Did you know that most of the areas in the U.S. actually have access to TV channels that broadcast over the air? No? Well, it’s true.
But wait. That’s not all. It gets better.
Did you know they do it for free?!
Yeah! We were shocked too. An alternative to pay TV actually exists!
Can you believe that?
What’s more, aside from being free, these channels have sound and image quality that are superior to those you’ve been receiving over cable or satellite.
If you’re at least a bit agitated after learning this, then welcome to the dark side. You’re officially a cord cutter. Cheers!
The only thing that’s keeping you from several dozen free channels is the fact you don’t have an outdoor TV antenna.
- 1 Top 5 Outdoor TV Antenna Reviews
- 1.1 1: The Channel Master EXTREMEtenna 80
- 1.2 2: The RCA Yagi Outdoor TV Antenna
- 1.3 #3: The Pingbingding Amplified Digital Outdoor HDTV Antenna
- 1.4 #4: The Xtreme Signal HDB91X Antenna
- 1.5 #5: 1byone Amplified Outdoor Digital HDTV Antenna
- 2 Things to Consider When Buying an Outdoor Antenna
- 2.1 Am I Allowed to Mount an Outdoor Antenna?
- 2.2 Is It Weatherproof?
- 2.3 What Kind of Cable Is the Antenna Using?
- 2.4 Should I Install It in the Attic or on the Roof?
- 2.5 How High Should I Place the Antenna?
- 2.6 Will I Need a Router or a Signal Amplifier?
- 2.7 Do I Need a Digital Antenna If I Want to Pick up Digital Signals?
- 2.8 Should I Opt for a Directional Antenna?
- 2.9 What Are the Other Factors I Should Consider?
- 3 A Final Thought or Two
But what’s the best outdoor TV antenna available at the moment? In fact, how does one even choose a TV antenna that would give them access to wonderful free TV channels in rural areas? What else do we need to know?
Granted, these are all good questions. This article is our attempt at answering them.
Here goes nothing.
Top 5 Outdoor TV Antenna Reviews
We’ve decided to start this article by talking about the best of the best outdoor antennas.
Indeed, if you look into the current supply, you’ll think it’s impossible to make a sound decision. There are way too many antennas to choose from.
That’s why we did some digging and we chose five antennas which we believe would be the best choice for your home.
Now, we must underline that we’re not favoring any of these products. We just hope to give you enough data so that you can make an informed decision. So this is our list, assembled in random order.
1: The Channel Master EXTREMEtenna 80
With dimensions coming in at 41 x 5.5 x 33 inches, EXTREMEtenna 80 from Channel Master is absolutely worthy of its name. And to prove it’s not like that just because of its size, we ought to tell you this outdoor antenna is a multidirectional eight-bay monster. That means it’s capable of picking up absolutely everything within the 80-mile range.
With its 12dB gain reception, it will bring ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, and many other channels to your home. And not only will they be free, but they will also come in crystal clear uncompressed HD.
Users report EXTREMEtenna picking up VHF-high (RF 7–13) and UHF channels (RF 14 and up). However, the antenna fails to pick up VHF-low channels, i.e. RF 2–6.
As we’ve already mentioned, EXTREMEtenna is multi directional. It will receive broadcast signals at the reception angles of up to 180 degrees. However, you will have to point it in the direction of the transmitting station.
Now, that doesn’t mean the antenna will fail to pick up channels in the area if you fail to direct it properly. It has strong reception, so it’ll be able to pick up stronger signals coming to its sides. However, for the best results, we advise you to point its bow tie elements to the transmitting station.
When it comes to its signal range, users report excellent reception even in mountainous areas. Depending on the location of the transmitting stations, however, you might need a signal booster to improve your reception.
This antenna can work with both digital and analog TV receivers, but you’ll need a converter for the analog one. What’s more, you can safely hook up more than one TV to EXTREMEtenna without any noticeable difference in sound and image quality.
When it comes to mounting it onto your roof, you’ll just need a mast and a roof mount. Everything else comes assembled, straight out of the box, including the clamps and the adapter. Experienced users warn against using J-Poles.
Now, although this is an outdoor antenna, many users have reported mounting it in their attics. Apparently, if the transmission station is close enough, there’s no difference in reception strength. However, we’d recommend sticking to the original purpose of EXTREMEtenna. Namely, due to the type of your home construction, you could end up losing up to 75% of your signal to the walls or the house wrap.
