If you’re venturing out into Nowhere-Ville or just happen to live out of the way of normal TV service, there are options to pluck free broadcasts from thin air. It’s startling to realize just how much information there is in the air around us, yet we don’t know it’s there until we post up a device that’s able to receive it on its frequency and turn it into intelligible data. This is where outdoor antennas will be needed, and they’re pretty darn useful even inside urban regions where you may not want to pay for your reception.
Everywhere around you, even hundreds of miles from civilization, there are words and images in the air. It’s wasted on TV sets that can’t pick them up, and you have the opportunity here to invest in a fairly inexpensive receptor that you can mount inside or outside your home or office setting that can interpret this information and pitch you the local news, weather reports and more without subscribing to a provider. By now, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “It’s just like radios!” We sometimes wonder why TV antennas aren’t as regularly installed as their radio counterparts, but one supposes that’s the result of commercialization.
In any case, not everyone will find antenna reception useful. In this article, we’re going to cover the best outdoor TV antennas for HDTV that cover a wide range of uses to help you decide which one you’ll need in your specific circumstance. Relax, take your coat and hat off, hang up your keys, put on some music and mosey through this review while we decode some of the best options out there.
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Best Outdoor TV Antenna for HDTV Comparison Table
|Product||Photo||Directional Reception||Frequency Range||Max Reception Range (miles)||Resolution||Check Price|
|RCA||Directional||UHF, VHF||70||1080P, 4K|
|GE 29884 Pro||Directional||UHF, VHF||70||1080P, 4K|
|Antennas Direct ClearStream 4||Directional||UHF||70||1080P, 4K|
|1byone||Directional||UHF, VHF||150||1080P, 4K|
|ANTOP||Omnidirectional||UHF, VHF||65||1080P, 4K|
|Lava HD8008||Omnidirectional||UHF, VHF||80||1080P, 4K|
|Free Signal TV Marathon||Directional||UHF, VHF||100||1080P, 4K|
|Esky||Directional||UHF, VHF||150||1080P, 4K|
|Winegard MS-3005 MetroStar||Omnidirectional||UHF, VHF||35||1080P, 4K|
|GE 33685 Pro||Directional||UHF, VHF||70||1080P, 4K|
|Antennas Direct High Gain Bowtie||Directional||UHF, VHF||60||1080P|
|1byone||Directional||UHF, VHF||150||1080P, 4K|
|Xtreme Signal Yagi||Directional||UHF, VHF||70||1080P, 4K|
|Channel Master CM-4228HD||Directional||UHF, VHF||80||1080P, 4K|
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Best in Category
ANTOP — Best Omnidirectional Outdoor HDTV Antenna
There aren’t many omnidirectional offerings on the list here, but this one does that gig more reliably than the rest.
Punching up to 65 miles out with its all-encompassing reception, this should provide the finest balance between convenience and quality, pulling in 1080p stations and above while maintaining a sleek design that your HOA should be just fine with.
Antennas Direct High Gain Bowtie — Best Outdoor HDTV Antenna for Rural Areas
The winning aspect of this one is its sheer reliability: You set it up, you get high-quality content, and you know it’s just going to work no matter what.
The range is good, the reception is crisp, and the construction is durable. Post this bad boy up and know that rural reception doesn’t have to be a problem anymore.
1byone — Best Long Range Outdoor HDTV Antenna
Other than being prone to electrical noise if placed too close to other electronics, this is a perfect offering that keeps the price low while presenting exceptional audio and video in a package that supports VHF and UHF for up to 150 miles out.
It’s also quite durable, and users typically find themselves quite satisfied with this antenna.
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Best Outdoor TV Antenna for HDTV Reviews
We’ll bet that you didn’t know RCA made outdoor TV antennas! RCA describes this product as providing “top-rated HDTV network programming”, and it comes straight out of the box in a preassembled form.
You just lock it out straight and snap in the various elements, and then you lick-and-stick the bracket to some flypaper on the side of your home. Okay, we’re kidding about that last part; you’re just bolting it in or using some serious adhesive to attach it how you like.
As expected of a yagi antenna, it might look cheap but is quite durable against all usual and expected outdoor elements: ice, snow, rain, cold and hot temperatures, gusts and more. For an insignificant cost, you’re getting an antenna that’s actually pretty well-rounded on the whole regardless of the environment that you’re posting it in. You don’t actually need a line of sight on the towers with this, which makes it great for hilly regions where other antennas would fall flat — pun awkwardly intended.
