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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Less space efficient than competitors
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna performs moderately well but costs more than similar, better-performing products.
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna is a thin, powered antenna that utilizes a similar design to some of the best TV antennas on the market right now. Most of these antennas come in either powered or unpowered configurations, where the powered variants use a USB-based power adapter to amplify the signal and try to achieve better performance.
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna has average performance for an antenna of this type, but for some reason costs a lot more than most of the other competing options. There were a couple sparing details that make this antenna slightly different than the competition, so let’s take a look.
As with most other indoor antennas of this type, the Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna uses a flat rectangular antenna that can be affixed to the wall or another similar surface using included adhesive tabs. The 12x13 inch surface is the largest among the ones that I tested, but that didn’t seem to translate to any additional bump in performance.
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna also had the thinnest and most flexible antenna of the ones I tested. This didn’t seem to make much of a difference during my setup, but it could prove useful if you need it to bend around a curved surface for some reason.
We were able to get better performance out of a very similar-looking, $25 antenna, making the pricing of this antenna completely uncompetitive and not worthy of consideration currently.
Like other similar antennas, the coaxial cable passes from the antenna element through an amplifier housed in a box, which then passes on through another coaxial cable to your television. The amplifier has a USB cable (included) used for power, either using the AC adapter, or if supported, by plugging it directly into your television.
Setup of the Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna is fairly straightforward. Follow the instructions to connect the coaxial cables and USB power, and you’re all set. Setup is only moderately more complicated with amplified indoor antennas, and can realistically be accomplished without reading any directions at all.
The big question is always where to mount the antenna. Ideally, you want to be facing the source of the signal, which is not always realistic depending upon the configuration of your room.
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna did a reasonable job acquiring channels in my tests, finding an average of 57 channels across all the tests performed. This isn’t the worst result that I saw (one antenna only managed 47 channels), but it was the lowest result from a powered antenna. The best antenna, for reference, gave me 76 channels.
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna claims either 50, 55, or 60 miles of range depending on the part of the marketing materials you read (on the very same page no less). Given similar antennas using an identical configuration only advertise up to 40 miles, I doubt that most people are going to get much use out of this from 60 miles away from a broadcast source.
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna costs $52, making it considerably more expensive than almost any other antenna that we tested. We were able to get better performance out of a very similar-looking, $25 antenna, making the pricing of this antenna completely uncompetitive and not worthy of consideration currently.
For less than half the price, this nearly identical antenna from manufacturer 1byone managed to perform better, by a hair, acquiring 59 channels to the Winegard’s 57. Unless I’m really missing something here, buyers not itching to light their cash on fire would probably better off going with the cheaper option. If Winegard reduced the price of their device by a substantial amount, it might be worthy of contention again. It’s not a bad product, just a bad price.
A poor value proposition.
The Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Antenna is a decently-performing indoor antenna that just costs too much relative to the competition to be worth consideration. Buyers should spend their money elsewhere, on a cheaper and likely better performing option.