Best TV antenna to buy in 2021

If the current pandemic has you sitting in front of your TV set a lot more, you aren’t the only one. As such, great deals of individuals are reconsidering their entire TV setup. For some, this includes investing in a soundbar and even a brand-new,bigger TV Others might have come to the conclusion that their present setup is more than they require and they desire to cut expenses.

Did you understand that you can enjoy a few of the very best TV reveals, specials and sports occasions free of charge? All you require is an antenna and a good signal; no requirement to spend for cable television or a streaming subscription

We’re not speaking about old-timey bunny ears either. Today’s antennas are much less picky, and some can even bring in HD channels. (Check out our Streaming TV Insider for a lot more cord-cutter suggestions.)

For the functions of this short article, we’ll be going over over-the-air, or OTA, antennas. This kind of antenna feed is excellent for occasions you desire to enjoy live, such as sports and the night news. Depending on where you live and your signal reception abilities, you can enjoy anything on the following stations: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, PBS and other channels like MyNetworkTV and The CW. While a roof-mounted tv antenna or outside TV antenna would get the job done, your TV currently has actually a constructed-in tuner, and including an indoor antenna can cost less than $20 delivered.


Sarah Tew/ CNET.

The disadvantage is that in some locations, the TV signal of some channels is spotty or nonexistent due to either your distance or absence thereof to a broadcast tower or blockages that separate the signal. As such, some individuals invest in an antenna amplifier or signal booster to boost signal strength. Unlike a live TV streaming service, OTA TV is limited to a single tv, and the signal from an OTA TV antenna will not deal with phones or other gadgets. Unless, naturally, you kick it up a notch with anOTA DVR

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How to cut the cable for $10: setting up an indoorantenna


We checked 7 various indoor antennas with costs varying from $10 to $90 (all much less than even one of the most standard cable television TV). The best TV antennas were able to pull in more channels than the others and provided more powerful, clearer TV signals, even on “problem” channels. We checked in 2 various areas: metropolitan Manhattan and ruralNew Jersey We’ll keep this upgraded as we evaluate brand-new items. Here are the 7 TV antennas we took a look at:

  • Channel Master Flatenna 35 ($ 10 plus $7.50 shipping)
  • Amazon Essentials Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna ($ 20)
  • 1byOne Upgraded Digital Amplified Indoor HD TV Antenna ($ 27)
  • Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse ($ 40)
  • Mohu ReLeaf ($ 30)
  • Channel Master Smartenna Plus ($ 49)
  • U Must Have Amplified High Definition Digital TV Antenna ($ 29)

The best TV antennas we checked

Sarah Tew/ CNET

  • Detachable coax cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 50 in Manhattan, 61 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 9 out of 13 inspected, both areas

The Flatenna 35 has actually been updated with a detachable antenna because our initial test 2 years back. It appears that signal efficiency has actually likewise enhanced– it’s now the very best of our 7 designs at pulling in channels, beating our previous suggestion, the Antennas Direct ClearStreamEclipse

And yes, the very best TV antenna is simply $10 (plus $7.50 shipping) from Channel Master’s site. (It’s called either the Flatenna 35 or Duo depending upon where you buy it from.) Best reception and least expensive cost? We have a winner.

Read our Channel Master Flatenna 35 review

Sarah Tew/ CNET

  • Detachable coax cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 39 in Manhattan, 65 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 9 out of 13 inspected, both areas

Maybe you have actually attempted the Flatenna with so-so outcomes and desire to offer it another shot. The $80 Antennas Direct Eclipse won our initial contrast and carried out effectively once again this time around.

With its ankh-shaped and multidirectional reversible compact style, the ClearStream antenna is absolutely distinct. It includes sticky tabs for connecting it to your window, which comes in handy. And if you require more signal zest, there’s a $20 antenna amplifier readily available also.

While the Eclipse is still readily available, know that there’s now an upgraded Eclipse 2 model, though we have yet to test it.

Read our Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse review

The rest

Sarah Tew/ CNET

  • Detachable coax? No
  • Number of channels: 34 in Manhattan, 49 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 6 out of 13 inspected, both areas

The 1byOne is among 2 antennas in this list with a nonremovable coax cable television, and at just 10 feet long, it might not work in some spaces. The black plastic feels a little inexpensive compared to the others, though the HD antenna design does include a powered gain amplifier. It was towards the bottom of the pack in regards to signal efficiency, however this indoor HDTV antenna was the only tv antenna to get CBS from a TV tower at our Manhattan place (see listed below for information).

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Sarah Tew/ CNET

  • Detachable coax cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 41 in Manhattan, 64 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 8 out of 13 inspected, both areas

The $20 Amazon Essentials ran neck and neck with theChannel Master Flatenna It has a strangely comparable style and likewise consists of a detachable coax cable television. Only a greater cost avoids it from beating theFlatenna But perhaps you desire something in white. At the minute it appears that Amazon runs out stock and just has pre-owned designs readily available. Get the Channel Master Flatenna rather.

