Get free TV and save money by installing an over-the-air antenna. Here are our top recommendations for the best indoor TV antennas.
Updated Oct. 11, 2023 2:00 p.m. PT
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There has never been a better time to cut the cord and replace it with free TV. All you need to do is make sure that you're living in an area with a good signal to buy an affordable TV antenna. You don't even need to climb on your roof, as the best indoor antennas can be hung in a window. Put away your ladder!
An over-the-air, or OTA, antenna is great for live events such as sports and the evening news. Depending on where you live and your signal reception capabilities, you can watch anything on NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, PBS and some other channels like MyNetworkTV and The CW. It will also pick up the next evolution of OTA called NextGen TV, which promises 4K TV compatibility and other benefits, and it's rolling out across the country. You can receive all of this content for as little as $20 shipped.
There are some downside, though. In some places, the TV signal of some channels can be spotty or nonexistent due to faraway broadcast towers or obstructions which break up the signal. Also, unlike a live TV streaming service, OTA TV is usually restricted to a single television, and the broadcast signal from an OTA TV antenna won't work on phones or other devices. Unless, that is, you kick it up a notch with an OTA DVR which has networking capabilities.
The best indoor antenna, based on CNET's tests, is the Mohu Leaf. It gathered the most stations in two different locations, and it can be yours for $35. Its sibling the Mohu Gateway was also a strong performer, and it has the advantage of tabletop use. However, if you're curious about the other options that are out there, or are interested in features such as signal boosters or detachable cables, the following are the best indoor OTA antennas right now.
Watch this: How to cut the cord for $10: installing an indoor antenna
The Mohu Leaf has undergone a recent upgrade -- a new look and some under-the-hood improvements -- and the results speak for themselves. The Leaf was the best antenna of our 2023 crop -- beating out several more expensive models. It worked well in both of the testing environments and was able to receive the most channels. While the Channel Master Flattenna is almost half the price, the Mohu Leaf is undoubtedly worth the $15 upgrade.
My only quibble with the new Leaf is that it has lost the detachable coaxial cable in the process, and this means you'll need another cable and a male-to-male adaptor if you want a longer run to your TV.
Maybe you don't have a window or an out-of-the-way wall you can stick an antenna on, and if so the Mohu Gateway can help. This tabletop antenna was neck and neck with its Leaf stablemate on both reception quality and price. But what clinched it for us was that the Leaf was better suited for window placement, and with its integrated stand the Gateway was understandably awkward when attached to a window. The reception on the Gateway was also worse when sitting on an AV unit, but if you have nowhere else to put an antenna than on a stand the Gateway is the best choice.
In my years of testing antennas, the Gesobyte is still one of the only amplified models which has an attenuator switch. This feature allows a flexibility which none of the other models have. Live close to a broadcast tower? Turn the switch to Low. Or, if you live further away, switch it to High for an added signal boost.
The Flatenna 35 has been upgraded with a removable antenna since our original test. It seems that signal performance has also improved -- it's now the best of our seven models at pulling in channels, beating our previous recommendation, the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse. This Flat antenna is great for people who aren't capable of installing an outdoor antenna. It wasn't the best performer, but's good for the money. If you want to find out if an indoor antenna is right for you, this is a great option.
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Top antennas compared
No. of channels (Manhattan)
No. of watchable test channels (out of 7)
Antennas Direct Clearstream
Btfdreem Smart TV Antenna (Amplifier: On)
Channel Master Flatenna
Gesobyte Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna (Amplifier: Low)
Ultra Vizion HD Digital TV Antenna (Amplifier: Off)
Other TV antennas we tested
Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse With its ankh-shaped and multidirectional reversible compact design, the ClearStream antenna is definitely unique. This multi-directional antenna comes with sticky tabs for attaching it to your window, which is handy. And if you need more signal oomph, there's a $20 antenna amplifier available as well. A previous winner in this category, the Eclipse didn't perform as well as the Mohu units in our LA location. We will be publishing those results soon.
Ultra Vizion HD Digital TV Antenna: Despite a rectangular design, the Ultra Vizion is one of the most striking antennas we've seen thanks to its Perspex construction. It's large, but it performed well when presented with line of sight to a broadcast antenna.
Btfdreem Smart TV Antenna Have you ever bought a product off Amazon which has a good rating, but you can't work out why? The Btfdreem is one of those. Sure it looks like a rocket ship, but that's all it has going for it. Sadly it was the worst performer in this test.
1byOne Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna: Last reviewed in 2021, the 1byOne includes a nonremovable coax cable, and at only 10 feet long, it may not work in some rooms where it cannot pick up a very weak signal. It was toward the bottom of the pack in terms of signal performance, but this indoor HDTV antenna was the only television antenna to pick up CBS from a TV tower at our Manhattan location.
