Discover my Top 7 TV Antennas for 2023

Here’s how to choose the best TV antenna for UHF and VHF reception based on hands-on testing over 19 months in three states across the U.S. 

By Jim Kimble / Published September 14, 2023

The best TV antennas gets you local channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS. You can also watch popular sub-channels such as MeTV and Court TV that are on cable and live TV streaming services.

You should start using a TV antenna if you are about to cut the cord and get rid of cable TV. But choosing the correct TV antenna for the best reception requires a little bit of know-how. 

You can jump down to the summary of the best TV antennas, or read through individual reviews for each antenna.

Should I buy a TV antenna for my TV?

Variety magazine’s list of the 100 Most-Watched TV Shows highlights how much value a TV antenna can deliver.

NFL Sunday Night Football is on NBC. NFL Thursday Night Football is on FOX. “Grey’s Anatomy” is on ABC, “The Equalizer” and “60 Minutes” is on CBS. And so on. 

Savvy cord-cutters know that local channels carry a surprising amount of news, sports and top-rated events such as the Super Bowl for free.

Cable companies actually charge you every month for this same programming. In 2022, Spectrum and Comcast both made headlines for increasing its monthly broadcast fee, charging customers more than $20 per month for the same exact channels that are available for free.

With a TV antenna, you pay for your hardware once. So it’s a worthy investment for years of free live TV. Having a Netflix or Hulu subscription can give you an endless supply of affordable programming, but few things are better than free TV.

I have been giving advice on buying the right TV antennas for years through my hands-on reviews, and YouTube videos. Here are just a few comments from one of my more popular YouTube videos, giving advice about indoor antennas.

best tv antenna

Here’s another reason to ditch cable TV or satellite TV service. Over-the-air channels are about to get even better. Local TV stations are transitioning to NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0). 

This new broadcast standard makes it possible to deliver better reception and picture resolution. 

NextGen TV can deliver 1080p, 4K and HDR picture resolution. That’s a significant jump. 

The current digital broadcasts standard (ATSC 1.0) is capable of High Definition picture resolution up to 720p or 1080i. Other stations, such as sub-channels, are using lower resolutions such as 480p.

What are the best TV antennas?

Indoor and outdoor TV antennas were tested in Massachusetts, Maine and Los Angeles. (photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

Before you search for a TV antenna to buy, you need to figure out whether you are trying to get UHF or VHF signals. If you already have a TV antenna, you should try some of these fixes for better OTA reception.

Buying the “best” TV antenna relies, in part, on figuring out what kind you need.

You should use DTV Maps from the Federal Communications Commission to get started. Under the current broadcast standard of digital channels (ATSC 1.0), you want to know whether your local TV stations operate on the UHF or VHF band. 

Enter your zip code, or click on the “Go to My Location” button. DTV Maps will quickly return a list of local broadcasters. You’re not done yet.

I recommend then using another free tool to determine where local broadcast towers are in your area. Looking through rabbitears may feel overwhelming at first because there is so much information to dig into. 

The Search Signal Map feature on the rabbitears site is the best place to start. Enter your address in the search tab. Click on the button that says, “Move Pushpin to Center of Map View” and adjust the pushpin on the map. Make sure the pushpin is on top of your house or apartment building. 

Click on the “Go” button to get your channel list. The results will give you a precise look at field strength and distance of broadcast towers near you. You can get a more detailed coverage map for an individual station by clicking on the map icon.

The rabbitears site has the most detailed and up-to-date information on digital HD broadcasts (ATSC 1.0) and new NextGen TV signals.  


Your results from DTV Maps and will show you two different metrics. The rabbitears results show estimated “field strength”, or how likely you can receive a specific broadcast.  

DTVMaps shows which band local TV broadcasters are using. UHF is the predominant band in most markets. But in some large markets, such as Los Angeles, VHF signals are abundant. 

So in L.A., having a TV antenna capable of receiving signals on the UHF band and VHF band is important to get the maximum number of channels. I learned this the hard way while helping my brother find the best TV antenna for his home in Los Angeles.

Why you can trust The Cord Cutting Report: I do hands-on testing with TV-related products and services throughout the year. Find out more about the review policy.

For a couple of years, the indoor TV antenna and outdoor TV antennas my brother tried got some stations. But he was missing a few major broadcast networks.

When he switched to an Antop 400-BV “Big Boy” with a VHF dipole, his channel lineup nearly tripled. Generally speaking, larger antennas will have the benefit of picking up signals from a wider range of frequencies.

A flat leaf-style indoor TV antenna probably isn’t going to work with getting VHF channels unless it has a VHF element inside of it. 

But remember, UHF is currently the king in the realm of digital over-the-air signals. Stations that are currently on the VHF band will have to convert to UHF if they transition to NextGen TV over the next couple of years.

Indoor vs Outdoor TV Antennas

Do you have broadcast towers that are 30 miles or closer? Are most of the local broadcast towers transmitting on the UHF band?