Sarah Tew/ CNET

  • Detachable coax cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 29 in Manhattan, 66 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 6 out of 13 inspected, both areas

The $43 Mohu ReLeaf is a retread of the initial Leaf, built from recycled products. This Mohu antenna includes little installing holes on the top, for thumbtacks, however it does not have sticky applicators and the paper building and construction tears quickly. This multi directional antenna works relatively well and provides you great reception, however it’s costly.

Read our Mohu ReLeaf review

Sarah Tew/ CNET

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

The U Must Have enhanced antenna includes a sticky pad on the back and a reasonably long, though nonremovable, lead at 18 feet. The consisted of amplifier provides the antenna some versatility and the item feels more sturdily made total than the 1byOne, though they carried out likewise. Take note that this design is continuously out of stock and is presently noted as being produced by Synology (it’s not).

Sarah Tew/ CNET

  • Detachable coax cable? Yes
  • Number of channels: 31 in Manhattan, 53 in New Jersey
  • Number of watchable channels: 5 out of 13 inspected in Manhattan, 3 in New Jersey

This upgrade to the original Smartenna is essentially a totally various design. The old one was an indoor-outdoor antenna, however the $59 Plus is indoor-only, with an onboard amplifier/processor created to “automatically select the best reception pattern.”

Based on our screening in various areas it didn’t work so well, though. Even in a bad reception location, it didn’t get anymore TV stations than the less expensive designs. It might grow in some really particular scenarios, however it didn’t exercise for us.

Best antennas compared

Price No of channels (Manhattan). No of channels (NJ). No of watchable channels (out of 13).
Channel Master Flatenna 35. $ 10. 50. 61. 9.
Amazon EssentialsUltra Thin Indoor TV Antenna $ 20. 41. 64. 8.
Antennas Direct ClearStreamEclipse $ 40. 39. 65. 9.
1byOne Upgraded 2019 Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna $ 27. 34. 49. 6.
Mohu ReLeaf $ 30. 29. 66. 6.
U Must Have Amplified HDDigital TV Antenna $ 28. 28. 62. 6.
Channel Master Smartenna+. $ 49. 31. 53. 5.

How we checked the TV antennas

Much like property, how well a TV antenna works is based upon place, place and place.

We checked the antennas in 2 primary areas: in midtown Manhattan simply a half-mile from the broadcast antennas on the Empire State Building– albeit obscured by other structures– and in rural New Jersey, 9 miles from the closest broadcast towers. Depending on your place, you may get broadcasts from several antennas. Hills or big structures in the method will have a result on frequency variety and reception.

We located each antenna in the exact same area and linked it to the Channel Master DVR Plus, which provides signal strength information along with an overall channel count. We utilized 2 various metrics to figure out which TV antenna carried out best. The initially was a raw procedure of the variety of channels it might identify, while the 2nd included a variety of established “problem channels.” For these, we sought advice from a list of channels chosen from numerous online forums, for both screening locations, and assessed how well the antennas pulled in each channel.

Our list of “problem” channels in Manhattan was WABC 7.1 (ABC), WNET 13.1 (PBS), WPIX 11.1 (CW– Manhattan just) and WNJB 58.1 (PBS– NJ just). In addition we included popular channels CBS 2.1, WNBC 4 (NBC), and WNYW 5 (Fox).

While the outcomes will differ depending upon where you live and how far you are from TV towers, we discovered that the best-performing designs got more of the most popular channels along with regional channels and extra radio broadcasts and Spanish- language stations.

Most of the TV antennas are based upon the exact same rectangle-shaped style, however there was one essential factor to consider: the cable television. Did the antenna have a long, high-performance coax cable or, even much better, a removable one? You’ll be sticking among these in your window, which might be a long method from your TV, so longer is much better.

It’s worth keeping in mind that a few of these antennas– the 1byOne and the Channel Master Smartenna Plus– consist of gain-boosting amplifiers. While the 1byOne will likewise work without the amp connected, the Channel Master will not. Based on our experiences in a variety of areas, nevertheless, amplifiers use an extremely unforeseeable advantage. If you can’t get TV reception with an indoor antenna, a gain amp might not really assist you, and in other cases, it might make your reception even worse by overwhelming channels that currently have a strong signal.


Several antennas in our list consist of a powered amplifier, however utilize attentively, as these might really make a strong signal even worse.

Sarah Tew/ CNET.

Installing an indoor antenna

Unlike when we evaluated indoor antennas in 2016, the majority of these antennas consist of some kind of adhesive to connect them to your wall or window. If for some factor they lack this choice you might attempt packaging tape or poster putty rather.

When you install it, you will absolutely require to try out the positioning. A wall might really be much better than a window, depending upon the orientation of your living location. Also, if possible keep the antenna far from magnetic metals such as security bars or the like because they can hinder your signal strength.

If you buy a design with a brief, captive lead like the 1byOne, know that you might require to buy a male-female extension lead, and more coax cable, to get it to reach your devices.

Finally, if you live in a bad protection location, with weak signals, an indoor antenna might not be for you We attempted utilizing the antennas at a place in the Hudson Valley and none operated at all, even the signal-boostingSmartenna That’s why it’s best to test the waters with an inexpensive antenna initially, rather of investing a hundred dollars on something that may not work in your place due to an absence of a broadcast tower.

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