Indoor TV Antennas Compared: Cheap vs Expensive

What’s going on everybody?

This is James White with Freakin’ Reviews bringing you As Seen on TV product reviews,

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Now today I’m comparing three indoor TV antennas to see if there’s a difference

between the cheap ones and more expensive ones.

That’s today’s review.

Alright guys so what I’ve got here is three contestants.

Number one, I paid a whopping 3 bucks for this one at the 99 Cent Store and More.

This isn’t 99 cents.

I hate when they do that.

Now after that is the latest edition of the As Seen on TV Clear TV.

This one has been around for a while but Clear TV has kind of evolved over the years.

This is the newest version that I could find, so we’ll see how that works.

I paid 18 bucks for that one.

And finally I picked a popular one on Amazon.

This is an amplified TV antenna.

This was about $27 so really not much more than the Clear TV.

Let’s see if there’s a big difference between the cheap antennas and the expensive


First up, crack ‘em open and see how they look.

Alright well this feels very thin, but it looks cool, though.

And it has a sort of holographic almost look to it.

For 3 bucks though.

Will it work?

Got a suction cup mount.

This is an optional stick pad to help you with unfinished surfaces, so it seems like

it might be a good deal for 3 bucks.

Let’s open the Clear TV.

Oh this packaging is killing me here.

Oh just tearing it all.

Alright well this is much more compact.

Looks like you can… the old school rabbit ears but much smaller.

We’ll see how it works.

And finally this behemoth.

I found this one by going on Amazon and just looking for the ones that were the most popular.

This one had a lot of good ratings and it wasn’t too expensive.

Oh wow.

Look at the size of this thing.


A lot of wires in here.

Pretty good instructions and look at the size of this.

Look at this compared to the cheap one.

It looks like it’s a moon around the orbit of the larger one.

I’ll be really curious what kind of a difference this makes.

Alight so you may or may not remember back in 2013 when the original Clear TV was advertising.

It was a pretty slick marketing campaign because a lot of people watched that commercial were

under the impression they’re going to get all these new channels without paying for

cable or satellite.

Well those channels already exist because they’re broadcast by TV antennas like those

back there.

There was nothing really special about it.

It wasn’t some sort of a Fire Stick or Roku.

It was just a television antenna.

Just very slickly marketed.

But there are people that want to get rid of their cable and satellite and watch some

TV and television antennas do fill that void.

The question is how close are you to the broadcast antennas and how much of a difference will

the antenna make?

I’ve got some right in my backyard.

Those will probably be pretty clear.

There’s some across town.

They may not.

So let’s see what a difference the cheap ones and the more expensive ones actually


Indoor antennas are best used next to a window so I re-positioned this television next to

a window so all of them can get maximum opportunity to get the best signal they can.

So I’m going to put the first cheap antenna up and see how it goes.

This is my $3 antenna.

I like the design though.

The instructions I don’t like so much.

They’re not very good.

What do you expect for 3 bucks?

You’re supposed to attach this antenna to this base and ideally attach it to a window

which is what I’m going to do.

OK, I think it’s going to stay.


First thing you have to do with any antenna is scan for channels.

Hopefully it hold up… it didn’t hold up.

Actually used some picture mounts to hold this thing in place and I’ve got it here

pointing at the Las Vegas Valley, so every TV antenna in town is that direction.

Alright and now I’ll try scanning for channels.

I expect it to be a pretty high number here in Las Vegas, so we’ll see where it’s


It’s already at 11% so it’s not taking that long.

They say 20 minutes.


That’s a lot of channels.

Are any of them any good?

We’ll have to find that out pretty soon, too.

Looks like it found 76 channels.

Well the quality is so-so on that one.

Oh, it’s Tac Visor, and it’s loud.

I reviewed this one.

Sweet, Tac Visor.

I love it.

The volume really varies a lot on these.

Some of them are blasting.

Some of them I can barely hear it.

The picture quality on this one is very good.

This is the local NBC station.

I’ve gotta watch my soaps and they’re not looking pretty good!

Alright I’m not going to go through all 76 channels on all three of these but it looks

like I’m getting kind of a mixed bag of some look pretty good and some don’t.

Some are loud, some are quiet.

Next up, though, is Clear TV.

Alright next up is Clear TV.

This is the new version, not the old version.

They give you a little sticky mount for this but they say you’re supposed to mount it

vertically, so what I’m going to do, I’m going to put it on the table right behind

the TV which is right next to the window, so it’s basically at a window mount anyways.

So I’m going to put it right here, plug it in up there, and see how it goes.

