Antenna Tv For Smart Tv

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Antenna Tv For Smart Tv

Installing an over-the-air antenna is one of the easiest ways to get free TV. Here are our top recommendations for the best indoor antenna.

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. 

And if you’re really serious about cutting the cord, check out our Streaming TV Insider for even more tips.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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: How to cut the cord for $10: installing an indoor antenna 2:03

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • 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. This Flat antenna is great for those who are not capable of installing an outdoor antenna. It has a UHF gain of 6dB for a strong UHF signal.  

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.

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. This multi-directional antenna 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.

OTHER TOP TV ANTENNA PICKS

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). It is a long-range antenna that receives TV signals up to 200 miles.

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

$24

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Detachable cable? No
  • Number of channels: 28 in Manhattan, 62 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 6, or 7 with amplifier, out of 13 checked, both locations

The U Must Have amplified antenna comes with a sticky pad on the back and a relatively long, though nonremovable, lead at 18 feet. The included amplifier gives the antenna some flexibility and the product feels more solidly made overall than the 1byOne, though they performed similarly. Take note that this digital antenna model is constantly out of stock and is currently listed as being manufactured by Synology (it’s not).

$29

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Detachable coaxial cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 41 in Manhattan, 64 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 8 out of 13 checked, both locations

The $20 AmazonBasics ran neck-and-neck with the Channel Master Flatenna. It has an eerily similar design and also includes a removable coax cable. Only a higher price prevents it from beating the Flatenna. But maybe you want something in white and this ultra thin antenna fits that bill.

BEST ANTENNAS COMPARED

PriceNo. of channels (Manhattan)No. of channels (NJ)No. of watchable channels (out of 13)
Channel Master Flatenna 35$1050619
AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna$2141648
Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse$4039659
1byOne Upgraded 2019 Digital Amplified Indoor HD TV Antenna$2734496
Mohu ReLeaf (discontinued)$3029666
U Must Have Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna$2928626
Channel Master Smartenna Plus (discontinued)$4931535

How we tested the TV antennas

Much like real estate, how well a TV antenna works is based on location, location and location.

We tested the antennas in two main locations: in midtown Manhattan just a half-mile from the broadcast antennas on the Empire State Building — albeit obscured by other buildings — and in suburban New Jersey, 9 miles from the closest broadcast towers. Depending on your location, you might receive broadcasts from multiple antennas. Hills or large buildings in the way will have an effect on frequency range and reception of TV channels.

We situated each antenna in the same spot and connected it to the Channel Master DVR Plus, which gives signal strength data as well as a total channel count. We used two different metrics to determine which TV antenna performed best. The first was a raw measure of the number of channels it could detect, while the second involved a number of predetermined “problem channels.” For these, we consulted a list of channels culled from various forums, for both testing areas, and gauged how well the antennas pulled in each channel.

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