RCA Ultra-thin Multi-directional Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna review

RCA antenna 1b

It’s been about 12 years now since we’ve dropped cable TV. At the time, we were living paycheck to paycheck and decided that cable (among other things) was one of those expenses that was not necessary. We bought an antenna (rabbit ears style – they were cheap) to receive over-the-air (OTA) channels and dealt with the frustration of having to continually adjust the antenna to receive all of our channels while living in rural Wisconsin. Even though things have been better for us financially since we moved to Texas five years ago, we made the conscious decision not to go back to cable or satellite TV. Instead, like many people out there, we decided to continue using our antenna for OTA free channels and pay for streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The only thing we’ve neglected to do was update our antenna. Now that we live in Fort Worth, Texas, we get most of our channels clearly with our rabbit ears antenna and only have to adjust it for certain stations. This is still a frustration, so when given the chance to review the new RCA Ultra-thin Multi-directional Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna, I was eager to give it a try.

RCA antenna 2a

Package Contents:
  • Ultra-thin Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna (ANT1150F – 60 mile range) with built-in 12′ coaxial cable and in-line amplifier
  • Removable two-sided mounting tape (3M Command Strips)
  • 3′ USB to mini-USB power cable
  • USB power adapter
  • User’s guide
Design

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The white side of the antenna is shiny and reflective. The antenna itself is flexible but not flimsy and measures 13″ x 11.25″.

RCA antenna 2c

The reverse side of the antenna is black and has a matte finish. The antenna may be attached to the wall with either the white or black side showing.

RCA antenna 2d

The antenna has an attached 12 foot length of coaxial cable with an in-line amplifier which uses RCA’s SmartBoost technology, a “new amplifier design [that] outperforms all other brands and enhances reception of weak signals”.

Setup

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Setup was easy. The 12 foot length of coaxial cable was fully uncoiled and connected to the “Antenna” port on the TV (the TV was off).

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The mini-USB end of the USB power cable was inserted into the amplifier.

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The USB A end of the power cable was then inserted into the power adapter but could also be plugged into a USB port on your TV.

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The indicator light on the amplifier shines red when receiving power.

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I used AntennaPoint.com to locate and determine the approximate distance from our area to the TV tower transmitters. From our location in northern Fort Worth, we were a little over 30 miles away from the major cluster of TV towers located near southern Dallas.

I also used the TV Set Free website to find all of the OTA channels available to us in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There are 49 total channels available in our area; 34 English speaking channels, 14 Spanish channels one of which was analog, and one Asian channel.

Using the Antenna

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We live in a single family home within the city limits of Fort Worth and the terrain is relatively flat. Our TV is located on the north wall of our living room, thus the antenna had to be placed on that wall due to its 12 foot cord length. We used scotch tape to hang the antenna up temporarily in order to easily move it to find the most optimal placement before using the 3M Command adhesive strips. Initially, we tried hanging it right next to the TV and then performed a channel search. Even though all but one of the channels available to us but one were found, reception was not the best. There was some pixelation on many of the channels.

RCA antenna 8

We then moved the antenna to a much higher position and performed the channel search again. The RCA indoor antenna has a 60 mile range and my expectation was that it should pick up all available free stations near me and display them clearly on our TV. I was not disappointed. It found all but one of the 49 channels available to us and reception was perfect on the digital channels, including the major stations (in HD) such as NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, CW, and ion. The above photo shows our local PBS station, which was one of the more difficult stations to tune in with our old antenna.  There was one digital channel that was missed – VHF channel 52.1, a 6.87 kW independent station. This is a channel that I do not watch. The one analog channel that was found in our channel search had poor reception but was another independent station that I do not watch.

The amplifier on the antenna uses RCA’s SmartBoost technology to enhance the reception of weak signals. However, the signal strength of our TV stations are strong enough such that even when the amplifier was unplugged, all but ABC came in clearly. And interestingly, when I tried plugging the USB power cable into our TV, even though the amplifier indicated that it was receiving power, the ABC station still had trouble coming in clearly. The reception for the ABC station improved only after plugging the amplifier into an outlet.