See if this actually comes off when I’m done with this.

Ok so we are right next to a window and I guess these just pull up.

Aww little cute rabbit ears, just like the old days.

Now let the Clear TV scan and see how it goes.

Alright so the Clear TV only picked up 66 channels when the cheap $3 antenna picked

up 76 channels.

It’s a little bit surprising.

And I think the picture quality on this channel 2.1 is not as good as it was with the cheap


See, look it’s stopping.

It didn’t do that before.

Wow is that loud.

And I reviewed this, too.

This is actually a pretty good product.

I reviewed this, too!

I reviewed this, too.

This is a great channel.

I need to leave these on all the time.

This is like the greatest hits of some of the stuff I’ve reviewed already.

This was one of my best of 2018 actually.

See this picture is also good once again.

NBC is once again good.

It’s a great picture.

Great sound, too.

Alright well so far just on first glance, the Clear TV doesn’t look as good as the

$3 one but I’m going to do a better test tonight where we check all the channels and

see how they look.

Next up I’ve got the expensive amplified antenna and we’re going to see how that

does next.

And finally it’s time for this bad boy.

Look at the size of this thing.

It’s about the size of a TV itself almost.

It’s got an 18-foot cable.

It’s got a sticky strip on the back for mounting.

It’s got an amplifier which goes in the USB port.

If you don’t have a USB port on your TV, they even give you an included power cube.

Got the amplifier here.

This goes into the TV.

Hopefully this sticks better than the $3 one did.

Will it stay in place?

Once again I’m going to scan these channels, see how many it picks up.

Alright so obviously it’s not right.

It only picked up 15 channels, but the instructions state that if you have the amplifier and you’re

too near broadcast towers that you could actually pick up less channels, so I’m going to take

the amplifier out and try it again without the amplifier and see if there’s a difference

because 15 versus 76, it’s definitely not right.

It looks like it’s already picking up more channels.

I’m at 11 at 5% so the amplifier was obviously actually causing problems, which the instructions

said could happen.

Alright so 74 channels, take a quick look at these, and then we’ll do our big test

later tonight.

Once again this channel just doesn’t come in very well no matter what.

Once again NBC looking good.

So right now my first impression, I’m not seeing a big difference between the more expensive

antenna and the $3 antenna, and the Clear TV seemed to be kind of in the rear so it’s

going to be interesting to do a little bit better comparison with multiple people all

giving our opinions on this, but right now it looks like the $3 antenna is hanging in

there with the rest of them but let’s see what happens on our more extensive test later.

Now because a picture quality is kind of a subjective thing.

Some people might say it’s a good picture, some people may disagree.

I wanted to have more opinions than just my own so I invited my twins to help me out.

We kind of had a TV watching night.

We went through all three antennas, all the channels, and rated each one of them, and

here’s how that went.

We’re going to have a family TV night with some popcorn.

It’s time to get started.

Alright so I’m here with my kids.

We’re going to watch all the channels from all three antennas.

We’re going to rank them and come up with a decision on which one is the best antenna

based on the quality of the channels we see.

So you guys ready?

Got our popcorn here.

So we’re going to start with channel 2.1 and work our way up, and see how they all


We’re not going to share our scores with each other.

No looking over here alright?

This is the $3 antenna and I re-scanned it before we started so it has a fresh scan on

it and 2.2 is not showing up at all.

I don’t know that guy!

One of your friends looks like him a bit.

I forget his name though.

Way back in the day.

His hair.

That’s like 70s or 80s.

Yep we’ve got Westerns here.

I love that music.

Sounds like 90s.

If 90s.

Looks like bad vacation footage.

What is this?

Looks like home videos.

The Crispy Colonel, right?

I did the Crispy Colonel.

They have pot pies?

Brandon has reviews on his channel.

We’ve done a bunch of KFC, right?

A couple of them.

Oh this is Forensic Files.

Don’t ever watch this show when you’re about to go to sleep.

Oh no.

This is not a good show when you’re trying to fall asleep.

It’s fun to watch, but not at night.

One time they had an episode that kept saying “James White.”

I know there was a killer named James White on the show!

I recorded it because it freaked me out hearing him say my name over and over again.

This is the $3 antenna.

I think it’s doing pretty well so far.


That’s the Duke right there.

The Duke!

I don’t know.

I’ve got nothing.


I’ve never seen something jump from a 10 to a 1 so quickly.

That looks like when the bitrate is really messed up.

That’s rough.

So 21.2.

The low ones were good.

Now it’s not looking so good.

You can’t watch that.

