Best Indoor HD Antennas

Even if you subscribe to streaming or traditional cable, you may want to drop a small chunk of change to get free HD broadcast channels.

Overview

“This technology is still around? Why isn’t this obsolete?” My friend asked, grabbing at the boxes in my living room. I pulled one out and started sticking it to the window as I went on to explain the benefits of finding a good local TV antenna: low cost, low hassle, ease of moving, and access to a lot more channels than you’d think.

He said he’d rather just do Sling while he rents—you can’t convince them all.

Best HD Indoor TV Antennas

AntennaPriceBest forReception distanceCable lengthWarranty lengthShop
ClearStream$39.99–$59.99Highest channel count35–70 mi.12 ft.LifetimeView on Amazon
Vansky$19.99Best value50 mi.16.5 ft.1 yr.View on Amazon
Mohu Leaf$34.99–$79.99Adaptability30–65 mi.10–16 ft.1 yr.View on Amazon
BESTHING$23.99Accessories50 mi.17 ft.1 yr.View on Amazon
1byone$9.99–$24.99Lowest price25–50 mi.10 ft.1 yr.View on Amazon

But in our opinion, the only reason not to get a cheap indoor HD TV antenna is if you’re fully satisfied with your cable subscription and streaming services. Even then you may want a back-up, or just another wave of channels to surf.

After running our various options through the ringer, we determined which indoor HD antennas we like best. Here’s a list of our favorites and and their standout features:

  1. ClearStream Eclipse — Best design, longest warranty (lifetime), slightly longer detachable cable, highest channel count
  2. Vansky — Cheapest cost, high channel count
  3. Mohu Leaf — Dual-sided paint job, detachable cable
  4. BESTHING — All-in-one amplifier design
  5. 1byone — Widest range of sizes, cheap prices

#1—ClearStream Eclipse 35 Mile

We tried the 35 Mile ClearStream, which comes with a 12-foot detachable cable and has both a black side and a white side. (You can stick either side on the window.) We really loved the design and functionality of this antenna, and we think it’s a cut above the rest. The actual channel count ended up being much higher than what was advertised, more in league with the next-highest model’s advertised channel count.

ClearStream Eclipse 35 Mile quick stats:

  • 12-ft. detachable cable
  • No amplifier amplifier included
  • Advertised channel count: 46
  • Actual channel count: 74

What we like

Clearly the best design

The patented design is more lightweight than others and doesn’t fully obstruct the view. The loop shape allows more light in, which leaves your room feeling more open.

It’s a lot less bulky than the others and actually has more of a “conversation starter” look and less of a  “what’s that ancient technology doing here?” look.

On top of that, the ClearStream features a detachable cable, which makes life easier because you can remove it for cleaning or if you need to move stuff around without detaching the antenna from the window.

Better reception

We received 74 channels from the Clearstream Eclipse—more than the others we tested despite the listed estimates. We didn’t even need an amplifier to get that many channels.

Lifetime warranty

Out of all the reviewed antennas, the Eclipse had the longest warranty. Most other companies give you a year, but Antenna Direct’s ClearStream Eclipse gives you a lifetime warranty on parts.

What we don’t like

No amplifier included

In the event that you did need amplification, you would either have to purchase the 50-mile model or your own amplifier. Not a big deal for us, since most of the antennas we reviewed only added a few extra channels when amplified, but it’s still worth considering.

A little more expensive

The ClearStream costs twice as much as our next runner up, Vansky ($19.99), and it has a shorter distance range. However, in our testing, we found the ClearStream still had a higher channel count than even the 50-mile-range Vansky—even when we added an amplifier. All things considered, the price is worth it, especially since it’s a one-time fee.

Recap

ClearStream Antenna

Maximum rangeCostCable lengthLearn more
35 mi.$39.9912 ft.View on Amazon

#2—Vansky

The Vansky’s unassuming cardboard-style packaging was misleading: this antenna ended up being one of our favorites.

Vansky 50 quick stats:

  • 16.5-ft. non-detachable cable
  • Amplifier included
  • Advertised channel count: N/A
  • Actual channel count: 72
  • Actual channel count with amplifier: 73

What we like

Cost effective

You pay $20 for the Vansky once, and you get free 1080p HD TV from then on. Nothing extra to buy. Most people pay somewhere like 1–5 times more every month for traditional cable.  This is the best cheap antenna we tested.

The 45-day return policy gives you an extra 15 days to make sure you like how you spent that $19.99. You also get a 1-year warranty, which is standard.

Pre-taped for convenience

Two circular dots come pre-taped, which is convenient since the placement of the tape isn’t necessarily crucial (as long as it sticks), but we appreciate the look of symmetry and not getting tape stuck to the wrong things. The BESTHING antenna also came pre-taped.

What we don’t like

Non-detachable cable

Although the cable was longer than most others we tried at 16.5 feet, it still is worth considering whether that’s the appropriate length. Having a detachable cable makes it easier to switch to a long cable if necessary.

Basic design

Vansky, along with the rest of our best antennas list (with the exception of ClearStream), has the basic flat rectangle design. Don’t get us wrong; it’s fine. But that’s all it is. We’d prefer a more streamlined presentation, but we also recognize the advancement of humankind and appreciate that we can grab pictures and sounds from out of thin air—so we’ll take it.

Recap

Vansky Antenna

Maximum rangeCostCable lengthLearn more
50 mi.$19.9916.5 ft.View on Amazon

#3—Mohu Leaf

We tested the Mohu Leaf in the 30-mile version, which comes with a 10-foot detachable cable. It worked fine, but it didn’t have the flashiest design, nor did it include extra accessories that some users may find useful, like an amplifier extension or table stand.

