Should you buy an antenna from a drug store?

I was in a Rite Aid drugstore recently and I saw they were having a sale on the Clear TV antenna. I thought the company went out of business, but there they were. The price was really attractive and the box made all sorts of promises about hundreds of free TV channels. There’s only one problem.

Numbers don’t lie.

I tested the Clear TV antenna four years ago. It didn’t perform. It was worse than our first-generation HD-Blade, and our current HD-Blade is about 20% better than that!

There are some very simple reasons why, too. It’s a very small antenna, which may seem desirable but it’s not going to ever beat a bigger one. More importantly, it’s cheap, with poor quality materials, thin cable and a low-grade connector made of some very cheap metal. It’s never going to be a good competitor against any antenna

If you’re “so close to the towers…”

If you’re a midtown Manhattanite with a great view of the Empire State Building, I’ll be honest with you. You’ll probably get great reception with a coat hanger. The TV signals coming to you are so strong that even a super cheap antenna will serve you, at least for a while.

I remember that as I tested the Clear TV antenna, the connector started to fall apart. That’s why I can’t test it again. I just don’t have it anymore. So, I think that even if you had this antenna it probably wouldn’t have lasted very long in average use.

There’s cheap, and there’s inexpensive.

At Solid Signal, we sell some inexpensive antennas. They’re some of our best sellers. There’s a difference, though… we don’t sell cheap antennas. We don’t sell antennas when we think they’re going to fall apart after a few days of use, no matter how little they cost.

If you’re looking for an over-the-air TV antenna, you don’t have to throw away your money at a drugstore. There are a lot of great lower-priced antennas available now at Solid Signal, and they’re going to be much higher quality. They’ll perform better too, as my tests showed.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.