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The best indoor TV antenna you can buy: Expert tested

These are the best antennas I've tested that give you a cheap and easy way to watch free live TV.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Mohu Gateway Plus | Best indoor TV antenna overall
Mohu Gateway Plus
Mohu Gateway Plus
Best indoor TV antenna overall
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Best Buy Essentials Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna | Best budget TV antenna
Best Buy Essentials Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna
Best budget TV antenna
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ClearStream 2Max | Best indoor or outdoor TV antenna
ClearStream 2Max
ClearStream 2Max
Best indoor or outdoor TV antenna
View now View at Amazon
Mohu Leaf 50 TV Antenna | Best portable TV antenna
Black TV antenna panel with cords
Mohu Leaf 50 TV Antenna
Best portable TV antenna
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Winegard FlatWave Amped FL5500A | Best small indoor antenna
Winegard FlatWave Amped FL5500A
Best small indoor antenna
View now View at Amazon

Most of us watch TV using cable, satellite, or streaming services. But none of these are cheap, and they're getting more expensive by the day -- leading many people to go back to using antennas and over-the-air (OTA) TV. According to Nielsen, as of 2023, more than 18% of US TV households watch OTA.  

To watch any kind of OTA TV, you need an antenna. If you're lucky, you can still get a decent selection of channels with good old rabbit ears -- in other words, an indoor antenna. (For the biggest selection of channels, especially if you live in a more rural area, you'll need an outdoor antenna or even a tower.)

Also: The best TVs of 2024

What's the best indoor TV antenna you can buy right now?

I grew up installing TV antennas for my dad's television business in backwoods West Virginia, so I know antennas. I've gone hands-on with all of the brands on this list to determine the best indoor TV antenna for your needs. My pick for the best indoor TV antenna overall is the Mohu Gateway Plus. It simply did the best job of any antenna I tested, pulling in distant, hard-to-reach channels. 

That said, there is no "one size fits all" antenna, nor is there one antenna type that's better than any other. It all depends on your location and what signals you can expect to get (below the antenna listed here, I explain how to find that out). Then, look for the antenna that best fits your specific needs. Here are my tested picks for the best indoor TV antenna you can buy right now.

The best indoor TV antenna of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Best of breed reception
  • LED signal strength indicators
  • Pricey
  • Attached coaxial cable
  • Amplifier can make signal worse
More Details

At a list price of $80, the Mohu Gateway Plus is one of the most expensive antennas I have looked at, but the bottom line is that it also has the best reception. Let's face it -- if you can't get the channels you want, it doesn't matter what a great price you paid. It's not worth it.

It's a bit large at 8.25 inches x 11.75 inches x 2.5 inches, and thanks to the included coaxial cable, you can put it up on a shelf up to 10 feet away from your TV. You don't have to use the stand, though, if you'd rather hang it near a window. 

The Gateway Plus's best extra feature is it includes four LEDs, so you can see how strong the signal is by moving it around your room. I wish more indoor antennas had this.

Put it all together, and you get an outstanding antenna. I highly recommend it. 

Mohu Gateway Plus features: Signal support: VHF/UHF | Coax cable length: 10 feet | Indoor | Reception range: 60 miles 

Pros & Cons
  • Great price
  • Good reception
  • Short range
More Details

I found it hard to believe, but for only $20, the Best Buy Essentials Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna actually delivers great reception. It has absolutely no frills. You can't point it out, it has no amplifier, and it has no signal meter. It's just a simple 11.75-inch x 8.25-inch rectangle with an attached 10-foot coaxial cable. That's it. That's all.

But, nevertheless, this simple antenna does an excellent job of picking up TV channels within a range of about 35 miles. You can't beat its combination of price and reception. At the time of this writing, 86% of Best Buy customers who had purchased the Essentials Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna and left a review said they would recommend it to a friend. 

Best Buy Essentials Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna features: Signal support: VHF/UHF | Coax cable length: 10 feet | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor | Reception range: 35 miles

Pros & Cons
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Works indoors or outdoors
  • Works in many locations
  • No coax cable included
More Details

Over the last few years, I've become very fond of the ClearStream antenna family. The least expensive model with the best reception is this $70 ClearStream 2Max. It's my top pick for the best TV antenna overall due to its flexibility: It works just as well out in the woods as it does in a city.

