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Did you know that you can still watch many of your favorite TV programs after you’ve cut the cord from your cable or satellite TV provider? Omnidirectional TV antennas make this possible. The quality of your viewing experience with TV antennas, however, will depend on many variables.
Before you start shopping for the best omnidirectional TV antenna, you may want to know what channels are available to you. Knowing this and the distance of the available channels’ transmitters from your coordinates will help you decide which type of TV antenna will work best for you. So before you buy, we recommend that you acquaint yourself first with our buyer’s guide.
Get a signal report
A web-based tool called TV Fool will analyze your location and provide a report on the channels available in your area. Along with the list of channels, it will also show signal strength and distance.
The noise margin (NM) expressed in decibels (dB) represents the threshold of interference that the channel signal can tolerate and still be received. The rule of thumb is that the higher the NM value, the stronger will the signal will be. An NM of zero or lower means that the channel will not be available in your location.
The distance in miles contained in the report refers to how far the listed TV channel’s transmitter is from your address. Signals will be stronger from channels nearer to you than those farther away. Of course, other factors will also come into play, such as the presence of tall buildings and trees.
The importance of this report is obvious. It will tell you upfront which channels will be available to you and which will not.
Know the difference between VHF and UHF bands
Over-the-air (OTA) TV channels have radio frequencies assigned to them and belong to the following frequency bands.
Very high frequency-low (VHF-Lo) – Channels 2 to 6
Very high frequency-high (VHF-Hi) – Channels 7 to 13
Ultra high frequency (UHF) – Channels 14 to 69
From your TVfool signal report, you will find these channel numbers under the “Real” heading. In general, omnidirectional TV antennas are better at picking up UHF channels than VHF channels. If the TV programs you’re interested in fall under the VHF high or low band, then look for antennas designed for VHF-Hi or VHF-Lo reception.
Decide between an indoor and an outdoor antenna
Omnidirectional TV antennas are available in both indoor and outdoor models. Though outdoor models generally perform better at receiving signals, indoor types usually work fine in many situations. So here we refer you back to the signal report. Take note that the rows are color-coded.
The green zone includes all local TV stations with an NM of 35 dB or higher. Generally, an indoor omnidirectional TV antenna works perfectly at picking up UHF channels with an NM of at least 40 dB. For UHF channels with an NM of less than 40 and possibly some VHF-Hi channels in this zone, outdoor TV antennas are the better option.
The yellow and pink zones list channels with much lower NM. To get satisfactory signals from these channels, you will need a rooftop or outdoor omnidirectional TV antenna.
The gray zone, on the other hand, lists TV stations with weak signals from your location. It would not be a good idea to rely on antenna systems to view these channels.
Don’t pick a TV antenna brand based solely on its mile range, which is how many companies describe their products. Instead, match this range with the signal report’s NM-based color coding. That way you’ll know what channels to expect from the TV antenna you buy.
Our Picks for the Top 5 Omnidirectional TV Antennas
1. 1byone New Concept Amplified Omnidirectional TV Antenna
1byone’s New Concept 360-degree TV antenna works both for indoor and outdoor installations. This adaptability makes it a popular choice for those who get their best TV reception by mounting their antenna on the roof, exterior wall, or balcony. It has an aesthetic look which blends well with modern exteriors. The sleek design is not only for appearances; it also reduces wind load which in turn reduces interference. The smooth finish protects from the effects of UV rays and moisture.
You may opt to mount this antenna indoors or in the attic, depending on how high the NM values are in your report. With its 20-ft coaxial cable and preassembled construction, installing this compact omnidirectional TV antenna will not be a problem.
Users who tried installing this antenna on a rooftop found that they could get twice the number of channels than when they installed it indoors. What’s more, the picture is superb quality with no pixelation whatsoever. This antenna is capable of picking up VHF-Hi (7 to 13) and UHF (14 to 60) channels.
2. Antop UFO Omnidirectional Reception TV Antenna
Would you like to take advantage of free OTA TV signals while traveling in your RV? Take a look at Antop’s RV-ready UFO omnidirectional reception TV antenna. You may also install it on the roof of your motorboat or, of course, your home. It has a very similar look to 1byone’s New Concept.
