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The 5 best TV antennas: Watch live TV without a subscription

What is the best TV antenna? Our expert pick is the Gesobyte amplified digital TV antenna for its impressive 250 mile range, LTE and FM filters, and support for up to 4K resolution. An antenna is a great way to keep up with local news, sports, and entertainment for free.
taylor-clemons
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

As more people cut the cord with cable and satellite providers, they're turning to TV antennas to watch local news, sports, and entertainment channels for free. You can easily pick up either an indoor or outdoor model in various designs to blend into your decor or mount on your roof for clear reception. 

Many modern TV antennas feature built-in filters to prevent interference from cell phone and radio towers, which can cause annoying issues like screen tearing, pixelation, and static. They also support up to 4K resolution if UHD channels are available in your area. Many antennas are also very budget-friendly, so you don't have to spend a fortune in order to stay up-to-date with your favorite sitcoms, local news headlines, and sports scores. 

In order to help you find the right TV antenna for you, I've compared the five best models you can buy right now. I've broken down their features and price points to help you find one that fits both your budget and your needs.

gesobyte-amplified-digital-tv-antenna-review-best-tv-antGesobyte amplified digital TV antenna review | Best TV antennaenna
Gesobyte

Range: 250 miles | Supported resolution: Up to 4K | VHF/UHF: Both | Impedance: 70 Ohms | Dimensions: 11.8 x 2.7 x .9 inches | Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor 

The Gesobyte amplified TV antenna is an almost perfect choice for anyone who has cut the cord with their cable or satellite provider. It's capable of picking up over-air, digital broadcast channels within a 250 mile range thanks to a signal booster. This makes it great for anyone who lives in a more rural area where TV towers may not be close by. 

It also features an LTE and FM signal filter to reduce image distortion and interference, so you can get crystal clear images in up to 4K resolution. The antenna is also capable of 360-degree reception, so you never have to worry about missing out on channels or your favorite shows. 

The included, 18-foot coax cable means you can place the antenna almost anywhere for the best reception and still be able to connect it to your TV. And the antenna is waterproof, so you won't have to worry about spills, humidity, or rain through an open window ruining any electronics.

Pros:

  • 250-mile range
  • Long and short range modes
  • 360-degree reception
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • No tabletop placement option
  • Requires adapter for older TVs
Best Buy Essentials TV antenna review | Best TV antenna
Best Buy

Range: 35 miles | Supported resolution: Up to 4K | VHF/UHF: Both | Impedance: 75 Ohms | Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.3 x .06 inches | Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor 

Accessing free, over-air TV channels doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money on an antenna. The Best Buy Essentials indoor TV antenna retails for about $20, while still providing access to local news, sports, and entertainment channels. 

It has a range of 35 miles, making it better suited for users who live in smaller towns. And the double-sided design means it will blend in with either light or dark colored walls when installed. It's also incredibly compact, measuring just 11 x 8 inches, so whether you hang the antenna in a window or on the wall, it won't block your view or detract from your decor. 

Pros:

  • Compact, double-sided design
  • Very budget-friendly
  • Supports up to 4K resolution

Cons:

  • Somewhat limited reception range
  • No signal amplifier
Antennas Direct DB8-E review | Best TV antenna
Antennas Direct

Range: 70 miles | Supported resolution: Up to 4K | VHF/UHF: Not specified | Impedance: 75 Ohms | Dimensions: 36 x 6 x 48 inches | Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor 

If you don't mind paying more to get a TV antenna with all of the features you need to stay connected to local broadcast channels, the DB8-E from Antennas Direct is a great option. With a range of up to 70 miles, even rural users will be able to access tons of free TV channels for news, sports, music, and more. 

The antenna features an array of four "dishes" that each have four receiver units, and each panel can be rotated and adjusted to give you the best chance of clear reception. The large unit also helps to better pick up signals that may be partially blocked by dense trees or tall buildings. 

It supports up to 4K resolution images and 5.1CH audio for crisp images and clean dialogue. It also comes with a set of weather-resistant brackets which help keep the antenna in place in rain, snow, or windy conditions.

Pros:

  • Adjustable receiver panels
  • Supports 4K resolution and 5.1CH audio
  • Great reception range

Cons:

  • Very large
  • The industrial design might not be for everyone
  • Coax cable not included
A woman and her two children are sitting on a couch, using an Antop smart bar TV antenna to watch a movie.
Antop

Range: 80 miles | Supported resolution: Up to 4K | VHF/UHF: Both | Impedance: 75 Ohms | Dimensions: 30 x 8 x 4 inches | Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor 

If you want to connect an over-air antenna to multiple TVs in your home, the Antop AT-500SBS Smart Bar is the best option. You can connect up to two televisions to the unit, so you can get free local news, sports, and entertainment channels in your living room, bedroom, garage, or basement. 

The Smart Bar features a sleek, modern design and allows for both vertical and horizontal placement. The design also allows the antenna to pick up signals from multiple directions, so you won't have to spend all day finding the perfect placement in order to get reception. With the integrated signal booster, the Smart Bar can pick up television signals from up to 80 miles away. And you can easily switch between long and short range modes with the simple dial, so you only get the channels you'll actually watch. 