If so, you can probably use an indoor TV antenna. If you live 35 miles or more from broadcast towers, then you will likely want an outdoor TV antenna. 

You can mount an outdoor TV antenna to your roof or place one in your attic. 

The name of the game with TV antennas is elevation. Generally speaking, the higher you can go, the better reception your TV antenna will get. In other words, you will get more channels.

Even when you are within range of local broadcast towers, trees, hills, and tall buildings can impact reception from a TV antenna. That’s part of the reason why elevation is an important factor with optimizing reception.

“Long Range TV Antennas” & Bogus claims

Knowing how far you are away from broadcast towers is important to know. But it’s only one metric. Range is also a red herring. 

You should never buy a 100-mile range TV antenna.

The same is true for indoor or outdoor TV antennas that are marketed with a 200, 250, 500 mile range and so on. Why? You will be sorely disappointed if you expect a TV antenna to get a signal more than 60 or so miles. 

Over-the-air signals do not travel along the curve of the Earth and keep going. TV signals travel in a straight line. 

TV signals diminish very quickly by design. 

If you did have a TV antenna capable of a 100 or 200 mile range, you would actually have the problem of overlapping signals on the same channel. 

Overlapping signals would essentially make a TV unwatchable because it would be trying to show two or more channels at once.

What are the different types of TV antennas?

An antenna’s design dictates not only whether it receives signals from the UHF or VHF band. Different types of antennas are built to focus on broadcast signals from either one or multiple directions.

Most people don’t pay attention to a TV antenna’s gain, but it is a more important metric than the so-called “range” of an antenna.

TV signals are meant to get weaker and weaker as they travel. Antenna gain (measured in decibels) specifies how the antenna’s design focuses its reception. 

Directional antennas are designed with a gain focusing on broadcast towers in one specific direction. A directional antenna can receive digital signals from greater distances than a multi-directional or omni-directional TV antenna. 

A multi-directional antenna, or omni-directional antenna has a gain built into their designs to receive in more than one direction. 

Antenna gain is different from gain from a TV antenna’s amplifier. Amplifier gain mitigates noise created by a long run of antenna cable, or an antenna splitter. It does not amplify antenna gain.

Even if you are using a multi-directional or omni-directional antenna, you will likely have to fool around with its placement, especially the direction its facing for the best results.

You can disregard terms such as HD antenna, indoor HDTV antenna, HD digital TV antenna and so on. These are simply marketing terms, and there is nothing specific about TV antennas labeled as as HD antenna or HDTV antenna.

Do I need a TV antenna amplifier?

The performance of a TV antenna is always situational. So when would you need (or want to try) an amplifier for a TV antenna?

In my experience, an amplifier for a TV antenna might benefit you if you are using a long run of cable between an TV antenna and your television set. 

It can also cut down on noise and distortion when you are using an antenna splitter connecting multiple TVs to one TV antenna.

You should not assume that an amplifier will always add more channels or clear up unstable reception. There are instances where using one can decrease the number of channels you are already receiving. 

Always run a few channels scans without an amplifier to get an idea of how the TV antenna is performing on its own. Then, you can turn on an amplifier and re-run the channel scan to see if channel reception improves.

For an outdoor TV antenna, I have had the best results using the Antop SBS-602B HD Smart Boost amplifier

The amplifier has a gain of 14dB, and has a dial to increase or decrease the amplifier’s gain. It is included with the “Big Boy” line of Antop’s outdoor TV antennas. 

But you can also buy the amplifier separately and use it on any TV antenna. You can read about how I used it with the RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV Antenna below.

The Best TV Antenna for 2023

The Antop AT-800SBS being tested in Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

Antop AT-800SBS HD Smart Panel Antenna


  • Range (Advertised): Up to 85 Miles
  • Furthest Signal: 30 Miles
  • Channels Received: 68 in Boston
  • Cable Included: 40 Feet


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  • Solid UHF & VHF Reception
  • Weather-proof design
  • Adjustable Amplifier
  • Mounting kit included


  • Best reception on rooftop

The Antop AT-800SBS is the best outdoor TV antenna for its performance, weather-resistant coating and adjustable amplifier.

It is one of the latest models from the “Big Boy” series of outdoor TV antennas.

The antenna picked up the greatest number of TV channels (68 total) from nearby broadcast towers surrounding my home in Boston, and further away UHF stations in Rhode Island. 

The body of the antenna has a vertical rectangular shape that is built to receive both UHF and VHF signals. 

It is made of heavy duty plastic with a weather-resistant finish. 

The AT-800SBS antenna comes with two VHF rods that screw into a pair of mounting holes in the back of the panel. The poles are positioned horizontally for VHF reception.

Assembly is simple. 

I mounted the Antop AT-800SBS to a 38-inch Winegard pole on my roof’s peak. The roof peak itself is about 30 feet above ground.

