Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Review of 5 HDTV Indoor Antennas: Mohu Leaf, Terk FDTV2A, Antennas Direct Clearstream 2, RCA 1450B and Rabbit Ears

Cord-cutting is a growing trend to get rid of expensive cable in favor of old-fashion TV antennas and the myriad of streaming services, such as Amazon Instant Video and Netflix (each with free trials). So what's the best antenna to receive the most channels over the air when nearby trees, tall buildings, and weather all affect reception? Here's a quick review of several of the best antennas for 2014 that I found after some online research.

For those wanting to watch Netflix and Hulu on an HDTV check out this review of streaming media players, including: Roku, Boxee, and Apple TV.

First, tools like TVFool and the TV Antenna GeoSelector provide you an idea of the broadcast signal coverage in your area and the over the air television channels you should expect to receive. Below is the TVFool chart for my location; I used TVFool because TV Antenna GeoSelector was unavailable. My cheap rabbit ear antenna already receives a good number of channels over the air, but from the TVFool chart, there is a set of channels in at 64 degrees for which the rabbit ear antenna doesn't work, so the simple enough goal was to see if any antenna could pick up those channels.

Test Setup


Five antennas were tested: cheap RCA rabbit ears, RCA 1450B, Antennas Direct Clearstream 2, Terk FDTV2A, Mohu Leaf Plus; the base case was the RCA rabbit ears.


To make antenna repositioning as easy as possible the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 950 USB TV tuner was used on a Windows laptop with the WinTV software and the signal monitor.


Antennas were tested near a window facing South on a partly cloudy day; limited ability to reposition antennas since my windows only face South. There are buildings all around, but none are very tall.


All the omni-directional antennas did better versus the directional antennas because they did not  require repositioning to reach the few additional 64 degree channels they were able to receive, but these were iffy and would probably go away on a cloudy day. All the antennas worked better with amplification. The chart below summarizes the main points of interest, especially the number of over the air channels they each received, and further below are some quick impressions about each antenna. "Overall Channels Added" means that the TV tuner added channels to the channel list, but they weren't necessarily viewable. The prices (in USD) are approximate values from Amazon.


  • Mohu Leaf Plus: Extremely light in comparison to the other antennas, mini-USB amplifier connector, short amplifier power cable
  • Terk FDTV2A: Best reception overall; required the least amount of the re-positioning
  • RCA 1450B: Middle of the pack
  • Antennas Direct Clearstream 2: Large for an indoor antenna, heavy, and very directional
  • RCA Rabbit Ears: Cheap, works for the majority of channels
Overall, the Mohu Leaf Plus gave the best impression with its lightness, thinness, the fact that the makers gave users both a black and white side, and effectiveness compared to the Terk FDTV2A, but none performed as well as I had hoped.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those are some great info. Thanks.