The pack comes with everything you need, except the pole if you decide to mount it on one. It works indoors but, according to users, the quantity and quality of viewable channels dramatically increased when they installed the antenna on a tall pole. One advantage of installing indoors is the convenience and ease of maintenance. Cloudy weather and other interference, though, may cause weaker signals from some channels.
Antop’s UFO antenna features a Smartpass amplifier which boosts signals and blocks 3G and 4G interference. As a result, you get high-definition images from VHF and UHF channels within a radius of 60-65 miles.
3. Terk Omnidirectional Amplified Digital Flat Indoor HDTV Antenna
You can hide Terk’s indoor omnidirectional HDTV antenna in plain sight because it looks more like a flat speaker than an antenna. If your home setup does not allow for external antenna mounting or if you prefer a discreet indoor model, then look no further. You can lay this antenna flat, mount it on a wall, or stand it on a flat surface. It comes with brackets and an easel for trouble-free mounting.
It’s one of the simplest antennas to setup. Just connect the other end of the coaxial cable to the back of your television, find a location for the antenna, and scan for available UHF and VHF channels. It’s that easy.
As expected, this indoor antenna will pull fewer channels than most outdoor models. The important thing is that you get reliable reception of the channels that this antenna is capable of drawing. It comes with a removable amplifier which boosts weak signals and reduces noise. Users particularly like that the amplifier is removable, especially for homes situated close to TV towers where using amplifiers is not recommended.
4. Mohu Leaf 50 Omnidirectional Indoor TV Antenna
Enjoy free HD OTA programs with Mohu’s Leaf 50, a breakthrough in the TV antenna industry. This unobtrusive antenna uses US military technology and Mohu’s patented noise filtering technology to deliver crystal-clear reception from channels within a 50-mile radius. Its integrated amplifier adds 15dB of signal gain to all TV channels within its range and filters out FM and cellular interferences.
Mohu is a trailblazer when it comes to producing paper-thin omnidirectional indoor TV antennas. Leaf 50 is Mohu’s amplified version of Leaf 30, the world’s first paper-thin antenna. It measures 1.5 x 12 x 12.5 inches and is easy to install with pins and a Velcro attachment, which you will find in the box. The exterior of the antenna is white, but it can be painted over to match your décor and existing indoor paint.
Like all omnidirectional TV antennas, Leaf 50 picks up signals from all directions. For optimal indoor performance, however, we recommend sticking it on your glass window facing the general direction of your most optimal channel towers. Turn off or remove electronic devices, such as Wi-Fi routers and games consoles, near your TV because they significantly affect the signals that your antenna receives.
By the way, while Leaf 50 is considered an indoor antenna, it can be installed flat on your exterior wall, near the rooftop. That way it will receive up to twice the number of channels it does when mounted indoors. Installing it in this manner may void its warranty, though, so you should inquire with Mohu regarding this.
5. 1byone’s 65-Mile Digital TV Antenna
Following Mohu’s lead, 1byone brought out this wood-grain double-flap omnidirectional TV antenna which blends beautifully with any home interior. This antenna is optimized for both VHF and UHF reception and reaches out 65 miles from your location. It comes with an amplifier, USB power supply, and 19-ft coaxial cable. You have the option to turn the amplifier on or off, depending on how far your house is from your local TV channel towers.
You can be as imaginative as you want in mounting this flat antenna, but we recommend sticking it on the window using double-sided tape. It’s important to hang it near the window, especially if you have thickly-insulated walls. You may also hide it behind your TV or lay it flat on a table like a mouse pad. We advise against stacking anything on top of it as it is very thin.
If your signal report lists your favorite channels in the green zone, then this antenna will undoubtedly deliver them with incredible clarity and reliability. According to customers, only very rarely will you experience signal interruptions and when they do occur they will be temporary.
With the continually increasing monthly cable subscription fees, cutting the cord has become a popular option to the budget-conscious consumer. The first step is to get a signal report for your address. This will guide you to the second step, which is to find the best omnidirectional TV antenna. This process will help you carry out the separation from your cable company as effortlessly as possible.
Is range really important? I understand that some networks are broadcasting in lower frequencies to purposely block consumers from a good signal. I can’t confirm that but am curious if anyone can speak to that issue and advise on an outdoor antenna that supports the largest frequency range. I am really close to a commercial cell tower if that makes a difference.