In the future, we will explain to our grandchildren that television shows used to come on at a certain time on a certain day of the week. We didn’t need the best outdoor HDTV antenna back then, we’ll say. We had cable television.

Our grandchildren will ask questions like:

  1. How did you binge watch?
  2. What’s cable?
  3. What’s television?

We’re already entering a time of rapid transition, one in which more and more people are finding out how to get rid of cable and use other tools to access the events, shows and movies they want to watch.

One of those key tools is an outdoor HDTV antenna. When you choose the best outdoor HDTV antenna for your needs, you’re able to save a bundle on cable expenses and still access over-the-air channels in your market — including the CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, PBS and local access channels.

When coupled with streaming services, a good HDTV antenna can be transformative for your home. But how do you find the best outdoor HDTV antenna? Here’s a look at key decision factors plus recommendations on the best outdoor HDTV antenna options on the market.

Product Dimensions Check Price
Vilso TV Antenna Outdoor Amplified (Our Top Pick!) 3.4 x 17 x 12.2 in. (4.6 lbs.) Check Price
ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna 5.1 x 21.4 x 12.2 in. (8.8 lbs.) Check Price
ViewTV DA-290 Indoor/Outdoor Compact Yagi HDTV Antenna 6.5 x 32.1 x 2.6 in. (1.9 lbs.) Check Price
Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna 5.5 x 41 x 33 in. (6.6 lbs.) Check Price
1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna 5.7 x 18.9 x 2.4 in. (1.3 lbs.) Check Price

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Using an antenna to get over-the-air television is one of those things where different people get wildly different results. Why? Because different people have completely different circumstances.

The best outdoor HDTV antenna is designed to help you harness television broadcast waves. That’s going to be easiest in a flat area that is near a broadcast tower and that isn’t blocked by any major land masses or bunches of skyscrapers.

Conversely, it’s going to be far more difficult to harness those airwaves if you live in a valley that’s more than 100 miles from the nearest broadcast location. Trying to use an antenna can sometimes be frustrating, but there’s a solution (and a product) that makes the right fit for almost any home and in any situation. That’s what we’re here to help you with — find the best outdoor HDTV antenna for your unique needs.

 

1. Vilso TV Antenna Outdoor Amplified — Our Top Pick!

The Vilso is our top choice because it’s the one most likely to meet the everyday needs of a household that desperately needs an outdoor HDTV antenna. It offers an incredible range, it’s affordable, and it gets the job done in all kinds of weather. Oh, and it also has a wireless remote control that helps you make adjustments without climbing onto the roof. That’s pretty nice, isn’t it?

DimensionsWeightRange
3.4 x 17 x 12.2 inches
4.6 pounds
150 miles
There’s no better option when searching for the best outdoor HDTV antenna, but you can’t expect the Vilso to be perfect. As mentioned, different homes have different needs, and you can’t bank on the Vilso snagging the signals you need if you live on the edges of its 150-mile range from the nearest towers.

The Vilso is also affordable for a reason — it’s not the most well-constructed model you’ll find. Users of the Vilso have had issues with it deteriorating in hot conditions and in areas where it gets direct sunlight for the bulk of the day. That’s not enough to knock it out of our top spot, but know what you’re getting before you make a purchase.

Incredible Range

It’s not often that you’ll find an outdoor HDTV antenna that delivers a range of 150 miles. That’s typically enough to secure broadcasts signals from multiple markets. But the Vilso does require the rotator power to be “on” for it to achieve its maximum range. This is fine, but you won’t always need to secure signals from that far out.

For reference, the most powerful indoor antenna options typically offer about 60 miles, and most entry-level outdoor options are in the 70- to 80-mile ranges. This is an antenna available at an entry-level price but with vastly more range.

Strong Performance, Even in Bad Weather

The Vilso may struggle after years in direct sunlight and heat, but it can handle a strong storm like nobody’s business. Most antennae struggle to deliver the signal you need when the clouds roll in. At the very least, on overcast days the range of an average antenna will be limited. But that’s not the case with the Vilso. It can help you connect to the signals you need even in driving rainstorms.

Will it Last?