The only catch is that in such scenarios where line of sight is interrupted, you can expect your range to drop from 70 miles to around 30, but that’s still great. If your confidence hasn’t already been inspired, just hear it from the ham radio and broadcast engineers who’ve spoken up about this product: They love it.
As far as sticks-attached-to-sticks designs go, this one is fairly attractive, and we award points to GE for that dish-like aesthetic from a bunch of prongs poking out.
However, you’re less concerned about the design of the antenna than you are the reception quality, and we’re happy to say that the price reflects what you expect to that length: uncompressed 1080p HDTV with support for 2160p 4K if any such channels exist around your area.
While there are generally nice things to say about the ease of assembling and mounting this bad boy, the real noteworthy detail is the reflector, which is on the exceptional side in this package. Thanks to the noise cancellation and strength-boosting effects of that little stick that pokes out from the middle of the “dish”, dropouts should be left in the past.
The signal should also hold up find in inclement weather although there are no promises that the broadcasting towers themselves will reach you, but that’s another matter altogether. The only other specification that we’d like to tuck in here is the dual-support for VHF and UHF, which broadens the number of stations that you can pick up.
The only other point that we need to make here is that VHF-low might come in a little fuzzy if you can reach them in the first place.
This reflective array offering is surprisingly stylish and designed for both indoor and outdoor applications, making it versatile and fashionable right off the bat.
The manufacturer advertises it as having the best performance among all antennas on the market that are within the 70-mile range metric, but we’re not going to buy that just yet, especially with that price tag. We’ll go ahead and point out that the dual receiving heads allow for a multi-directional reception, and you’re getting a lifetime warranty on this thing no matter what happens to it. Yeah, it’s starting to sound justified for the cost.
The reception resolution is promised at a native 1080p, and the entire package is, of course, weatherproof. As a disclaimer, we’d like to say that “weatherproof” becomes questionable when confronted with factors such as planetary earthquakes, epic 70-mile-high tidal waves or a theoretical F6 tornado sweeps through like a big ol’ broom and dustpan, but in our expert opinion, none of these will be problematic in the coming years ahead.
With that said, you can expect durability, quality and good reception in one good-looking product that can be posted wherever your heart desires.
This is a simple and futuristic product with little information to go with it.
What you know by looking at it is that it probably captures signals from all directions, which is partly true. The high gain on it promises lenient aim on an otherwise unidirectional antenna, and it captures quality signals with expert efficiency to boot.
At a 75-mile rating and support for both VHF and UHF, you should have an easy time picking up the signals that you need while enjoying the FHD output. Paired with a signal amplifier, you can do some real damage with this beastie since it already picks up a ton of channels from the outset as it is.
We’d like to start by saying that in much the way a dog tends to resemble its owner, this antenna resembles the name of its manufacturer, ANTOP.
You’re buying a high-tech mushroom cap that brings the whole bevy of connections, cables and modulating elements in the box with it. The price is pretty weighty, however, so you’re not going to choose this one until you’ve first plucked apart everything that makes or breaks it. Don’t worry: That’s what we’re here for.
Inside this weatherproof offering, you’re getting support for 1080p and even 4K broadcasts through HDTV inputs, which is awesome if you can find channels with those resolutions. One of the really nice things about this, however, is ANTOP’s wonderful customer service, which is proudly promoted by ANTOP themselves. Worth noting is that if you give them a call, you can expect assistance in choosing the right antenna for your location. It’s pretty cool stuff that not all manufacturers will be inclined to offer.
Now, about the drawbacks. We only have one that we noticed, and that was the antenna’s tendency to lose channels after weeks or months or usage. Sometimes, it’ll do it right out of the box, in which case you may find that the channels come and go at random. A minority of users had this issue, so it appears to be a well-rounded product otherwise, but just keep in mind that a risk is present, and you may want to call ANTOP beforehand to get some advice before diving in.
Lava is a company that produces red-hot antennas that shoot laser beams to coerce broadcast towers into giving you all their service. It’s remarkable!
Actually, we think that would be way cooler, but this isn’t Burger King, and we can’t have it our way. However, you — a valued reader — might get your way with this highly rated offering that combines HDTV 4K reception with omnidirectional convenience, all inside a unique and minimalist aesthetic. The price, of course, had to be lifted just a hair to reflect this.
It’s straightforward and to the point in all but one detail: that omnidirectional part that we mentioned. Sometimes, it’ll work as it’s supposed to; other times, you actually have to aim the sucker to make it receive. We have no advice to offer for this except to say that if you’re one of the unfortunate folks who didn’t get the nicest directivity metric on their antenna, you might have to finagle with it a bit.
