The Best HDTV Antennas of 2018

Anna Burleson ·
Entertainment Writer
Updated
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We admit it. We spent hours and hours testing HDTV antennas and watching hours and hours of daytime TV. Our grueling research (OK, it wasn’t that grueling) has led us to the conclusion that the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna is the best by far. It had one of the highest channel pickup rates of any we tested, a crystal-clear display and a slim, unique design. The cherry on the sundae is the long coaxial cable, which gives you a wide range to find the best spot for channel pickup. With a 50-mile range, this antenna is the best you can get.

Best Overall
Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
The Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna has amazing reception and picks up an abundance of channels.
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Best Budget
Insignia Fine Tuning Indoor HDTV Antenna
The Insignia Fine Tuning Indoor HDTV Antenna holds its own even as a nonamplified antenna, picking up a fair number of channels with good picture quality.
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Best Antenna Design
1byone Amplified
The small, discreet 1byone Amplified blends into its surroundings, while still giving you access to high-definition cable TV channels.
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Best Overall
The Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna is the overall best of any we tested.
The Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna is the overall best of any we tested. This model picked up 32 channels in our downtown office – the most of any antenna we tested – and 33 in a nearby apartment. The coaxial cable is long enough to give you the freedom to find the best spot for reception in your home, and the innovative circular design is wall-mountable. This antenna is amplified and has a 50-mile range, one of the longest in our testing group. It’s ideal for people living far away from a TV tower. In our tests we were able to watch PBS, ABC, NBC and CBS in high-def. The ClearStream Eclipse is one of the few HDTV antennas we found that comes with a lifetime warranty. If you experience any problems or it stops working, you don't have to worry. Antennas Direct also offers a convenient “TV antenna selector” feature on its website to help you select the best model for your home.
Pros
  • Picked up a ton of channels
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Long 15-foot coaxial cord
Cons
  • Must be plugged into a power source
  • Designed solely to be wall-mounted
  • Feels flimsy
$38.93Amazon
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Best Budget
It might look outdated, but the Insignia Fine Tuning Indoor HDTV Antenna is modern and affordable. This antenna isn't amplified, but it picked up 22 channels in our downtown offices and 26 channels in an apartment.
It might look outdated, but the Insignia Fine Tuning Indoor HDTV Antenna is modern and affordable. This antenna isn't amplified, but it picked up 22 channels in our downtown offices and 26 channels in an apartment. It was by far the best nonamplified model we tested, and the reasonable price tag makes it ideal for anyone looking to save money. Keep in mind the number of channels and their quality depend largely on where you live in relation to a TV tower. The Insignia performed well compared with other nonamplified antennas and has a 40-mile range, so there’s a chance you’ll have better luck than we did depending on where you live. Like most antennas, this unit comes with a one-year warranty. Tech support is also available online and via phone should you need it, but in general we found it easy to set up and use.
Pros
  • Less expensive than other models
  • Picks up quite a few channels in varied locations
  • Decent range despite being nonamplified
Cons
  • Old-fashioned, large, cumbersome design
  • Doesn’t include a wall-mount option
  • Short 5-foot coaxial cable
$19.99Best Buy
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Best Antenna Design
The 1byone is both inexpensive and nice to look at, making it our pick for best design.
The 1byone is both inexpensive and nice to look at, making it our pick for best design. This antenna comes in black or white, and at less than a foot tall and across, it’s one of the smaller models we tested. Plus, with its 20-foot coaxial cable, you have some flexibility in mounting it on the wall. This antenna picked up 16 channels in our downtown office surrounded by buildings and 21 channels in a nearby apartment with fewer surrounding barriers. While those numbers are on the low end of the spectrum, we were able to pick up ABC, NBC and CBS with good quality depending on the location.
Pros
  • Sleek design available in black or white
  • Wall mount option
  • Long 20-foot coaxial cable
Cons
  • Doesn’t pick up as many channels as some models we tested
  • Picked up fewer channels in downtown metropolitan area
  • Warranty covers device only for one year
$21.99Walmart
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Best Channel Reception
The ClearStream Micron is an amplified antenna that managed to pick up more channels than any other HDTV antenna in our tests.
Surprisingly, the Micron has a smaller signal-searching radius than many products we reviewed, at 30 miles. Even so, it received 26 channels in our urban test and 39 when tested in the suburbs. Most of the channels had good signal quality, and the ones that didn’t were mainly subchannels that other antennas didn’t even pick up. The antenna’s design isn’t particularly graceful. It’s made of hard plastic with feet that are supposed to slide into groves along the back of the antenna’s body, but the feet don’t attach well and fall when you pick up the device. Its attached cord is nine feet long, leaving a little room to maneuver to find the best placement, but since it’s meant to sit on a hard surface, it has fewer placement options than mountable products.
Pros
  • Picked up more channels than others
Cons
  • Awkward base
$22.95Amazon
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Best for Suburban Areas
With a wide signal radius and great performance in areas with few obstructions, the Winegard FlatWave is a great HDTV antenna for suburban and rural areas.
It has an amplified signal that reaches TV towers up to 50 miles away. The Winegard struggled to connect in our city test and managed to pick up only 18 channels. In our suburban test, however, it doubled this performance and received 36 channels with good reception for the majority. Unlike many of the antennas we tested, the Winegard FlatWave device is not made of a thin, papery substance. At 0.6 inches deep, it still has a slim profile for easy mounting or hiding behind a TV. It also has a convenient 18.5-foot coaxial cable. Though it costs slightly more than average for this product category, the Winegard FlatWave is a good value, both due to its great performance outside of the city and its lifetime warranty.
Pros
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Slightly higher price
US$51.90Amazon
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Why Trust Us?

