Cable and satellite TV subscriptions are becoming ever more expensive, so more and more homes are ditching pay TV in favor of free, over-the-air broadcasts. Digital TV typically provides between 20 and 60 channels depending on where you live, and can save you at least $1,000 a year, based on a typical pay TV subscription.
Folks who do are often surprised by the higher image quality they get from broadcast TV. That’s because cable and satellite services compress the video signal in order to reduce the bandwidth required to stream it to your home, all so they can cram in more of the channels you probably never watch anyway.
TV antenna cheat sheet
Our quick-hit recommendations:
So, cut that cable, ditch that dish, and join the growing number of American households that are free from monthly bills for TV service.
Putting up an antenna is easy, but before you buy one you’ll need to figure out what channels are available where you live, how strong the signals are likely to be, and what direction they’re coming from. See TechHive’s guide to choosing an antenna to figure all that out.
As a rule of thumb, indoor antennas are suitable for areas with strong or very strong signals, the attic/outdoor antennas work in areas of medium signal strength, and the larger outdoor antennas in areas of weak signals.
Once you’ve determined your needs, this article will help with your antenna purchase. But before we jump into our results, check out this video that explains how to determine which free over-the-air TV channels you can receive where you live.
Best indoor TV antenna
This antenna impressed us with its ability to pull in more broadcast channels than the competition. Further, those it did receive were a little stronger than from our runner-up which should make for happier TV viewing. (Read our full review.)
The Antennas Direct Clearstream Flex is a large, flexible antenna for mounting inside your house against a window or on a wall. It comes supplied with an inline amplifier that gave a good boost to signal levels in our tests. It did well on both VHF-High and UHF reception—the broadcast bands that include the vast majority of large stations in the U.S. (Read our full review.)
Best roof-mount TV Antenna
The Antennas Direct DB8e’s reception is just as impressive as its looks. This is a large, heavy antenna cleverly designed to receive weak signals with two antenna arrays, or in areas of better reception to point to towers in different directions. (See our full review.)