Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 Antenna review: Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 Antenna

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The Good The Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 Antenna is a flat TV antenna that measures just 0.2 inch thick. It has a black finish on one side and white on the other, and can be positioned either way. And it comes with a 15-foot-long cable, making it easy to position for optimal reception.

The Bad The FL-5000's permanently attached black cable doesn't look great against white walls, and you're not likely to get great reception unless you put it in a window.

The Bottom Line The Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 is a paper-thin indoor TV antenna that performs nearly as well as bulkier, more traditional TV antennas and comes with a longer (albeit uglier) cable than the Mohu Leaf.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Performance 8

I've always suspected that one of the major barriers for would-be cable-cutters is the antenna. If you want to supplement your streaming video content with basic live TV, free over-the-air TV is the way to go, but the installation hassle and eyesore of an antenna is one step too far for many.

The Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 indoor antenna ($37 street price) is the best attempt yet to make an antenna more palatable, short of Aereo's "cloud antenna" subscription service. Looking more like a window decal than an antenna, its ultrathin design is much less intrusive than a traditional antenna, plus it can be more easily placed in unconventional areas to maximize TV reception. It may not do the trick if you're far from your local TV transmission tower, but for many in urban areas close to their TV signals, it's a great way to get your free over-the-air TV without worrying about an ugly antenna.

The real question is whether you should get the FlatWave FL-5000 or the nearly identical Mohu Leaf ($35 street price). They're very similar products, except the Leaf has a white cable that will likely look better in your living room, but is only 6 feet long, while the FL-500 comes with a 15-foot cable. Which antenna is better for you will depend on how your living room is configured, but both antennas are a much better option for prospective cable-cutters who want some free live TV without a big metal antenna in their home.

The FlatWave looks like no other TV antenna you've seen before. It's essentially a paper-thin square of plastic and it comes with plastic, Velcro-like adhesives that make it easy to stick to a window. It's has a radically different look than my current, more traditional, TV antenna, the classic Silver Sensor, which doesn't look great and takes up much more space.

The FL-5000 is white on one side and black on the other and can be positioned either way, so you can have either side facing inside if it's mounted on a window. It's a nice option and a smart design, since having the white side facing into my apartment looks much better than the reverse. Winegard's marketing materials show the FL-5000 positioned in a variety of different ways, including on the wall behind the TV or flat on the TV cabinet. It certainly looks convenient, but many years of finagling antennas to pull in digital signals made me skeptical about how effective those arrangements would be; more on that later.