The 800SBS is a multi-directional TV antenna that includes a metal mounting kit. All the bolts and screws needed to mount the antenna are included.

The AT-800SBS was released in 2020. The antenna has the same dimensions and overall design as its predecessor, the 400BV. Both models weigh just under 10 lbs. 

The key difference between the AT-800SBS and the AT-400BV comes with its amplifiers. 

The AT-800SBS has an adjustable Smart Boost System amplifier. The 400-BV uses a smaller amplifier (called the Smartpass Amplified system) that is not adjustable. But you can easily switch on and off.

Both amplifiers have a built-in 4G LTE filter that blocks 3G and 4G wireless signals that can impact digital TV reception. On the amplifier for the AT-800SBS, there is a second port to connect another TV or stereo receiver.  

This Antop TV antenna includes 40 feet of coaxial cable that is coated with a rubberized finish. The cable is detachable from the antenna. A weather-resistant hood surrounds the coaxial port that connects to the antenna.

The AT-800SBS is about two feet tall and 10 inches wide. The antenna includes a pre-installed metal bracket for mounting to a pole or the side of a house. 

A plastic stand is included for using the antenna indoors. But the AT-800SBS is made for outdoor use given its size and the mounting bracket.

The AT-800SBS has a waterproof, and weather-resistant finish. 

The plastic casing on the antenna and the rubberized hood on the coax cable are standout features. It protects the metal components against harsh weather conditions, and destructive salt air in coastal areas. 

You can read my full Antop AT-800SBS review.

Antop 400-BV “Big Boy” Antenna

Mounting an Antop 400-BV on a rooftop in Maine. (Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)


  • Range (Advertised): Up to 85 Miles
  • Furthest Station: 53 Miles
  • Channels Received: 30 in Maine; 175 in Los Angeles
  • Cable Included: 40 Feet


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  • Solid UHF & VHF Reception
  • Weather-proof design
  • Less expensive than AT-800SBS
  • Mounting kit included


  • Best reception on rooftop
  • Amplifier is not adjustable

If the Antop 800SBS is out of stock, then I would buy the Antop 400BV. Outside of the different amplifiers, the two “Big Boy” models are essentially the same with a few minor differences in design. 

While testing in Los Angeles, the Antop 400-BV nearly tripled the channel lineup. 

In Maine, the Antop 400-BV mounted on a roof increased the channel lineup to more than 30 from a dozen with another antenna.

The added channels in Maine included the local CBS, and a station in New Hampshire a little over 53 miles away as the crow flies.

The AT-400BV “Big Boy” model comes equipped with a metal bracket on the back of the panel for mounting and all the hardware needed for installation. A 39-foot cable with a thick weather resistant coating is in the box as well. 

The Antop 400-BV received roughly 175 channels on the UHF and VHF during testing in Los Angeles. (photo credit: J. Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

In Los Angeles, the Antop 400-BV “Big Boy” was mounted on a pole anchored into a five-gallon bucket.  The channel lineup jumped to about 175 channels (Channels 2-64) compared to about a dozen channels. 

The added channels included local FOX and ABC stations, which got the more local news, and NFL games.  

One of the bigger takeaways from the Los Angeles testing was that the antenna’s finish can really matter when it comes to longevity. 

The L.A. house is close to the beach, where salt air is destructive to metal that remains outdoors throughout the year. An outdoor TV antenna (a ClearStream Fusion) rusted apart within a matter of months due to its exposure to salt air. 

The rubberized hood on the cords and weather-resistant finish on “Big Boy” models have so far proven to be a better buy if you are living near a beach where salt air can oxidize and rust metal components. 

VIDEO: Hands-on with Antop 800SBS and 400-BV

ClearStream 4Max

ClearStream 4Max being tested in Massachusetts. (photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)


  • Range (Advertised): 70+ Miles
  • Furthest Signal: 30 Miles
  • Channels Received: 61 in Boston
  • Cable Included: None


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  • Decent UHF & VHF Reception
  • Mounting kit & J-Pole included
  • Can be used in attic


  • Multi-step assembly
  • Higher price

The ClearStream 4Max is another UHF and VHF outdoor TV antenna that has a shorter, but wider design compared to the Antop “Big Boy” models. 

The ClearStream 4Max is 31.3 inches wide and stands 17.5 inches tall when it is not connected to a pole.

During my testing just outside of Boston, I received 68 channels including stations in the Providence, Rhode Island area. 

The ClearStream 4Max has a pair of figure eight UHF elements that you attach to a vertical antenna spine. The UHF elements each have a male F-type connector which plugs into the spine. 

Two VHF dipoles screw into the top of the spine behind the UHF elements. The UHF elements and the antenna spine are made of hard plastic. The VHF dipoles are metal and about as wide as a pencil. 

People sometimes ask whether the ClearStream 4Max can be used as an indoor TV antenna. The only other place I would consider installing the ClearStream 4MAX is in an attic. 

