TV Antenna Side By Side Comparisons And Recommendations

This page compares various TV antennas using two different testing methods and gives recommendations based on those tests.
Test One: Compares the channels my TiVo is able to capture. These results are shown in a picture I named "Reception Map".
Test Two: Uses a Winegard signal strength meter to see what signal strength an antenna is actually getting. These results are shown in a picture I named "Winegard Signal Strengths".
More information about the tests and results are shown at the bottom of this page.

In addition to side by side comparisons, answering a few questions can also help you select the best type of antenna for your situation:
  1. Will you put your antenna indoors or outdoors?
  2. How far away are the transmission towers?
  3. Are you in a house or apartment? (How much freedom do you have in where you want to put your antenna?)
  4. Is a power outlet available where you want to put your antenna?
  5. Are the broadcast towers in your area basically along the same line or are they in multiple directions? If they're more or less in the same line you will probably be OK with a directional antenna. Otherwise, you might want a nondirectional (Omnidirectional) antenna.
  6. How much do you want to spend?
Color code: Recommended in green Not recommended in red

Recommended


Not Recommended

I used to use this as a radio antenna. The wires look like cheap speaker wire and are shaped like a "T". The sides are both about 6 feet long. The signal strengths weren't as good as the more expensive antennas but it did pull in most of the closer channels. The moral is if you're fairly close to the transmit towers you're interested in, you might not need a fancy antenna.

Good
  • It was laying around not being used so it was free

Bad
  • It did work but but not as good as some of the others

simple wire reception map
Reception Map

More information about my tests and results:

The grades entered in the "Reception Map" pictures is a subjective grade I assigned.
     A = Station reliable enough for automatic recording
     B = Often a picture but not reliable enough for automatic recording
     C = Got a picture in the past but it's not usually watchable or reliable
     D = Got a signal in the past but not a picture
     F = Never got a signal
     +/- = Inbetween other codes. EX: D+ would be something like got a still picture before

Obviously, I can only test the frequencies (channels) that are in my area but by comparing the results of many different antennas gives a good indication of the performance.

When working with a directional antenna, it's possible I rotated the antenna for any given channel/frequency so I could get the best signal strength readings and mapped channel results. In other words, all the channels/frequencies do not have the indicated strength all at the same time and you will probably need to orient the antenna to get optimal results.