The Most Expensive HDTV Antennas Aren’t Necessarily The Best

CRO_electronics_RCA_ANT_1650_AntennaThis morning’s news about Time Warner briefly blacking out CBS networks made clear that there are a lot of reasons why you might consider ditching your cable subscription. Newer televisions receive digital signals, but what about antennas? Are we still stuck with huge, hideous rabbit ears or metal rods on our roofs and balconies? Nope.

Our high-definition siblings down the hall at Consumer Reports bought and tested a variety of television antennas in a wide variety of locations around the New York City metropolitan area. That’s a region that includes everything from the densest urban areas in the country to small mountains, after all. They discovered something that longtime cable customers may have sort of forgotten about: your ability to tune in depends on how close you are to the broadcast towers, and what terrain and buildings are in between.

It was hard for testers to really rank the different models, because performance varied according to where the device was being tested. Generally, they found that the $32 RCA ANT 1650 (pictured) and the $35 RadioShack 15-254 got the most channels for the most testers. There are sites that can help you pick the best antenna for where you live: check out antennaweb.org or antennapoint.com.

Outdoor antennas really get the best reception, but if you live close enough to a broadcast tower and don’t want to fuss with an outdoor device, an indoor model should work fine.

Indoor HDTV antennas get a warm—but hopefully not fuzzy—reception [Consumer Reports]