Best Outdoor HDTV Antenna
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:
- How did you binge watch?
- What’s cable?
- 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.
|Vilso TV Antenna Outdoor Amplified (Our Top Pick!)||3.4 x 17 x 12.2 in. (4.6 lbs.)|
|ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna||5.1 x 21.4 x 12.2 in. (8.8 lbs.)|
|ViewTV DA-290 Indoor/Outdoor Compact Yagi HDTV Antenna||6.5 x 32.1 x 2.6 in. (1.9 lbs.)|
|Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna||5.5 x 41 x 33 in. (6.6 lbs.)|
|1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna||5.7 x 18.9 x 2.4 in. (1.3 lbs.)|
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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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