Looks like Voldemort a bit.

Have Proactiv and you’ll have lines on your face like that.

You’ll have like roast beef face.

Roast beef face?

I love it.

That’s a new thing now.

It looked like roast beef.


Very loud!

It’s the loudest one.


It’s actually distorting it’s so loud.

Found a lot of channels that don’t have anything on them.

I love this show.

We can watch it later.

Very quiet.

Oh boy.

Gotta love shopping channels.

Those are cute though.

Oh great.

I’m not going to buy them though.

More shopping.

Now we have to do this two more times.


Two more times!

I mean it’s not the worst.

We're going to take a break.

I’m going to switch the antennas, re-scan it, and we’re going to do it again.

Alright taking a look at the final results for the $3 antenna.

These are what I call the raw stats and that’s the rating we gave to all the channels, regardless

whether they’re good or not.

We all agreed there were 62 channels, so I gave all the channels a 7.6 rating on average,

Noah gave it a 5.7.

She was less impressed with some of the channels than I was.

Brandon’s average was 7.2.

That gives the overall average raw rating as a 6.8.

Now what I did next was I filtered out all the channels that were pretty much unusable

even though they had a signal, all of them that were so bad they weren’t unwatchable,

so basically anything with a 5 or above rating to see where the rating of those channels

were and how many channels we actually thought were usable.

So I call this my adjusted rating for the $3 antenna.

I found there to be 58 channels that were usable with an average of an 8-star rating.

Noah’s less impressed.

She had 41 usable channels and a 7.0-star rating.

Brandon kind of in the middle, 7.6 and 55 channels.

That averages out to 7.5-star rating with 51 usable channels.

Next up we tried the As Seen on TV Clear TV and here’s what happened.

Alright time for Round 2.

We’ve got the Clear TV.

This is the new version, so let’s see how that goes.

I don’t trust him for some reason.


I reviewed this one.

This is the second time I’ve seen this one.

I reviewed this one.

Why would you melt candy?

I did that same test!

I did that test and it actually passed the test.

That same guy does all those voices for the As Seen on TV commercials.

Just like the pros!

That wasn’t exactly it, was it?

That’s for the kid products.

Oh yeah.

Magic Pad!

Magic Pad!

Alright this is Clear TV.

Clear TV!

Yeah see.

Is that Frank Sinatra?

Yeah see.

Uh oh.

It’s breaking up a bit.


There he is again.

Old creepy Forensic File guy.

Would you rather have a channel that doesn’t come in well, or just have it not come in

at all?

Which one would you prefer?

Look at that.

That looked freaky.

Like some “Blah.”

I’d rather have no channel than have to look at that.

Oh no.

Oh there’s a big discrepancy between the first one and this one.

Take a nosedive.

Oh no, not again.

Clear TV is starting to fade!

Come on Clear TV.

Ooh mama.

Oh no.

Clear TV.

Not so clear right now.


No kidding.

It’s negligent in its signal.

You know what’s weird is some of the channels are better and some of them are worse.

It’s like it’s not consistent.

What happened?

All the 21s are gone.

And the 23s.

Clear TV is not impressing me.

What do you guys think?

It’s not very clear.

How is this this improved version?

This is the new improved version so imagine the original?

Should we review this cat litter thing?

She might be scared.

It’s like 500 bucks, isn’t it?

Look at that cat.

They look good for about 1 second, now it froze again.

Alright guys, so that was the Clear TV.

We’ll have to add up the scores and see how they do but we’ve got one more antenna

to go.

We’re going to take a break and come back for the final one.

Alright here we go.

Alright so taking a look at the Clear TV raw ratings.

Again this is the average rating for all the channels whether they were really watchable

or not, just if we had a signal.

As you can see there’s aren’t as impressive as the $3 antenna as far as the raw ratings


5.9 for me, 4.8 for Noah, 5.7 for Brandon.

That averages out to 5.5 and 57 total channels.

Now when you get rid of all the garbage out of there, the numbers are much more impressive.

I had a 7.7 and 40 usable channels.

Noah had 7.3 but only 28 usable channels in her opinion.

Brandon had the highest rating for Clear TV with 7.9 and 37 usable channels.

So as you can see there’s much less channels that were really watchable.

But the average rating was 7.6 with 35 usable channels on average.

And finally it was the highly rated Amazon U Must Have antenna, and here’s how that


Alright for the final test, this is the U Must Have antenna which cost I think 27 bucks.

Let’s get started.

Some good acting man!

Oh man.

Love the acting.

That’s perfect.

What a moment to turn on.

