in rural places. However, if you live in a rural place far from the broadcasting signal you want, it’s important to make sure you buy a long-range antenna.

What are the best HDTV antennas to buy?

Top HDTV antenna

Winegard FL-5000 HDTV Antenna

Winegard FL-5000 HDTV Antenna

What you need to know: This offers a perfect balance of affordability and quality. It’s ultra-thin, lightweight and mounts easily. It also offers an impressive range that works for most buyers.

What you’ll love: It comes with an extra-long, 15-foot coaxial cable.

What you should consider: Some who bought this antenna had trouble getting the VHF channels to work or reported it was hit-or-miss.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top HDTV antenna for the money

RCA Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

RCA Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

What you need to know: It’s both affordable and straightforward, offering basic television broadcasting channels from nearby broadcasting towers.

What you’ll love: This antenna offers full HD quality for up to 40 miles from its broadcasting source. It features optimization for channels with worse reception, and it’s easy to set up. Purchase also includes a 6-foot coaxial cable.

What you should consider: This antenna’s range is only 40 miles and it isn’t suitable to be mounted outside.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Mohu Leaf 30 Multidirectional UHF And VHF Indoor HDTV Antenna

Mohu Leaf 30 Multidirectional UHF And VHF Indoor HDTV Antenna

What you need to know: This is another affordable option for those close to their broadcasting source, offering a sleek design for indoor use.

What you’ll love: Buyers love this antenna’s low price tag. It can play broadcasts up to 40 miles away from the source. It also includes a longer bundled coaxial cable than most, at 10 feet. This antenna can be purchased in either black or white.

What you should consider: This antenna only offers 40 miles of range and is made to be mounted inside.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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