2: The RCA Yagi Outdoor TV Antenna
The RCA Yagi outdoor antenna bears an old-school cool vibe about itself. Now, we do realize this sounds a bit too sentimental, considering that we’re talking about an antenna. However, take just one look at it, and you’ll know what we mean.
But remember the good ol’ cliche — looks can be deceiving! This is not your ordinary old-school outdoor antenna. Its classic design houses some of the most powerful technology out there — it’s even compatible with Apple TV and Xbox! That means that, aside from your favorite shows, you’ll also be able to have live TV on your devices.
In addition to that, those of you with TV devices for mortals (i.e. regular digital TV) will be happy to know that this outdoor antenna can support up to 1080i HDTV broadcasts, allowing for superb image and sound quality.
This cross-phase antenna reportedly picks up both VHF and UHF channels, all within a 70-mile radius from the transmission towers. However, their quality will, to a large extent, depend on factors like the terrain, broadcast power, and the general distance from the towers.
Appearance & Durability
Its dimensions don’t exactly make the RCA Yagi the most discreet of the antennas. Namely, it’s 34.5 x 33.1 x 24.2 inches big, and it weighs something around 2 lbs. Granted, its robust design makes it incredibly sturdy at the same time.
This sturdiness comes into focus, particularly during tough weather conditions. The RCA Yagi’s durable construction will hold even during storms and heavy rain. It’s built like a tank. We can’t, unfortunately, guarantee that the signal will remain unfazed by bad weather.
Now that we’ve mentioned the construction, it might be good to talk about the fact that this antenna can be set up in three easy steps. Literally.
All you’ll have to do is connect the main coax cable to your digital-ready TV, find the perfect place for your antenna, and scan for channels available in your area! Before we get too excited, though, we need to make a note of one important thing. Namely, the coax cable does not come with the antenna. You’ll have to purchase that separately.
This minor shortcoming is certainly made up for with the fact that the antenna does come with a mast and a locking mast clamp, as well as all other mounting hardware you might need. What’s more, the manufacturer even included a 75-ohm transformer.
#3: The Pingbingding Amplified Digital Outdoor HDTV Antenna
Pingbingding might be a fairly new name in the antenna manufacturing world, but it’s quickly gaining momentum. It’s no wonder, considering that it offers antennas with amazing ranges at more than reasonable prices!
Its amplified digital outdoor HDTV antenna, for example, can reportedly receive HD TV broadcasting signals from within a 150-mile radius. Now, you gotta admit that’s pretty amazing! The long range and dual TV outputs support 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, at the working frequencies of 170–230MHz for VHF and 470–860MHz for UHF channels.
The manufacturer marks that the antenna can also support two TVs without an additional splitter or adapter. For more than two TVs, however, they suggest using a splitter after the control box. They strongly advise against placing the splitter directly between the antenna and the control box.
Furthermore, in the event that you have several TVs that you want to connect and you need to do it through a cable outlet that’s on the wall, they suggest using a splice adapter for cable extension.
When it comes to the process of installing this outdoor antenna, users only have words of praise. Namely, you won’t need any tools to mount it! All you have to do is follow a really simple user manual, and snap it onto your roof. You’ll also get a 40-feet long coax cable, mounting pole, power supply adapter, and a wireless remote.
Oh, did we mention that before? No?
Pingbingding’s outdoor antenna comes with a wireless remote control! What’s more, it has a built-in 360-degree motor rotor. In our opinion, that’s a setup that ensures great fine-tuning when scanning for channels. But some users mention that the rotation tends to start in random directions. What’s more, often you’re completely unable to tell in which direction the antenna is pointing.
What’s more, users living in rural areas are absolutely thrilled with this outdoor antenna. Some of them claim that they were able to get up to 30 HDTV channels.
If you’re living in a rural area, one of your concerns is certainly the antenna’s resistance to extreme weather conditions. Since the Pingbingding’s antenna is designed for outdoor usage, it’s protected from lightning and has grounding. With this bad boy, you don’t have to worry about bad weather.
A thing that we particularly liked about Pingbingding is that it seems to be quite an approachable company. Namely, its customer support is incredibly easy to reach and very friendly. The company itself offers a one-year guarantee for this antenna, but if you encounter any problems installing or fine-tuning it, they’ll offer a refund or send you another antenna to try.
#4: The Xtreme Signal HDB91X Antenna
If you’ve been living in a rural area for a while, then you know the pain of trying to catch UHF channels from a long distance. Well, Xtreme Signal has your back on this one.