Durability is a concern with the Vilso model, but this shortcoming is more than made up for by a value price and plentiful other features. If you get 2 years out of the Vilso before needing a replacement, it’s still money well spent when you consider the low price tag, the wireless remote and the boosted range.

It’s rare to find a product that delivers an entry level price coupled with advanced performance. That’s the reason why the Vilso TV Antenna Outdoor Amplified secured our top spot. Choose the Vilso if you’re just exploring cord-cutting, or if you’re looking to replace an indoor antenna or an inferior outdoor antenna even years after saying “goodbye” to cable.

Pros and Cons of the Vilso TV Antenna Outdoor Amplified

Pros of the Vilso TV Antenna Outdoor Amplified:

  • One of the best performers in bad weather
  • Range that can’t be beaten
  • Easy assembly and setup

Cons of the Vilso TV Antenna Outdoor Amplified:

  • Performs in bad weather, but is it durable enough?
  • Setup is easy, but instructions could be more clear
  • A red light on the receiver can be a distraction

 

2. ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna

This outdoor HDTV option is like a perfectly acceptable drive off the tee. It gives you the 70-mile range that it promises, and it even comes in a reasonably attractive package. Because let’s be honest: antennae can be incredibly unattractive sometimes.

Yes, the ClearStream is like a decent drive off the tee. It might be on the PGA tour, but it’s not going to win any championships. There’s much to like about it, but it doesn’t offer as much as some of the other competitors — and the price tag is a touch high for what you get.

DimensionsWeightRange
5.1 x 21.4 x 12.2 inches
8.8 pounds
70 miles
A 70-mile range sounds nice, but many of the less obtrusive indoor antenna options offer a 60-mile range and similar performance. Those indoor options are available for much less. Which makes one think: Is investing more for an extra 10 miles really worth it? In the case of the ClearStream, the answer is “no.”

Performance … But at What Cost?

As mentioned, this is your dependable option. In good conditions, you’ll get the 70-mile range as advertised. (More on its bad-weather performance below.) It’s going to get the job done for you. It’s much more a question of value. Can you get more and pay less when choosing other options? That’s where the ClearStream comes up short.

A Small, Unobtrusive Package

One great thing about the ClearStream is how small it is. This is a tiny package for an outdoor antenna, which makes it slightly less unsightly when mounted on a roof. You can find some behemoth antenna options that deliver incredible rather and that perform dependably, but those options are often hideous.

The ClearStream is also attractive as far as outdoor antenna options go. That’s not saying much, of course, but there are some antenna options that make your home look more like a haunted house.

Weak in Bad Weather

One definite drawback to the ClearStream is that it struggles more than competitors in poor weather. Of course, no antenna is going to do in a rainstorm what it can do on a clear day. That’s understandable. But some are more stable during inclement weather … and the ClearStream isn’t one of those stable options.

It may seem like I’m bagging on the ClearStream, and that’s certainly not my intention. My job is always to help you identify the best option, and I see options that are clearly better. Continuing the golf metaphor: It’s quite an accomplishment to make the PGA tour, but it’s a better accomplishment to win The Masters. The ClearStream is on the tour, but it won’t be wearing a Green Jacket.

Pros and Cons of the ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna

Pros of the ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna:

  • Attractive compared to other outdoor options
  • Powerful performance relative to size
  • Delivers 70-mile range as advertised

Cons of the ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna:

  • Not enough range/performance for price
  • Adhesive can tear paint when mounted inside
  • Struggles to stand up to heavy rains

 

3. ViewTV DA-290 Indoor/Outdoor Compact Yagi HDTV Antenna

Some antenna options arrive in a box as a collection of parts that need significant assembly. Making things even more difficult, the instructions are often vague and hard to decipher. That’s not the case with the ViewTV.

This outdoor HDTV antenna arrives almost fully assembled, and what little you have to do to get it up and running is clearly outlined in the instructions. The ease of use and setup is what makes it such an attractive option for those new to cord-cutting and leading a lifestyle without cable.