We’ve all fallen victim to unreasonable cable bills and thought, “Do I really need this?” Many of our experts have cut the cord altogether and turned solely to online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. So when we had the chance to test and evaluate a cheaper way to access live TV, we were pumped.

Our experts know you’re used to a clear, crisp picture, so antennas with spotty output scored lower. It’s important to get the most for your money, so the more channels these antennas picked up, the better.

In short, we don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars every month for quality TV channels, and we don’t want you to have to, either.

How We Tested 

We tested every HDTV antenna in two locations: our lab in a small metropolitan downtown surrounded by other buildings, and in a second-floor apartment a few miles south with unobstructed west-facing windows. These locations are served by one TV tower that's 35 miles away and another that's 50 miles away.

In both locations, we moved around the space, scanning for channels until we found the spot that received the highest number. Then came the most difficult part of our tests: watching TV. We watched hours and hours of local television, taking note of picture quality.

We also looked for signal breakup or glitches. Using all the data we gathered, we assigned a score to each antenna. Devices with the most channels, best picture quality and fewest glitches received the best scores.

Key Features to Look for When Buying an Indoor HDTV Antenna 

Price
Most of our top-performing antennas cost about $50 or less, so great antenna TV reception isn’t very expensive. Non-amplified antennas tend to cost a little less than amplified ones, but the extra performance is worth the price, since you’re likely to get more channels and a better-quality signal for your money.

Location, location, location
HDTV antennas pick up a signal to display TV channels, so the more barriers between the antenna and the source of the signal, the worse your reception is going to be. You need to figure out how close you are to the nearest TV tower and find the path of least resistance. This might mean attaching your HDTV antenna to an external window that isn’t facing any nearby buildings, or it might mean you ultimately need to go for a sturdier, outdoor antenna.

Antenna range and signal pickup
Some HDTV antennas include an amplifier, which means they’re going to access more channels. The antennas we tested came with ranges between 35 and 50 miles, but channel pickup varied slightly based on where we placed the antenna in a room. Regardless of what the package says about how many channels it can receive and how clear the signal will be, you should move your antenna around to find the sweet spot in your home.

Design and accessories
HDTV antennas come in a wide range of shapes and types. They can stick to your wall, sit behind your TV or hang on a window: It’s up to you and the service you’re able to get in various locations throughout your home. Keep in mind you might need to place your antenna in a very visible spot to pick up the maximum number of channels, so get one that is the right color and design to fit your living space.