PROS / You’ll never have to rotate your antenna again because the ANT800 picks up signals in all directions.
CONS / Its 30-mile range may not be enough for some customers.
VERDICT / People who live in urban areas will appreciate this lightweight, multi-directional HDTV antenna most.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
RCA has proven the superiority of its HDTV antennas, especially RCA’s ANT800 Outdoor Antenna. This small, multi-directional antenna has 360-degree signal reception, which is perfect for people living in urban areas or between large cities where there are HD stations is several different directions.
One of the things we love about this antenna is that it looks nothing like an antenna. It is small and compact, and unlike some of its 10- to 12-foot competitors, it won’t be an eyesore on your house. Other features we love are its one-year warranty for parts and labor and its UHF, VHF and 1080 signal receptors. However, our favorite thing about the RCA ANT800 is its top-notch multi-directional functionality that beats out all other competing multi-directional antennas.
Signal Pickup Quality
Unlike the point-and-grab pickup tactic of uni-directional HDTV antennas, multi-directional digital TV antennas secure signals from all directions. The signal a multi-directional antenna picks up usually lacks the completely static-free quality of a signal received by a directional antenna, but that’s not to say that multi-directional antennas can’t offer crystal-clear television. Even though the ANT800 receives signals from all directions, it does a good job of not muddling them up and sends static-free television signals to your screen.
The ANT800 supports all digital and analog channels, including UHF and VHF, as well as 1080 signals. We were disappointed to find that its signal-pickup strength is somewhat diminished when you bring the antenna into a house. Although this is unsurprising with most HDTV antennas, we weren’t expecting it from the ANT800 since the ANT751, the number-one product in this category, is not affected by walls or buildings.
Signal Pickup Range
The ANT800 has one of the lowest signal-pickup ranges of all the antennas we reviewed, but that range reaches in all directions, giving you a total range of up to 60 miles from north to south and east to west, with the antenna as a midpoint.
As a multi-directional antenna, the ANT800’s signal reception distance is less than most directional antennas. However, it still picks up signals from 30 miles in every direction. For this reason, we feel that this HDTV antenna is the perfect choice for people who live in a large city with multiple broadcast stations or who are equidistant from two or more cities that all emit HDTV signals.
Say you live in the middle of the Greater Los Angeles Area, for instance, where there are HDTV stations scattered across the area to the north, south, east and even a few to the west, a few miles from Santa Monica Beach. You might consider purchasing this antenna since it will pick up the signals within a 30-mile radius in each direction, so you will never have to climb on the roof to rotate it. As with all HDTV antennas, it is important to consider the urban and natural environment you live in before you make a final decision.
We aren’t sure why this antenna does not come with a coax cable since its cousin, the ANT751, does. The ANT800 includes mounting hardware and a pole, but it seems odd and inconsistent for RCA not to include other important free items that its other products come with. That fact aside, the ANT800 is remarkably easy to assemble and mount on a roof, the side of a house or a beam in the attic.
One of the things we love most about this petite HDTV antenna is its sleek design. This is the smallest model of all the digital TV antennas we reviewed. It is inconspicuous and looks great on the side of any house or apartment. RCA even mentions that this antenna is paintable, so you can match it to the color of your house. As mentioned previously, however, signals are not as strong if you decide to place it inside your house.
Help & Support
RCA provides great customer service, but its online customer support page is quite confusing. It lists a phone number for each product category and customers call the number pertaining to the product they have questions about. This seems simple enough, but the Audio/Video & Accessories category lists only another website – Audiovox.com.
After we followed the link to Audiovox, we spent some time clicking around and looking for support contact information, but the Audiovox site eventually directed us back to RCA’s website without providing us with any information. The fact that neither website could offer solid support information disenchanted us, but as with many problems, a Google search yielded the information we needed.
Although we were slightly disappointed with the absence of customer support contact information, we were thrilled with RCA’s FAQs sections. The FAQs are thorough and helpful and quickly erased nearly all doubts we had about RCA’s customer support.
This digital TV antenna comes with a helpful user manual that walks you through the installation process. The ANT800 manual gives instructions for mounting the antenna directly to a surface, such as a roof, as well as instructions for mounting it to a pole. It then gives detailed instructions with illustrations for connecting the antenna to your TV. The user manual includes instructions in English and Spanish.
If you’re determined to purchase a multi-directional HDTV antenna, then the ANT800 Outdoor Antenna is an excellent choice. Although RCA’s customer support may give you a little trouble, its products are high quality and will most likely last for several years. This useful little antenna can pick up signals from up to 30 miles in every direction and send unspoiled high-definition television signals to your HDTV screen.