With thousands of antenna models out there, it can be hard to tell which ones to try and which ones to avoid. Online shopping websites like Amazon and eBay are flooded with cheap generic antennas marketed as “HD antennas.” The truth is there’s no such thing as an HD antenna — “HD” and “digital” are keywords antenna companies use to get their antennas to show up on search results.
It’s best to avoid antennas with a generic brand name. Examples include Five Star, 1byone, Lava, PingBingDing and antennas that don’t even have a brand name on the product listing, as seen in the image below. Antennas with a built-in rotator tend to fail in a short period of time due to poor quality materials.
Also be on the lookout for exaggerated mileage claims. TV antennas typically only work within 70 miles of the broadcast towers. A TV antenna that claims anything beyond a 100-mile range is a red flag, such as the "200-mile" antenna pictured below.
Stick with an antenna made by a reputable U.S.-based antenna company like Channel Master, Winegard, Antennas Direct, RCA or Televes. These companies offer quality antennas that will likely get you more channels with better reception compared to a cheap generic antenna. They also offer customer support if there is an issue setting up the antenna.
Watching free, over-the-air TV with an antenna is simpler than you may think. In many cases, you can take an antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan and voila! You have dozens of local channels to surf.
The number of channels you can access and how clearly they come in is based on a number of factors, including your distance from the point of broadcast towers, the type of antenna you have and where it’s located in your home.
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.
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.