Pete Putman Revisits Wall-Mount DTV Antennas

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#1
Last month, I tested a pile of wall-mounted indoor digital TV antennas to see if they really work as advertised. Two of them (Mohu’s Leaf and the Walltenna) performed decently, while the amplified LeafPlus was a clear winner.

On the other hand, Winegard’s FlatWave was a disappointment, as it didn’t perform any better than a $4.00 Radio Shack bow tie antenna. That result led to a request from Winegard to return the review sample and see if it was defective.

It was, according to Winegard’s National Sales Manager, Grant Whipple. The culprit was (according to their email) “…a screw that was stripping and then causing a loss of contact between our circuit board and the antenna element itself.” Apparently this was an early production run issue.

Fair enough. Grant soon had a replacement back to me. Meanwhile, Scott Kolbe, who handles PR for Antennas Direct, sensed an opportunity and sent me a sample of their Micron XG indoor amplified TV antenna to test drive. The Micron XG isn’t a flexible, thin wall-mount design, but it is an indoor antenna and I decided to test it alongside the Winegard.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money to get decent DTV reception. In fact, you should be in good shape for no more than $40, based on my tests. If signal levels are really low, the amplified models will make a difference. Based on my tests, I’d suggest sticking with the Leaf Plus, as it is $25 cheaper than the Micron XG – and a lot easier to mount to a variety of surfaces, given how light and flexible it is.

And isn’t it amazing just how well a bare-bones antenna works? Higher cost doesn’t always equal higher performance. Caveat Emptor!
Read More: Useful Gadgets: Wall-Mounted DTV Antennas Revisited

It appears that Antennas Direct's marketing plan backfired. Good for Mohu, bad for Antennas Direct. It just goes to show that keeping it simple has it's benefits. Don't believe the hype, and there are no magic antennas. TV antennas should be chosen based on the broadcast frequencies (real channels) and your location relative to the broadcast towers.
 
#2
Very confusing article!

Thanks for the link, but what the HECK is he talking about?

You don’t need to spend a ton of money to get decent DTV reception. In fact, you should be in good shape for no more than $40, based on my tests. If signal levels are really low, the amplified models will make a difference. Based on my tests, I’d suggest sticking with the Leaf Plus, as it is $25 cheaper than the Micron XG – and a lot easier to mount to a variety of surfaces, given how light and flexible it is.
So he says "no more than $40," then he recommends the Leaf Plus, which by his own figures costs $75. "The ClearStream Micron XG will set you back $100 ... I’d suggest sticking with the Leaf Plus, as it is $25 cheaper than the Micron XG." Is everyone supposed to write an article to snag a free amp from Antennas Direct? And why is he recommending an amp that melted down after a few weeks??

I thought I'd double check prices on the major contenders in the article:

Mohu Leaf: $34.95 adorama.com (or $35.20 on eBay)
Mohu Leaf Plus: $68.99 eBay
Micron XG: $53.95 electronicsshowplace.com ($46.79??? no link to place any orders! hightechshoppermart.com)
Radio Shack Bow Tie: $6.48 eBay
Winegard FlatWave: $33.94 solidsignal.com

I think this changes the land$cape a little. These are the best prices I could find after checking google shopping, eBay and Amazon. These are all verified to the extent that the ads actually appear on the web sites, and state item in stock. The prices include S&H to my zip -- YMMV.

The main thing *I* learned from the article is stay away from amplifiers -- they break! Keep it simple! Also learned the Mohu Leaf is a pretty neat design, especially if you need something taped to a window.

And the Radio Shack bow tie is really cool, cause if you turn it on its side, it's starting to look a lot like a Hoverman with no reflector. Got to be bidirectional, right? Can't go far wrong for 6 bucks!

TV antennas should be chosen based on the broadcast frequencies (real channels) and your location relative to the broadcast towers.

I can't fathom how anyone could do that with the information currently available. Maybe after three or four weeks of study, but that's not a reasonable expectation for your average consumer.

there are no magic antennas.

I dunno! Seems like the Mohu Leaf has some magic going for it. An upstart company claims "original research" and makes an antenna which outperforms larger antennas from long established, respected manufacturers.

Rick
 

nbound-au

The Graveyard Shift
#3
I can't fathom how anyone could do that with the information currently available. Maybe after three or four weeks of study, but that's not a reasonable expectation for your average consumer.
Of course its not, thats why there are people who do this for a living and have the appropriate gear to do so, no model is ever going to be accurate enough to predict what signal will be at a certain point on your roof or in your house. People can attempt DIY and there is nothing wrong with that, you may get good results, you may not. Thats the risk you take.




I dunno! Seems like the Mohu Leaf has some magic going for it. An upstart company claims "original research" and makes an antenna which outperforms larger antennas from long established, respected manufacturers.
Its all hype. These aerials will never outperform larger aerials reliably.
 
#4
Of course its not, thats why there are people who do this for a living and have the appropriate gear to do so, no model is ever going to be accurate enough to predict what signal will be at a certain point on your roof or in your house. People can attempt DIY and there is nothing wrong with that, you may get good results, you may not. Thats the risk you take.
Thanks for your response. I was thinking more in terms of those little indoor antennas addressed in the article.

It might be different down under, but I've never heard of anyone in the U.S. hiring a third party to install a $40 indoor antenna. Even if you have to try 5 or 6 antennas before you "luck out" you're going to come out ahead with DIY. You can return the clunkers, and a pro is going to charge $100 if he charges you a dime. :whoo:

Its all hype. These aerials will never outperform larger aerials reliably.
I agree a Leaf is never going to outperform my wonderful new 4221HD, but again, I'm thinking of the FlatWave, Micron, Walltenna, etc. I do think there's a place for these in many homes, and the Leaf seems to be a (modest) design improvement, at least based on the article test results. Plus the reviews on Amazon -- can't totally discount those either! Hopefully, more shootouts will start rolling in Real Soon Now. :thumb:

Rick
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#5
Of course its not, thats why there are people who do this for a living and have the appropriate gear to do so, no model is ever going to be accurate enough to predict what signal will be at a certain point on your roof or in your house. People can attempt DIY and there is nothing wrong with that, you may get good results, you may not. Thats the risk you take.
One of the big disadvantages that free OTA TV has in the United States is a lack of professional installers with the appropriate gear. Most "antenna installers" work for satellite TV companies, so for those of us who want OTA we almost have to go DIY. TV Fool is a great data base for finding out what real channels your local stations are broadcast on and the direction you need to point your antenna.

One of the other things that makes DIY OTA reception difficult in the US is that many new TVs and converter boxes don't have signal strength meters, or have ones that are useless.
 
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