Well, that price tag is certainly no lightweight, but look at what you’re getting for it: 100 miles of indoor or outdoor HDTV reception with 40 dBi gain and minimal noise to boot.
The manufacturer says that you shouldn’t need multiple antennas if you’re using this, which seems fairly accurate if the specifications don’t lie. On the flip side, some users find that after you’ve gone through all the trouble of dialing this antenna in on the sources of your desired broadcasts, it only picks up a handful of channels.
However, that doesn’t speak for the majority. This appears to be a minimalistic, high-tech offering that needs a bit of pointing and calibration, but once it zeroes in on its target, the signal should fly in clean and powerful. Having gotten the one lonely drawback out of the way, this antenna is cited for its power to draw in just about every channel in a 360-degree arc around yourself. You may find that there’s no manual included, and that might be a stumbling block for some, but if you’ve set up an antenna before, that shouldn’t be a big deal.
Oh, boy. We’re looking at one of the range-iest antennas on this list: 150 whole miles of receptive goodness.
Inside an extremely tiny price tag, you’re also getting support for 1080p and 4K content on VHF or UHF frequencies, and you can take off the amplifier if you find that it’s not needed. This already looks pretty good, right? Well, as simple as it may seem, there’s always a problem that offsets some of this.
Winegard brings you a high-tech mushroom cap that, as the design suggests, is omnidirectional and quite convenient as a result.
Like most antennas, this one pulls in signals from both VHF and UHF sources simultaneously, and it’s not difficult to install. With some basic tools, you can get this affixed to your home without worry for your HOA or where you point the antenna. You’re also getting an inbuilt pre-amplifier that boosts the signal as close to the antenna as possible, which maximizes the clarity and power of reception here.
There’s hardly much else to say about this one; it’s not paraded for ludicrous specifications or doing any one thing better than the rest. The price is decent, but it might be worth noting that some users have found the range on this mushroom antenna to be rather weak at times. Some have noted that unless you’re within 20 miles of the desired tower, you’re not guaranteed any reception, to begin with. It always seems that the high-tech-looking stuff has an issue like this, but on the flip side, few people ran into this problem.
GE calls itself the number-one antenna brand in the US, and we’re not inclined to argue with that since their offerings do, in fact, bring a lot of punch at a rather low dollar cost.
This yagi antenna fits the bill with its dual VHF and UHF support packed into a 70-mile reach and support for 1080p to 4K reception. Again, as we’ve stated before, we don’t think you’re going to find much in the way of 4K broadcasts, but if you manage to find one or two, good on you. At minimum, you know you’re future-proofed to an extent with this sucker.
The price is in a good place, but the only problem to keep in mind here is that like many antennas, some users find that there are issues with picking up channels or a clear signal when it seems like there shouldn’t be any issues. We’ll tell you that these are problems that invariably happen to any type, brand or model of antenna whether as a matter of being a lemon or because your locality just doesn’t support it like you thought it did. Either way, this is a well-rounded offering that’s easy to put up and should do the trick at a reasonable cost.
Are in the game for massive gains, bro? This high-gain, no-pain reflector array antenna won’t pass the mark for an HOA-controlled neighborhood, but at a fairly up-there price, you can get this eight-bowtie offering from Antennas Direct to snatch up 1080p HDTV and every form of local news station within a 60-mile radius.
The construction quality is above weather-resistant, and you’re getting a lifetime warranty on all the parts in case something goes awry.
How does 150 miles of VHF and UHF reception sound to you? No, the price isn’t too heavy-handed, so don’t sweat bullets about that.
1byone has impressed us with its offering here, and while it’s not perfect, it does the trick reliably in true log periodic fashion. It comes with a mounting pole and can receive 1080p, 4K, and even 3D content right off the air, and the quality of your sound reception should be just as good. Seriously, you get all that inside 150 miles of unidirectional goodness? Yeah, we thought that was pretty cool too.
The construction might look flimsy — we mean seriously flimsy — but it’s actually not too bad and should hold up nicely against the weather with its water- and gust-resistance factors. Setting it up shouldn’t be too challenging, but be aware that unlike some offerings on our list today, this one doesn’t get a lifetime warranty if something goes wrong. Rather, you get a mere 12 months — not bad, actually, but still not as great as we hoped. The main issue to look out for with this offering is the susceptibility to electrical noise, so install it away from other electronics to maximize on its power.
