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In a world where we have gotten used to paying for every bit of streaming content that we watch, you may be surprised to learn that free television still exists. Using a digital TV antenna, you can pick up free channels in your area and enjoy local news, sports and additional programming without paying any recurring fees.
We’ll be looking at the best digital TV antennas you can hang up inside, connect to the outside of your home or attach to your boat or RV. Of course, we’ll take price into account, selecting the best TV antennas that cost the least.
With this year’s Super Bowl being aired on Fox, you can enjoy the game live using a digital TV antenna. No need to pay for a streaming service to witness every touchdown; save that extra money for wings and beer.
Best Digital TV Antennas Compared
|Gesobyte Amplified HD Digital||250 miles||Indoor only||$29.90|
|QLZLLF TV Antenna||350 miles||Indoor and outdoor||$32.99|
|PBD WA-2608 Digital Amplified||150 miles||Outdoor||$50.98|
|1byone 360° Omni-Directional||100 miles||Outdoor||$69.99|
|ANTAN Indoor Window||45 miles||Indoor||$13.99|
What Can I Watch With a TV Antenna?
You might be surprised by the amount of free television content you can obtain using a digital TV antenna. You won’t be able to pick up paid cable channels, but a large part of network television is available from CBS, ION, ABC, Fox, PBS, CW, ABC and NBC. You can enjoy network television stations as long as you can pick up a signal with your TV antenna.
Before purchasing a TV antenna, we recommend using an online tool to identify what TV signals and stations you can pick up from your location. The official FCC DTV Reception Maps webpage is the best pick for identifying signal strength. Any strong or moderate signals shouldn’t be a problem to pick up with a TV antenna, while weak signals will require a more robust solution.
Your TV must have a built-in HD tuner to utilize a digital antenna. Check your TV’s manual to confirm this feature before ordering a TV antenna. Otherwise, you will need a digital converter box.
Gesobyte Amplified HD Digital
- Easy mounting on walls or windows
- A range of up to 250 miles
- Includes an 18-foot cable
TV antennas have come a long way from the days of rabbit ears on top of a wooden box. Our favorite designs for TV antennas are those that sport a flat wall or window mountable design (aka flat antennas). The Gesobyte Amplified HD digital TV antenna offers such a compact design, making it easy to hang on your wall or stick to a window.
The setup is effortless, with only two plugs needed for the TV antenna. Use the provided USB power brick to plug your indoor antenna into a power source, then use the traditional coaxial connection to connect it to your HD or 4K television to begin watching.
The TV antenna’s power source allows the unit to amplify its reach, picking signals up over a 250-mile range.
The Gesobyte is available in white or black, so you can pick the TV antenna color that best matches your interior.
QLZLLF TV Antenna
- Large tower design for an increased signal range
- Includes tools for mounting to wall
- Can be mounted indoors or outdoors
At less than $35, this digital TV antenna from QLZLLF (no, we don’t know how to pronounce that) offers excellent reception with a 350-mile signal pickup. Due to its tower design, this TV antenna might not be the first choice for those who want a more minimal option, but the extra space it takes will give you a better chance of picking up weak TV signals.
The TV antenna tower can be placed on a TV stand or mounted high up on a wall for increased reception. We like that QLZLLF includes screws and wall studs with your purchase to help you with setup, but you will still need a power drill for wall installation. Alternatively, you can mount TV antennas outside for the best possible reception.
We don’t see anyone mounting these TV antennas on their roof; instead, you can install it outside of your house if your walls prevent strong reception. For those with older homes or those lined with brick, you likely already know how walls can block out your signals.
PBD WA-2608 Digital Amplified
- Includes mounting pole and 40 ft of coax cable
- Includes remote rotation for best signal pickup
- Supports simultaneous watching with 2 TVs
So, you’re ready to go up on the roof and install one of the TV antennas you are eyeing. That’s dedication.
Installing the PBD WA-2608 as high as possible will result in the best signal pickup. Don’t be fooled by the 150-mile rating of this antenna; you’ll pick up solid signals to enjoy your favorite channels.
