The company claims a 50-to-80–mile range, but that’s doubtful, since it wasn’t as effective at pulling in some longer-distance stations as the Eclipse. The 10-foot coax cable is not detachable, and the sticky tabs are not reusable, so you’ll have to supply your own double-sided tape if you want to relocate it.
The flat Release is made from recycled cable boxes and cable-box packaging, and while it’s not as durable as a plastic antenna, it pulls in channels like a champ. Still, if you like the idea of going green with your cord cutting, the Moho Release is a good choice.
The flat Release is made from recycled cable boxes and cable-box packaging, and while it’s not as durable as a plastic antenna, it pulls in channels like a champ. Collapse all I’ve been writing about electronics for nearly 20 years and had a front-row seat to the digital television transition.
For three years, I wrote and updated the Consumer Electronics Association guide to HDTV and the DTV Transition. I’ve held editor positions for several leading consumer electronics publications, including Dealer scope, E-Gear, and Electronic House, and I have written for Sound & Vision, Big Picture Sound, Consumer Digest, and others.
I’ve reviewed hundreds of products, including some of the first HDTVs on the market. I’m ISF-certified for video calibration and have completed THX Level II home theater design courses.
Anyone who wants a cheap and easy way to get HD programming from major and local networks should give an indoor TV antenna a try. Streaming will get you lots of great TV programming, but an antenna will get you free live programs from the major networks like CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, The CW, Univision, Telemundo, and PBS.
We looked at models that require little-to-no assembly and can be placed in your window, on a wall, or behind your TV. Today, most indoor TV antennas are flat wall-huggers that copy the original Moho Leaf design.
Photo: Mike Berk assembled an extensive list of indoor antennas based on top recommendations on Amazon, as well as antennas recommended by respected reviewers from sources like Digital Trends, CNET, Tom’s Guide, and other publications. Simple to assemble and install: You shouldn’t need tools to put together an indoor antenna.
Unobtrusive design: Your antenna may need to be in a visible location for the best reception, so it shouldn’t be ugly. Flat antennas are omnidirectional (no aiming required in most cases), easy to hide, printable, and inexpensive, since they can be made very cheaply.
Lastly, I decided to see how easy it would be to make my own flat antenna, so I wrapped some aluminum foil around a piece of cardboard, taped a bare wire from a coax cable to it, and connected it to my TV. The resulting Trashtenna (patent pending) performed surprisingly well, considering its modest origins.
Most of the reception tests were performed in a suburb of Philadelphia, 16 miles northeast of most of the major network broadcast towers and 22 miles south of a few independent network channel broadcasters near Allentown. According to the website Antenna Web.org, our TV should be able to capture 19 to 20 main channels (plus their subchannels) with an indoor antenna.
We also tested the main antennas in a Brooklyn location within four miles of the broadcast towers but separated from them by tall buildings. This screenshot shows the stations and tower locations for our main antenna test site. In our testing, we evaluated the signal strength and quality of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW, PBS, Ion, Univision, and some independent stations.
And if you need to position the antenna out in the open, it doesn’t look like something you hang laundry on. It also performed well in the Brooklyn location, where multipath signals can be a significant problem.
The Eclipse didn’t suffer from coupling interference caused by people walking around the room as much as other antennas. It comes with tacky Sure Grip pads that adhere to either side of the antenna to attach it to a wall.
If you peel it off the wall and the backing acquires dust or dog hair, you can even wipe it with a damp cloth, and the Sure Grip surface will be good as new. We love this feature because sometimes you’ll need to move your antenna around several times to find the best location.
If you’re farther away than that, or separated by mountains or other obstructions, give the amped version a try and move the antenna around to find the best location. It performs almost as well as the Eclipse, looks a lot like the original Moho Leaf antenna (but cheaper), is sturdy enough to survive moves and falls, and comes with a signal amplifier.
It’s made of a more rigid plastic than some others, and it doesn’t look as finished as more expensive antennas, but it’s a bit more solid and can take being dropped. The edges are a little rough, and the protective film covering is difficult to remove, but those things don’t impact its performance.
In our tests in Pennsylvania, the 1byone antenna pulled in 46 channels, which is a few less than the Eclipse, but all the main networks came in. Adding the included amplifier didn’t bring in any additional channels, and it overloaded a few signals, which made reception worse.
The flat Release is made from recycled cable boxes and cable-box packaging, and while it’s not as durable as a plastic antenna, it pulls in channels like a champ. If you like the idea of doing a small thing for the environment and don’t mind the slightly less durable nature of a cardboard antenna, then the Moho Release is a good choice.
The flat part of the antenna that’s usually plastic is made of cardboard, so it’s not likely to be as durable as other products. If you cut and fold it correctly, it makes a little tabletop stand for the antenna--but it’ll still look like cardboard.
