You'd be forgiven for thinking at-home entertainment is all about streaming services these days. But times are expensive and not everyone can afford to sign up for Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus... the list goes on and on. The solution? Consider an indoor digital TV antenna.
Over-the-air TV broadcasts are still there and they're still free. That means you can watch a vast range of sports, news, public TV station documentaries, and much more without needing to pay for cable or a whole bunch of streaming services. Although it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Even if you do have Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you might want to bolster your options with one of these indoor antennas and in this guide we'll walk you through the best options.
Al Griffin, Senior Editor – Home Entertainment
One of the best Indoor TV antennas is a must-have for your home if you want to cut the cord from your cable provider, stop paying for satellite TV or minimize your spending on streaming services. How does it work? Well, although big streaming services like Netflix hog the headlines, there are many over-the-air HD channels that are packed with great shows to watch – and they’re completely free. Considering that the cost of pretty much everything is on the rise right now, this could be a great alternative for a lot of people.
With a TV antenna you can watch sports, news, sitcoms, soaps, dramas and pretty much anything else you can think of. There are a few downsides, like the fact that shows are funded by commercials, so you won’t get the seamless viewing experience you usually get from streaming services. There also isn't quite as much choice with over-the-air broadcasts as there is with a cable or satellite TV package And what's available will largely depend on your location: if you're close to broadcasters like local NBC, ABC, CBS or FOX you'll be fine.
Broadcast TV has been shaken up by a new technology called ATSC 3.0 in recent years. It’s sometimes marketed as NextGenTV and is the latest version of the digital broadcast TV standard, delivering exceptional quality: 4K resolution with high dynamic range and Dolby Atmos audio, just like the best streaming services. The catch is that in order to watch ATSC 3.0 you don't just need an antenna, but you also need your TV to have a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner, which you’re unlikely to find in older models.
They’re the reasons why an indoor antenna might work for you, but which is the best indoor antenna to use with your 4K TV? Our guide to the best indoor TV antennas on the market in 2023 below will help you to find the one that's right for you.
The best indoor TV antennas for 2023
For a mid-price antenna that delivers rock-solid HD channels within its 50-mile radius, your search stops here. The trade-off is that it's not exactly a small unit – that big, thin panel could cover most of a window – but if that's not a problem then it's great value and our pick for the best overall indoor antenna.
In our testing, we found that it pulled in 48 channels, where more expensive and powerful antennas could receive 54 channels. But in terms of the picture quality and stability of the channels it did receive, including the HD ones, many of them were in just as good quality as more powerful options provide.
That's helped partly by the in-line amplifier, which you can switch on and off at will. The 12-foot coaxial cable is a decent length – you can get a bit longer out of the box from some other options, but this will probably cover most people.
Setup is easy, partly thanks to the free Antenna Point app, which tells you where cable stations are located, so you can point your antenna in the right direction to pick up the most stations.
Read more: Antennas Direct ClearStream Flex review
Mohu’s Arc indoor antenna is easy to set up, fairly compact, and nice-looking enough to blend with a range of decors. Its clip-on bracket allows wall-mounting or tabletop use – though the latter arrangement is a bit tippy.
The Arc’s construction could be more robust, and its clip-in installation could be better. But despite its compact format and passive, un-amplified design, we encountered impressive signal-pulling performance.
Note that the Arc is not amplified, so if you need to extend its feed to a more-distant TV set, an amplified model like Mohu’s own Arc Pro is likely a better bet. But for a simple installation in an urban or suburban locale of reasonable terrain and elevation with desired signals in multiple directions – within the range of, say, 40 miles or even a bit more – the Arc should be an effective choice.
Read more: Mohu Arc review
Winegard’s FlatWave Amped Pro TH-3000 antenna offers good performance, and uses an effective app for initial setup that shows you real-world reception potential prior to installation.
The TH-3000’s fully flat, zero-footprint, on-window/on-wall design will appeal to the decor-conscious, and it can be relied upon to pull in digital TV stations from as far off as 60 miles. You can find antennas offering similar performance for less, but they are likely to be bulkier and less easily hidden from sight.