You can install this figure-eight TV antenna either indoors or outdoors. It comes with a stand for indoor use and a 20-inch mast with a clamp for outdoor settings. As a nonamplified unit, you don't need an electrical outlet. Even without amplification, it has about a 60-mile range of reception. In contrast to many other antenna packages, it doesn't include a coaxial cable in its package.

Amazon reviewers note that the ClearStream 2Max is easy to install, features solid picture quality, and is a great value for the price.

ClearStream 2Max features: Signal support: VHF/UHF | Coax cable length: N/A | Indoor/outdoor: Both | Reception range: 70 miles 

Pros & Cons
  • Price
  • Size
  • Coverage heavily depends on your location
More Details

Sometimes, smaller is better. The recently remodeled Mohu Leaf only costs $60, but it picks up many channels within its 60-mile range. It also comes with a 12-foot detachable cable. 

This is the antenna I recommend if you're living in a single room or a small apartment. It's also handy for watching TV on the go in an RV. Amazon reviewers report that they were satisfied with the size, ease of installation, and image quality of the Mohu Leaf antenna and liked that it had several options for hanging. However, customers noted that you have to hang it high for it to work best. But, then, that's true of all antennas. 

Mohu Leaf 50 features: Signal support: UHF and Hi-VHF | Coax cable length: 12 foot | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor | Reception range: 60 miles 

Pros & Cons
  • Long coax cable
  • 50 mile range
  • Signal strength (depending on location)
More Details

Another excellent small, flat indoor antenna is the Winegard FlatWave Amped FL5500A. This $50 antenna is more expensive than most flat antenna models but also gets better reception than most up to its range of about 50 miles. One Reddit user noted that they put the Winegard in their attic and said it "has worked great and has an in-line amplifier. Works great with HDHR and Plex." 

As an amplified model, it requires either a USB port or a wall socket for power. It has a 3-foot USB cable and a long 18.5-foot coaxial cable. 

Winegard FlatWave Amped FL5500A features: Signal support: VHF/UHF | Coax cable length: 6 feet | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor | Reception range: 50 miles 

What is the best TV antenna?

Is the one that works best for you in your location. The cheapest one might give you all the channels in your area. Generally speaking, with indoor models, you'll want to place it on a window or an external wall there. If you're having real trouble pulling in a clear signal, you'll want an outdoor antenna.

Best Indoor TV Antennas
ClearStream 2Max$70 76 miles Indoor or Outdoor
Best Buy Essentials Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna$20 35 miles Indoor
Mohu Gateway Plus$80 60 miles Indoor
Mohu Leaf 50$60 60 miles Indoor
Winegard FlatWave Amped FL5500A$52 50 miles Indoor

Which one is the right TV antenna for you?

Buy the best TV antenna...

If you want or are…

ClearStream 2Max

An excellent indoor or outdoor antenna that will work in any location.

Best Buy Essentials Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna

A cheap, but good indoor antenna.

Mohu Gateway Plus

The best of the best.

Mohu Leaf 50

A budget-friendly antenna that can fit almost anywhere and still deliver a good signal.

Winegard FlatWave Amped FL5500A

An excellent indoor antenna.

Factors to consider when choosing an indoor TV antenna

When buying a TV antenna, you should consider the following: 

  • Location: Before purchasing an antenna, you must find out what OTA channels are available in your neighborhood. The easiest way to start is by going to a site like AntennaWeb, Antenna Direct, or the FCC's DTV Reception Maps and using their interactive tools to see what OTA channels are available to you. 

  • Range: For this list, I considered TV antennas with decent reception ranges to suit suburban and urban homes.

  • Indoor/outdoor placement: It's all about placement. One spot in your home might not get a signal, while another will get half a dozen channels. Still, for some homes, an indoor model won't cut it. 

How did I test these TV antennas?

Fifty years ago, I was installing a TV antenna on a 100-foot tower in the middle of the West Virginia hills. In those days, I was helping with my dad's television business. In West Virginia, with few TV stations and lots of hills and mountains, the only way you got TV was by having someone like my dad and his assistant -- a.k.a. me -- install towers and antennas on top of them.