The ClearStream 4MAX includes a J-Pole, mount base and a bracket to attach the antenna. The J-Pole or mast is used to mount the TV antenna to a wall along the roof or roof peak. There is no coaxial cable included with the antenna, so you will have to buy your own. 

The 4Max antenna was tested in the same exact location as the Antop and performed just as well. But the 4Max requires more assembly of the antenna elements than the Antop.

The Antop antennas slightly edged out the ClearStream 4Max in terms of its design and extras. The Antop has a weather-resistant finish, a more sophisticated amplifier and all the cable you need to start watching TV.

I didn’t use the mast that came with the 4Max TV antenna. I used the 38-inch Winegard J-pole mounted on my roof for testing out various outdoor TV antennas.

RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV antenna

RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV antenna includes a mount (left), but got more channels in Maine with a taller J-Pole. (photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report.)


  • Range (Advertised): 70 Miles
  • Furthest Signal: 40 Miles
  • Channels Received: 34 in Maine
  • Cable Included: None


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  • Best for hard-to-reach signals
  • Decent UHF & VHF reception
  • Mounting kit & J-Pole included
  • Withstands tough winters


  • Needs higher elevation for best results
  • Might need an amplifier

The RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV antenna is a directional outdoor antenna with UHF and VHF elements. 

The RCA Yagi is best suited when you are trying to get reception for a harder-to-reach broadcast tower that is 50 to 60 miles away. The antenna is 34.5 inches long, and its widest element is 33.1 inches wide.

The Yagi requires some assembly, but it’s fairly easy to do. You are assembling three core parts that can be assembled in six steps.

This TV antenna comes with all the hardware necessary to mount to a roof or attic. 

A 75-ohm transformer included in the box connects the antenna to the coaxial cable that runs to your television or TV tuner. The antenna includes a short J-pole style mount and base (or foot) along with all the screws and nuts needed. 

The RCA Yagi has survived through a number of punishing Maine winters without any rust or breakage. 

It has been on a low-lying house lot surrounded by dense forest that is several feet higher than the roofline. 

For years, the Yagi was mounted at gutter level to the house in Maine. A broadcast tower for a local FOX station was hard to get. The tower was roughly 40 miles away. The terrain between the TV antenna and broadcast tower included dense forest and varying elevation. 

But there were two things that were done to maximize the RCA Yagi’s reception and double the number of channels it could receive. 

We combined two J-Poles to make one about five feet tall. We also added an ANTOP SBS-602B HD Smart Boost Antenna Amplifier. Simply plugging in the amplifier didn’t increase the number of channels or add the elusive FOX station right off.

Using the dial on the amp to cut the amplification gain in half gave the best reception. A channel scan was required for each time the amp dial was adjusted.

The cable run was a little over 30 feet. The channel lineup remained the same when it was connected directly to the TV or plugged into a Tablo Dual Lite.

After adding an amplifier and five feet of elevation, the RCA Yagi did a better job getting desirable harder-to-reach stations in Maine and New Hampshire than the Antop multi-directional antennas.  

The Yagi increased the channel lineup to 34 stations from 30 with the Antop 400BV. 

The Yagi and Antop are both excellent outdoor TV antennas. But this round of testing was a good example of how in some cases a directional antenna gets better results than a multi-directional antenna based on terrain, geography, and distance from broadcast towers.

This particular Yagi model has been around since 2009. The TV antenna comes with a 12-month limited warranty.

ClearStream FLEX

The ClearSream FLEX is the best indoor TV antenna. It receives UHF and Hi-VHF signals. (photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)


  • Range (Advertised): 50+ Miles
  • Furthest Signal: 30 Miles
  • Channels Received: 55 in Boston
  • Cable Included: 12 Feet
  • Peel and Stick Mounting


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  • Most channels for indoor antenna
  • 20db USB amplifier included
  • Easy to install
  • Reversable color design


  • Not ideal for rural homes

The ClearStream FLEX is the best indoor TV antenna that is capable of receiving UHF and Hi-VHF channels.

It’s a leaf-style TV antenna that performs best when it is stuck to the top of a window or high up on a wall. The FLEX is 16 inches wide and 11 inches tall. There is a Hi-VHF element inside the flat-panel design.

My prior pick for the best indoor TV antenna was the ClearStream Eclipse. But after testing in areas with Hi-VHF stations, the FLEX has proven to be a better buy. 

Having the Hi-VHF element may prove to be less significant over time as stations transition to NextGen TV, which operates on the UHF band. 

If you only need a well-designed indoor TV antenna for UHF stations, then you should buy the ClearStream Eclipse instead of the FLEX because it’s significantly cheaper.

The FLEX antenna includes a 20dB amplifier and a USB power adapter. The adapter for the amplifier can be plugged into the USB port of a television or electrical outlet. 

The FLEX is black on one side and white on the other. So you can pick which color you would rather see in your apartment or house. The antenna includes adhesive making it easy to attach the antenna to a wall or window without using tacks or tape.

