Cutting the cord with an antenna is the best way to get local channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Ion and PBS for free. In order to get the most channels and best reception possible, you need to pick the right antenna for your needs. Be aware there is no such thing as an “HD” or “digital” antenna — these are just marketing phrases most antenna companies use to confuse people into thinking they’re getting a great antenna when they might not be getting anything special.
Stick with a reputable U.S.-based antenna company like Mohu, Antennas Direct, Winegard, Channel Master or Televes. But even after narrowing it down to those brands, there are still dozens of different kinds of antennas to choose from.
Factors to consider before purchasing an antenna
How far are you from a major city? If you are within 25 miles without too many trees around, you can probably get away with an indoor antenna. If you’re between 25-40 miles away, you will likely need a small outdoor or attic antenna. If you’re over 40 miles away, you will likely need a large outdoor antenna.
Tree coverage around your home can also impact the broadcast signals. While you can always start with an indoor or small outdoor antenna, a larger model may be needed if you experience signal breakup on windy days. When setting up an antenna in a wooded area it’s best to set it up in a clear spot in the direction of the broadcast towers and away from trees.
Not sure what kind of antenna you need? Take our simple quiz to help narrow down the options. You can also find a general list of recommended antennas here.
Whichever antenna you decide to purchase, be sure to try it out in different locations using a TV tuner as a guide to find the best spot where the most channels are picked up. Refer to other articles on this site for more information or what to do if you’re missing a channel.
Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR device to record your favorite shows.
Did you know you can use an antenna similarly to how you watch cable? Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:
Tablo DUAL 128GB Over-the-Air [OTA] DVR: Record up to 80 HD hours and stream up to two free broadcast channels from your HDTV antenna simultaneously.
Tablo QUAD 1TB Over-the-Air [OTA] DVR: Record up to 700 hours and stream up to four free broadcast channels from their over-the-air HDTV antenna simultaneously.