Streaming emerged as a cheaper alternative to cable, helping to launch the cord-cutting revolution. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and other heavy hitters are raising prices. Tap or click here for a trick to save hundreds of dollars a year on your streaming bills.
Cord cutters have another option besides streaming, and it’s probably one you haven’t thought about in a long time. We’re talking about an antenna. Before you scoff, know that antennas have come a long way since the ones attached to your old TV (though some still retain the rabbit-ear look).
And thanks to DVR, switching to an antenna doesn’t mean you have to miss your favorite shows and movies. Here’s how to get started on your new cord-cutting journey.
Not the antennas you grew up with
Unlike streaming or cable subscriptions, you won’t have to spend more money after buying an antenna. Just pick the one that’s best for you and enjoy. But not all antennas are created equal, and there are three main classes to choose from: unamplified, amplified and outdoor.
Amplified antennas have a more extended range and can grab distant signals, while unamplified antennas have a shorter range.
Outdoor antennas are ideal for remote areas with weak signal strength, but installation is a bigger job and will involve drilling holes in your roof. If you want to know the signal strength of your local channels, visit the FCC’s digital TV reception maps guide and enter your ZIP code.
Let’s go over some of the best antennas for each category.
Attractive indoor antenna — unamplified
Not all antennas are created equal, and the wrong model won’t do you much good. This indoor Mohu Leaf 30 antenna has a 40-mile range and broadcasts ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC and more in HD with 5.1 surround sound.
It comes with a 10-foot coaxial cable so that you can mount it high on your wall or close to a window for better reception. The Leaf 30 is paper-thin and paintable, so it won’t be an eyesore in your house.
Budget indoor antenna — amplified
This amplified antenna from Gesobyte has a 250-mile range and is HD and 4K ready. Enjoy your favorite channels with crystal-clear picture and sound. This antenna filters out cellular and FM signals to reduce noise and pick up more TV signals.
The kit includes an 18-foot coaxial cable, allowing you more flexibility to mount the box where the strongest signal is. Power comes via USB, which you can connect to the included power adapter to plug into a wall outlet.
Versatile outdoor antenna for two TVs — amplified
If an outdoor TV antenna is a better option for you, this model from PBD is an excellent option. It supports full HD and 4K and can receive 150 local HDTV channels. Best of all, this antenna supports two TVs simultaneously without needing a splitter or special adapter.
It has up to a 150-mile range to access over-the-air channels. This model also comes with a 360-degree rotation function that allows for all-directional search, which you can control wirelessly with the included remote. The kit also comes with a mounting pole and 40-foot coaxial cable.
Omnidirectional antennas are ideal for rural areas with towers located in different directions.
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A trusted name in antennas
Channel Master is among the oldest TV antenna manufacturers in the country. The Flatenna is dual-sided and paintable, and can receive a broadcast signal from 35 miles away. This is a good choice if you’re new to the antenna game or don’t want to break the bank for a quality piece of hardware. A 12-foot coaxial cable is included.
The amplified version is the same form factor but comes with a MicroAmp to increase signal strength for better channel reception and quality. The range is bumped up to 50 miles.
Get a DVR for recording
Streaming services let you watch your favorite content whenever you want, but you can do the same with the TV shows and movies you get through your antenna. You just need a bit of extra equipment.
You can use a digital video recorder (DVR) to record TV shows and movies to a USB flash drive, SD memory card, SSD or another storage device.
You don’t have to worry about timers when looking to record. Most modern DVRs let you go through the TV guide to select movies, games and TV shows on an individual basis to record automatically. You can even create a season pass to record every episode from a TV show, though not every device offers this feature.
Many cable companies offer DVR boxes as part of a subscription, but you’ll need to get a standalone product if you’re sticking with an antenna.
The simple solution
This DVR from ZJBOX doubles as a digital converter for analog TVs. It records in 1080P and lets you set a schedule to ensure you don’t miss a thing. Just connect it to your TV via HDMI or composite cable and add a USB storage device and you’re good to go.
Save your favorite channels and find new ones with built-in auto-tuning. The kit comes with everything you need to start recording your favorite content.
Skip the commercials
This DVR box from Tablo lets you skip commercials and pause, rewind or fast-forward HD recordings. Unlike traditional HDMI or other physical connections, this box uses a home network router to let you browse, record and stream live over-the-air (OTA) TV to any device.
For storage, you can connect a USB hard drive with up to 8TB of memory — that’s as much storage as you’ll ever need.
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