Their long-range HDB91X antenna does magic. Not only does its high-gain design allow for over 70-mile reception for UHF channels, but it also allows for a 25-mile reception of high VHF channels. That means the HDB91X will bring you most of the free HD channels that are broadcast in your area.
What’s more, the manufacturer swears that the quality of both sound and image will be impeccable. With some occasional exception here and there, most users confirm the claim. One thing that they mention, however, is that it doesn’t really matter how high you place the antenna. You’ll get the best reception if you direct it toward the broadcast tower.
Although, there’s one thing that we feel obliged to point out. Namely, the antenna does not come with a rotor. Basically, once you mount it and point it in a certain direction, that’s pretty much it. That is, unless you plan on climbing to the roof every time the signal is not perfect.
Speaking of reception, we should note that the HDB91X has a very strong back reflector which will reduce any interference you might be getting from the back. Therefore, you can rest assured that you’re getting a good overall signal. So maybe you won’t even have to move it after all!
When it comes to mounting the HDB91X, you’ll probably be happy to know that this antenna’s mounting hardware is compatible with masts that are 1.6 inches in outer diameter. Interestingly enough, it can also be mounted on masts smaller than that.
You will, however, have to provide the mast on your own, as it doesn’t come with the antenna. And if you live in a windy area, consider getting a sturdier one. The antenna is quite weatherproof otherwise.
Now, one thing that leaves many users slightly disappointed is the fact that this outdoor antenna does not come with a coax cable. So you’ll have to buy that separately. While you’re at it, make sure it’s a copper wire coax cable — users advise against buying a clad steel one.
Generally speaking, users claim that it’s fairly easy to assemble the HDB91X. Namely, it comes with an illustrated instruction manual. Furthermore, the antenna elements seem to fall in place relatively easily.
#5: 1byone Amplified Outdoor Digital HDTV Antenna
If you’re familiar with 1byone’s work, then you know that the name we gave you above is nowhere near precise. Namely, unlike many other antenna manufacturers, 1byone apparently doesn’t bother to give specific names to their antennas. In fact, the only way to differentiate one from the other (if you’re not looking at the picture) is by their range.
Our final entry on this list, therefore, is 1byone’s 85-mile range amplified outdoor antenna. With its amplified built-in gain of 21–23dB for VHF and 26–28dB for UHF, this antenna will make sure you never have to pay to watch TV again. It can pick up all the local news, sports, and kids programs.
This outdoor antenna will allow for amazing image and sound quality, seeing as it supports full HD. It is optimized to pick up all local HDTV, VHF and UHF signals. In addition to that, the antenna comes with an inbuilt amplifier. So you won’t have to worry about the signal even if you don’t live in urban areas. 1byone’s antenna can pick up channels even through a thick forest.
One thing that many users note, however, is the fact that you’ll need to direct the antenna towards the broadcasting towers for maximum results. But that’s old news, since it also applied to all antennas that we have mentioned so far.
Interestingly enough, the antenna even sports a 4G LTE filter. Its job is to eliminate cell phone signals if there are any in your area. Generally speaking, without too many obstructions in the area, the range of this antenna is around 80 miles.
Now, while it doesn’t come with a coax cable, 1byone’s antenna comes with everything else you need in order to mount it. You get the iron J-pole, mounting base, screws, nuts — the whole shebang. All you need to do is find a perfect place for it. Seeing as it’s not awfully big (20.7 x 3.3 x 13 in) nor heavy (3,75 lbs), you can easily mount this antenna to a side wall.
Though small, this antenna can support multiple TV sets, as long as you get a reliable splitter. However, what you need to check before buying it is whether your flat screen TV has a built-in tuner that allows it to receive over-the-air channels. In addition to that, you’ll have to re-scan for available channels once you connect everything.
Things to Consider When Buying an Outdoor Antenna
A Quick Buyer’s Guide
If you’re still here, reading this article, that means you’re now seriously considering purchasing an outdoor antenna.
Good for you! (That was not sarcastic — we mean it.)
We’ve already established that a good outdoor antenna will bring an abundance of free TV channels to your home.
But… How do you choose the perfect antenna? Read on, and you just might find out.
Here are a couple of questions you need to ask yourselves before actually spending money on an outdoor antenna.
Am I Allowed to Mount an Outdoor Antenna?
Though the answer to this question will, in most cases, be yes, we advise you to double-check whether the FCC allows it.