My ClearStream FLEX came with 12 feet of coaxial cord, but the cord length may vary. During my Boston testing period, I got more than 55 channels while it was connected to a HDHomeRun Scribe DVR.

I had better results when I detached the amplifier from the TV antenna. It’s best to perform a channel scan with and without the amplifier to see what gets the best reception.

Channel Master Flatenna

best tv antennas
(photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)


  • Range (Advertised): 35 miles
  • Furthest Signal: Approximately 30 miles
  • Channels Received: 62
  • Cable included: 12 feet


Channel Master Store



  • Great price
  • Easy to install


  • Not as powerful

The Channel Master Flatenna (or FLATenna 35) is my budget pick for an indoor antenna.

The Flatenna is smaller than the ClearStream FLEX, but has a similar leaf-style design. One side of the antenna panel is white, the other is black.  

The antenna measures 13.5 inches wide. The panel is just over 9.5 inches vertically.

The Flatenna includes a 12 foot detachable coaxial cable that you can plug in to your television or an OTA DVR, depending on your setup. 

Adhesive strips come with the antenna. You can easily mount the antenna to a wall or a window. Channel Master says that the Flatenna has 3db VHF gain, and 6db UHF gain. 

I tested the Flatenna on a new Vizio Smart TV that I have in a guest room, and on a HDHomeRun located in my basement-level office. 

I was able to get 62 channels with the Flatenna but I noticed slight pixelation with a few channels that were broadcasting from towers around 30 miles away.

I made this pick for the Flatenna’s performance and price. 

For anyone who lives in a metropolitan area or large city, the Flatenna is an excellent budget pick. I do recommend mounting the Flatenna in a window and facing the broadcast towers you want to receive signals from.

When I ordered the FLATenna directly from the Channel Master website, the price was $20. It also sells on Amazon for slightly more.  

Mohu Arc

The Mohu Arc is the best table top antenna that works well for city dwellers. (Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)


  • Range (Advertised): 40 Miles
  • Furthest Signal: 25 Miles
  • Channels Received: 40 in Boston
  • Cable Included: 10 Feet
  • Table top stand included


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  • Table top design
  • Easy set up


  • Not as powerful

The Mohu Arc is the best table top indoor TV antenna for city dwellers who live in an apartment, and have broadcast towers fairly close by. 

I was able to get channels from broadcast towers that were 25 miles away for less. Placing the Arc next to my Roku TV, I got a little over 40 TV channels, including all my major broadcast networks. 

The Mohu Arc comes with an antenna stand so you can place the antenna beside a TV on an entertainment center or a window ledge.

The Arc has 10 feet of coaxial cable that is affixed to the antenna. My preference is for a coax port to be detachable. 

The setup is fairly easy. The antenna stand snaps on the frame of the TV antenna. 

The stand is sturdy and balanced enough to put the antenna on a nearby bookshelf, window sill or entertainment center.

Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of table top TV antennas because they rarely get the maximum number of potential channels. 

But not everyone needs a really powerful TV antenna to get free TV channels, including major broadcast networks. 

There are also people who need an indoor antenna, but don’t want to mount a leaf-style antenna in their window or on a wall.

I have tested table-top TV antennas over the years, including a few this year. I haven’t encountered anything that performs as well as an outdoor TV antenna, or an indoor TV antenna that can be mounted in a window.

What is the best antenna for free TV?

If you live in an area where local TV stations use the UHF and VHF band to transmit signals, then you need an antenna with UHF and VHF elements. Here are the best TV antennas that I have tested for different situations.

  • Antop AT-800SBS HD Smart Panel Antenna is the best overall TV antenna that can be mounted on a roof or attic. It has UHF and VHF elements, a mounting kit and an adjustable amplifier. You can find the 800SBS at the Antop shop, or Amazon.
  • Antop 400-BV “Big Boy”Antenna is a great pick if the AT-800SBS is not available. It has UHF and VHF elements, along with an amplifier and mounting kit. You can buy the 400-BV at the Antop shop or Amazon.
  • ClearStream 4Max is a great pick for an outdoor multi-directional antenna. It’s smaller than the Antop models, but has UHF and VHF elements, and can be mounted in an attic or rooftop. You can find the 4Max at the Antennas Direct shop, or Amazon.
  • RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV antenna is the best directional antenna that is better for getting a distant UHF or VHF station. You can find it at Amazon.
  • ClearStream FLEX is the most powerful indoor TV antenna, and among the best on the market. It’s slightly larger than other models I have tested. But it got the most channels, and didn’t have any reception issues. You can find the FLEX at the Antennas Direct shop or Amazon.
  • Channel Master Flatenna is the best budget pick. It is smaller in size, but the Flatenna will pick up plenty of channels if you live within 30 miles of broadcast towers and only need UHF reception. You can find the Flatenna at the Channel Master store or Amazon.
  • Mohu Arc is the best table top antenna, and works well for people in tall apartment buildings who can’t mount an antenna outdoors. You can find the Mohu Arc at the Mohu store or Amazon

How I test TV Antennas

I began testing indoor and outdoor TV antennas professionally in 2016. Before that, I have been using antennas as an enthusiast on and off for years since graduating college in 1995. 

