The Best Indoor HDTV Antennas of 2018

By Ben Keough

If you've given up on America's cable and satellite providers and joined the ranks of America's 56 million-plus cord-cutters, you've probably turned to Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services to fill the void. But those platforms don't let you watch most of America's favorite network TV shows when they first hit the airwaves.

These days, cord-cutters have two options to get their network TV fix. Option one: Pony up for a streaming live TV service like Sling TV ($20-plus per month), Hulu with Live TV ($40/month), or YouTubeTV ($40/month). Option two: Pay up front for a digital HDTV antenna—like our favorite, the ClearStream Eclipse (available at Amazon for $37.23)—and watch those same local channels for free, no monthly subscription necessary.

These over-the-air (OTA) antennas cost as little as $15 and can pull in dozens of free-to-air channels, including your local ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX affiliates. Most are flat and designed to be hung on a wall, so you can slip them behind a framed picture or affix them to a window behind a drape, keeping your feng shui in good shape.

After testing eight of these antennas, I've come to a seemingly paradoxical conclusion: they're all pretty much the same, but not all will work equally well in your house—or even every location inside your house. You may need to try two or three antennas before you find the one that works best for you. Still, there are some antennas that are clearly better than others.

Here are the best indoor digital HDTV antennas, in order:

  1. Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse
  2. Monoprice Large Paper Thin HDTV Antenna
  3. Mohu Leaf TV Antenna
  4. 1byone Thin and Shiny Indoor HDTV Antenna
  5. AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor TV Antenna
  6. Channel Master CM-4001HD FLATenna Ultra-thin Indoor TV Antenna
  7. Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 Digital Indoor HDTV Antenna
  8. RCA ANT1100Z Ultra-Thin Multi-Directional Indoor HDTV Antenna
— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated March 30, 2018

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Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Best Overall
Credit: Reviewed / Ben Keough

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse

Clearstream
  • Editors' Choice

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse

Best Overall

The ClearStream Eclipse has a number of things going for it, which more than justify the slightly high asking price for the 35-mile range version. First, it's a heck of a lot more stylish than just about any other HDTV antenna out there. Rather than an ugly rectangle slapped on the wall, you get an elegant circle-in-circle design that's black on one side and white on the other. It's also paintable. That's not a big deal if it's going to be hidden behind a painting, but helpful if it has to be out in the open.

The Eclipse comes with a nifty "Sure Grip" adhesive strip that grabs the wall reliably and detaches without peeling your paint. It may sound like splitting hairs, but in a category with so much similarity, I also appreciated the Eclipse's thick but tangle-free coax cable design. The 12-foot length isn't the longest I saw in testing, but it's plenty for most scenarios, and it's detachable so you can always swap in a cheap replacement if you need more flexibility.

Like most of the antennas I tested, the Eclipse pulled in around 100 channels in my Los Angeles home. But unlike many rivals, it produced rock-solid reception throughout a relatively wide range of angles. It was especially reliable when watching the main high-definition channels, pulling in crystal-clear 720p and 1080i signals from ABC, CBS, and NBC, among others. All in all, this antenna offers the best combination of features and performance among the antennas I tested, and the industry-exclusive lifetime warranty is just a cherry on top.

Monoprice Indoor HDTV Antenna Best Value
Credit: Reviewed / Ben Keough

Monoprice Large Paper Thin HDTV Antenna

Monoprice
  • Editors' Choice

Monoprice Large Paper Thin HDTV Antenna

Best Value

If you don't want to pay $40 for a slightly prettier antenna with a nicer cable and a lifetime warranty, consider the Monoprice Large Paper Thin HDTV Antenna.

At around half the price of the ClearStream Eclipse, it snagged just as many channels and also performed best on the major channels you're going to spend most of your time watching. The Monoprice feels just a little cheaper than the Eclipse, though it's more rigid. (I'd call it "medium bendy.") It's also a good deal uglier. Still, it does ship with one bonus accessory that you won't get with any of the other antennas I tested: a stand.

It's made of cheap, lightweight plastic, but it really helps to get your antenna into perfect alignment. When you're slapping your rectangle on a wall, you've basically got four 90-degree options to choose from; with the stand, you can point your rectangle in any direction. Game-changer.

Who Am I?

I'm Ben Keough, and I've been testing consumer electronics for well over a decade. I spent several years as a camera reviewer at Reviewed, and also served as the site's Editor in Chief of News and Features. In addition to cameras, I've covered everything from printers, to solid state drives, to online backup software and all-in-one PCs. I'm the guy all of my friends and family turn to for advice when it's time to buy that next gadget.

How We Picked and Tested

To narrow the huge list of available indoor HDTV antennas, I looked specifically for those with a stated 30- to 40-mile range. Range claims don't mean much unless you live on a featureless plain, but 30 or 35 miles is the most common rating, so it seemed like a good place to focus. I also discarded antennas that have built-in amplifiers, since they can actually degrade signal quality in some cases. I drilled down further by analyzing user reviews, employing FakeSpot to help weed out cheaters. In the end, I tested eight different indoor HDTV antennas with price tags ranging from $16 to $40.

