If you’re a TV cord cutter in the U.K., at some point you will probably be searching for the best indoor aerial for Freeview. While the prices vary greatly between different models, the good news is that you can get excellent aerials for a cheap price, and in most cases, there’s no real need to pay a premium. But which one should you get? We’re here to help.
|1||1byone 0.7mm Paper Thin||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|2||SLX 27769RG Gold Amplified||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|3||1byone 0.5mm Transparent||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|4||One For All SV9215 Amplified||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|5||August DTA180 Portable||⭐⭐⭐|
Why Do I Need An Indoor TV Aerial?
The short answer – if you want to see Freeview on your TV, the easiest way (and usually the cheapest) is to do it via an aerial.
Freeview, first established on 2002, is the commercial name for the United Kingdom’s digital terrestrial television platform. Freeview provides access to a large number of free-to-air TV channels, including HD channels and radio stations, without any monthly subscription costs (You do, however, need to pay the yearly TV license fee in most cases).
Because Freeview channels are broadcast through the, well, air – you need the best indoor aerial, one that will be able to interpret and turn those waves into pretty images on your TV.
Back in the day, most houses and buildings had outdoor aerials, either up on the roof, or possibly in your attic. While outdoor aerials offer the best reception, there are two possible issues with them:
- Some houses no longer have outdoor aerials – either the old ones broke down, or these are new building where no one bothered to put an outdoor aerial.
- Cabling needed: Connecting the outdoor aerial to your TV, means you need cables running from the aerial itself (on your roof!), to your indoor sockets (usually inside the walls). If you have an old house, the in-wall cables can malfunction as well. Plus, you need a socket in your TV room, preferably next to the TV itself.
The solution? An indoor aerial, that simply connects to your TV and sits right next to it, without complicated roof-top installations or cables-in-the-wall.
Will An Indoor TV Aerial Give Me Good Reception?
The short answer: it depends. For the indoor aerial to be enough, you need good reception at your house. And for good reception, you need a transmitter that’s close by – preferably less than 15 miles away from you.
As a first step, you can check the estimated coverage with the Digital UK Postcode Checker. You put in your postcode and house number, and the site will give you some details about reception in your area – your nearest transmitter, the estimated reception near your house, and even the number of Freeview channels you should be able to watch with that kind of coverage.
However, you should take these results with a grain of salt. Reception can vary greatly, even between houses that sit right next to each other – it depends on your walls, your insulation, what’s on your roof, the trees or other buildings right in front of your house…
So how can you be sure even the best indoor aerial would be enough for Freeview in your house? Unfortunately, there’s only one surefire way: buy an aerial and test it out. The good news? They’re pretty cheap, and a lot of companies would also accept them back if you find out there’s not enough reception in your house.
The key thing, especially if you have weak or low signals, is to get one of the best indoor TV aerials – see our recommendations further down.
Amplified Aerials VS Non-Amplified Aerials
Amplified aerials connect not only to your TV, but also to the electric socket, and contain an internal signal booster. In theory, amplified aerials are supposed to boost low signals, but in practice, especially with the lower-cost aerials, this doesn’t help much.
In fact, in some cases, amplified aerials might actually WORSEN your reception, either from causing electrical interference, or by boosting the BAD signals (which they can certainly do – the amplifier boosts both good and bad signals, and if you have a bad signal in your house, it might get boosted and you will get a distorted image on your TV).
So our recommendation, in most cases, would be to try a non-amplified aerial first. If you don’t get a good-enough reception, you can give an amplified aerial a try – they cost a bit more, but are still pretty cheap, compared to an installation of an outdoor aerial.
Where Should I Place My Indoor Aerial?
First, you connect the aerial to the back of your TV (via the coaxial cable that, in most cases, will come with your aerial). If it’s an amplified model, you also connect it to the socket.
Now, depending on the shape of your aerial, you should place it as close to a window as possible. If your aerial has a base, which the aerial stands on, you don’t have a lot of placement options, unless you get an extension lead, and pull the aerial all the way to a window with a large enough base.
If you have a flat indoor aerial (like the one that got our Editor’s Choice for best indoor aerial), you have more options – you can even hang it on the wall, or even better – on a window.
In general, try to place the aerial at head height, and as close to a window as possible. Electronic devices (other than your TV), such as a microwave or even your washing machine, might interfere with reception, so try to place your aerial away from those.
Once the aerial is placed, re-scan the channels via your TV’s settings (or scan them for the first time, if your TV/aerial is new).
If you manage to see the channels, but the quality is not very good, stay on a single channel (BBC One, for example), and move your aerial around until you get the best reception. Note that if you move the aerial around, other channels might disappear, and you will have to do a full re-scan.