DimensionsWeightRange
6.5 x 32.1 x 2.6 inches
1.9 pounds
80 miles
There’s always a drawback, right? Kind of like auto manufacturers estimate a car model’s fuel efficiency, antenna manufacturers can only estimate an antenna’s range. In both cases, the estimate typically falls short of reality. That’s the case with the ViewTV, which struggles to get the 80-mile range as advertised.

Fast and Easy Assembly

Putting together furniture, technology and other things that arrives in boxes can be absolutely infuriating. If there’s one thing to fall in love with the ViewTV over, it’s that it helps you hit the easy button. Assembly is swift and easy, and you can have it up and running in no time flat.

Range Falls Short of Promises

Not everyone needs the 80-mile range, which is understandable. Sometimes you’re far closer to the towers you need to access. But know going into your investment that the ViewTV is not an option that you can bank on helping you reach 80 miles. It might in flat areas where there’s nothing obstructing your path to the towers you need, but it’s not likely in areas with hills, mountains, valleys and other obstructions.

Get Ready to Make Additional Investments

Users typically need to invest in an amplifier or other signal-boosting tools to get the most out of the ViewTV option. This isn’t unreasonable necessarily, as many antenna options require similar investments, but you must add that to the overall cost. This one is ready right out of the box, but you may need to do a little bit more to reach the 80-mile range as advertised.

The price is right on the ViewTV for what you get, which makes it ideal for those who have just (or are just about to) cut the cord. It allows you to test out an outdoor HDTV antenna without splurging on something major. Is it the best performer? No. But it can do a decent job at a reasonable price with minimal hassle.

Pros and Cons of the ViewTV DA-290 Indoor/Outdoor Compact Yagi HDTV Antenna

Pros of the ViewTV DA-290 Indoor/Outdoor Compact Yagi HDTV Antenna:

  • Arrives almost entirely assembled
  • Detailed instructions for completing assembly
  • An inexpensive option for those new to cord-cutting

Cons of the ViewTV DA-290 Indoor/Outdoor Compact Yagi HDTV Antenna:

  • Range falls short of what’s advertised
  • Requires additional investments to reach full potential
  • Antenna only (no coaxial cable or mount)

 

4. Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna

If you’re looking for a brand that’s proven to deliver results with its antenna options, look no further than Channel Master. In a world that is full of newcomers to the market, this is the old standby that offers quality products and a track record of success.

Brands ebb and flow over time, and even the most established brands aren’t infallible. But brand reputation does matter, and Channel Master offers perhaps the best brand reputation among those who primarily manufacture antennae.

DimensionsWeightRange
5.5 x 41 x 33 inches
6.6 pounds
80 miles
You know what matters more than brand and reputation? Performance. While this Channel Master option does get the job done, it’s not as strong and not as dependable as other options — including the Vilso. This isn’t a bad investment, it’s just not your best investment opportunity when looking for the best outdoor HDTV antenna.

A History of Performance

The best thing about a proven brand is that a brand can only prove itself by getting the job done time after time over a long period — we’re talking decades of service. When you’ve been in business a long time and you can point to thousands of satisfied customers, there’s a good chance that you can be trusted as a provider of any item — HDTV antennae included.

Easy and Fairly Dependable

The Channel Master is another that offers easy setup and fairly dependable performance. It isn’t as stable in bad weather as other options on this page, but it’s not going to give you a snow flurry picture when you’re trying to sit down to watch the Oscar’s or the Super Bowl on a rainy night in your neck of the woods.

The Ugly Option

So, this is unavoidable: The Channel Master is hands’ down the ugliest model on this page. Just look at it. Not a big deal if you install in your attic, but this isn’t something that you want on your roof facing the street. There are plenty of other decision factors aside from appearance when trying to choose the best outdoor HDTV antenna, but it’s important that you know what you’re getting before you throw down the cash.

Would you sacrifice appearance for a crisp and clear television signal? I would. The Channel Master gets the job done in good conditions. Its price point isn’t the best, but it’s a solid outdoor HDTV antenna that won’t let you down. You can consider other options, but choose the Channel Master if you want a provider with the longest and best track record of satisfying customers.