U Must Have Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna: The U Must Have amplified antenna comes with a sticky pad on the back and a relatively long, though nonremovable, lead at 18 feet. The included amplifier gives the antenna some flexibility and the product feels more solidly made overall than the 1byOne, though they performed similarly. Last reviewed in 2021.
How we test TV antennas
In 2023, we tested seven different indoor antennas with prices ranging from $20 to $50 (all much less than the most basic cable TV). The best TV antennas were able to pull in more channels than the others and delivered stronger, clearer TV signals, even on "problem" channels. Here are the seven TV antennas we looked at:
While most of the antennas were made by "name" manufacturers, the Gesobyte and the Btfdreem were chosen specifically because they were two of the highest-selling antennas on Amazon.
Much like real estate, how well a TV antenna works is based on location, location and location. We tested the antennas in two main locations: in uptown Manhattan NY with a line of sight to the Empire State Building broadcast tower six miles away, and in Reseda CA (with final results to be forthcoming). Depending on your own location, you might receive broadcasts from multiple antennas. Hills or large buildings in the way will have an effect on frequency range and reception of TV channels.
We situated each antenna in the same spot and connected it to the TiVo Edge, which gives signal strength data as well as a total channel count. We used two different metrics to determine which TV antenna performed best. The first was a raw measure of the number of channels it could detect, while the second involved a number of predetermined "problem channels." For these, we consulted a list of channels culled from various forums, for both testing areas, and gauged how well the antennas pulled in each channel.
Our list of "problem" channels in Manhattan was WABC 7.1 (ABC), WNET 13.1 (PBS), WPIX 11.1 (CW -- Manhattan only) and WNJB 58.1 (PBS -- NJ only). In addition we added popular channels CBS 2.1, WNBC 4 (NBC), and WNYW 5 (Fox).
While the outcome will vary depending on where you live and how far you are from TV towers, we found that the best-performing models received more of the most popular channels as well as local channels and additional radio broadcasts and Spanish-language stations.
Most of the TV antennas were based on the same rectangular design, but there was one important consideration: the cable. Did the antenna have a long, high-performance coaxial cable or, even better, a detachable one? You'll be sticking one of these in your window, which could be a long way from your TV, so longer is better.
It's worth noting that some of these antennas -- the Btfdreem, Gesobyte and the Ultra Vizion Plus -- included gain-boosting amplifiers. Based on our experiences in a number of locations over the years, amplifiers can affect signal strength in wildly unpredictable ways. The same applied for the 2023 batch: for instance, the Ultra Vizion wouldn't work at all with the amp attached, while the others did. The numbers printed above are the best results with or without amplification. If you can't get TV reception with an indoor antenna, a gain amp may not actually help you, and in other cases, it could make your reception worse by overloading channels that already have a strong signal.
Every television on the market has an OTA tuner onboard, even if most people never use it. If it doesn't have one then it's a monitor -- the tuner is the essential difference. The advent of smart TV means that cord-cutters can now connect directly to the internet and get on-demand streaming, as well as live TV. Streaming usually costs a subscription fee, while an antenna can receive free signals and without an internet connection. While you don't need an antenna to use smart TV, the two do complement each other very well.
Depending on where you live, an indoor antenna can work really well, or not at all. If you live in the middle of a city, it's likely you're very close to a broadcast antenna. However, if you live a little further out then you may not be receiving the strongest signals and checking digital TV coverage maps first may help you somewhat.
Correspondingly, if you do live in a poor coverage area, with weak signals, an indoor antenna may not be for you. We tried using the antennas at a semi-urban location in New York State's Hudson Valley miles from the city and none of them worked at all, even the signal-boosting Smartenna. That's why it's best to test the signal strength waters with a cheap antenna first, instead of spending a hundred bucks on something that might not work in your location.
ATSC 3.0, also known as NextGen TV, is the next evolution of OTA broadcasts, and it promises higher resolutions, enhanced audio and interactivity. While these NextGen TV features are still a ways off -- in 2023 the service is in the process of rolling out -- the good news is that it's designed to be backwards compatible with the existing ATSC. So yes, your existing antenna will still work, though you will need an ATSC 3.0 compatible tuner or TV, and an active internet connection for any interactive or on-demand features.
Most contemporary antennas include some form of adhesive to attach them to your wall or window. If for some reason they lack this option you could try packing tape or poster putty instead.
When you install it, you will definitely need to experiment with the placement. A wall may actually be better than a window, depending on the orientation of your living area. Also, if possible, keep the antenna away from magnetic metals such as security bars or the like since they can interfere with your signal strength.
If you buy a model with a short, captive lead be aware that you may need to buy a male-female extension lead, and more coaxial cable, to get it to reach your equipment. For more on installing an antenna check out our complete guide and video.