Consumer Reports is Not Your TV Antenna Expert

On April 9, Consumer Reports announced its picks for best indoor antennas of 2018. The publication tested 10 indoor antennas to determine its top three. At Solid Signal, we consider ourselves the TV antenna experts. After having used and tested nearly every TV antenna on the market, we have our own ideas about which are best. Nevertheless, we were game to take a closer look at what Consumer Reports has to say on the subject.

TV Antenna Testing Method, Consumer Reports

Before we unpack these results, let’s take a look at how Consumer Reports tested these antennas. Apparently, 10 testers evaluated 10 UHF/VHF indoor antennas in their homes. The participants placed the antennas near windows and tested them on clear days. The number of channels received and the reception quality of each determined Consumer Reports antennas. Without any further ado, here are the three indoor TV antennas that Consumer Reports identifies as the best of 2018:

1. Mohu ReLeaf
2. Winegard FlatWave
3. Clearstream 2Max

The Best Indoor TV Antennas…

Frankly, we’re a little surprised at Consumer Reports first pick. The Mohu ReLeaf? Really? Stuart Sweet tested the Mohu Leaf against the Winegard Flatwave antenna. (The Leaf is the predecessor to the ReLeaf.) He found was that the Flatwave was put together better and received more channels. The Leaf averaged a three percent increase in signal strength. When Stuart crunched the numbers, he found the Flatwave to be the better antenna overall.

There are some things in which we agree with Consumer Reports. The Winegard Flatwave and Antennas Direct’s Clearstream 2Max are good antennas. But are they “the best?” Well, no… but neither is any other indoor TV antenna. Let me explain. There are so many TV antenna brands, makes, and models in the market today. Many of these devices are good antennas that will do an excellent job in your TV market. The only antenna that the best is the one that best for your specific installation. When it comes to choosing a TV antenna, there are many things to take into consideration, such as:

• Distance from the broadcast towers
• Signal direction
• Overall terrain

When you get a TV antenna from Solid Signal, a member of our team will ask you some questions. Your answers give us a better idea of which of the hundreds of TV antennas we carry is best for your installation. We consider these factors before suggesting your TV antenna. This is the only way we can be sure you get the best antenna… for you.

Outdoor TV Antennas

Consumer Reports didn’t have much good to say about outdoor antennas. They reported that outdoor aerials didn’t perform as well as indoor antennas. The publication also considers outdoor antennas to be impractical for most cord-cutters. This just isn’t true, based on what we know about outdoor and indoor antennas.

The average outdoor antenna gets more channels than indoor antennas. The signal quality is usually better with outdoor antennas, as well. Best of all, outdoor aerials also receive signal from longer distances. This them very practical. Whenever a cord-cutter is able to have an outdoor antenna as their solution, we highly recommend it. In that regard, we don’t agree with what was said in Consumer Reports’ latest TV antenna research.

Are there some places where someone can’t have an outdoor TV antenna? Sure. It’s not always possible for most high-rise apartments. There are also some homeowners associations that prohibit TV antennas of a certain size to be installed on the roof. But TV aerials come in all shapes and sizes. For example, we’ve matched homeowners with small but effective outdoor TV antennas that they’ve installed in flower pots and placed on their balconies. That’s why it’s best you get your TV antenna advice and recommendations from the us, the true experts.

Stuart’s Take

Even though Buckler wrote this article, it’s actually pretty good. I did feel like I needed to interject a little here. I like Consumer Reports as much as anyone else, really I do. But, I think their methodology is really suspect here. Usually they are all about the data. They have labs and metrics and all sorts of ways to measure things objectively. Here, they relied on individual folks.
Look, I’ve been there. Take a look at some of my early antenna reviews. It took me a little while to realize that regular folks testing antennas just wasn’t a great way to do it. Eventually I built a test regimen using a pro-quality meter that actually gives you repeatable results that can be compared from situation to situation. I don’t know why Consumer Reports didn’t do this.
In past years, we’ve been contacted by Consumer Reports  who has asked for a lot of free product in order to test. Sometimes we participated and sometimes we didn’t. In the end we decided not to participate because the testing methodology isn’t very good.

To Cut the Cord, Call Solid Signal

It seems like everyone wants to cut the cord these days. Seniors, Millennials and middle-aged people are all tired of paying the high cost of cable TV. If you’re ready to cut the cord but aren’t sure which TV antenna is best for you, we’d love to help. You can take a minute to fill out our antenna request form, or you can give us a call at 888-233-7563. No matter who you are or where you live, Solid Signal will help you get the most TV channels and best reception when you cut the cord!

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.