Read more: Winegard FlatWave Amped Pro TH-3000 review
The Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro Amplified Indoor TV Antenna is, in many respects, very good at its job. A 15db amplifier helps pull in a dozen or more channels that load up fast and don’t have much noticeable artifacts or pixelation. Its wide design, although a bit unwieldy and not the most eye-catching, is effective and simple to set up, too.
Like most good tools, though, the Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro does cost more than the average HD antenna that should only set you back between $20 and $30 and may not always offer a significantly improved experience for those of us who already live close to broadcasting stations. Overall, however, folks who live 30 to 45 miles out of town should certainly consider it as a great alternative to the cheaper and weaker models out there.
Read more: Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro review
If you live far from a broadcast source and/or you've had trouble with other antennas, the Antop HD Smart Bar (AT-500SBS) could solve your issues—if you're willing to pay a steep price and tolerate the very large size.
The Antop HD Smart Bar is a hard-plastic antenna that measures 2.5 feet wide and can be mounted on your wall like a soundbar, or you can use the included base stand to prop it up vertically. In any case, it's much more visible than nearly any other indoor antenna on the market, but the trade-off is a much longer promised range of 80 miles. It also has a 4G signal filter, an FM tuner, and the ability to connect to a second TV, plus the reception was excellent in our testing. However, with a $119 price tag, we recommend trying cheaper alternatives first to see if they'll meet your needs.
Read more: Antop HD Smart Bar AT-500SBS review
Best indoor TV antennas: FAQ
Do I need an antenna with a smart TV?
That depends. TV antennas receive content rather differently than the Wi-Fi or Ethernet enabled streaming apps on most smart TVs. An antenna picks up broadcast signals from local channels, such as local news – or national programming from local broadcasting stations.
Anything you get over your TV antenna in the US is free, too, so if you don't want to cough up for a Netflix subscription – or if your internet connection isn't super reliable – it will be a great option. Keep in mind though that many smart TVs also offer free TV, as with Roku TV Channels or Samsung TV Plus.
Do I need a special antenna to receive ATSC 3.0 broadcasts?
There's technically no such thing as an ATSC 3.0 antenna – any antenna capable of receiving digital broadcasts in the existing ATSC 1.0 standard will also be able to pick up ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.
A key difference between ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 is that the latter supports 4K resolution and Dolby Atmos audio, while the former is limited to HD resolution and 5.1-channel audio.
However, for your TV to receive ATSC 3.0 broadcasts, it needs to have a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner. This feature can be found in select sets sold in the US dating back to 2020, with models from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Hisense all providing it.
If your TV doesn't have a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner, external tuners that connect to a set using HDMI are available, though these currently are priced even higher than expensive indoor TV antennas.
How should I position an indoor antenna?
For some of us, indoor antennas just work: you stick it on the wall, run your TV's channel search and you're good to go. But for others, finding the right position can be tricky. Get it right and you're in TV heaven; get it wrong and you'll be teaching the neighbours some brand new swear words.
There are lots of factors that can affect your TV reception, such as the construction of your home and the position of outdoor obstacles – buildings, trees and so on – that may block the signal. You might also encounter issues if you live near mountains or in heavily built-up areas.
The first thing to do is identify where your local TV stations' transmitters are. Sites such as AntennaWeb can show you that based on your Zip code (in the US), or you could use the Winegard TV signal finder for iPad. Both AntennaWeb and the similar RabbitEars site can also tell you which transmitters, if any, broadcast in the low-VHF band. That uses much longer wavelengths and needs a slightly larger antenna as a result, so if those channels aren't available to you your antenna might be too small to pick them up.
One of the simplest tweaks is to raise the antenna higher. That means furniture, radiators and other items aren't blocking reception, but as ever with radio waves a lot depends on what your home is made from.
If the closest wall to your TV isn't doing what you want, try a different one. That's not ideal, we know, because it means you might need a longer cable or an extension, but it's better to have a bit of visible cable than no TV reception.
If the above tips don't work and you're quite far from your local TV transmitters (miles rather than yards), you might have to go for the nuclear option: a roof-mounted antenna. For most homes an outdoor antenna will massively outperform an indoor one, so if you've tried every corner of your indoors without success then your best option may be to put the aerial outside.