Pros and Cons of the Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna

Pros of the Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna:

  • Strong brand reputation
  • Easy to setup
  • Dependable range in good conditions

Cons of the Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna:

  • Large and ugly appearance
  • More expensive than alternatives, depending on discounts
  • Sometimes struggles in inclement weather

 

5. 1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna

Are you looking for a value option? Let me introduce you to the 1bygone, which is absolutely the best value option. This little outdoor HDTV antenna is often the best-priced model on the market, and it’s ideal for outperforming the indoor, 60-mile-range options that you’ll typically find. Snag one of these when you’re ready to test out an outdoor antenna that can deliver just a little bit more than what indoor options provide.

It does struggle some beyond that 60-mile range. That is, don’t expect it to beam in signals from 80 miles or more, even on clear days. But you get what you pay for — and the 1bygone delivers value when that’s what is most important to you.

DimensionsWeightRange
5.7 x 18.9 x 2.4 inches
1.3 pounds
80 miles
Value is great, sure, but you can often find flash deals on Amazon and through other providers that will help you get more for your money than what you get from the 1bygone. When looking at MSRP alone, this is your best price — but items are often available for far less than MSRP.

A Good Value Option

There aren’t always flash deals on Amazon to be found, especially around the holidays, which is why it’s nice to have this value option in the back of your mind when considering an outdoor HDTV antenna. If you are cutting the cord, then savings are going to be a point of emphasis, and this outdoor HDTV antenna option certainly delivers on the savings.

Small and Lightweight

The 1bygone is also small and lightweight compared to some of the other options. While some antennae are bulky and ugly and hard to install, this one is much more manageable. That’s not to say it’s simple to assemble (as noted below), but you will find that it’s something you can get up on the roof and install without lifting assistance from anyone else.

Hard to Follow Assembly Instructions

This is a huge pet peeve of mine: the unclear instructions that leave you guessing and wondering. 1bygone could spend some more time working on the clarity of their instructions. Yes, the actual antenna is small and lightweight, but that doesn’t help you much when trying to decipher confusing instructions.

Find this antenna at the right price, and it’s difficult to find an option that’s more affordable. Yes, it has its shortcomings, but the 1bygone can beat indoor antenna options’ ranges and at a price that’s not much more than what you would pay for the best of indoor models.

Pros and Cons of the 1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna

Pros of the 1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna:

  • Small and lightweight
  • Perfect for outperforming a 60-mile-range antenna
  • Delivers good value considering price

Cons of the 1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna:

  • Feels insubstantial
  • Struggles beyond 60–70 miles
  • Difficult to follow assembly instructions

 

Buyer’s Guide

You can do all the research in the world on finding the best outdoor HDTV antenna — but it’s not going to help unless you know where the towers you’re trying to access are located. Make sure you know what channels you want before you go shopping. Know where they are and how far they are from your home. Need some help? Websites like www.antennaweb.org make identifying your towers fast and easy. Check it out, and get invaluable information as you search for the right fit.

You may have heard just a little bit about cord-cutting. And maybe you’re starting to explore what it would take to join the 20% of American households that have gotten rid of cable (or never had it in the first place). You should know that this is a trend that isn’t going anywhere. There will come a day when there’s no such thing as cable television. Here’s a look at some of the factors that are leading people to leave cable in the dust.

What’s the Deal With Cord-Cutting?

Cord-cutting is an incredible trend that is sweeping the nation and putting longtime cable behemoths (like ESPN) into panic mode. But why are people choosing to cut the cord? What’s the payoff? Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • Savings: This is the main reason: People are tired of paying for hundreds of channels when they’re only reason using a handful. Cutting the cord can deliver significant savings — even $1,000-plus a year depending on your current cable package.
  • Intentional Viewing: It’s become a habit through the years for people to just sit down on the couch and channel surf, even when there’s nothing on. When you cut the cable, you can still enjoy all the media you want — but you do so intentionally. This helps you better manage your time.
  • More to Explore: There’s a whole world of television and movie viewing to explore on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other web-based media providers. No longer do you have to wait for certain shows to come on at certain times — you can explore them all as you want.

There are some drawbacks to cutting the cord, too, of course. This is still a period of transition, and you won’t be able to fully replicate your cable television viewing with strictly web-based resources.

