If you’ve decided to ditch cable or satellite service in order to save upwards of $1,500 per year, then you should consider investing in a reliable antenna for your home. A quality antenna allows any television in your home to pick up free, over-the-air high definition programming from popular networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, the CW, and a host of others. While a whole house, outdoor antenna system is ideal for getting HD programming distributed to all TV’s at once, rental properties discourage tenants from mounting outdoor antennae on the roof, or running cable lines from an outdoor antenna to various rooms. Also, not everyone needs a full-on outdoor antenna rig. This being the case, the indoor antenna has seen a giant resurgence over the past several years.
Updated on 12-2-2015 by Will Nicol: Swapped out the RCA Ultra-thin for the Terk Trinity
Related: Cord-cutting 101
But before you cut your cords and opt to splurge on an antenna, we recommend taking a look at TV Fool’s TV Signal Analysis tool to view the available stations within your area. TV Fool’s analysis provides crucial data such as direction of the transmitters, distance from each transmitter, and transmitter signal power. TV Fool makes reading the analysis simple by color coordinating the probabilities of stations available in your area. For instance, green transmitters work with standard indoor antennae, while yellow or red transmitters might require an attic antenna, or larger hardware mounted to your roof. It’s also recommended you take into account the building materials used in your home or apartment, as well as the surrounding terrain, which may block incoming signals. For instance, if you have metal siding on the outside of your home, lack windows, or have several walls between your TV and the outside world, an indoor antenna might not work for you.
When shopping for a suitable indoor antenna, it’s easy to only pay attention to the claims of manufacturers. While these occasionally help when buying, making an informed decision based on actual performance is always best. To help with this, we’ve combed through the sea of available indoor antennae and found eight of the best — plus one outdoor antenna just for fun — which promise to bring crystal-clear HD programming straight to your home. With a few of these selections, you’ll even have the ability to receive quality broadcasts from transmitters 40 to 60 miles away. So get ready to cut those cords for good; here are our picks of the best available indoor antennae.
Winegard Flatwave ($50)
Though incredibly similar to the Mohu Leaf in terms of performance, Winegard’s Flatwave antenna costs (on average) $10 less. Since many cord-cutters detach from cable company contracts to save a bit of dough, saving money on alternatives is also a welcome sight. Discounts aside, the Flatwave antenna boasts some of the strongest performance of any antenna on our list. Capable of receiving broadcasts from towers approximately 30 miles away (depending on the surrounding terrain), it comes with a 15-foot coaxial cable making it easy to install the antenna near the best possible signal reception area. The Flatwave also measures in at just 2/100 of an inch in thickness, making it incredibly inconspicuous no matter where you install it.
Frankly, we’ve been shocked by what this little antenna can do. It may not look like much more than just a few metal bars screwed together, but the HD Freqency Cable Cutter is a very capable antenna, matching up with Mohu’s venerable Leaf antenna very well in many of our location tests. It’s super affordable, easy to hide behind a television, and is suitable for outdoor use as well. Need something even larger? Check out the $100 full size version
Available at: Amazon
Channel Master FLATenna ($10)
While testing the FLATenna at our downtown office locations, we found it to routinely beat out a handful of older, more expensive antenna options. During the test, it pulled in almost all of the available stations in our area (albeit from within 3 miles of the broadcast antennae), and proved itself a worthy upgrade over traditional rabbit ear antennae. Better yet, this impressive product costs just $10 making it the most affordable on our list, and the most affordable way to broadcast HD television.
Available at: Amazon
Mohu Leaf Metro ($20)
Perfect for compact living spaces, Mohu designed the Leaf Metro for discreet installation in homes located close to broadcast towers. Though its range only reaches approximately 25 miles, the Leaf Metro still delivers full 1080p HD broadcasts straight to your TV. Not only does the antenna come in either black or white, but it’s completely reversible and users have the ability to paint it to match any interior. An included 10-foot coaxial cable allows for installation near the strongest signals.
Available at: Amazon
Terk Trinity HD Antenna ($40)
The Terk Trinity may not look as elegant as the slimmer antennae on our list — actually, it’s three-pronged design may look downright goofy — but what the Trinity lacks in style, it makes up for in engineering and power, pulling channels from up to 60 miles away. The Trinity uses what Terk calls a “trimodal” approach, adding amplification to weak stations when needed, and leaving strong stations alone. It even filters out cell signal interference. The Terk Trinity is a strong, inexpensive device, and though you may want to hide it out of sight from guests, remember that the better the exposure, the better the reception.
Available at: Walmart
Mohu Curved 30 ($50 for 30 mile range, $75 for 50 mile range)
If inconspicuous and discreet locations are at a premium in your residence, then you might as well opt for a good-looking antenna. Enter Mohu’s Curved line of antennae, which look as good as they pull in HD broadcasts — and they excel at that task. With performance similar to Mohu’s Leaf, the Curved model comes in either a 30 mile range edition, or a 50 mile amplified option. An included 10-foot coaxial cable aids in placement flexibility.
Winegard Flatwave Amped ($60)
The strongest indoor antenna of the bunch, Winegard’s amplified Flatwave has the abilit to to pull in broadcasts from as far as 50 miles away. This kind of reception range proves perfect for those of you living in smaller communities far from antenna. Further, the included 18-foot coaxial cable is the longest of any on our list, allowing for placement in the best possible location in your home. The Flatwave Amped also features a razor-thin design — like the standard Flatwave — making it both functional and discreet.
Mohu Leaf ($40)
Mohu practically redefined the indoor antenna with the introduction of its Leaf model, which packs technology taken from — where else? — the U.S. military. The Leaf offers an approximated 30 mile range and comes packed with a flexible 10-foot coax cable. Leaf users can also paint the antenna to suit surrounding decor.
Mohu Sky60 ($150)
Does your home fall outside the reception range of the antennae listed? Worry not, Mohu’s Sky60 model might do the trick. With a reception range of approximately 60 miles (sometimes more depending on your location), the Sky60 provides incredible performance and crystal-clear signal quality. With its 30-foot precision low loss cable and easy-to-use mounting bracket, this model installs easily either on a rooftop, an upstairs attic, or in a tree. Users also have the ability to power the Sky60’s amp using either a USB connection or the provided power cube.
Available at: Amazon