Interestingly enough, the FCC will usually override any homeowner association rules that prevent you from mounting an antenna. You can, and you definitely should check the FCC’s website for more details.
Is It Weatherproof?
No matter where you live, you’ll need to consider the weather factor before committing to an antenna. Namely, the receiver of your choice has to be able to withstand heavy rain, strong wind, and occasional thunderstorms.
Basically, you need to look for an antenna that is lightning protected and, if possible, that requires a mounting mast. J-poles are okay too, but only if they’re made of iron. You might not live in a stormy area, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What Kind of Cable Is the Antenna Using?
If you’ve read our reviews carefully, you’ve noticed that the word “coax” popped up often. It did so for a good reason.
A high-quality coax cable might very well be the heart and soul of an outdoor antenna. Its center wire will carry the signal from the receiver to your TV, and it will do so under the protection of a high-quality plastic insulator. Seeing as we’ve already explained the weatherproof factor, we hope that you understand why the plastic insulator is important.
Another thing that ensures no interference with the signal quality is an outer braid that also protects the center wire. You’ll find it between the center wire and the plastic insulator.
Should I Install It in the Attic or on the Roof?
Generally speaking, most people consider that the roof is the best possible place to mount their antenna. And in case you have an aluminum roof, you should definitely stick to that belief.
However, numerous user reports have shown that the attic is a great alternative too. Moreover, you will need to make sure that the broadcast signals can actually penetrate through the roof.
How High Should I Place the Antenna?
Again, the general belief is the higher the better. We’ve already established that hills and trees in rural areas can make broadcast signals much weaker. Therefore, how high you mount the antenna will determine its overall range.
Will I Need a Router or a Signal Amplifier?
Now, the answer to this question depends largely on your location. If you’re too far away from the broadcasting towers and your signal is too weak, then you will probably need an amplifier. Just to be on the safe side, we advise you to make pre-amplified antennas your priority when browsing.
If you opt for a non-amplified antenna, be careful when making the decision to add the amplifier. Namely, if the broadcast signals are already decent, making them stronger can actually harm your digital tuner. In addition to that, you should keep in mind that the amplifier doesn’t only amplify the signal. It also amplifies the noise.
When it comes to the rotor, it can come in very handy if you’re interested in picking up channels that are broadcast from different locations. With it, you can simply rotate the antenna with a simple click of a remote control.
Do I Need a Digital Antenna If I Want to Pick up Digital Signals?
Now, this might come as a surprise, but no, you don’t need a digital antenna to pick up digital signals. Indeed, the frequency range has been reduced. But most frequencies still fall under the bands from the analog system.
We would, however, like to point out that you should be on the lookout for HDTV antennas. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Should I Opt for a Directional Antenna?
Yes, you should, especially if you live in a densely populated area with a lot of tall buildings or in a rural area surrounded by hills.
The so-called multipath interference can cause quite a lot of problems, making signals unusable in the process. The surest way to avoid turning signals into ghosts is to opt for a big outdoor directional antenna.
What Are the Other Factors I Should Consider?
Figure out what channels are available in your area. There’s a number of online tools you can use for that, and we suggest TV Fool. With a couple of details regarding your location, you can easily find out what channels you can expect your antenna to pick up.
Perhaps even more importantly, decide which channels you’re interested in watching. The drill is rather simple for this one, guys. You just need to pick up the TV guide in the newspaper!
But let’s face it. Most of you are going to do it online, which is perfectly acceptable too. But when you do it, just make sure you mark over the air or antenna as your provider. You don’t want to get your hopes up only to realize it’s a cable channel, trust us.
A Final Thought or Two
Well, guys, all good things come to an end, and so must this guide on best outdoor TV antennas. It’s time to bring this exposé to a close.
Our goal here today was to present the top five outdoor antennas that are popular at the moment. And we did our best to compile a list of antennas that are more than Miss Congeniality contestants. We sought out the best, only to deliver them to you.
In addition to that, we wanted to teach you what you should pay attention to when looking for an outdoor antenna. We just hope that our Q&A-meets-Buyer’s-Guide manual provided everything you wanted or needed to know.
In any case, we at least told you that there is an alternative to pay TV. We jolted your imagination a bit. Or at least we hope we did.
In our opinion, buying an outdoor antenna is the best decision any TV-lover could make. Make your big screen TV shine brightly with awesome channels. For free. You deserve it, and you know it. It’s time to stop fighting it.