OTA HD Antenna Buying Guide

With prices of cable television reaching near historic highs, and the cost of cable for most families hitting into the three figure digits per month, cable television is just getting too expensive for some people. When you include the fact that you can stream many of your favorite shows these days and not have to deal with commercials, the desire for over the air television has become more popular than ever. However, if you want to get local channels then you need to have an over the air (OTA) antenna, and if you want a good picture it had better be an HD type as well.

Types of OTA HD Antennas

Set Top Antennas

The traditional set top antennas are more or less the rabbit ears that people have been using for years. While they have changed in terms of both style and design, the antenna that still goes right on top of the set is one of the simplest and most sure fired ways to get local channels that are being broadcast in the area.

Omni Directional Antennas

The Omni Directional design is perfect for larger cities because if you pick up the channels from where they are being broadcast, you have to remember that bigger cities have multiple towers in multiple places. The multiple directional design of the omni models mean you aren't re positioning your "bunny ears" all of the time. The pictures come in from any given angle and the antennas will still pick them up from any point.

Yagi Antennas

The Yagi model may seem a bit old and outdated (some say it was retro looking when it came out decades ago), but it is intended to pick up long range reception. This can be perfect if you are out in the middle of nowhere but still want to pick up specific channels. The design means it has a long distance reception, and because of the beam width you are not susceptible to as much interference that typically comes with the shorter range antennas. All of that being said, because of the typical distance used and because of the specific direction of the angles, multiple towers will require adjustment or rotation in order to pick up multiple channels.

Panel / Bow-tie Array Antennas

The panel / bow-tie method not only allows you to pick up multiple channels, but because of their size variations you can have larger or smaller sizes. This also means you can use them in urban areas or farther out into the country as well.

VHF/UHF Combination Antennas

A very generic looking antenna, the VHF/UHF model is the most standard looking antenna on the market and the one that people typically think of when it comes to a TV antenna. These models are also able to come in many different sizes, and that is the reason that they are so functional regardless of where you choose to use them.

Pay Attention to

Antenna Size

Keep in mind that in order to pick up a powerful signal, bigger is better. If you are trying to pull in radio waves as they travel along through air and space, then you can't just have a box or wiring that is a foot or two wide. The larger the antenna then the better signal you can receive. There are other factors as well, but for the most part size does matter.

Blockage / Line of Sight

In order to get good reception you have to consider the line of sight and / or blockage that is between the antenna and the station broadcasting the signal. On the one hand you don't need to cut down every tree or verify that nothing is even in the area. On the other hand, however, if you put your antenna in the middle of a valley between two hills, or if there is a mountain between you and the broadcasting station, then you may not get as good of reception as you hoped initially. This is the idea of why putting an antenna up higher works so much better.


In general, radio waves are stronger when they don't need to travel as far. So, while you may be able to pick up a signal from farther away, you also have to take into consideration that the farther you are from a given station the more powerful your antenna will have to be. You should also be aware that the farther away you are, the more interference can come between your antenna and the broadcast station as well.

Specific City / Metro Area

More stations means a better chance of picking up (some) channels. However, if you are in a smaller town, it doesn't mean you have no chance; it just means that your options will be limited and it may be more difficult to pick up a signal.

Elements - (Snow - Rain - Weather - Etc)

Depending upon all of the other factors, weather can actually impede your signal, cause fuzziness, and disrupt an otherwise stable picture. Knowing what sort of elements you live in and what you can expect may in fact help to aid you when it comes time to decide on the right antenna and how powerful it should be.

Top Brands and Product Lines


The electronics king, Radioshack not only has multiple models and designs but they also carry multiple sizes when it comes to OTA HD Antennas so you can see your over the air shows much better and much simpler.


While Mohu specializes in the indoor antenna variety, their products continue to be sleek, simple to use, and efficient. That being said, they are limited in range and functionality if you are farther away or need a more powerful antenna.


RCA, the Radio Corporation of America, is a company with strong influence by GE until they were spun off into their own unit. They make parts and electronics that specialize in precision and have a name synonymous with quality.