My testing sessions since 2016 have been between Boston, Massachusetts and Kennebunkport, Maine. Los Angeles was added as a third location in 2022. 

My latest round of testing lasted for 19 months (from January 2021 to July 2022) and spans three states across the U.S. At the end of 2022, I completed a round of testing for the best indoor antennas and added the Channel Master Flatenna to this review.

Boston, Massachusetts testing

My primary testing spot is on the edge of Boston city proper. It is mostly UHF stations. TV reception is easier in this location, but still presents challenges that are common to anyone living in a metropolitan area or large city.

For example, you don’t want to over amplify a longer cable run with an outdoor TV antenna when trying to get reception of a TV station that is slightly outside of your TV market in Rhode Island or New Hampshire. If you do, you can ruin your reception from a broadcast tower close by.

Southern Maine testing

My second location is more than 100 miles away from Boston in Kennebunkport, Maine. The home is in a rural spot surrounded by dense forest. There is a mix of UHF and VHF stations that are within a 40 mile range. Some of the challenges for this site is finding the proper elevation for maximum reception, and tweaking what direction the antennas should be facing to receive signals from multiple directions.

The TV market is mostly based out of Portland, Maine. But during my testing, a few outdoor TV antennas received stations located in New Hampshire.

Los Angeles testing

In 2022, I incorporated some testing and data from my brother’s home in Los Angeles, where three models of indoor and outdoor TV antennas have been used over the last four years. 

In Los Angeles, it is a mixed UHF and VHF market. A number of stations are still broadcasting on the VHF band, including the local FOX and ABC stations. NBC and PBS are on the UHF band.

The majority of the broadcast towers are on Mt. Wilson about 31 or 32 miles away from the home. 

Maximum Channels vs Best Reception

By gathering data and measuring results from three locations, both rural and urban, I determine what kind of indoor and outdoor TV antennas should work best for the largest number of people. 

The overall goal is striking a balance between getting the maximum number of channels while maintaining optimal reception. 

Getting the most channels isn’t always the best metric for rating a TV antenna. Maintaining solid reception from the major broadcast networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS always take priority. 

If a TV antenna gets the highest number of channels over others, but fails to get reception of the major broadcast networks, then it’s not a worthy recommendation.

In Maine and Boston, I used a couple of different methods to measure signal strength and number of watchable channels. Plugging a TV antenna directly into a television’s “F-connection” port usually brings in the best reception. But that isn’t possible for every home. 

Sometimes long cable runs for an outdoor or indoor TV antenna aren’t practical. TV antennas, at times, need to be mounted in an area that isn’t close to a television’s F-port connector. 

In those cases, TV antennas can be plugged into a separate TV tuner, or over-the-air DVR. I used HDHomeRun, Amazon Fire TV Recast, and Tablo OTA DVRs to measure performance during my testing periods in Boston and Maine.

Testing happens throughout the year with an eye towards how picture reception looks during rainstorms, blizzards and days with high winds. That gives me insight into how these antennas perform outside of sunny, clear days. 

I see how an antenna performs in a big city with broadcast towers that are nearby and further away. In Southern Maine, it’s a rural environment. Broadcast towers are far, and obstacles such as high trees and power lines can impact reception.

Keep in mind, indoor TV antennas have significant limitations compared to outdoor antennas. Outdoor TV antennas have the benefit of being mounted at higher elevations, which improves reception. Many outdoor TV antennas also have UHF and VHF elements, and have a better chance at receiving signals transmitted at lower frequencies.

Yet even a rudimentary homemade antenna can help many people either get free TV, or gauge whether reception is even possible where they live.

The indoor TV or outdoor TV antennas in this review are not the only ones on the market that work best. But each model in this review has been vetted enough through hands-on testing in both rural towns and big cities to help readers find success with choosing their own TV antenna.

Given that marketing of TV antennas is rife with over-promising, it’s important to establish what actually works in real life. 

Note: To further verify my testing with readers, I have included photos that I have personally taken at testing sites at my home in Massachusetts and at family homes in Maine and Los Angeles. I am not using stock images or images credited to a manufacturer. 

How to Choose the Best TV Antenna: 5 Tips to Review

Here are five things to be aware of while choosing the best TV antenna for your specific location.  

Before you buy: Take a look at your location using tools such as, or similar free tools from DTV Maps, AntennasDirect or Antop. You want to know whether UHF, VHF or NextGen TV (i.e. UHF) signals are being broadcast in your area.

Avoid the hype: If you see a TV antenna that promises a “100 mile range” or something even greater, don’t buy it. It’s well known among reputable manufacturers that over-promising on the range of a TV antenna is a tactic used to sell them. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped major publications from incorrectly deeming antennas with a 200-mile range as ones you should buy.