The built-in LTE filter blocks interference from cellular devices and phone towers to give you a clearer picture and prevent annoying pixelation. It even has a built-in FM tuner, so you can listen to local radio stations when you need to keep up with weather alerts, local sports, or want music on while you do chores around the house.

Pros:

  • LTE filter
  • FM tuner
  • Connect two TVs at once
  • 80-mile range

Cons:

  • Large size might not be great for apartments
  • On the expensive side
An onn outdoor TV antenna mounted on a terra cotta roof.
onn

Range: 150 miles | Supported resolution: Up to 4K | VHF/UHF: Not specified | Impedance: Not specified | Dimensions: 17 x 3.4 x 14 | Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor 

Having an outdoor TV antenna helps to increase reception, since signals won't have to travel through thick walls, and the Onn outdoor antenna is the best choice. It features a somewhat compact and lightweight design that's great for either roof or exterior wall mounting, and it comes with a telescoping mounting pole for more placement options. You can set the pole height between 20 and 51 inches to help the antenna clear foliage and rooflines for better reception. The antenna is also lightning resistant, so you don't have to worry about losing signal during storms. 

A built-in LTE and FM signal filter removes interference from radio and cell phone towers for cleaner images, preventing pixelation and screen stuttering. The antenna features a motor and rotates 360 degrees for easier adjustments. With a range of up to 150 miles, even rural residents can enjoy local TV without an internet connection or expensive cable or satellite contract.

Pros:

  • 150-mile range
  • Motorized movement
  • 360-degree rotation
  • LTE/FM filter

Cons:

  • You may need a longer coax cable depending on placement
  • Max pole height is 51 inches
  • Design might not be for everyone

What is the best TV antenna?

My pick for the best TV antenna is the Gesobyte amplified digital TV antenna. It has a 250-mile range, so even folks in very rural areas can watch local news, sports, and entertainment channels. It has a built-in LTE and FM filter to prevent interference from cell phone and radio towers, and with 360-degrees of reception, you have more placement options around your home.

TV antenna

Price

Range

Indoor/Outdoor

Gesobyte amplified antenna

$30

250 miles

Indoor

Best Buy Essentials indoor TV antenna

$20

35 miles

Indoor

Antennas Direct DB8-E

$135

70 miles

Outdoor

Antop AT-500SBS Smart Bar

$100

80 miles

Indoor

Onn outdoor antenna

$59

150 miles

Outdoor

Which one is the right TV antenna for you?

If you're thinking about buying a TV antenna, the first thing you need to do is to figure out where you're going to place it. Most antennas available are meant to be used indoors, either mounted in a window or on a wall or placed on a table near your TV. There are plenty of outdoor antenna options, however, if you want to ensure clearer reception. 

You should also consider how many TVs you want to connect to the antenna, as most models will only support one screen. You can find antennas that allow you to connect two or three TVs at once, but if you have more than that, you may want to invest in more than one antenna to ensure that you can properly set up every TV in your house.

Choose this TV antenna…

If you need…

Gesobyte digital TV antenna

A well-rounded digital TV antenna 

Best Buy Essentials TV antenna

A more affordable antenna with a shorter reception range

Antennas Direct DB8-E

A digital TV antenna with a longer range for rural residents

Antop AT-500SBS Smart Bar

An antenna you can connect two TVs to at once

Onn outdoor TV antenna

An outdoor antenna for rural residents

How did we choose these TV antennas?

I chose TV antennas with varying ranges to suit a variety of environments -- from city and suburban living to rural areas far from TV towers. I also chose a wide range of price points to fit this list into many budgets.

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 to a window as possible. This helps reduce the number of obstacles a signal has to pass through before it can be processed by the antenna and sent to your TV. 

If you're using an outdoor antenna, you'll want to place it in a spot where it won't be obstructed by rooflines or dense trees. You can do this by either mounting it on an exterior wall or your roof to make sure it won't be blocked by trees or other homes.

How do I check antenna signal strength?

To properly measure your TV antenna's signal strength, you'll need a special piece of equipment called a Pwr(dBm) measuring device. This little machine connects to your antenna's coax cable and works in a similar way to internet speed tests: the device "reads" the signal coming from your antenna and measures it to see how much LTE and FM interference is mixed in with the TV signal -- and how much power your antenna is using in order to pick up signals. 

You can buy a simple unit like the King SL1000 SureLock for about $25 if you just want to make sure your antenna is putting out a decent signal. Or you can pick up a more refined unit like the Augocom RY S110 for about $95 if you want more detailed information like FM/LTE interference levels, frequency ranges, and voltage.

How can I find TV towers in my area?

It's important to have a good idea of where TV towers near you are located when setting up your antenna, so it can be pointed in the right direction. You can find a map of TV towers in your area by using the FCC's handy DTV tool. You can either use your zip code or precise location information to get an accurate map as well as signal strength information to find the best placement for your antenna.

Are there alternative TV antennas worth considering?

As more people choose to cut the cord with their cable or satellite provider, TV antennas have become much easier to find at more affordable prices. Here's a short list of alternative TV antennas that are great choices:

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