The 1byone HDTV antenna is far sturdier than you might think for an aerial that only costs 20 bucks. Its plastic frame is flexible, solid and, while not quite as thin as some other antennae in our round-up of the best HDTV antennas, it's quite compact too. It's definitely among the cheaper models you can buy, but this low cost does come at the expense of performance, as the 1byone struggles to pick up a good signal on a wide range of channels.
When you first install any HDTV antenna, you’ll need to move it around and scan for channels to see where it gets the best reception. The 1byone HDTV antenna comes with a 20-foot cable to provide you with plenty of slack to find the best place in your home. Some antennas like the Insignia Fine Tuning Indoor come with attached cables that are only 5 feet long and leave you hamstrung when trying to find the best reception in your home.
Our first signal quality testing was done in some downtown offices, which are surrounded by taller buildings and trees, which can impact the signal you get. The 1byone antenna was able to pick up 16 channels in the office, which was on the lower end of the spectrum for channel scanning. The top options were able to pick up 30 or more channels, but also cost significantly more than the 1byone.
We received ABC, but that was it for the major networks, and we were unable to pick up CBS, NBC or PBS in the office building. There were a handful of other local channels that we received that were all good HD quality.
In our second location – an apartment a few miles south of the office – we didn’t have much luck with the HD digital antenna. Outside of the apartment is a field with no structural obstacles, so we figured we’d get more channels and better reception. We were able to receive 21 channels instead of 16, but the extra channels, which were subchannels from major networks, were poor quality. This time around, we were able to receive ABC along with NBC and CBS all with good quality. Even though we were able to pick up 21 channels, the best in our comparison picked up nearly 40 channels, so there were many out there that the 1byone was missing. Obviously, you can expect to get different results wherever you live but, compared to other antennae that went through the same test, this number is very poor.
We were a bit surprised that this HDTV didn’t perform a bit better, as many user reviews seem to think the signal is ok. It is amplified and scans in a 50-mile radius, according to the marketing material, although we suspect this is far better suited to smaller distances. It still performed better than the non-amplified antennas in our review, but this isn't saying much.
Should you buy the 1byone amplified HDTV antenna?
Probably not. The 1byone actually performed the worst out of all the amplified antennae we tested, which means we can't really recommend it to anyone other than folks with a super small budget. It's well-enough made, and looks fairly discrete when hung on the wall, but probably isn't even worth the $20 you'll pay for it unless you live closer to a TV tower and know that you will get good signal regardless of your location.