The RCA antenna is also a multidirectional antenna (like other flat antennas) and does not need to be adjusted.  I only noticed some pixelation when there was interference from a nearby lawn mower on one set of digital channels. I also checked the reception as it steadily rained here in Fort Worth one day (no lightning or thunder) and did not detect a loss of signal on any of the channels.

Thumbs Up or Down?

I love this antenna. In the past, I was always having to adjust my old antenna or having to tolerate those rabbit ears being in the way of the TV. Using the RCA Ultra-thin Multi-directional Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna (whew, what a mouthful!), all channels came in clearly, were HD quality, and the antenna did not need adjustments. There are only a couple of drawbacks to using this antenna: the exposed coaxial cable running down the length of my living room wall is unattractive and that each TV in the house needs its own indoor antenna versus an outdoor antenna which could serve all of your TVs. However, these problems are common to all indoor antennas. The $69.99 price tag may be high for some people, but this antenna has a greater range (60 miles) than both the Mohu Leaf 50 HDTV Antenna (50 miles) and the Winegard FlatWave Amped Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna (50 miles) for about the same price. It also saves you on the cost of cable or satellite TV!

Source: The sample of the RCA Ultra-thin Multi-directional Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna was provided by RCA. It comes with a 12 month warranty and is available through RCA’s website for $69.99.

 

Product Information

Price:$69.99
Manufacturer:RCA
Requirements:
  • HDTV
Pros:
  • Easy to set up
  • High quality reception (up to 1080i), even on a rainy day (no storms)
Cons:
  • Unsightly cable while antenna hangs on the wall
  • You need an indoor antenna for each TV which gets expensive
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Reviews

7 comments… add one

  • james micheal slone July 7, 2014, 12:01 pm

    I live in eastern Kentucky. We have lots of mountains here and tree’s. How would the antenna work in my area.

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  • james micheal slone July 7, 2014, 12:03 pm

    I live in eastern Kentucky where we have lots of mountains and tree’s. How would the antenna work in my area.

    2
  • Kathleen Chapman July 7, 2014, 3:29 pm

    James,

    Unfortunately, I cannot answer your question. There is no way for me to test the antenna in a mountainous area since I do not live in such an area. The only thing I can tell you is that the RCA antenna reviewed here (ANT1150F) will allow you to receive broadcast signals up to 60 miles from the broadcast source according to the documentation.

    If you wish to know more, you may want to contact RCA online support:
    http://www.rcaaudiovideo.com/support/?kw=ANT1150F

    3
  • A. Mitchell July 28, 2014, 8:51 pm

    I have service through verizon, which requires a set top box on each TV. Will this device replace the need for a set top box?

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  • Kathleen Chapman July 29, 2014, 6:50 pm

    @A. Mitchell – If you go to http://www.tvsetfree.com/ and enter your zip code, you will get a list of all the free over-the-air (OTA) channels available to you in your area. These are the ONLY channels that are available to you using HD antennas (and you may not get good reception for all of those channels depending on where you live and the terrain around you). The antenna only helps you get access to OTA free broadcasts like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, etc.

    5
  • Patrick September 6, 2014, 11:52 am

    I found when I used the amplifier, I could not get any stations! After unplugging it I only received 5 with the 12 foot cable. Then, I put a 35 foot cable on and took the antenna outside and was able to get 26 stations.

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  • Kathleen Chapman September 7, 2014, 3:55 pm

    @Patrick – I noticed that even within my house I get different results with the antenna placed in another room (our den). In the den, I tried placing the antenna on just about every inch of that room (as far as the antenna would let me) to find an optimal spot. After finding the best spot in the room, it still required me to use the cable and coil it to form another “antenna” to receive reception for two of the weakest channels. If you have already tried that without success, I guess you may have to consider getting an attic/outdoor antenna to improve your OTA channel reception.

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