With cable TV rates rising rapidly, it's no wonder so many are cutting the cord. Streaming services are a great alternative, but the ongoing market segmentation can hit your wallet hard, especially when you're forking it over for several on a monthly basis. Enter the HDTV antenna. With a one-time purchase, these old-school devices enable modern TVs to pick up dozens of over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels in high-definition for free. Compared to indoor models, outdoor antennas have a drastically increased range, but expert reviews find that some rise above the pack.
A Compact, Versatile Choice
Look at just about any list of the best outdoor HDTV antennas online and you'll find the RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV Antenna (model number ANT751E), a well-reviewed combination of affordability and compact size. Yagi-style antennas feature a time-tested, rodlike design, which gives this model a respectable reception range of up to 70 miles. And with the free RCA Tower Finder App, you don't have to be a pro to find the best positioning for your area.
At under $45 on Amazon, as of 2019 prices, RCA's reliable Yagi offers a respectable value proposition, too. S&P Global Market Intelligence reports that cable and satellite bills for the average U.S. customer clocked in at about $100.98 per month in 2017, which is to say nothing of annual price hikes projected at over 2 percent each year. If this RCA gadget helps you cut the cord, that's a lot of money in your pocket.
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The ability to pick up both UHF and VHF stations in full, uncompressed HD 1080i resolution combined with a pre-assembled, snap-lock design lands this one on New York magazine's 2018 list of the best outdoor HDTV antennas. According to Amazon Services affiliate Savant Magazine, RCA's affordable Yagi was the best reviewed outdoor HDTV antenna on the shopping site in 2018. If that's not enough, the digital marketer's at Omnicore give it their "Editor's Pick" award among the best outdoor TV antennas of 2019.
A Quirkier Design
If you're a hardcore HD antenna enthusiast, the Mohu Sky 60 Attic/Outdoor HDTV Antenna might just tickle your fancy with its range of interesting features. While this model retails for about $100 to $150 (depending on whether you catch it on sale) and offers only a decidedly average 60-mile range, a host of distinct quirks make it worth a look.
For one, its patented flat, clover-shaped design is a lot less conspicuous than your average HD antenna. That military-inspired design also means that the Sky 60 is multidirectional, so you won't have to worry about pointing it toward the nearest TV tower. Mohu's model features their proprietary CleanPeak filtering tech, which removes unwanted RF signals while boosting preferred signals, too. It takes the title of "Best Under $100" on Omnicore's list of the 10 best outdoor TV antennas of 2019.
A Motorized Model
Available at roughly the same cost as the ever-popular RCA Yagi model, Vilso offers a dark horse contender with a few extra options under its belt. Right off the bat, it boasts an impressive 150-mile range and built-in dual TV outputs capable of receiving 720p, 1080i, 1080p and 4K signals. The grounded construction is made for outdoor use (the manufacturer says it operates in temperatures ranging from about -50 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) and it comes with a 45-day money back guarantee as well as a one-year warranty.
While the Vilso VI-995 model does require directional positioning to optimize its signal reception, it's one of the few sub-$100 antennas (as low as $42 on Amazon in 2019) to feature a rotating motor controlled by an included wireless infrared remote. The antenna enthusiasts at AntennaJunkies.com enjoy this one for its "extremely quick and easy assembly and installation" and ability to "withstand even the harshest of weather conditions."
Recommended by Consumer Reports
In 2018, Consumer Reports tested 10 HDTV antennas in a variety of both urban and suburban homes, with prices ranging from about $8 to $80. While the nonprofit consumer watchdog's tests mostly focused on indoor antennas, at least one outdoor model comes recommended by the lauded agency.
Among the best outdoor TV antennas, Consumer Reports recommends the ClearStream 2MAX from Antennas Direct, specifically the 60-mile model. Built to deal with obstructions, this $65-ish device contains multidirectional elements for both UHF and VHF reception. The sleek black construction of model number C2MVJ-5 conceals an integrated diplexer, which helps this HD antenna cut through the noise and interference projected by nearby electronic devices.
When You've Got Interference
In 2018, New York magazine called the DB4e 4-Element Bowtie Attic/Outdoor HDTV Antenna from Antennas Direct the "best outdoor TV antenna for forests." That doesn't mean it matches the trees. This design is made to deal with physical interference, making it worth a look for those who live in tree-dense, rural areas.
As per the manufacturer, this gadget is "the most powerful four-element antenna available," with a multi-directional design that specifically caters to "less than ideal locations." All-weather mounting hardware is included and all parts come with a lifetime warranty. The company's bowtie model offers options, too. It clocks in at around $40 for a two-element model with a 45-mile radius, $60 for a four-element model with a 60-mile radius or $120 for a 70-mile radius (plus about $30 extra for an additional mounting pole to give the antenna a little extra lift).
From a Trusted Brand
If you're the type of consumer who likes to buy what you know, GE has a well-reviewed offering in the outdoor HD antenna market: The GE Pro Outdoor Yagi TV Antenna. Priced just a hair over $50, as of 2019 Amazon rates, this classic brand's model offers an option right in the middle of the road of price points.
In the box, you'll find versatile, weather-resistant mounting hardware, including a mast clamp and a J-clamp for a variety of positioning options. GE's antenna also includes a limited lifetime warranty and a lifetime of free, U.S.-based tech support. The tech heads at Gear Hungry name this among the best outdoor HDTV antennas of 2019, slapping it with a pair of laurels for their "Best Value" award. In addition to high marks for attractive design, broad-spectrum reception and small physical footprint, reviewer Jordan Carter gives the antenna high marks for signal enhancing reflectors that "drastically [increase] signal strength and go a long way in reducing dropouts."
A Budget Option
If you're just dipping your toes into the HD OTA waters and looking for the best digital antenna you can buy on a budget, Omnicore and Savant Magazine both recommend the 1byone 150 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor/Roof HDTV Antenna (model number OUS00-0551). Savant says that this one – sliding in at just under $30 – is "just as powerful as the remote-controlled antennas," which tend to come at a much higher cost.
Surprisingly, 1byone's budget model has a 150-mile signal range, picking up uncompressed 1080p, 4K and even 3D channels. This modified Yagi-style design also features cross-phase, multi-element construction made to withstand outdoor weather. If you're wary of buying on the lower-priced end, you'll be glad to know that this antenna includes a 24-month warranty and a 90-day money back guarantee when purchased new.