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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Comes with adhesives for mounting
Surface stains and smudges
No stand included
The AmazonBasics Flat TV Antenna is a good option for those who want a basic budget antenna and don’t want to pay for extra features.
Indoor TV antennas, like the AmazonBasics Indoor Flat TV Antenna, can provide you with free broadcast TV channels. Once you pay the upfront cost for the antenna you’re not stuck with any monthly fees for your local channels. The best TV antennas are nothing like the bunny ear style antennas from back in the day. The picture quality is comparable to what you’d get from the cable company or streaming service—or it's supposed to be. I tested the ultra-affordable AmazonBasics Indoor Flat TV Antenna for a week to see if its design, setup, and performance make it a viable option.
The AmazonBasics Antenna has a slim design—it’s about as thin as card stock at approximately one-tenth of an inch in thickness. It’s constructed of sturdy plastic, with a reversible black and white side to help it fit better with your home’s decor. It’s not the most attractive antenna, and the backboards smudge and show grease and fingerprints.
It doesn’t come with a stand, but it does include 3M double-sided adhesives you can use to attach the antenna to walls or other surfaces. It also comes with a 10-foot long coax cable, which is removable. The 10-foot coaxial cable is long enough for you to mount your antenna in high places.
The 10-foot coaxial cable is long enough for you to mount your antenna in high places.
Setting up the antenna is pretty straightforward. You start by plugging one end of the coaxial cable into the antenna, and then the other end to the coaxial/antenna-in connector to your TV.
Finding the best placement for the antenna is perhaps the most difficult part, as a few inches can make a difference in your available channel selection. My test home is under a canopy of trees in a pretty rural area, and I found the best placement was on the window. Ideally, you’ll want to direct the antenna towards tower transmitters, while also doing your best to reduce obstacles (think trees, electrical interference, and walls). You’ll want to place the antenna high up as well.
Next, you change your TV to the correct input (usually TV, antenna, or Coax). Then, go to your TV’s menus and start the auto-programming process, which scans for available channels. The process takes a few minutes, and sometimes your TV won’t start to locate channels until about halfway through the auto-programming process.
So many things affect an antenna’s performance—location, household electronics, tree cover, tower location, and more. The antenna displays channels of high quality. However, sometimes the channels would take a few seconds to load, and other times, I’d see a pixelated effect when I first changed the channel that would clear up after a few seconds. Once the picture was fully loaded, it was in clear high definition. The antenna is capable of displaying a clear HD picture, so I couldn’t tell the difference between the antenna’s picture and the picture from streaming services like Hulu or Netflix.
The AmazonBasics antenna has a 35-mile range, which isn’t very far considering 50 plus miles is becoming more common. It is omnidirectional, however, so you don’t need to point it in a specific direction. It supports UHF/VHF, so I was able to get a decent selection of channels.
Even with the short-range, I was able to pick up 16 channels on my first attempt, including The CW, PBS, and more. In a different room in my test home, I was able to get 23 channels, but this is probably because there’s less tree cover outside of the house on that side of the property. Considering the location of my test home, 23 channels is pretty good.
It supports UHF/VHF, so I was able to get a decent selection of channels.
The AmazonBasics Flat TV antenna sells in used condition on Amazon for only $13. In new condition, it sells for $20, which is still a great deal. However, you can find other affordable antennas for between $20 and $50 that provide a much longer range, and many offer additional features, like a longer cable. With the AmazonBasics model, you can return the unit within 30 days if it doesn’t work in your area.
The Antop AT-127 (see online) is a 40-mile range antenna that sells for around $35. It’s one of the better-looking antennas I’ve seen, as it’s reversible with faux light wood and dark wood sides. Unlike the AmazonBasics antenna, the Antop comes with a stand, and it has an easy-push connector for faster setup. These features go some ways towards justifying the Antop's higher price tag.
A budget antenna that works as advertised.
The AmazonBasics Antenna is a good option for anyone who wants an ultra-cheap way to get broadcast TV.