The Clickstream Wireless antenna device functions essentially the same as the Moho Airwaves, but it connects only via Wi-Fi. The Clickstream Wireless is smaller than the Airwaves, which makes it easier to hide.
Since it uses Wi-Fi, you don’t need to keep it near your router (as long as your Wi-Fi signal is sufficiently strong), which allows you to place it in a more ideal location for TV reception. Like the Moho, the app includes a nice channel guide that makes finding what you want easy.
Adjusting the position of the Wi-Fi device seemed to help, but that defeats the benefit of being able to locate it where you get the best broadcast reception. You can pretty much ignore these claims unless you live on the one hill in the center of a flat prairie.
In our tests, even the antenna that claimed the longest distance still had trouble with stations that were much closer. The earth isn’t flat, and any bumps along the trip that the signal makes from the broadcast tower to your home will impact your reception.
Evaluating TV antennas in real-world scenarios can be complicated because there are so many variables to good reception, and it’s nearly impossible to account for them all. Your TV’s tuner, weather, solar eruptions, poltergeist, and Borg can all cause interference externally, and room arrangement, cord length, or aesthetics can prevent you from placing an antenna in the best position.
Kelly Williams, a senior director in the engineering and technology policy department of the National Association of Broadcasters, agrees that antenna reception is a tricky issue, and what works in one location may not work in another: “It is a bit of a mystery sometimes. Outdoor barriers (mountains, buildings, trees) can negatively impact reception, while you’ll find impediments inside your home as well.
Appliance thermostats and hair dryers can produce wideband noise, which is electrical interference caused by short, high-energy bursts. If an antenna doesn’t work for you, it could be the fault of your walls, trees in your yard, your neighbor, or a nearly infinite number of other possibilities.
TVFool.com is more complex but gives a lot more detail, including gorgeous plots of theoretical signal strength and where the broadcast towers are located. And if you’re looking for a cable-style TV schedule, Titan TV is a free Web service that lists local programming.
An active amplifier is a small device that plugs into an outlet and boosts the antenna signal. If your non-amped broadcast signal is already pretty strong, the boost from the amp can overload the tuner and actually prevent you from getting a picture.
An amplifier can be very useful in two circumstances: when you’re very far away from the broadcasters, or placement demands that you use a coaxial cable that’s very long (50 feet or more). Due to broadcast transmission changes in some areas, readers have reported a greater need for antennas that excel in pulling in VHF signals.
Multiple readers have requested that we explore more VHF-oriented antennas, so our current product research is focused on that area. Atop’s new Big Boy AT-406BV amplified antenna is designed for UHF and VHF, with extendable rods, and claims a range up to 80 miles.
Channel Master's Smarten+ claims to eliminate the problem of having to adjust an antenna location any time there are signal interruptions, which could be caused by weather conditions or even rearranging your furniture. The Smarten+ claims to create a newly optimized reception pattern at the push of a button.
We have not yet tested Vinegar’s multi-directional Flatware Amped amplified indoor antenna, which claims a range of 55-plus miles and has an 18.5-foot cable that is not detachable. Honestly, it feels cheap, too, which may be an issue if you expect to reposition it often or otherwise need your antenna to take a lot of abuse.
It was also one of the lower-performing antennas in New York, and it had particular difficulty with Ion, though it could produce a watchable picture. We liked the Channel Master Antenna when we originally tested it but found it flimsy and noted its six-foot cable is too short.
The Moho Curve 50 is a tabletop antenna with a powered amplifier integrated into the cable. As a tabletop or shelf antenna, it’s harder to find an ideal placement for it, which impacted reception.
It pulled in channels almost as well as our top pick, but Philadelphia's FOX network came in spotty. The HD Frequency Cable Cutter Indoor Outdoor Antenna was the top performer in an earlier version of this guide.
In retesting we found that, while it performed pretty well, it didn’t measure up to the best antennas in our roundup and was even outperformed by its little sibling. That, its higher price, and the fact that it’s relatively large for an indoor antenna and more difficult to hang on a wall due to its weight and size means that we can’t recommend it over our top picks.
When pointed in the right direction, it’s capable of pulling in stations from a longer distance, but it didn’t receive the closer target channels any better than the small antennas. The Term Monitor is a tabletop antenna that looks like a smart speaker and even has a built-in LED light.
The Vinegar Revision is an indoor/outdoor antenna that requires a few minutes of assembly and looks more suited to attic or outdoor placement. In Pennsylvania, the Trashtenna didn’t do as well and completely missed several of the target channels.
While being the least expensive (basically free), it was also the least durable, as the foil ripped the first time I moved it. He has been reporting on technology since 1999 and has been an invited speaker at events including CES and MEDIA.