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Winegard FlatWave Air HDTV Antenna review

The Winegard Flatwave Air is a good antenna for longer ranges... as long as you keep it clear of obstructions.

Winegard FlatWave Air HDTV Antenna review
(Image: © Winegard)

Our Verdict

While it doesn't perform well in built-up areas, the Winegard FlatWave Air is great for suburbia and rural zones, giving clear signal over about a 40 mile distance.

For

  • Effective 40 mile range
  • Neat and compact

Against

  • Struggles with obstacles

The Winegard Flatwave Air is an outdoor antenna designed to help you pick up a TV signal without the need for cable or internet. It claims to have an effective range of about 60 miles, but we - and many users - note that the range is about 40 miles from an antenna, if you want to pick up a reasonable number of channels and get a decent signal for them. It's small, well designed, and easy to install, so it's great if you want to boost your signal or grab some extra channels for little extra work. At less than $90, it's fairly inexpensive too, although we have seen cheaper models out there. It makes the list of our best HDTV antennas because it operates well in suburban areas, although there are better options out there for rural use.

In our tests, the Winegard FlatWave Air was able to receive 18 channels from where we installed it. Some other models were able to get as many as 32 channels while the less competent ones received as few as 12 channels, placing the FlatWave near the middle of the pack in terms of volume. This was a little surprising considering that this long-range HDTV antenna reaches out farther than any other in our comparison. Winegard claims it searches in a 60-mile radius, the best in our comparison, but this didn't translate to stellar performance, and we found it most effective around 35-40 miles or fewer.

In our tests we weren’t able to pick up CBS, and NBC had poor quality. We were able to pick up ABC, but it looked more like standard quality as opposed to HD. PBS came in with great HD quality. The FlatWave also didn’t pick up many of the subchannels that others like the ClearStream Eclipse usually receive. It seems as though the obstructions surrounding our testing area were what caused the Winegard issues, and looking at user feedback, this is a common theme. For users in urban areas, you might want to consider the best TV streaming services instead, as your internet speeds should, in theory, be better.

(Image credit: Winegard)

The antenna posted much different results in at-home testing. The apartment is on the second floor, and there are no obstructions outside the window - just an open field. Here the HDTV digital antenna was able to receive 36 channels, which is significantly more than it did in a built-up area. This was also far more than most antennas in our tests managed to pull in, making it ideal if you're in a flat area with few obstructions.

In these tests the reception was good on the majority of the channels. Here, we were able to receive all the major networks including CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS. The stations were streaming in good HD quality with little to no breakup in the signal. Most of the bad reception came from subchannels of major networks, which is a common occurrence. Keep in mind that the number of channels and what channels you receive will vary based on your location. In our experience, this antenna is great as long as you don’t live in the heart of a downtown area.

(Image credit: Winegard)

The Winegard FlatWave Air is an amplified model. In all cases, amplified antennas got better range and better reception than non-amplified models. Amplified models will generally pick up more TV channels when you are further away from a TV tower.

The FlatWave is lightweight and thin, measuring less than 4 inches deep. This makes it easy for you to mount it on an exterior wall and for it to not ruin the outside of your home. We suggest keeping it away from obstructions, though, to improve the signal you get. This is one of the best-designed HDTV antennas that we reviewed, which is great if you're concerned with how the outside of your home appears.

You get the standard one-year limited warranty with the Winegard FlatWave Air, which is industry standard. Some of the company's indoor antennas get a lifetime warranty, so it's worth keeping this in mind when you're shopping for antennae.

Should you buy the Winegard FlatWave Air?

This is one of the better models in our lineup, but not the best. It has a great design and searches for channels in an effective 40 mile radius. The antenna performs much better when there were fewer obstructions outside, so in rural or suburban areas the antenna will be at its best. If that’s where you are, you should strongly consider the Winegard FlatWave Air HDTV antenna for your home, especially if you've decided on an exterior option.