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Guide to the Best HD Antennas
Cable and satellite are becoming very expensive TV habits for the average consumer. With So many streaming TV options available, cable and satellite aren’t quite worth what they used to be. It’s time to cut the cord! But first, you need to purchase a HD Antenna.
The biggest challenge to cutting the cord is replacing access to local broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS). Even with all the streaming options, there is no internet-based solution to gain online access to local networks. The reason for this is more around politics, the FCC and all sorts of business and court battles, but at the end of the day it’s the consumer who loses out.
Enter the HD antenna.
An HD antenna allows consumers to watch local and public access channels for free, instead of paying a hefty monthly fee to cable and satellite companies. The quality of the HD picture, ironically, is normally better than anything you’ll see on cable or satellite. The two main challenges with HD antennas are:
- They require an upfront investment (that can be pricey if you don’t know what you’re looking for).
- Some installation may be required depending on the HD antenna you purchase
So with so many HD antenna options on the market today, how the heck do you know which one is right for you?!?
The following is a curated guide to some of the best HD antennas on the market. By the end of this guide, you will:
- Learn the difference between Set Top, Indoor and Outdoor HD antennas
- Explore the pros and cons of each type of HD antenna
- Review the major brands in the HD antenna space
- Understand the importance of signal range of your HD antenna (and a simple hack to learn how much signal you need)
- Identify the best HD Antenna for your situation.
The first thing you should do before researching HD antennas is to determine the distance from your home to the broadcast towers of your local networks. While this might sound difficult, it’s really a simple activity.
Go to and enter your home address. You’ll get a list of local broadcast networks and the distance and direction from your home. The important thing to understand is, how far away are the channels that you need access to? 10 miles? 50 miles? 100 miles? The farther the distance the more powerful the HD antenna you will need.
Now that you know the distance to your local affiliate channels, it’s time to discuss the different types of HD antennas available.
SET TOP HD ANTENNAS
Set top antennas are compact, convenient, and cost effective. They work best at lower signal range (less than 30 miles) and are usually used for a single TV. They come in many shapes and sizes and are built off those old “bunny ears” antennas we all used before the cable TV days.
While there is no hard and fast rule, if you’re less than 30 miles from broadcast antennas and you need a solution for one or two TVs, a set top antenna is the most cost effective solution.
Below we’ve identified three of the more popular set top HD antenna options on the market today. We’ve also provided our favorite of the three.
Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna – Made in USA
Mohu is the “Apple” of HD antennas, and this product is one of their biggest sellers. A HD antenna using US military technology, this paper thin device is easy to setup and can be purchased for under $50.
- 30 mile range
- Access to all free HD channels in your area
- Supports 1080p resolution
- 10 ft coaxial cable included
- Made of paintable material
- One year warranty
- Thin design
- Easy to setup
- Minimal upgrades/improvements from previous Mohu models
- Limited range
If you’re looking for an inexpensive HD antenna that can fit almost anywhere, the Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin HDTV Antenna is the right product for you. Performance is superior to other set top antennas, which is the main reason why this antenna is so well-liked by consumers. You can paint both the device and the cable to make it fit your room design, and once you set it up, you will not even notice it being in the room.
AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
If you are looking for a barebones HD antenna, this product from AmazonBasics is exactly for you. While not sporting the best performance, it comes at a cheap price and it gets the job done. The 50 mile range is actually better than most entry level HD antenna options.
- 50 mile range
- Access to ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and Fox among other free HD channels
- 18 feet of coaxial cable are provided
- Paintable cable
- Great deal for the price
- Range up to 50 miles
- Performance can be iffy at times
While not the top performing HD antenna on the market, the AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Amplified HDTV Antenna is a good deal for the price. The good news is that it blends with any room layout, and the cable can be painted, for an even less intrusive presence. The model has a black side and a white side, so some design versatility is provided.
The only downside of this inexpensive HD antenna is its inconsistent performance. If you are the type of person who watches TV every once in a while, especially public channels, you will find the antenna is a very good deal. If you’re looking for perfection, you may want to look elsewhere.
Solid Signal HDBLADE Wide Amplified Slim Indoor HDTV Antenna (HDBLADE100VA)
An inexpensive indoor antenna you can set up in the same room with your TV, this product from Solid Signal is intended for consumers who are interested in getting HD channels from an antenna that snaps right onto their television.
- Access to UHF and VHF band channels that are free in your area
- Capable of receiving and transmitting 1080p resolution content
- Multi-directional design
- You can add cable or an amplifier
- Only .017 inches thin
- Good pricing
- Extremely thin and unobtrusive
- It can be redirected to access harder to reach channels
- No extra cable is provided
- An amplifier may be needed for better reception in some areas
The Solid Signal HDBLADE Wide Amplified Slim HDTV Antenna (HDBLADE100VA) is a good deal for the money. Its paper thin design makes is attractive, but the fact that an extra cable is not provided is a tad annoying. Good overall reception and a very thin design make this a decent entry level HD antenna option. You may find that you need to purchase a separate amplifier with this antenna to reach maximum effectiveness.
Our Favorite Set Top Antenna
In the Set Top Antenna space, the Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Antenna – Made in USA takes the cake as our favorite for the price. While the specs limite the range to 30 miles, the size, price and performance can’t be beat. If your located near the broadcast stations your looking to access, and need a one television solution, the Mohu would be our choice.
INDOOR HD ANTENNAS
Indoor antennas are medium range solutions and depending on product can be used for one or many televisions. If you live up to 50-60 miles from your local broadcast signals, have attic space (or can mount externally), and are looking for a multi television solution, an indoor HD antenna is probably the right solution for you.
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