If this isn’t one of the coolest yagi antennas we’ve ever seen, we don’t know what is.
This futuristic-looking, serrated-blade picker-upper slides in on a middle-of-the-road price tag with 70 miles of coverage in one direction for UHF while you get 25 miles on high-band VHF. That may seem a bit random, but Xtreme Signal knows that you won’t get the same performance with one metric as you would with the other. That’s a mistake that other manufacturers make and then kick under the rug like it’s the customer’s fault. Come on now.
It supports HDTV broadcasts in 1080p and uses an inbuilt transformer that should improve weatherproofing. Besides this, it’s a very simple device with little else to say about it. As expected, you may have to play around with this one for a bit to make the reception pan out for you. If you can deal with that, you have a reasonable offering here.
Epic explosions! Laser beams! Big freakin’ reflector panels! Yeah, that’s how this lovely little antenna feels when you first behold it.
It’s nearly flawless on its ratings, rakes in excellent audio and video, and it punches 80 miles out in multiple directions — 180 degrees, specifically.
However, it’s not omnidirectional, so you’ll still need to give it a lead before it works the way that you want. The gain is pretty nice, and it can be installed easily just about anywhere.
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Best Outdoor TV antenna for HDTV Buyer’s Guide
Indoor antennas usually come in the archetypal “rabbit ears” for VHF (very high frequency) or loop design for UHF (ultra high frequency), and in some cases, you can find hybrids that implement both designs to capture VHF and UHF together in one.
For outdoor uses, there are three basic types:
- Yagi–uda (or just yagi)
- Log periodic
- Multi-bay reflective antenna array
Naturally, each type is designed for different purposes.
It’s possible to build your own indoor antennas for either VHF or UHF capture although they won’t have the range and stability that a manufactured antenna will have. Still, not everyone needs to invest in one of these, and with a quick DIY video or article, you can construct and attach one of your own making. However, outdoor antennas will definitely be better suited as a proper investment into a sturdy, long-range receptor that will capture stations from 50-100 miles away or further.
The “elements“, which are the poles that stick out from the sides, usually denote better performance when there are more of them on a single array. However, the directional nature of parasitic arrays means that they need to be pointed in the direction of the signal, which means careful positioning of the antenna and the possibility of being knocked off kilter by weather conditions.
Log Periodic Antennas
Log periodic antennas (usually occurring as log periodic dipole arrays or LPDA) are omni- or unidirectional solutions that often occur as a large bullet- or rod-shaped element, often with yagi-like micro-elements protruding from the sides or off one end.
Multi-Bay Reflective Antenna Array
Finally, you may consider a reflective antenna array, which is less common due to its size and purpose. Arrays of this nature are designed to utilize multiple antennas arranged in a “billboard” setup to enhance the clarity of received data while limiting outbound radiation, which can reduce interference for the received signal as well as other wireless devices that are nearby. This makes a reflective array excellent for long-distance directional capture, but in practice, you won’t get accurate omnidirectional reception with this type.
You’ll notice on many antennas that there appears to be a small side antenna or nodule that’s pointed in on a dish. These are usually reflector elements, and their purpose is to clean up and slim down the signal that’s received, which improves the quality of your reception. You won’t pay much attention to this aspect when deciding on an antenna to purchase.
Some antennas are better at capturing data from multiple directions while others need to be pointed in a specific direction to pick up a clear signal. If you use a free signal mapping service such as TV Fool, you can work out where reception is coming from as it pertains to your location.
This metric describes how wide the reception angle is. A wider beam width means more signals can be captured, but this usually occurs at the expense of range and clarity.
Frequency Range (HF, VHF, UHF)
We won’t get too technical with this part! All you need to know is that some stations operate on specific frequencies that require certain antennas to pick them up. Some stations can only be obtained on HF (high frequency) while others operate on VHF (very high frequency) or UHF (ultra high frequency).
This describes how far away an antenna can pick up a signal. Over time, a signal will lose consistency and power, and a good antenna is able to pick up whisper signals to convert them into the proper full-power information for your TV.
The primary differences between indoor and outdoor antennas rest in a balance between build quality and receptive power.
- Indoor antennas are easier to position, not prone to break and feature less powerful reception.
- Outdoor varieties will be made of stronger materials, feature uglier designs and offer exceptional receptive power.
Your region is important when determining which combination of receptive metrics will make the greatest impact for you. Not all regions will host the same stations on the same frequencies at the same range from your location. Additionally, not all stations will be positioned the same way around your location since they may all be clustered around one area or could be spread evenly in all directions.
