Best TV antenna for cord-cutters in 2020, starting at only $10

Though it has been with us for over 90 years, over-the-air TV appears virtually like a well-kept secret lately. You possibly can watch a few of the finest TV exhibits, sports activities and specials totally free with a good sign, with out paying a cable firm or streaming subscription. However apart from proudly owning a TV, there’s only one small however important accent you may want: a TV antenna. And fortunately, TV antennas have come a great distance because the rabbit ears of yesteryear. 

An over-the-air, or OTA, antenna feed is nice for these occasions you need to watch reside — NFL soccerthe Oscars, the night information and extra. Relying on the place you reside, you may watch something on the next stations: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, in addition to PBS and different channels like My TV and The CW. (Disclosure: CNET is a division of CBS.) Whereas a roof-mounted antenna or outside TV antenna would do the job, your TV already has a built-in tuner, and including an indoor antenna prices lower than $20 shipped.  


Sarah Tew/CNET

The draw back is that in some locations, the TV sign of some channels is spotty or nonexistent attributable to both your proximity to broadcast towers or obstructions that break up the sign. Not like a reside TV streaming service, OTA TV is restricted to a single tv, and the sign from an OTA TV antenna will not work on telephones or different gadgets. Until, after all, you kick it up a notch with an OTA DVR.

Now taking part in:
Watch this:

Tips on how to minimize the twine for $10: putting in an indoor antenna


We examined six completely different indoor antennas with costs starting from $10 to $90. One of the best TV antennas had been capable of pull in additional channels than the others and delivered stronger, extra crystal clear TV indicators, even higher TV indicators on “downside” channels. We examined in two completely different areas: City Manhattan and suburban New Jersey. Listed below are the six TV antennas we checked out:

We additionally examined the extremely rated U Should Have Amplified Excessive Definition Digital TV Antenna, but it surely seems to have been discontinued. We now have eliminated it from our suggestions because of this.

One of the best TV antenna we examined

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Removable coaxial cable? Sure
  • Variety of channels: 50 in Manhattan, 61 in New Jersey
  • Variety of watchable channels: 9 out of 13 checked, each areas

The Flatenna 35 has been upgraded with a detachable antenna since our authentic check two years in the past. It appears that evidently sign efficiency has additionally improved — it’s now the most effective of our seven fashions at pulling in channels, beating our earlier suggestion, the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse. 

And sure, the most effective TV antenna is simply $10 (plus $7.50 transport) from Channel Grasp’s web site or Now. It is referred to as both the Flatenna 35 or Duo relying on the place you purchase it from. Finest reception and most cost-effective value? We now have a winner.

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Removable coaxial cable? Sure
  • Variety of channels: 41 in Manhattan, 64 in New Jersey
  • Variety of watchable channels: eight out of 13 checked, each areas

The $20 AmazonBasics ran neck and neck with the Channel Grasp Flatenna. It has an eerily comparable design and in addition features a detachable coax. Solely a better value prevents it from beating the Flatenna. However perhaps you need one thing in white.

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Removable coaxial cable? Sure
  • Variety of channels: 39 in Manhattan, 65 in New Jersey
  • Variety of watchable channels: 9 out of 13 checked, each areas

Perhaps you’ve got tried the opposite two with so-so outcomes and need to give it one other shot. The $40 Antennas Direct Eclipse received our shoot-out two years in the past and carried out very nicely once more this time round. 

With its ankh-like appears and multi-directional reversible compact design, the ClearStream antenna is certainly distinctive. It comes with sticky tabs to connect it to your window, which is useful. And when you want extra sign oomph, there is a $20 amplifier out there as nicely. 

The remainder

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Removable coax? No
  • Variety of channels: 34 in Manhattan, 49 in New Jersey
  • Variety of watchable channels: 6 out of 13 checked, each areas

The $23 1byone is one in all two antennas on this checklist with a non-removable coax cable, and at solely 10 ft lengthy, it could not work in some rooms. The black plastic feels just a little low-cost in contrast with the others, although the mannequin does include a powered achieve amplifier. It was towards the underside of the pack when it comes to sign efficiency, but it surely was the one one to choose up CBS at our Manhattan location (see beneath for particulars).

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Removable coaxial cable? Sure
  • Variety of channels: 29 in Manhattan, 66 in New Jersey
  • Variety of watchable channels: 6 out of 13 checked, each areas

The $34 Mohu ReLeaf is a retread of the unique Leaf, constructed from recycled supplies. This Mohu antenna comes with small mounting holes on the highest, for thumbtacks, but it surely lacks sticky applicators and the paper building tears simply. It really works pretty nicely, is multi-directional and provides you good reception, but it surely’s costly.

Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Removable coaxial cable? Sure
  • Variety of channels: 31 in Manhattan, 53 in New Jersey
  • Variety of watchable channels: 5 out of 13 checked in Manhattan, three in New Jersey

This improve to the authentic Smartenna is mainly a totally completely different mannequin. The outdated one was an indoor-outdoor antenna, however the $59 Plus is indoor-only, with an onboard amplifier/processor designed to “mechanically choose the most effective reception sample.” 

Based mostly on our testing in quite a few areas it did not work so nicely, although. Even in a poor reception space, it did not choose up any extra TV stations than the cheaper fashions. It might thrive in some very particular circumstances, but it surely did not work for us. 

Finest antennas in contrast

Value No of channels (Manhattan) No of channels (NJ) No of watchable channels (out of 13)
Channel Grasp Flatenna 35 $10 50 61 9
AmazonBasics Extremely Skinny Indoor TV Antenna $20 41 64 eight
Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse $40 39 65 9
1byone Upgraded 2019 Digital Amplified Indoor HD TV Antenna $23 34 49 6
Mohu ReLeaf $34 29 66 6
U Should Have Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna (now not out there) $28 28 62 6
Channel Grasp Smartenna+ $59 31 53 5

How we examined the TV antennas

Very like actual property, how nicely a TV antenna works is predicated on location, location and placement.

We examined the antennas in two important areas: in midtown Manhattan only a half-mile from the published antennas on the Empire State Constructing — albeit obscured by different buildings — and in suburban New Jersey, 9 miles from the closest broadcast towers. Relying in your location, you may obtain broadcasts from a number of antennas. Hills or massive buildings in the way in which will affect frequency vary and reception.

We located every antenna in the identical spot and related it to the Channel Grasp DVR Plus, which supplies sign energy knowledge in addition to a complete channel depend. We used two completely different metrics to find out which TV antenna carried out finest. The primary was a uncooked measure of the variety of channels it might detect, whereas the second concerned numerous predetermined “downside channels.” For these, we consulted a listing of channels culled from numerous boards, for each testing areas, and gauged how nicely the antennas pulled in every channel.

Our checklist of “downside” channels in Manhattan was WABC 7.1 (ABC), WNET 13.1 (PBS), WPIX 11.1 (CW — Manhattan solely) and WNJB 58.1 (PBS — NJ solely). As well as we added fashionable channels CBS 2.1, WNBC four (NBC), and WNYW 5 (Fox).

Whereas the outcomes will differ relying on the place you reside and the way far you’re from TV towers, we discovered that the most effective examined fashions obtained extra of the most well-liked channels in addition to native channels and extra radio broadcasts and Spanish-language stations.

A lot of the TV antennas are primarily based across the identical rectangular design, however there was one vital consideration: the cable. Did the antenna have a protracted, high-performance coaxial cable or, even higher, a removable one? You may be sticking one in all these in your window, which could possibly be a great distance out of your TV, so longer is best.

It is price noting that a few of these antennas — the 1buyone and the Channel Grasp Smartenna Plus — embody gain-boosting amplifiers. Whereas 1buyone will even work with out the amp hooked up, the Channel Grasp will not. Based mostly on our experiences in numerous areas, nonetheless, amplifiers supply a wildly unpredictable profit. If you cannot get TV reception with an indoor antenna, a achieve amp might not truly enable you, and in different instances, it might make your reception worse by overloading channels that have already got a robust sign. 

Putting in an indoor antenna

Not like our authentic 2016 crop, most of those antennas embody some type of adhesive to connect them to your wall or window. If for some motive they lack this feature you possibly can attempt packing tape or poster putty as an alternative.

Once you set up it, you’ll undoubtedly have to experiment with the location. A wall may very well be higher than a window, relying on the orientation of your residing space. Additionally, if attainable hold the antenna away from magnetic metals akin to safety bars or the like since they will intervene along with your sign.

If you happen to purchase a mannequin with a brief, captive lead just like the 1byone, remember that you could be want to purchase a male-female extension lead, and extra coaxial cable, to get it to achieve your gear.

Lastly, when you reside in a poor protection space, with weak indicators, an indoor antenna will not be for you. We tried utilizing the antennas at a location within the Hudson Valley and none of them labored in any respect, even the signal-boosting Smartenna. That is why it is best to check the waters with an inexpensive antenna first, as an alternative of spending 100 bucks on one thing that may not work in your location.

Learn extra

Initially revealed two years in the past and up to date at numerous dates for efficiency, pricing and availability.