No TV antenna is capable of a 100-mile range because TV signals don’t travel that far. You should also avoid any company claiming its TV antennas can get cable TV channels. The Federal Trade Commission shut down a New York-based company in March 2021 for lying about the performance of its TV antennas.

Indoor vs outdoor tv antennas: Remember that a well designed outdoor TV antenna perched on a roof or in an attic will always outperform an indoor TV antenna. Elevating a TV antenna will generally result in much better results for picture reception. If your broadcast towers are under 30 miles away, an indoor TV antenna should suffice.

“HDTV antennas and 4K TV Antennas”: There’s no such thing as a HD antenna or HDTV antenna. The same goes for “4K TV antennas”. These kinds of descriptions found on the box of TV antennas or within buying guides are marketing. It’s not based on actual testing. Neither are helpful with finding the appropriate TV antenna. All TV antennas pull in digital signals that are up to 1080i and 720p HD. These same antennas work with the latest broadcast standard NextGen TV as well.

Range vs Gain: Nearly all TV antennas are advertised with phrases like “50 mile range”. You shouldn’t pay attention to range with the caveat of avoiding companies that make outrageous claims (i.e. 100-mile range, 200-mile range, and so on).  

Instead, figure out whether a TV antenna is designed for UHF reception, VHF reception or both. Look for information about antenna signal gain. Digital signals get weaker over distance. So you’ll need a higher antenna gain to get a quality picture and pull in VHF and UHF channels. Gain is measured in decibels. A high gain is 32dB. Find an antenna with about 20dB and you should be in good shape.

Best TV Antennas FAQ

These are questions readers ask when researching the best TV antenna for their area.

What TV stations can I get with my antenna?

The big four broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC are available for free with a TV antenna. 

Other free on over-the-air channels include local PBS affiliates and The CW Network. You can also get sub-channels such as MeTV and ionTV. But your exact channel lineup depends on your location from local broadcast towers. 

What are digital TV subchannels?

Local broadcasters for major networks such as ABC or NBC are also carrying more than their primary network over the air.

Sub-channels, including MeTV, GRIT and ionTV, may be available in your area. You will sometimes see local cable TV providers carry these channels as well.

There are genre-specific channels. Court TV has true crime shows such as “Forensic Files”. COMET has “The X-Files” and movies. 

GRIT shows old westerns starring Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. Subchannels also carry live sports, movies and shows available for free or on cable TV.

Will a TV antenna work on a Smart TV?

Yes. Smart TVs have the same F-type connector that can connect a TV antenna to your televisions internal ATSC 1.0 or ATSC 3.0 tuner. 

Pretty much all Smart TVs work with TV antennas. It doesn’t matter whether it is made by LG, Samsung, TCL or Vizio.

Will a TV antenna work on an older, non-Smart TV?

Yes. Older or non-Smart TVs work with a digital TV antenna. You can check before you buy a TV antenna. Look behind your television for the port to plug in a TV antenna.

It’s the same port used to connect a cable box to your TV. That port, known as the “F connector” or “F-type connector”, is also used to connect a TV antenna. 

Can a digital TV antenna signal be broadcast over Wi-Fi?

Yes. You can use an HDHomeRun, Tablo or another digital TV tuner that makes over-the-air channels available on a home WiFi network.

How can I record channels from a TV antenna without a subscription?

There are a number of OTA DVRs that don’t require a subscription to record programming from a TV antenna. These include USB TV tuners made by Hauppauge.

What is the best long range antenna for free TV?

A directional TV antenna can receive digital signals from greater distances than a multi-directional or omni-directional antenna.  

That’s because directional antennas are designed to focus its gain on broadcast towers in one specific direction. 

Can I watch OTA TV on a streaming device?

Yes. But you will need to purchase additional hardware to watch over-the-air channels on a streaming device such as an Amazon Fire TV or Roku. You can connect a TV antenna to a HDHomeRun, Tablo, Amazon Fire TV Recast or similar TV tuner to make your OTA channels available across your home network.

How to Connect a TV Antenna to a TV

Before actually buying a TV antenna, you should take a look at the back of your TV. 

Most TVs come with an internal tuner for over-the-air channels that support the digital broadcast standard known as ATSC 1.0. Newer TVs from Sony, LG and Samsung have NextGen TV tuners for the new ATSC 3.0 standard.

Connecting a TV antenna can be done in three simple steps.

  1. Screw in the coax line connected to your TV antenna into the television’s “F connector” port. 
  2.  Under your TV settings look for an “AirTV”, “Antenna” or “Over-the-air” TV option under inputs.  
  3.  Select “scan for channels” for “Air TV”, “Over-the-Air” or “TV Antenna”.

A channel scan can last from five to 15 minutes. 

Before you start a channel scan, the TV antenna should be positioned where it is facing your local broadcast towers. If you reposition a TV antenna to improve reception, you should do another channel scan afterward.

