The best TV antennas for 2023

You don’t have to pay a cable company for broadcast TV.

Best outdoor

Antennas Direct 8-Element Bowtie is the best outdoor TV antenna.

Antennas Direct 8-Element Bowtie TV Antenna

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Best indoor

Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro is the best indoor TV antenna.

Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro

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Best overall

Antop AT-800SBS-J HD Smart Panel Antenna is the best indoor/outdoor TV antenna.

Antop AT-800SBS-J HD Smart Panel Antenna

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As cord-cutters are abandoning cable in droves for the ever-expanding world of digital subscriptions, one underdog technology making an unexpected comeback is the humble TV antenna. Netflix and Crunchyroll aren’t going to carry your local news or sports, but fortunately, your local stations are still providing them for free, in the air all around you! The quality of over-air images has continued to go up ever since switching from analog to digital, so it’s quite a bit better than your memories of futzing with set-top rabbit ears to find hints of coherence in the static. Just like setting up Wi-Fi within your home, the spatial nature of over-the-air television means you’ll need to be deliberate about your antenna choice and placement to get the most bang for your buck. Fortunately, we’ve done all that research for you and are here to walk you through everything you need to know to pick one of the best TV antennas for your home.

How we chose the best TV antennas

With so many different particular needs to address, there isn’t really a single “best” TV antenna for that new OLED or QLED TV beaming entertainment into your home. We made our selections based on professional and consumer impressions, intending to cultivate a range of options that should suit the needs of most TV viewers in the United States, including options that will suit homes or apartments, rural areas or urban living, and more. These TV antenna reviews will help you find the best model for your needs.

The best TV antennas: Reviews & Recommendations

The best TV antennas are more powerful and accessible than ever. If you’re new to OTA television after a lifetime of cable or streaming and looking for an antenna for local channels, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how it looks. No matter your budget or needs, the best TV antenna to complete your setup is very likely here among the choices we’ve collected.

Best overall: Antop AT-800SBS-J HD Smart Panel Antenna

Best indoor/outdoor TV antenna

Put It Anywhere

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Specs

  • Range: 85 miles
  • UHF/VHF: Both
  • Installation: Indoor/Outdoor
  • Gain: N/A
  • Size: 6 inches L x 10 inches W x 22 inches H

Pros

  • Flexible indoor or outdoor configuration
  • Includes both indoor stand and outdoor mounting pole
  • Great reception

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Expensive

Antop’s AT-800SBS HD Smart Panel Antenna is one of the best-performing indoor/outdoor versatile antennas, making it our pick for best overall. This HD TV antenna has a long range, particularly for an indoor model, and has a 4G LTE blocker to minimize signal interference. When placed inside, the white box with protruding poles on either side seems a little gaudy. When mounted on a roof, it’s one of the nicer-looking antennas, though. This digital TV antenna is expensive, but it provides unparalleled flexibility and high performance.

Best for outdoor: Antennas Direct 8-Element Bowtie TV Antenna

Best outdoor TV antenna

Take Aim

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Specs

  • Range: 70 miles
  • UHF/VHF: Both
  • Installation: Attic/Outdoor
  • Gain: 17.4Dbi
  • Size: 36 inches L x 6 inches W x 48 inches H

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Flexibility from multiple aimable panels
  • Lifetime warranty on parts

Cons

  • Large
  • Includes mounting hardware but requires mount and coaxial cable

Antennas Direct’s 8-Element Bowtie antenna is a solid workhorse that should be more than powerful enough for most people who have the space to mount it in an attic or, ideally, on the roof. Its eight separate antenna elements are split between four reflecting panels on two independently rotating shafts. These can be either aimed at a single target to better capture signals from a particular direction or spread out to catch a wider range. With a maximum range of 70 miles, 17.4 dBi gain, and flexible configuration, this outside TV antenna is a powerful all-purpose option. However, it requires some additional hardware to mount and connect fully.

