There is no ‘best’ Over-the-Air (OTA) TV antenna for everyone, which is why we previously put together a TV Antenna Buyer’s Guide. But we still see OTA TV viewers taking shortcuts and making common mistakes when they start the TV antenna shopping process, which can quickly lead to frustration.
If you want to buy the right TV antenna and optimize your Over-the-Air reception, keep reading to learn the top 5 ways NOT to shop for your first OTA TV antenna…
1. DON’T Just Buy the First TV Antenna You Saw Advertised
The companies behind cheap TV antennas like LiveWave, Clear TV Key, Clear TV Premium HD Mini and Magic Stick are spending a fortune advertising to cord cutters both online and on television.
This can give the illusion that their products are better or more popular than quality alternatives because they’ve paid for ‘brand recognition’.
If the antenna is ‘As Seen on TV’ or is featured in a Facebook ad with language that makes it sound too good to be true, it’s best to avoid it or at least do more research before making a purchase.
2. DON’T Just Buy the Same TV Antenna Your Brother/Cousin/Coworker Bought:
Just because your brother who lives three states away is happy with his TV antenna, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the same experience when you buy the exact same make/model.
The type of TV antenna you need depends on several factors including how far away your local broadcast towers are, so what works great for others, may not work for you.
3. DON’T Just Ask for a Basic Recommendation:
Never ask friends, well-intentioned internet strangers, or even a bricks-and-mortar retail store employees to recommend a TV antenna to you without at least providing some context about your location and needs.
If they’re happy to recommend a TV antenna without knowing the specifics of your situation, their advice is unlikely to be useful.
4. DON’T Just Google ‘Best TV Antenna’:
It’s smart to do online research before making any purchase. But for more complex purchases in very competitive markets like TV antennas, you’ll need to check out more than the first few search results to avoid getting fleeced.
For example, our quick search revealed some especially poor sponsored results (960 mile range… yeah right!) and a featured snippet from an article with a factual error.
Further down the search results page were some better roundup articles which included details on their testing methodology, but many ignored some critical features cord cutters should consider like support for VHF frequencies.
5. DON’T Just Search for ‘TV Antenna’ on Amazon:
OTA TV viewers can easily be led astray by Amazon product listings. A quick search for ‘TV antenna’ led to 22 products, 6 of which were ‘sponsored’ listings.
Of the listings that weren’t stealth advertisements, only three were products we would readily recommend and only to a subset of consumers.
For example, many Tablo customers have had great success using the Antennas Direct Clearstream 4Max TV antenna, but it’s intended for cord cutters living 50-70 miles from their local broadcast towers.
For folks living within 10 miles of local towers, this TV antenna would be much too powerful resulting in a poor experience.
The remaining products, including one marked as an Amazon ‘best seller’ were mostly of poor quality and being marketed with inaccurate language at best and at wosrt flagrant lies and therefore should be avoided.
How to Successfully Shop for an Over-the-Air TV Antenna?
Before heading to the store or jumping online to buy an OTA TV antenna, you need to do some research and be able to answer the following questions:
- How far away is your home in relation to your local broadcast towers?
- Are those local broadcast towers clustered in a single location, or in opposite directions?
- Where do you intend to place your TV antenna (inside or outside your home)?
- Are there potential sources of interference in the vicinity?
- Are some of your local TV channels broadcast on VHF frequencies?
- Do you intend to distribute the signals from a single antenna to multiple TVs or tuners (like in a DVR)?
This knowledge paired with our OTA TV Antenna Buyer’s Guide will help you make a solid choice on your own and/or give others the information they need to guide you.
Still Need Help?
If you are confused, quality Over-the-Air TV antenna manufacturers like Antennas Direct, Winegard and Antop have 1-800 numbers and/or online tools that can help you choose the best product from their lineup for your needs.
Wary of climbing on the roof to install a TV antenna or have a complex situation that might require an expert’s help? Most cities have at least one professional TV antenna installer who will evaluate your needs, suggest a product and position it for optimal reception.
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Check out these tools and posts on Over-the-Air TV antennas, OTA signals and reception next:
- Tablo’s TV signal locator
- How to Avoid Getting Scammed When Buying a TV Antenna for Cord Cutting
- Tablo FAQs: What Is the Best Over-the-Air TV Antenna for Cord Cutters?
- How Your Location Impacts Your Over-the-Air TV Reception
- Top Sources of Obstruction & Interference That Can Impact Your Over-the-Air TV Reception
- Where to Place and How to Install Your Over-the-Air TV Antenna
- Why OTA Frequency Bands Matter for Cord Cutters with Antennas
- Getting Technical with Over-the-Air TV Reception
- Reusing Existing Infrastructure for OTA Antenna Connections
- How to Access OTA Signals from Multiple Directions
- How to Find a Local Over-the-Air TV Antenna Installer