To help you with the installation, PBD has included a mounting pole and a 40-foot coaxial cable with your purchase. The antenna can be rotated upon its pole using an included remote, allowing you to face it in the direction of the station you wish to pick up for the greatest possible reception and reduced interference.
If you have multiple televisions in your home, the WA-2608 might be a solid consideration, as the antenna can output two separate signals, allowing two televisions to watch different channels simultaneously. Watch sports in one room and the news in another.
You won’t need to worry about TV antennas like these, which were designed for outdoor usage, being affected by the weather. The WA-2608 outdoor antenna features a weather-resistant design and is lightning protected. This outdoor antenna option from PBD is perfect for rural environments.
1byone 360° Omni-Directional
- Compact omnidirectional design
- Shield protects against 4G/LTE interference
- Includes 39-foot coax cable
If you plan to watch television using a digital antenna in a boat or RV, you should consider the 1byone 360° Omni-Directional antenna. The compact design allows the antenna to be mounted on your boat or RV without the worry of it being struck.
The omnidirectional design of this 1byone outdoor TV antenna also helps to ensure that you pick up a signal no matter the direction your boat or RV is facing. Some antennas are directional, meaning you could lose the signal if you aren’t facing toward the transmitting tower — no worries about that here.
The 1byone 360° Omni-Directional outdoor antenna is designed for harsh weather conditions and can withstand water, snow and lightning. A built-in amplifier helps the antenna pick up signals further, and an integrated 4G/LTE filter stops cellular signals from interfering.
While we recommend this particular outdoor antenna for RVs and boats, it can also be used outside your home. No tools are needed for the installation, but 1byone does include a plastic wrench (spanner) with the antenna for ease.
ANTAN Indoor Window
- Under $15 for those on a tight budget
- Great for picking up local TV stations
- Easy installation on wall or window
If you’re on a tight budget but still want to pick up a digital TV antenna, we’ve got an option that won’t make your wallet or purse cry. This indoor antenna from ANTAN comes in at less than $15 but still delivers a strong enough signal to pick up stations in your area.
What makes this TV antenna cheaper is its lack of a built-in amplifier. As a result, the range of the ANTAN indoor antenna is only about 45 miles. We highly recommend checking out stations local to you using the FCC DTV Reception Maps webpage. With a short-range antenna such as this, plan to pick up only stations with excellent signal.
If the limited range doesn’t bother you, you should enjoy the ANTAN antenna, which is flat and can be hung up on any wall or window. Included is a 16.5-foot coaxial cable — great for placing indoor TV antennas in the best possible spot while still reaching your television.
To select the best digital TV antennas for our readers, we began by researching the available options on the market and their features. We found the essential details for each antenna: their overall range, mounting options and ability to withstand specific environments (outdoor vs. indoor antennas), such as the outdoors or on a moving vehicle.
The criteria we established ensured we selected only amplified antennas with a pickup range of at least 100 miles, except for our budget pick. Even then, we ensured that the antenna could be easily mounted and pick up broadcast TV within an approximate 50-mile radius.
We also provided antenna options for different situations, such as indoor or outdoor mounting and using a moving boat or RV. Our selection of digital TV antennas shows you the best options for each situation without overwhelming you with the rest.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
There are many great antennas for picking up television signals, but the best one for you depends on your situation. We recommend checking out the Gesobyte Amplified HD Digital if you want a simple indoor antenna. We are fans of the PBD WA-2608 Digital Amplified antenna for those seeking an outdoor solution.
For the most part, cheaper antennas work just as well as their more expensive counterparts. We found that amplification is the most crucial feature when selecting an antenna. Any amplified antenna will work much better than non-amplified ones when attempting to pick up television signals.
Yes, in general, antennas that are placed higher do receive better reception. We recommend mounting any indoor antennas on the wall as high as possible or at the top of a window. Outdoor antennas are an even better solution, as they can be mounted on the roof for the best possible reception.
Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.