RCA’s amplified antenna ($79 at Amazon) is supposed to be capable of receiving broadcast signals from broadcast towers up to 60 miles away, but in my testing it came nowhere close to the performance of some less-expensive antennas. It’s a rigid flat panel half-an-inch thick and weighing about four pounds. You can place it flat on your TV stand, mount it on a wall, or use the included metal bracket to stand the antenna on a horizontal surface.
RCA describes this as an omnidirectional antenna, so you shouldn’t need to worry about aiming it precisely at a broadcaster’s tower. That’s a good feature since not all towers are likely to be located in the same geographical area. But I found that it couldn’t consistently deliver all the channels I wanted to tune in.
I placed the antenna on my TV stand, connected the powered amp to an AC outlet (the cable is hardwired—there’s no option to plug the amplifier into one of your TV’s vacant USB ports), connected the six-foot coax cable to my TV, and scanned for channels. The TV tuner found 20 digital channels and one analog channel out of the 31 stations in range according to Antenna Web.
Initially, all the local broadcast stations came in clear with the exception of PBS. After slightly repositioning the antenna, PBS began showing up crystal clear—but at the cost of losing my ABC affiliate’s signal. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get both channels to work properly. Ultimately I was forced to choose between PBS or ABC; and with three kids, the former easily won the debate.
After attaching the included stand and rescanning, the antenna’s performance got worse instead of better. Two different scans returned 15 digital and the one analog channel. It’s unfortunate that this antenna didn’t perform better because it promises to deliver one feature the others don’t: The ability to tune in 4K over-the-air TV broadcasts. On the other hand, that claim is impossible for me to validate since no such broadcasts exist in the U.S., and there won’t for be for some time to come.
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