The resolution of your reception refers to the visual quality of the television service that you’re receiving. 720p HD (high definition) and is considered standard while 1080p FHD (full high definition) is considered optimal. You likely won’t find any stations that broadcast 1440p QHD (quad high definition) or 2160p UHD (ultra high definition); those are more likely available as paid programs for your home or office space.
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Best Outdoor TV antenna for HDTV FAQ
How do you set up an outdoor TV antenna?
Usually, you’ll unpack the antenna in pieces and have to assemble the joints and connective structures. This normally involves screws, nuts, and bolts with minimal requirement for tools to get the job done. Afterward, you’d bolt or screw a bracket into a surface on the outside of your house, and you’ll connect the antenna to this with it pointed in the direction of the desired signals.
During this stage, you’ll connect the antenna to either your TV or a switching hub with a something like a coaxial cable. You can often just hook this straight into the TV itself, but since you’re mounting the antenna outside, you’ll need to provide an entry point for the cable. The other option is to use a wireless transmitter to throw the signal from the antenna’s location to an attuned receiver inside the building, which would be wired into the TV.
Instructions are normally included with antennas that will tell you how to attune the TV to the antenna’s signal. You’ll have to tap into a specific channel or input to receive the broadcasts that are picked up.
What should I look for in outdoor versus indoor antennas? Are they interchangeable?
Outdoor antennas, which are mostly what this article is about, will often be larger and sturdier. The sheer size is supposed to improve receptive power while the sturdy construction and ruggedness factors should jointly immunize the antenna from outdoor elements such as rain, wind, and temperatures running off either end of the spectrum.
These are all granted features of an outdoor antenna, so what you’ll actually look for is more a matter of regional reception, what stations are available, how much range you need and whether you need omnidirectional or unidirectional offerings for the best coverage.
The good news is that many of the antennas that we’ve reviewed here can be used in both environments, and this may be the best way to roll if you’re not sure where you want to post yours up.
There’s no compelling reason to not use an outdoor antenna inside other than spacing and aesthetics although radiation may be a concern if you’re using a more powerful offering.
Can I buy a unidirectional antenna and just change its positioning whenever I want to pick up a different station?
Absolutely. This is what many folks end up doing when they don’t want the sacrifices that come with omnidirectional offerings. This will, of course, be much easier to do if the antenna is easy to reach as one would be if kept indoors or right outside the back door, but because elevation typically improves the clarity of reception, many end up sticking them where you’d need a ladder to adjust them. If you’re one of those folks, we don’t think this will pan out too well; in this case, consider buying multiple unidirectional antennas instead.
Is there a way to amplify an antenna’s reception?
You can often buy amplifier switches for antennas to improve their range and clarity. They’re usually not cheap, but they can be well worth the expense if you live in an area where they’re needed. These amplifiers frequently come as small boxes with plugins for the antenna, and they’re most frequently marketed for indoor antennas because of their inferior reception although you may be able to use them with the outdoor variety as well.
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Hopefully, we’ve done our part to simplify things down to a point where you can easily suss the what, where, why and how of the best outdoor TV antenna for HDTV and ultimately arrive at a financially sound solution that picks up local weather and news for a small dollar cost.
We’re thinking that at some point down the road, there has to be an eventual singularity where local radio antennas will be a standard feature in general devices much the way that radio receivers are right now. Understandably, putting a TV receiver in a car might not be smart, but they could always engineer that to shut off when the vehicle is in motion, right? At some point in the future, there will inevitably be developments in common technology to where local televising will be taken for granted. On the other hand, there’s been a degradation in general interest concerning local news or weather forecasts since the Internet holds all our answers at a price that we’ll inevitably pay whether we have this free TV reception or not. It’s a strange consequence of the developing world as we know it.
Remember that if in doubt, the affordability of a single antenna means you can purchase more if you don’t think that a single offering will do the trick on its own. You’ll want to invest in a receiver hub if one doesn’t come included, and you can plug multiple antennas into this hub to interpret and display the signals as needed. In many cases, it’s better to affix multiple antennas of a different design to your home or office and take advantage of mixed benefits. This is why you’ll sometimes notice single homes with multiple antennas set up: one yagi, one log periodic and maybe a reflective array thrown in for good measure.
Oh, and here’s one more thing. As a trivial matter, remember that antennae is plural for antenna on bugs. When you’re discussing or looking up TV antennas, it’s just antennas. Hey, some folks get that mixed up!