Once you see the best picture quality, make sure your aerial stays in place (without you having to stand there forever, hopefully) – some models even come with their own Velcro tapes or other adhesive measures.
5. Portable Indoor Aerial with Magnetic Base
- Very small, can be placed anywhere
- Magnetic base for better reception
- Very cheap
- Questionable reception – needs good coverage
- Cable is very short (1.5m)
- A bit flimsy – might break easily
One of the cheapest indoor aerials we could find, it’s also one of the smallest, at only 11cm, so you can easliy find a place for it next to your TV. It also has a magnetic base, which might actually aid with reception – if you stick the aerial onto a large metal object, such as your radiator, the metal can help boost the signal (at least in theory).
However, the cheap price and small size come with a cost – signal reception with this aerial can be quite poor, and unless you have very good signal coverage near your house, you probably won’t get any channels.
At this price, it’s a bit of a low cost gamble – still, it’s better than nothing at all, the small size is a plus, and you might try it as a cheap starter aerial to test the waters (or even to take with you on vacation, when going to a cabin in the woods…)
- Flat and wall mountable
- Amplified for better reception in low-coverage areas
- 4G Filter for those with cellular interruptions
- Good cable length (3m)
- Many buyers reported bad reception with this model
- Supplied plastic bolts complicate installation
The most expensive aerial in a roundup (at least when regularly priced), you would expect a higer-then-average performance, but that is not always the case with this model.
The flat design is nice, and the aerial can either be mounted on the wall (with the flimsy plastic bolts supplied), or hidden away. It’s an amplified aerial, meaning it also has a mains lead, so keep that in mind. The amplifications doesn’t seem to cause any image disruptions, but for those in low-signal areas, doesn’t help much with reception either.
Like most aerials, the bottom line really depends on the coverage in your area. It does perform better than our 5th place, but for such a high price, we expected more.
3. 1byone 0.5mm Transparent Window Aerial
- Good reception in most cases
- Super thin – only 0.5mm
- Transperant – perfect for window mounting
- Good price
- Build quality kind of flimsy
- If you’re not mounting on a window, the design gets ugly
Placing the indoor aerial on your window is usually recommended for best reception – but then you get an ugly square thing on your window. With this one, however, your windows will thank you, as the transparent, see-thourgh design doesn’t block the view too much.
That plus, however, becomes a minus in case you DON’T want to stick the aerial on your window. If you place it on your TV table, for example, the white/transparent design gets kind of ugly.
Reception-wise, it’s a good aerial, and once you find the perfect spot in your living room, you’ll get good quality images from your TV. As with all aerials, however, if coverage is bad in your area – you’re just as likely to get no channels at all.
2. SLX 27769RG Gold digiTop Amplified Aerial
- Good overall reception
- Amplification control with a dedicated dial
- Good build quality
- Not omnidirectional
- A bit pricey
- Short coaxial cable (1.5m)
- Bulky, old-school design – love it or hate it…
This aerial is differnt than the others on our list in that it’s not an omnidirectional one. That means you have point it towards the transmitter in your area, and choose wheather to use place it horizontally or vertically – you need to test different options and locations for best reception (or look at the aerials on your neighbours’ roofs and see the way they’re directed).
It’s a bit on the expensive side compared to the others, but for the price you get a fairly decent build quality. The gain control dial (for the amplification) gives you good control, so make sure you don’t over-amplify, as that may result in a snowy picture. The fact that it’s amplified also means you need to connect it to the electric socket.
With good overall reception, this is a very good indoor aerial, it just requires a bit more tuning hassle, and the design is kind of bulky (though it looks like something out of the original Star Trek).
1. 1byone Flat 0.7mm Black Aerial Aerial
- Good reception
- Flat – mount on the wall or place on your TV cabinet
- Good price
- Good cable length (3m)
- Build quality a bit flimsy
- Only black on ONE side
- Won’t help in a bad coverage area
This aerial is our overall Editor’s Choice, because it ticks most boxes: The price, while not the cheapest on this list, is very reasonable. Being flat and only 0.7mm means you can easliy mount it on a wall or a window (it comes with a small adhesive patch), but the black, impressive design means you can also easily hide it on your TV cabinet, or even stick it on the back of your TV.
As with all indoor aerials, reception really depends on your coverage, and you might have to move it around in your room a bit until you find the perfect spot (and unfortunatley, if your coverage is particularly bad – you’re likely to get no channels at all).
Build quality is not very impressive and the material looks like it could easily break – but for the price, and for something you stick on your wall/TV and just leave it there, you get excellent value for money.