Mohu Leaf 30 quick stats:

  • Detachable cable
  • Amplifier not included
  • Price: $69.99
  • Advertised channel count: 65
  • Actual channel count: 66

What we like

Detachable cable

Mohu is two-sided in black and white, and the detachable cable is white. Even though we don’t anticipate the need for constant attaching and detaching, we like having the option for easy cleaning, portability, and adapter-free use with different cables if needed.

Paint options

You get to choose the black or white surface when displaying your Mohu Leaf. Most of the reviewed antennas are paintable, but we like that you already get two colors without any effort.

What we don’t like

Short, bulky cable

Mohu had the bulkiest and shortest cable out of the ones we tried. We’d recommend getting a different cable. The Leaf antenna is the same size as the other antennas we reviewed (except for the ClearStream Eclipse).

No amplification

Although we didn’t need the amplification, we appreciated having the option. Other users in more remote areas may need to upgrade to an antenna with a higher mile range or buy a separate signal-boosting amplifier.

Recap

Mohu Leaf Antenna

Maximum rangeCostCable lengthLearn more
30 mi.$34.9930 ft.View on Amazon

#4—BESTHING

BESTHING’s HD TV antenna was on par for the course, but a unique amplifier design and included stand gave it some extra points.

BESTHING indoor HD TV antenna quick stats:

  • Non-detachable cable
  • Amplifier included
  • Advertised channel count: N/A
  • Actual channel count: 59
  • Actual channel count with amplifier: 61

What we like

All-in-one amplifier design

The other antennas with included amplifiers included a detachable USB cable and power supply, whereas the BESTHING included both the coaxial attachment and USB cable into one adapter. This is convenient and reduces the number of attachments you could lose.

However, this may not be ideal, since one of the cables could go out, leaving a half-working adapter.

Stand included

If you’d rather keep your antenna next to your TV, BESTHING includes a stand. For us, it was better to keep it by the window, just for the sake of signal strength. If you can receive clear signals and want to keep your antenna on a table or entertainment console, be our guest.

What we don’t like

Attachment issues

As we’ve mentioned with the other brands, we prefer detachable cables. It’s more convenient for switching to a longer cable, if necessary.

Recap

BESTHING Antenna

Maximum rangeCostCable lengthLearn more
50 mi.$23.9916 ft.View on Amazon

#5—1byone

1byone quick stats:

  • Includes non-detachable cable
  • Includes amplifier
  • Advertised channel count: N/A
  • Actual channel count: 56
  • Actual channel count with amplifier: 58

What we like

Amplifier included

If you run into interference, you may want to try using the included amplifier to up your channel count. 1byone gives you the option of plugging the USB power cable into a USB port on the TV or into an included power source.

Lower cost than most

At $24.99, the 50-mile version is pretty competitive in price. It’s not as cheap as the Vansky, but you can look at other models on Amazon from 1byone that go as cheap as $9.99.

What we don’t like

Fewer channels

The signal wasn’t as strong as some of the other antennas. We got only 58 channels, even amplified. We’re not sure what to attribute the difference to other than quality of materials and design. The 1byone is a cheaper option than most, but if that’s your deciding factor, we’d say go with the Vansky for $5 less.

Recap

1byone Antenna

Maximum rangePriceCable lengthLearn more
50 mi.$24.9910 ft.View on Amazon

What we look for in an HD antenna

Not many people know you can get broadcast channels like NBC, ABC, FOX, and more with a one-time purchase. The indoor HD antennas we reviewed ranged from $9.99 to $79.99. Most of the antennas’ channel estimates went from 40 to as high as 70, and our highest actual channel count was 74 (ClearStream HD TV Antenna). We saw antennas ranging in signal distance from 25 miles to 150, but at or past around 60 or 70 miles, it seems like they start becoming outdoor antennas.

So what did we look for?

Cost

First and foremost, we looked for which would give us the best bang for our buck. Is it worth it to spend more and get the $39.99 model when the $19.99 model might do? While other factors contribute to the monetary value, for us, nothing beats keeping cold hard cash in your pocket.

Aesthetic appeal

Which antenna looks the best? We think if you like the style of the antenna, it can make a cool conversation piece. But if it’s obnoxious-looking, chances are you won’t want to leave it up. That being said, most of them look about the same: a peel-and-stick receiver attached to a long cord ending in a coaxial connector that attaches to your TV.

Ease of installation

Did we run into any difficulty with the setup? Something like this should be simple, but we also made sure that it was easy enough to take down and stick again multiple times. Is there a manufacturer that includes accessories to make it even easier?

Cable

The receiver’s design is one thing, but what about the long dangling piece that has to go somewhere in your room? Depending on your window set-up, a few extra feet can make the difference between natural and awkward placement.

We liked the antennas that came with detachable cables because it makes it easier to get the cable length you need, or to replace a damaged wire.

Amplifier

Some people may require an amplified signal in the event of interference. In our test run, we placed each antenna on the window for optimal results and saw little added benefit with the amplifier. However, results vary with each antenna placement. We do not recommend using an amplifier if it wouldn’t help you.

Best indoor HD TV antennas recap

We’ve made our picks, but just to refresh your memory, here’s what we’d like you to remember about antennas that pick up local channels:

  • You buy it once—after that, it’s free broadcast TV
  • Networks include ABC, NBC, FOX, and more
  • Attach to a window for optimal results
  • Don’t use an amplifier unless necessary
  • ClearStream and Mohu were the only antennas with detachable cables
  • Vansky, BESTHING, and 1byone models included amplifiers

If you have more questions or helpful advice, drop us a line in the comments below.