Antenna Testing
Credit: Reviewed / Ben Keough

I set up each antenna in the same location in my Los Angeles test home and used my TV's tuner to scan for channels, taking note of how many it found. Then I repeated the scan to see if the number varied much from moment to moment. Next, I manually flicked through the available channels, pausing on each for about 30 seconds to verify whether they were coming through clearly. I kept track of how many channels had reliably strong reception, how many couldn't be counted on, and which the antennas were best at capturing. (Some antennas prioritize the UHF bands, which most major stations use, over VHF. Others are less discriminating.)

In addition to reception, I examined each antenna for build quality, the thoroughness of the instructions, and the presence of any useful extras. While most indoor HDTV antennas are pretty similar, some do stand out for their bells and whistles.


Other Antennas We Tested

Mohu Leaf

Mohu

Where To Buy

$38.00 Amazon Buy

Mohu Leaf

The Mohu Leaf is the progenitor of the whole flat rectangle–style indoor HDTV antenna trend, and it remains a popular choice for cord-cutters. It's also one of the more expensive models, probably due to its prominence, despite not offering anything extra in the way of included accessories. In the box, you'll find the antenna itself (fairly stiff, but not entirely inflexible), a detachable 10-foot coaxial cable, four sticky pads and four push-pins to help you affix it to your wall, and a fairly in-depth set of instructions. A separate flyer gives you some troubleshooting steps, which may come in handy if you've never used one of these before and run into reception trouble.

In testing, the Mohu Leaf did great, just like all the other antennas, with just under 100 channels on the first pass and closer to 110 on the second pass. Reception was rock solid on most channels, though some of the 720p/1080i major stations did drop out for a second or two from time to time.

1byone Thin and Shiny Indoor HDTV Antenna

1byone

1byone Thin and Shiny Indoor HDTV Antenna

Though it's one of the least costly antennas you'll find online, the 1byone 35-miler holds its own against much more expensive models—performance that's backed up by generally positive user reviews.

In testing, I found that it more reliably pulled in major network channels than other inexpensive antennas like the AmazonBasics model. It's much stiffer than most of the antennas I tested, which is a plus if you need to position it somewhere other than a flat wall. That's quite possible, since any indoor antenna should be pointed toward the highest concentration of broadcast towers in order to get the best reception. I also appreciated the especially lengthy 20-foot coaxial cable, even if it's non-removable.

AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor TV Antenna

Amazonbasics

Where To Buy

$19.99 Amazon Buy

AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor TV Antenna

Amazon's house brand comes through with a solid indoor HDTV antenna. In testing, it picked up more than 100 channels, though it had a harder time than our top picks when it came to keeping clear reception on the more important major-network channels. Your mileage may vary, depending on your proximity to your local towers.

The antenna itself is robustly built, without any flex. Its detachable cable is a nice touch, since it means you can swap it out for a longer length of coaxial if you need to position the antenna further from your TV. The instruction manual that comes with the antenna is brief, but contains more info than the single-sheet or business card–sized guides that come with some other models. In the package you'll also find four 3M sticky pads, which will firmly affix the antenna wherever you decide to put it.

Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 Digital Indoor HDTV Antenna

Winegard

Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 Digital Indoor HDTV Antenna

The popular Winegard FlatWave is yet another floppy, flat antenna designed to be slapped on a wall and forgotten about. Like the AmazonBasics model, it's white on one side and black on the other. The 15-foot non-removable cable is thin and tangle-free, and is the second-longest among the models I tested. Like the other antennas, it snagged around 100 channels at my place, and reception stability was also on par with the pack. The instructions that ship with the Winegard are brief and to the point, but the company goes the extra mile of putting a second, neon orange instruction sheet on the antenna itself to make sure you actually read them.

Channel Master CM-4001HD FLATenna Ultra-thin Indoor TV Antenna

Channel master

Channel Master CM-4001HD FLATenna Ultra-thin Indoor TV Antenna

Channel Master makes a wide range of products aimed at cord-cutters, including stuff like outdoor antennas, amplifiers, and DVRs for over-the-air broadcasts. Their indoor antenna didn't do much to impress me, though. Its most glaring flaw is that its cable (which can't be replaced) is surprisingly short at just 6 feet. The antenna only comes with two adhesive pads for wall-mounting, while others provide four, and the set-up guide is also very brief. Finally, and I realize this might come off as superficial, I was a little taken aback that the FLATenna shipped in a plastic bag, rather than a box.

In testing, the FLATenna's performance was right in line with the other antennas. Nothing special, but it got the job done.

RCA ANT1100Z Ultra-Thin Multi-Directional Indoor HDTV Antenna

Rca

RCA ANT1100Z Ultra-Thin Multi-Directional Indoor HDTV Antenna

Like Philips, Westinghouse, and Kodak, RCA is a zombie brand—a dead company that lives on as a logo slapped on white-label goods. Still, not all RCA-branded products are generic junk. The company's universal remotes and alarm clocks remain solid, if unremarkable products.

The RCA indoor HDTV antenna is also a solid, if unremarkable product. Reception in testing was good, if not great, and the antenna was capable of sensing around 90 channels in my house. That's less than most of the antennas in this guide, but still plenty, and the ones it missed were channels like the Vietnamese version of QVC and the standard def version of Jimmy Swaggart's SonLife Broadcasting Network. You know, not the ones you're likely to actually watch. The antenna itself isn't the thickest or the flimsiest, and the cable isn't the shortest or the longest. It's just another antenna.

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