"Cord cutters." That’s the term used for the increasing number of those who have decided to do away with their traditional cable service in exchange for digital antennas. With the rise in the number of services like Hulu and Netflix which offer streaming services for movies and television, many are seeking to forgo the added expense of a monthly cable bill. However, many still want the option of being able to tune in to major networks and local channels to catch the local news and watch sporting events.

Enter digital antennas. Available in two basic flavors (indoor and outdoor) digital antennas offer a way to take advantage of free local broadcasts with minimum cost upfront. Most TVs made within the past seven years come equipped with an internal digital tuner, so the only thing coming between you and your local stations is the hardware.

About Indoor Digital Antennas

Digital antennas come in a wide variety of shapes and colors, but they all do pretty much the same thing. These antennas snatch analog signals out of the air and convert them to digital signals to be read by your television. When deciding which antenna to buy, you want to consider things like range, power, and how well it blends into your current setup. Some people might not want a bright orange wand protruding off of their entertainment center, no matter how many channels it picks up.

The following are four antennas which score well in range, performance, and appearance. They offer the best combination of performance and price.

MOHU Leaf 50 Amplified

Leaf UltimateCredit: gomohu.com

The MOHU brand antennas are popular and have sold well within the last couple of years. The Leaf 50 (Also called the Leaf Ultimate) is no exception. At nearly a foot square, it’s not too bulky, and its square shape gives you the option of just hanging it out in the open as opposed to trying to conceal it behind the television or a hanging picture.

The Leaf Ultimate features high gain (15dB) and a low noise pHEMT amplifier which is situated in close proximity to the actual antenna. This was done on purpose to maximize the distance the antenna can be placed from the TV. The high gain helps to prevent those reception hiccups that always occur on 3rd down and goal, and like most digital antennas it’s omnidirectional so you don’t have to point it in a certain direction.

An improvement over the regular Leaf antenna, the Ultimate boosts the range to 50 miles, giving it the ability to capture even more channels.[1]

Dimensions: 12.5 x 11.5 inches

Weight: 1.2 lbs.

Color: Black on one side and white on the other

Price: $70.00


RCA ANT 1650 Amplified

RCA ANT 1650Credit: rcaaudiovideo.com

The ANT1650 is another great option that combines maximum performance with minimal cost. This amplified antenna comes with a detachable amplifier and boasts ELN circuitry which helps purify the signal. The ANT has a 50 mile range which should be more than enough in most places to pick up a good signal.

At 2 ½ pounds it’s a tad bit heavier than some of the competition (I doubt you’ll even notice); however, at around $40 the price is nice. It comes with its own easel so you can prop it up which gives you some more choices on where you want to put it. Although it is omnidirectional, you may have to test out a few different areas to find out which location will give you optimum reception.[2]

Dimensions: 8.9 x 2.6 inches

Weight: 2.5 lbs.

Color: Black

Price: $40.00

RCA ANT1650F Flat Digital Amplified Indoor TV Antenna
Amazon Price: $38.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 13, 2016)

Terk HDTVa

Terk HDTVaCredit: terk.com

If you are looking for something a little more stylish and a little less flat, the Terk HDTVa might be right up your alley. Its curvy design is complimented by a polished aluminum antenna element that fits nicely next to your television set or any component. It has an operational bandwidth covering both VHF and UHF

Keep in mind, however, that this is a directional antenna so you will have to make sure that place it somewhere where it has enough space to swivel directions if needed.[3]

Dimensions: 14.2 x 12.7 x 3.3 inches

Weight: 3.1 lbs.

Color: Black and silver

Price: $40.00

TERK Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
Amazon Price: $41.61 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 13, 2016)

Winegard FL5500A Flatwave

Winegard FL5500A FlatwaveCredit: winegard.com

Winegard has always been a trusted name in antennas, and the FL5500 lives up to the legacy. It covers the basics for digital antennas in its class by offering a 50 mile range and optional USB power supply which means that the amp will only be drawing power while the television is on. It also provides low noise figure of a mere 1.0dB.

The Flatwave is super thin and light, weighing in at an impressive 11.2 ounces. But one of my favorite features is its super-long 18.5 ft. coax cable which comes standard. This eliminates the need for extenders and allows more versatility in placement.[4]

Dimensions: 14 x 13.2 inches

Weight: 11.2 ounces

Color: Black on one side and white on the other

Price: $60.00

All of these models will provide you with quality High Definition reception with fantastic range and clarity. If you are one of those who hasn’t had any experience with digital antennas yet, you’ll be pleased to know that they are far superior to the rabbit ears ones from the days of old. HD pictures come in clear and sharp without the fuzziness one would expect. It’s a perfect way to take advantage of the free signals being pumped through the air with the added bonus of never having to suffer from local channel blackout again.

How to Install