What was that man?


That’s Ron Howard the director of like, The Grinch right there.

Wait really?

That little kid.

That little kid directed The Grinch.


It’s like let me see.


This is the second John Wayne movie we’ve seen tonight I think.


Ooh we’ve got Star Trek.


I want to watch this now.

Can I watch this instead?

See Clear TV didn’t pick up any of these 21 channels.

That’s true.

This was my favorite show when I was a kid.

I love Jack Tripper.

That chick’s hair, though.

No thank you.

We’re getting into all these shows now.

Every one of these seems to struggle with a certain range I’ve noticed.


Their voice is getting blended with this blender.

He did it.

What kind of movie is this?

Is he blading?

I’ve heard of Blade Runner but not like this.

This is the 90s blade runner.

Got those shorts.

This is great.

What the heck is that?

It’s like the desert version of Tron.


I don’t know what this is.

I love it.

Do you guys know these movies, comment because I’m curious.

I love this.

What kind of video is this?

Walking barefoot in the street.

What is that?

This is so perfect.

Anthony Sullivan is a great way to finish.

That's my boy right there.

Anthony Sullivan.

There we go.

It’s hard to tell because some… each one of them seemed to have ranges they were good

and bad at.

Some of them seemed like they picked up channels the others didn’t.

So what I’m going to do is compile all these numbers, see how many channels they actually

picked up, as opposed to just the ones that scanned and they had nothing on there.

Now it’s time for me to do all the tallying and see which one we picked as the best antenna

of these three.

That’s next.

Taking a look at the U Must Have antenna, just the raw data.

These are the ones that are just, either they worked or not.

My average rating was 7.3, Noah was 5.8, Brandon 6.7.

That averaged out 6.6 stars and the highest number of channels at 66.

Now when you adjust these, remove all the garbage channels that weren’t really usable,

the numbers are a little bit different.

Mine was a 7.9 with 60 channels, Noah’s went up to 7.2 and 45 usable channels.

Brandon 7.6 with 54 channels.

That averaged out a 7.6 with 53 channels.

So after we were done, I had to crunch all these numbers.

We all had our ratings here.

I had to figure out what to do with all that.

Now let’s look at all three antennas with the raw ratings.

Again these are just channels that were there or not and I didn’t filter out any of the

kind of garbage channels.

The $3 antenna had a 6.8-star rating with 62 channels, Clear TV 5.5 with 57 channels,

and U Must Have 6.6 with 66 channels.

So the U Must Have had the most channels but the $3 antenna actually had the highest rating.

But once again, that includes channels that really weren’t very usable, so let’s take

out all the garbage channels and see how the adjusted totals compare.

The $3 antenna had a 7.5 with 51 channels, Clear TV 7.6 with 35 channels, and the U Must

Have also 7.6 with 53 channels.

So really when you adjust them, all three of them had about the same rating, but look

at the number of channels.

The Clear TV had 18 less channels than the U Must Have really in the watchable category,

so even though it had a high rating, it had much less channels that really met that criteria.

So what this tells me is that the $3 antenna and the U Must Have, which are both window-mounted,

outperformed the Clear TV which was standing vertically right next to a window.

The final graphic here.

This is the total of everything, the raw and the adjusted next to each other.

The $3 antenna didn’t really change a lot.

The rating went up and the channels went down because you’re filtering out a lot of the

lesser channels.

Clear TV really, the star rating went up but the channels went way down to 35.

U Must Have, it kept the most number of channels and it had the same star rating as the Clear

TV but much more channels.

Keep in mind the results for a TV antenna is going to differ for everyone because there’s

so many different factors that play into it, like your distance from the television broadcast

towers, the placement within your home, any obstacles between you and the tower, any obstacles

within your home.

So this is just an example of how it worked for me, but I think my example might translate

to a lot of people as far as my final results goes.

Because I live in a big city, within 35 miles of the nearest broadcast towers, I really…

the amplifier wasn’t really something I could use.

So if you’re living in a remote area, you probably want to use an amplified antenna

if you’re going with an indoor antenna, but if you live in a remote area, you’re

probably going to go with a roof-mounted antenna to get all the distant TV broadcast antennas.

But if you’re in a big city and you want an indoor TV antenna, it appears to me from

my very unscientific test that a cheap window-mounted antenna will probably perform about as well

as an expensive one.

I probably wouldn’t go with the Clear TV over a window-mounted option.

Have you used an indoor antenna like these or another one?

Tell me what you think in the comments below.

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And please subscribe for more product reviews from me, James White, with Freakin’ Reviews.