Best for indoors: Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro

Best indoor TV antenna

Big Antenna, Big Signal

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Specs

  • Range: 65 miles
  • UHF/VHF: UHF, Hi-V
  • Installation: Indoor
  • Gain: N/A
  • Size: 21.5 inches L x 0.5 inches W x 12 inches H

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Great performance
  • Detachable cable

Cons

  • Larger than comparable indoor antennas

Mohu is one of the biggest manufacturers of indoor TV antennas for a reason. The Leaf Supreme Pro measures a commanding 12 x 21.5 inches, so it’s hard to ignore its presence. It’s a very thin, flat panel, though, so it can be easily installed in a high corner and features reversible black and white sides to make it as discreet as possible. The coaxial cable is also conveniently detachable, meaning you can avoid an unsightly wire going up your wall when you’re not actually using it.

On the plus side, this antenna for smart TV gets great range for an indoor antenna and comes with a separate, USB-powered amplifier that noticeably improves performance. Thin, flat indoor antennas generally don’t do quite as well as their outdoor counterparts, but this wireless antenna for TV gets pretty close without many tradeoffs.

Best long-range: Five Star Outdoor Digital Amplified HDTV Antenna

Best long-range TV antenna

Casting a Wide Net

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Specs

  • Range: 200 miles
  • UHF/VHF: Both
  • Installation: Outdoor
  • Gain: 15 – 35 dB (boosted)
  • Size: 17 inches L x 8 inches W x 7 inches H

Pros

  • Fantastic long-range performance
  • 360-degree motorized coverage
  • Mounting pole and hardware included

Cons

  • Not the simplest assembly process

In search of the best indoor TV antenna 100 mile range? The Five Star Outdoor Digital Antenna boasts 200-mile, 360-degree coverage and the hardware to back it up. It features six reflector elements spread across three poles on a motorized spoke, which can eke out as much coverage as possible. It includes wiring and hardware for attaching up to five televisions, perfect for a large, remote home. It conveniently also includes a mounting pole. It requires a bit more assembly than other options, but you get a lot of coverage for your time and effort. 

Best budget: 1byone Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

Best budget TV antenna

Keeping It Basic

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Specs

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Picks up nearby signals well

Cons

  • Does deliver on advertised range
  • Black on both sides and can’t be painted

For less than $30, 1byone’s Digital Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna is a very good bargain for a short-range indoor antenna. The consensus from trusted sites and critics suggests that it works great for apartment dwellers living in or nearby cities. It’s also a regular Amazon bestseller at 3.9/5 with over 14,000 reviews because it’s a cheap antenna that does the job, which is all a lot of people need. Despite a perhaps overly bold Amazon listing boasting a 200-mile range—an unrealistic claim for an indoor antenna—the 1byone works very well within the manufacturer-stated reasonable 50-mile range. That should be more than enough if you just want free TV with antenna to get channels and don’t care about maxing out range or extra features that make it easier to hide.

What to consider before buying one of the best TV antennas

TV antennas are very simple to set up and use, but picking one and TV antenna installation requires a little advanced planning. At the very least, you should know whether you want an indoor or outdoor TV antenna. Traditional, roof-mounted outdoor antennas are substantially more powerful for picking up station signals over a wider range but require permanent installation on your roof or another high place and require outdoor cable management. It takes some work and isn’t an option for most renters and apartment dwellers.

If an outdoor antenna isn’t feasible, smaller wall- and window-mounted indoor TV antennas must be fastened to a high spot in your space. They offer a shorter range but are far more discreet and easy to install. Indoor antennas are almost all omnidirectional because all the local interference of walls and windows tends to even out any benefit you might get from a targeted antenna like one would on their roof.

What do you want to watch?

TV antennas can only pick up local broadcast channels. For most of the United States, an antenna should catch local affiliates of FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, The CW, and PBS, which all reach over 95% of American homes. In addition, some areas may have broadcast channels like Ion, Telemundo, and MeTV, as well as various public access stations. The number of channels you can find with an antenna will vary widely depending on where you are, with more options as you get closer to a major city.

If you want to find out antenna TV channels by zip code, there are several free tools online, including AntennaWeb and DTV Reception Maps from the Federal Trade Commission. Input your address, and you can find what stations are nearby, and what kind of antenna you’ll need to watch them. They also include maps of when the signals are actually broadcast, which can be important for some outdoor antennas.