Even though it's been decades since I worked professionally with TV antennae, I still keep track of the technology, and went hands-on with nearly every antenna model on this list. When determining the best antenna, I considered several criteria such as range, set-up and installation, and price, and consulted experts who are still in the business. 

What channels can you get with an antenna?

OTA TV, through an antenna, offers a variety of channel choices. Most of your local TV stations don't offer a single channel but two or three different "channels." Besides the big over-the-air networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, today, there are numerous smaller networks, such as MeTV, AntennaTV, and Comet, which offer older TV shows; Univision, Estrella TV, and Telemundo for Spanish-language TV; and QVC and other home shopping networks. 

A new, better OTA technology, NextGen TV, aka ATSC 3.0, is being deployed now. This will bring you even more channels, and 4K and High dynamic range (HDR) video. To see what NextGen channels may already be available in your neighborhood, check out the NextGen interactive map

How can I get better reception on my TV antenna?

If you have an indoor-use antenna, you'll want to place it as close as possible to a window or, failing that, an exterior wall. You can also install it in your attic. Generally speaking, the higher the antenna, the better reception you'll get. It's all about reducing the number of obstacles a signal has to pass through before it can be picked up by the antenna and sent to your TV. 

Do I need an amplifier?

You usually don't. It was a different story in the analog days, but digital signals don't gain much from amplifiers. Yes, they can boost signal strength to help you pull in marginal stations. But they also amplify noise. Sometimes, they'll help, but usually, they cause more trouble than they're worth. How can you tell? It's a pain, but the only way is to try your antenna with an amplifier powered on and off. Usually, that means unplugging its power source, which is usually via a USB cable.  

How do I check antenna signal strength?

You'll need special equipment to measure your TV antenna's signal strength properly. These connect to your antenna's coax cables, "read" the signal coming from your antenna and measure the amount of interference you're dealing with.

If you just want to make sure your antenna is pulling in a good signal, you can buy a simple unit like the King SL1000 SureLock for about $30. You'll want a gadget such as the Augocom RY S110 for more detail for about $110.

If you just want a cheap way to figure out which way you should point your antenna to get the best signal, get a smartphone app such as Digital TV Antennas on Android and TV Antenna Compass USA for iPhones.

Do I need more than one antenna?

Nope. A single antenna is all most people will ever need. Of course, you can add smaller indoor antenna models as needed if you don't want to drag cable around the house. You can share its signal with a coaxial splitter. That's a simple gadget that you hook up to your antenna's cable and then split other cables that go to your TVs, usually from two to eight. 

Some of the best splitters are the GE 33526 cable splitter, which can only split the signal between two televisions, the four-way RG6 RG59, and the Neoteck 8-Way Coax Cable Splitter. You can buy the first two for under $10 and the Neoteck for under $20.

You might want to use an amplified cable splitter if you have over four TVs. My favorite is the $55 Channel Master TV Antenna Distribution Amplifier, TV Antenna Signal Booster

Can I record OTA broadcasts? Are there DVRs for antenna TV?

Sure. There are DVRs for antenna television. My favorites are the AirTV Anywhere line, The AirTV 2, $130, and its $150 big brother AirTV Anywhere. There's also the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Flex 4K, $200.

The AirTV models enable you to combine Sling TV streaming with an OTA antenna. Moreover, with it, you can record broadcasts and stream both Sling TV and local broadcasts over your home network. Indeed, you can watch your local shows even when you're away from home. 

The AirTV2 is a two-tuner broadcast TV tuner that connects to your home network by Wi-Fi or Ethernet. With an external USB hard drive, which isn't included, you can record and broadcast TV shows using the Sling TV app. The AirTV Anywhere comes with an internal 1TB drive and four tuners. This enables you to record up to four shows at a time.

The HDHomeRun Flex comes with four tuners, two of which are ATSC 3.0 compatible.  To use it as a DVR, you'll need to attach an external USB drive and get a $35-a-year DVR subscription. All this requires a bit of hands-on work to set up properly. On the other hand, once it's done, you can watch your recording on any television, PC, or other device on your home network. 

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