If you’ve been a cable subscriber for many years, you might have forgotten how many good quality TV channels are actually free. When you cut the cable cord, you can still access lots of local news and sports and free-to-air channels with some of your favorite sitcoms.
But without your cable TV connection, you are going to need an antenna. You remember, the rabbit ears that sat on top of your TV that you would try to adjust to get a clear picture (well, depending on your age, you might not remember this at all).
Today, you are going to want to upgrade from the rabbit ears to an indoor digital TV antenna, and depending on where you live, maybe an amplified antenna, which can significantly boost the signal you are receiving.
To help you figure out which antenna to get, we’re going to go through why you need a digital antenna and when you might need an amplified antenna. We’ll then share with you our top five amplified TV antennas that are available today.
Product Quick Links
- Forlovv Amplified Digital HD TV Antenna
- XFTREE Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna
- RCA Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
- GE UltraPro Black Stealth Mobile TV Antenna
- Winegard FlatWave Amplified TV Antenna
#1 Forlovv Amplified Digital HD TV Antenna
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#2 XFTREE Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna
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#3 RCA Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
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#4 GE UltraPro Black Stealth Mobile TV Antenna
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#5 Winegard FlatWave Amplified TV Antenna
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What’s On Free-To-Air TV In The United States?
You can be forgiven for wondering whether investing in an antenna is really worth it and question whether there is anything you want to watch. Cable networks often obscure which channels are free to air since their packages look more attractive if you think you also need their service to watch popular channels that are free to air.
Among the most popular free-to-air channels available nationally in the United States are ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, C-Span, and NASA TV. These channels cover major news outlets, national sporting events, lots of kids TV, and classic sitcoms such as The Middle, Full House, and The Wonder Years.
As well as these national channels, you can pick up local channels you may have missed out on with your cable subscription. These will probably cover local news and sports.
Sure, you aren’t getting premium channels with the latest release of the blockbuster series, but if you tune into news, sports, or have kids to keep entertained, free-to-air television has a lot to offer.
If you are looking for other great ways to get the best content on your Android TV box, check out our list of must-have Android TV apps.
Do You Need An Amplified Digital Antenna?
If you already have an outdoor TV antenna sticking out of your roof somewhere (do take a look, you might be surprised), it is just a matter of figuring out where it enters your house and how to hook it up to your media set up.
But if you don’t already have an antenna, rather than scaling your building to install one, you are probably going to want an indoor digital antenna. You can place these in a discreet space near your TV, and then plug them directly into your TV or your Android TV box.
Digital antennas come with both a traditional coaxial connector and a USB connector that is used to power the antenna. To plug the antenna directly into your Android TV box, you will need a coaxial to USB adapter cable, though some digital antennae now also come with a USB option included.
Plugging directly into your Android TV box is highly convenient in terms of browsing all of your content in the same place. Also, if you have a DVR service set up on your TV box, such as with Plex Pass, you can record live TV to watch later.
But, depending on where you live, you might find that you don’t get great coverage with an indoor antenna. If you live in a rural area a long distance from the broadcasting tower, you might just be too far away. But if you live in a heavily urbanized area, you might also have problems as surrounding architecture and power-consuming appliances can cause major interference that dampens your signal.
If you are struggling to get a decent signal, you might be able to solve this with an amplified TV antenna. These antennae not only pick up the signal, but will boost and repeat the signal to strengthen it.
This can be useful both if you are a long distance from the tower and if you are in an area where there is lots of interference.
5 Best Indoor Amplified TV Antennae
You can choose whether to mount this antenna inside or outside your home. It is small enough that it won’t feel like a major obstruction while indoors, but it is also weather-proofed if you do decide to place it outdoors for an even better signal. There is a 36 ft cable, so you will be able to reach your TV no matter where you place your antenna.
- 290-mile range
- Indoor or outdoor
- 36 ft cable
This is a powerful antenna designed to be used indoors. But even inside it has enough under the hood to pick up a signal from towers as far as 160 miles away. It will also clear up signal strength that has been weakened by interference.
This is a multidirectional antenna, so it is just about finding the best location in your home and then connecting to your TV with its 17 ft cable. You have both coaxial and YSB options when it comes to hooking it up to your media center.
- 160 miles
- 17 ft cable
- Coaxial and USB
It only has a broadcast tower distance of about 40 miles, but its smart booster works automatically to amplify weak signals that might have been compromised by interference. It has both a flat panel antenna and adjustable dipoles, so you can also manually change the direction to get a better signal strength.
This antenna is smaller and more affordable than most other options on the market, so it won’t make a big dent in your home or your wallet.
- 40 miles from the tower
- Smart booster with adjustable dipoles
- Affordable and compact
While you might principally want your antenna to connect to your home media setup, you might also want something that can travel with you. Heading to the park to barbeque and watch the local sporting final? Take this antenna with you and hook it up to your smartphone or tablet.
It is about the size of a mobile phone, with lightweight, winged antennae to pick up broadcast signals as far as 60 miles away. It is weather-resistant and has six feet of cable to get it connected.
- 60-mile range
- Mobile and weather-resistant
If your main concern is where exactly you are going to place your antenna to get a decent signal, then this option from Winegard is great. It is a flat antenna that you can stick to a wall or a window for an even better signal.
It has a 55-mile range and uses an embedded ultra-low noise amplifier with clear circuit technology to clear up your signal and give you crystal clear viewing.
- 55-mile range
- Sticks to the wall or window
- Embedded ultra-low noise amplifier
Will Signal From An Antenna Be Worse Than From A Cable Box?
No, the picture and sound quality provided by an over-the-air signal are actually superior to what you get with cable. This is because cable and satellite TV companies compress the signal.
Do I Need An HD Digital TV Antenna?
You will often see antennae described as HD, which is a familiar term to let you know that they are capable of delivering 1080P picture quality. But whether you receive HD quality depends on whether the broadcast is in full HD, as opposed to standard definition. But all antennae will be able to pick up an HD signal.
How Do I Find The Numerous Channels That Each Broadcast Station Lists?
Finding the channels you are looking for can be complicated as each channel frequency can provide various sub-channels. For example, if you are watching channel 2, you will actually receive a signal with a group of sub-channels, for example, 2.1, 2.2, and so forth, up to a maximum of four sub-channels.
Do Smart TVs Have Built-In Antennae?
No, just like a standard TV, your smart TV does not have an antenna built-in and you will need to connect to an antenna to watch local channels. Your smart TV does have Wi-Fi built-in, much like your computer, which allows it to connect to your network and streaming services.
Why Did I Suddenly Lose A Lot Of Channels On My TV?
Channels are sometimes re-packaged, which causes them to change frequency. This means that channels will no longer appear where you expect them to be and you will need to retune. The FCC did a big re-pack in 2020, and this caused many channels to change their frequencies.
When you cut the cable cord, you might be surprised by how much quality TV programming you can still enjoy with free-to-air channels. This is especially true when it comes to sports, news, and children’s programming.
But, if you haven’t used an antenna in years, you might find it even more difficult than before. There tends to be a lot of signal interference these days thanks to architecture and electrical appliances that it can be hard to get a good signal with a traditional indoor antenna.
If you are struggling to get coverage, you can solve this problem with an amplified TV antenna that uses smart technology to boost even very weak signal strength. Hopefully, one of the five great options on our list will do the trick for you.
Do you have any experience improving a bad TV signal? What are the best things to watch on free-to-air TV? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.