Won’t the image quality be bad, though?

If you’ve ever watched a TV with built-in “bunny ear” antennas, you might assume that a broadcast TV signal will come in faded, with crackly black and white static (like the opening line of Neuromancer). Fortunately, things have changed drastically since then. In 2009, the U.S. government mandated that TV stations transition from analog to digital broadcasting. As many cord-cutters have been pleasantly surprised to learn, digital signals broadcast over the air are often less compressed than the versions sent over landline by cable services. Major networks broadcast over the air (OTA) in Full HD, or 1080p, and many users claim their broadcast channels come in with brighter, crisper images and sound. You can find an HD free unlimited antenna to pick up those signals.

Why is this happening? Both cable and OTA transmissions will degrade over long distances, and cable signals often have to cover a much longer distance than your local station’s broadcast. Cable offers more channels, of course, but broadcast still has some utility.

Range and gain

There are two major specs you want to consider when looking at TV antennas: range and gain. An antenna’s maximum indicates how far away it can be from a station to pick up a broadcast signal. Generally speaking, having a higher range is always better. That said, some antennas boasting very high ranges achieve those stats using built-in signal amplifiers, which may not deliver stellar picture from stations out on the fringes of their extended ranges.

Gain, expressed in decibels (dB), measures how well a given antenna performs against a standard reference in picking up signals in a particular direction. As expected, a higher listed gain number means better performance, particularly with signals coming from the edges of your antenna’s range.

UHF and VHF

More than an underappreciated 1989 Weird Al vehicle, UHF (ultra-high frequency) and VHF (very-high frequency) are terms you’ll see while antenna shopping. They refer to the bands of frequency on which particular channels are broadcast. Most contemporary channels are on UHF, but there are still VHF broadcasts out there. 

This distinction mostly matters for outdoor antenna users, since most indoor antennas are UHF or combined, but even nominally UHF-only will usually pick up VHF stations regardless. The online tools for finding your local broadcasters mentioned above will include this information about each station. Many antennas are advertised explicitly for both. In general, this is only something you need to worry about if a critical mass of broadcasts you care about are VHF, especially Lo-V.

FAQs

Q: How much do TV antennas cost?

The cost of TV antennas ranges from about $20 for basic models to more than $125 for options with a longer range, smart features, and a blocker that minimizes signal interference, such as the Antop AT-800SBS-J HD Smart Panel Antenna.

Q: Are antennas worth it? 

Yes, antennas are worth it. Rather than going the way of the dinosaur, OTA broadcast technology has actually improved quite a bit in the last decade or so. If you’re dropping your cable subscription, an antenna can be a great, low, one-time investment for a lifetime of free local programming. 

Q: What range antenna do I need?

Ideally, you want an antenna to pick up all nearby local channels. The exact range you’ll need for that will depend on where you live. Generally speaking, the closer you are to a large town or city, the lower the range required to get what you want out of your antenna. As we mentioned in our section on finding nearby channels, there are online tools for determining where your nearby broadcast signals are coming from. 

Q: Where is the best place to put an indoor TV antenna?

Generally speaking, you want to put your TV antenna as high as possible. Ideally, you also want to minimize the number of things that might get between your antenna and the TV station’s broadcast tower. That’s why the best ones are, often, outdoor models you mount on your roof. For indoor antennas, look for a high window, or consider running wires so you can set it up near an exterior wall in an attic. These are general best practices; the only way to find the best spot in your home is to experiment with different spots until you’re satisfied with the picture quality.

Final thoughts on the best TV antennas

If you’re considering joining the cord-cutting wave or have done so and miss your local channels, a TV antenna could be the perfect way to round out your TV setup. The exact type and model you need will depend on several factors, but you can rest assured that there is almost certainly a great option out there for you at a very reasonable price.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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Will Fulton

Contributor, Reviews

Will Fulton is a writer and critic with a diverse range of interests and experience, particularly focusing on video games, media, and technology. He has written news, reviews, features, guides, branded content at a variety of publications, including Polygon, The Verge, GameSpot, Lifewire, and Digital Trends.