Watching free TV in the UK is easy – Freeview is right there with 80+ channels, and you just need a way for your TV to interpret the signal. And that’s where an indoor TV aerial comes in.
However, when people start looking for the best indoor aerial out there, they sometimes start thinking there are simply no good antennas in the UK. You hear horror stories about expensive pieces of metal and plastic that did, well, nothing.
I’ve been writing about Freeview for more than seven years now – so I know what to look out for, and the dirty little secrets some sellers won’t tell you about (here’s the big one: if reception in your area is particularly bad, the aerial won’t help – no matter how expensive it is).
So, should you get an amplified TV aerial, is 4G filtering important, and where should you even place it?
In this article, I take a look at the things you have to consider before you buy, and review some of the best indoor TV aerials available in the UK.
Cord Busters' Best Indoor Aerials 2023
Periodic (one direction) aerial with a variable amplification dial.
Built-in signal amplification and 4G filtering, at a higher cost.
Table of Contents
Do I Need An Indoor TV Aerial For Freeview?
If you want to watch Freeview (or YouView) on your telly, without paying one of the pay-TV companies (like Sky or Virgin Media) you need an aerial. Either a big one on your roof, or a small one inside your house.
The easiest way (and usually the cheapest) is to use an indoor TV aerial.
Freeview, first established in 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 digital TV channels, including HD channels, as well as radio stations, without any monthly subscription costs (You do, however, need to pay the yearly TV licence fee in most cases).
YouView, the competing service that adds catch-up and on-demand programming via broadband, also requires an indoor TV aerial for its over-the-air channels.
- Read our full guide: What’s Freeview, and how to get it on your TV.
Because Freeview channels are broadcast over the air, you need an aerial that will be able to interpret and turn those waves into pretty images on your telly. (Freeview Play, which is the on-demand side of Freeview, uses your broadband connection to stream digital TV content to your device – but only a few channels/broadcasters are part of it).
Back in the day, most houses and buildings had outdoor TV aerials, either up on the roof or possibly in your attic. While outdoor aerials usually offer the best signal reception, there are two potential issues with them:
- Some houses no longer have outdoor aerials – either the old ones broke down, or these are new buildings 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) – and sometimes considerable cable length is needed. Plus, if you have an old house, the in-wall cables can sometimes malfunction. And, you need a socket in your TV room, preferably next to the TV itself.
The solution? An indoor TV 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 Work In My Area?
It depends. For an indoor aerial to be enough, you need good reception in your house. And for the best indoor TV 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 Freeview 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, and even the trees or other buildings right in front of your house…
So how can you be sure whether even the best indoor TV aerial would be good 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 here’s another little secret: most basic indoor aerials are almost identical. The major difference is whether they’re amplified or not (see below), but among the non-amplified ones, the differences are more about design (and price!) than actual functionality.
At the end of the day, the single most important question is whether reception in your area is good enough.
The key thing, especially if you have weak or low signals, is to get a working indoor TV aerial, preferably one with good reviews, so that you know it’s going to function properly – other than that, there’s usually no reason to pay higher prices.
Amplified Indoor TV Aerials VS Non-Amplified Aerials
Amplified indoor aerials connect not only to your TV, but also to the electrical 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 always help.
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 my recommendation, in most cases, would be to try a non-amplified aerial first. If you don’t get the best indoor TV signal, 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. (Some antennas already include a detachable amplifier – so it’s optional).
Another option is to get a stand-alone aerial signal booster – see my recommendations here.
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 – but remember to note the cable length). If it’s an amplified model, you also connect it to the power socket.
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 ledge.
If you have a flat indoor aerial (like the one that got our Editor’s Choice for best indoor TV aerial), you have more options – you can hang it on the wall, or even better – on a window. Some people even stick it on the TV itself, which is useful if you use a TV bracket to wall mount your TV.
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 the reception of the TV signal, so try to place your aerial away from those. Occasionally, 4G Cellular signals can also interfere with your reception – so some aerials and boosters offer 4G filtering.
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 TV signal. 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 holding it forever, hopefully) – some models even come with their own Velcro tapes or other adhesive measures.
Do I Need A Special Aerial For Ultra HD (4K)?
4k (or Ultra High Definition) content is becoming more and more popular, especially on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video. You get better picture quality (at a higher resolution than normal Full HD), and it all looks bright and crisp.
Unfortunately, there’s no 4K content available on Freeview. In 2018, the BBC ran a trial with some 4K content on iPlayer – namely a few sports matches, Blue Planet II and Dynasties.
These looked spectacular, but those trials come and go, and at the moment you can only watch a few BBC 4K programmes – mostly nature shows and a few high-profile dramas.
The BBC is promising more trials in the future – and at some point, hopefully, we’ll get a steady flow of 4K content from the BBC – but we’re not there yet.