For more news on streaming, how-to guides and reviews, head over to the main page of The Cord Cutting Report or follow the CCR on Google News.

This article was published August 10, 2022, and has been updated.

Jim is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.

34 thoughts on “Discover my Top 7 TV Antennas for 2023”

  1. I still like the Antop 400-BV the best because of its range. The 4 LTE filter, the amp and weather-resistant finish make it stand out. I haven’t tested the ClearView 4-Max, but generally speaking, I have found anything that I’ve tested by AntennasDirect to be very good. It’s a company that I trust.

    I plan on doing more outdoor antenna reviews in 2020. I hope that helps.

  2. Hey Danielle, Thanks for writing. You may be too far away from broadcast towers for an antenna. This may be a long shot, but you may want to consider a deep fringe antenna that you can put on a post or something that can really elevate the antenna. I haven’t fooled around with these personally (yet), but it’s what people tend to try out when they are further away from towers. Otherwise, you may just have to go with a live TV streaming service for your Fire Stick. Hope that helps.

    • Hi Cord Cutter, I looked up deep fringe antennas, I’m not sure how to filter out what’s good or not. This one (XPS-1500 (heavy duty vers) 250 Mile HDTV Antenna) claims to be able to overcome some of the shortcomings of others, but it’s cheaper. I’m hoping that doesn’t mean it’s worse. Can I get your opinion? I’ll gladly let you know if it works!

      • I don’t know anything about this antenna, and I have yet to test any fringe antennas. That said, my general rule for TV antennas (based on my experience of testing them) is you get what you pay for. Good luck, and let me know how it works.

  3. That sounds pretty strange. I’m testing a Fire TV Recast right now for an upcoming review. Is your antenna amplified by any chance. If it is, remove the amp (if you can) and re-scan for channels on the Fire TV. Let me know if that doesn’t work.

  4. Hi Jared,

    Sounds like you are already set up pretty well to get your antenna working. Yes, you can split you signal just as you described and use the coax already running through your walls to connect your TVs. Once your TVs are connected, you will need to go under settings, select antenna or “air TV” and run a channel scan for each TV.

  5. I generally use scrap wire around the house, so I don’t have a hard and fast rule. But ideally, I think if you had six to 8 feet of wire, you would be in good shape. I put mine near the top of a window frame for best reception.

  6. Hi Richard, This one is difficult to answer because I don’t have any experience with trying out antennas in Honduras. But generally, I would try out the antenna on the pole and just see how it does.

  7. I wouldn’t move your antenna. Take a look at online tools like TV Fool and AntennaWeb, and locate your antenna based on those results. I was going to say that you should have an amp on your antenna before I got to your question. So yes, give it a shot.

  8. Hi James,

    Yes, it is an indoor antenna. I made a second antenna (black cable) just for the purposes of creating the video. The white cable you see is the actual antenna that I had already made and use on that TV. Hope that helps.

  9. Hi Renee, The DirecTV Genie is simply a DVR and should have no impact on your antenna. You should make sure that your amp to the antenna is plugged in and working. Such a setup for the Lava HD8008 is shown here:

  10. Hi Claudia, You’re right that an outdoor omni directional antenna is the way to go in that area. You’ll be drawing from stations in all directions. If you’re closer to Hendersonville than Brevard, you’ll have a decent shot at getting more stations. Your biggest obstacle for reception will be Nantahala National Forest and Wolf Mountain to the west. Good luck!

  11. Great suggestion, Jared. No reason other than Windows 7 has fallen off my radar since the Windows 10 update.

  12. Hey Mark, Congrats on saving all that cash! You have a pretty difficult case with Channel Master, which has been promising Netflix support for a while now. Your best bet for Netflix/Amazon streaming for now is not a networked solution. You probably just need to a Roku Streaming Stick for Netflix or Prime. I don’t know all the details of your setup, but if you had any kind of network-wide web access to your TVs, then you might be able to stream Netflix and Amazon via a browser. Hope that helps. Drop me your email sometime via the contact page and I will let you know if I come across a better solution.

    • Hello CC, I wonder if you can help me? I’ve been thinking about cutting the cord. I live in Far Rockaway,NY 11691. Just to get a idea of how it might work,I bought a cheap indoor antenna with a plug for power. When I try it I get about 6 channels 2,4,5 and 9. They all get around 20% signal. I don’t think hanging an outdoor antenna out my window is good because no height. I’d like indoor but I can ask my super about a rooftop model. If I can what would you recommend? Thanks in advance!

      • Just a quick update. I live on the 3rd story of a 4 story building surrounded many other 4 story buildings. I can see the beach and the ocean out the window that my TV is about 6 feet from. Where can I find the Clear Stream Eclipse to buy it from? Thanks in advance!

  13. Hi Doris,
    I’m so glad to hear that I was able to help. Best of luck and thanks so much for reading the site.

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