For example, even if you pay for a premium sports package through Major League Baseball or another league, you will be subject to blackout rules. That’s because television channels have paid big bucks for the rights to air those games, and they aren’t going to let the same league to whom they’re paying those big bucks undercut them.

You might also experience some dependability issues that aren’t present with cable television. Antennae can be shaky in bad weather, and streaming services like Netflix can throttle users (or slow down their connections) during high-volume periods like Friday nights.

In time, a lot of these drawbacks should find happy solutions as new technology comes online and the number of cord-cutters reaches a critical mass.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can I actually save by cord-cutting?
That depends on what type of cable package you have now, but it’s fair to say that you can save hundreds (if not $1,000-plus) over the course of a year.

It’s also important to think about extras you’re going to spend money on. You can watch television by just getting an outdoor HDTV antenna, but you’ll most likely want to subscribe to Netflix or a similar streaming service.

In the future, YouTube TV and similar services may make it possible to enjoy an experience much like cable but at a much lower cost. If you’re strategic about how you choose your streaming services and extras, you should be able to dramatically reduce how much you’re spending on television each month.

Also keep in mind that cable costs are sure to increase as they shed users. Cable networks are dependent subscriber dollars to make their business models go. There are fewer subscribers now, so the subscribers still hanging on will find that they are making up the difference.

What will life be like after cutting the cord?
This is an interesting question. While there’s sure to be an initial jolt and acclimation period, life should be a whole lot better.

As mentioned, you get to be more intentional about your television watching. Rather than just flipping it on out of habit, you’ll find that you get to watch television when there’s something you really want to watch. Which means extra time to start reading books, hanging out with friends, working in the yard or doing something else that’s similarly superior to television watching.

Perhaps the greatest benefit is this: When the television is turned off more, you have more time for socialization and face-to-face interaction. Go meet that neighbor you’ve never spoken to. Call an old friend. Play a card game with your family.

The kids will most likely struggle more than the adults at first. But, in time, it’s going to be a bonus to be more intentional about television watching.

What replacement services should I check out?
If you live in a major American city, check out YouTube TV. It’s sure to spread to other cities soon, but it’s now something you can only get in highly populated areas like Los Angeles and New York City. It’s just about as close to the cable experience as you can get, but it also delivers the value of a streaming service — not to mention an unlimited DVR.

As far as streaming services go, check out Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, plus anything that’s specific to your unique interests. For example, if you’re a big baseball fan, you may want to get the MLB TV package. (Just know about blackout restrictions before you bank on watching your local team.)

You may also want hardware like an Apple TV to help you maximize your post-cord-cutting media consumption. There are tons of options out there, and there’s sure to be more in the near future as more and more people take the plunge and cut the cord.

Making the Most of Your Investment in the Best Outdoor HDTV Antenna

When you’re ready to cut the cord and go with an outdoor HDTV antenna, you’ll want to find one that meets your unique needs. But what exactly are you looking for? Consider the following:

  • The right range
  • Indoor vs. outdoor options
  • Choosing secondary tools

You don’t need to get a 150-mile outdoor antenna if you’re less than 70 miles from the bulk of towers in your area. You also may not need an outdoor antenna if you’re close to towers (and you’re not buried on the bottom floor of a high-rise apartment building that blocks signals). And you’ll certainly want to find the right streaming services and hardware to help you make the most of a life without cable.

The good news is that these tools are now readily available — not to mention affordable. So get out there and make the right decision for your situation so that you can save some money and explore even more shows and movies.

Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Outdoor HDTV Antenna

It’s funny that seizing the future of television requires buying an icon of television’s past — an antenna. But an outdoor HDTV antenna is a tool that can help you maximize your television viewing during this period of transition when more and more households are cutting the cord and saying “so long” to cable.

Don’t rush into making a purchase, though. Do your research and find the best outdoor HDTV antenna for your location and situation. When you do, you’ll be able to explore a whole new world of television viewing and a whole new lifestyle away from the tyranny of cable.

Have you already cut the cord? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below. Or, you can always get in touch with us directly through our contact page.

 

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