Remember, however, that at the moment the 4K content is only available on-demand (on BBC iPlayer, via broadband) and not live via the airwaves – so your TV’s aerial isn’t even needed for the 4K stuff.
In addition, if you want to watch 4k content, you would need a special Freeview Box that supports 4K – such as the Manhattan T3-R, or a 4K streaming device.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that ALL indoor aerials support both Full HD and 4K.
Some aerials boast in their marketing about 4K reception – it’s true, they have it – but so do all other aerials from recent years, even if they don’t spell it out.
And more importantly – as mentioned, there’s currently no 4K content transmitted over the air at all, so you can safely ignore that aspect of indoor aerial marketing, for now.
Best Indoor TV Aerial UK 2023
|Rank||Best Indoor TV Aerials||Our Rating||Price|
|1||Easing Flat Indoor Aerial||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|2||RGTech Monarch 50 TV Aerial||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|3||Cuwada 4K Indoor TV Aerial||⭐⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|4||August Magnetic Aerial||⭐⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|5||SLx 27769RG Amplified Aerial||⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|6||One For All SV9215 Amplified||⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
Easing Ultra Thin Review
This aerial is our overall Editor’s Choice, because it ticks most boxes: The price is very reasonable, being paper-thin means you can easily mount it on a wall or a window (it comes with a small adhesive patch), or on your TV cabinet – or even on the back of your TV.
As with all indoor aerials, reception really depends on your coverage (promising 50 miles is a bit… much), and you might have to move it around your room a bit until you find the perfect spot (and unfortunately, if your coverage is particularly bad – you’re still likely to get no channels at all).
Build quality is not overly impressive, but for the price, and for something you stick on your wall/TV and just leave it there, you get excellent value for money.
With thousands of positive reviews from other buyers, it’s hard to go wrong – and sometimes it’s a good idea to stick with the model that just works well.
RGTech Monarch 50 Review
This aerial promises a lot – a 50 miles range (from the transmitter), technology developed by a NASA scientist, Ultra Wide Band radio technology, 4G Filtering… it all sounds very impressive – but does it work?
The short answer is Yes – this aerial works great, with a more-than-average number of users who got good reception with it. But it won’t do miracles – if the reception is bad in your house, and you’re far from the transmitter (don’t count on 50 miles) – you won’t get all the channels – just like it is with other aerials.
Still, the RGTech Monarch 50 ticks all the boxes and has an excellent chance of giving you a large number of channels with good picture quality, and it’s flat and easy to place, with a long cable (4.5m) included.
This is a first-rate aerial that will give you excellent performance and build quality – the main reason it’s in 2nd place, is that it’s a bit more expensive.
Cuwada 4K Indoor Aerial Review
If you’re not sure whether you’ll need a signal amplifier or not, this aerial comes with a detachable one already in the box – so you can experiment.
Being paper thin means you can easily mount it on a wall or a window, or even stick it on the back of your TV (but you won’t be able to place it on a stand). The cable length is quite long at 5 meters.
It supports HDTV and 4K signals (as do all modern aerials), and the detachable signal booster will help with reception in SOME areas. Keep in mind though, the amplifier is powered via a USB cable – so you would need a USB power adapter (like those you would use to charge your phone).
All in all, while this aerial is not as cheap as some of the other aerials, you get excellent value for money thanks to the amplifier – if you need it.
August High Gain Aerial Review
Most of the low-cost indoor aerials these days are paper-flat, so they blend in well – but that form factor isn’t always the most practical or useful.
Therefore, the highly popular August High Gain aerial is a blessing if you have unique placement needs: with its magnetic base, you can stick it on your fridge, or even on the back of some TVs.
Looks aside – does it work properly? Definitely, for the most part. As always, you transmitter needs to be close enough, otherwise, like all indoor aerials, this won’t work any wonders.
All in all, this aerial is similar to the other ones in how it performs, and is one of the better-priced ones. But its main attraction is the form factor, which gives you unique placement options
SLx 27769RG Amplified Review
This aerial is different than the others on our list in that it’s not an omnidirectional one. That means you have to point it towards the transmitter in your area, and choose whether to place it horizontally or vertically – you need to test different options and locations for the best signal 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 some of 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 power socket. With good overall reception, this is a very good indoor aerial, it just requires a bit more tuning, and the design is kind of bulky (though it looks like something out of the original Star Trek).
One For All SV9215 Review
One of the more expensive aerial in this roundup, you would expect a higher-than-average performance, but that is not always the case with this model. The flat design is nicer than others, 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 amplification doesn’t seem to cause any image disruptions, but for those in low-signal areas, it doesn’t always help much with reception either. Like most aerials, the bottom line really depends on the coverage in your area.