Category Archives for Reviews

ANTOP Smart Boost Review

When it comes to people’s opinions on amplifiers, you’ll find that they’re actually quite a mixed bag. While some swear by them, others refuse to believe they actually work, dismissing them completely. The thing is, if you’re using an outdoor TV antenna, or any OTA-ready streaming device or projector, you must’ve given thought to the idea.

antop smart boost review

Now, the “mixed bag” is actually quite understandable, especially considering the market. You will find a host of bad amplifiers that do nothing, or very little, and a few that are actually great and do the job as advertised. These are the ones that are worth taking a look at, and the ANTOP Smart Boost Amplifier is one of them. It’s an excellent amplifier that works with a variety of devices, so you can definitely take advantage of it. Let’s take a look at our ANTOP Smart Boost review, and see whether it’s worth buying.

What is the ANTOP Smart Boost Amplifier?

On the outside, it looks like a small box with three screws poking out of it, and an adjuster. It’s not large, and you can put it just about anywhere. The adjustment dial, is what lets you set up the amplifier strength. It uses a smart system that gives you just the right balance between long-range reception, and short-range reception. The dial itself is smooth and easy to adjust.

antop smart boost review

Those three screws aren’t screws – they’re connectors. One of them, the one on the side is the input, and is where you’ll connect your outdoor TV antenna. The other two, at the bottom, are the outputs. You’ll notice they’re labeled differently. Now, the ANTOP has two outputs, unlike other options that only come with one. The first one, to the left, is used to connect your primary TV. If you’re only using it for a single device, this is the one you should connect it to. However, if you have a second TV set you’d like to amplify the signal for, the connector on the right is the one you should use. To make things even better, it also works with things such as an FM radio or other similar devices.

Does it have any other functionality?

While regular amplifiers are just that – amplifiers, the ANTOP has a few more tricks up its sleeve. The key one is the built-in 4G LTE filter. The issue with wireless devices is that they often interfere with each other, which isn’t helpful and messes with everything’s signal. That’s often the cause of a bad signal with an antenna. However, the built-in filter will block 3G and 4G signals from things such as a smartphone or tablet, as well as signals from a wireless network and mobile phone transmitters. The end result? A digital TV reception that’s as noise-free as it gets.

How does it compare to other devices on the market?

Granted, there’s no shortage of TV antenna amplifiers on the market today. However, as we mentioned in the beginning, some of them don’t work at all, while others work, but barely. Fortunately, neither of those is the case with the ANTOP. We’re happy to say that it works admirably. Even when you’re nearing the edge of your TV antenna’s range, we found that the signal is excellent, with no drops and a clear image. ANTOP claims compatibility with everything from HD to 4K, and we had no issues whatsoever.

antop smart boost review

The best advantage the ANTOP has over other devices on the market is the additional functionality. Other amplifiers will merely give you an input and an output, and that’s about it. You have to trust them that they’ll do the job, and that’s not always the case. Here, the additional device output can save you the money you’d spend on a second amplifier. The adjustable dial will ensure that you’re getting just the right signal, whether it’s a long range one, or a short range one.

Wrapping things up

At the end of the day, if you’re an outdoor TV antenna user, chances are you’ve had issues with signal reception at some point. If the issue is with bad weather, an amplifier can’t really do much. However, if the issue is with your antenna’s range, or the signal quality itself, the ANTOP Smart Boost can actually give you a significant advantage. The reception will be much better, the image quality will improve, and you’ll be able to enjoy your TV experience as intended!

ClearStream 4 Outdoor Long Range TV antenna review

When you’re looking to get a long-range TV antenna, the options are seemingly endless. You’ll come across various options, from different brands – you’ll even come across DIY options that you could try yourself. One thing those DIY options do? They copy the design of ClearStream’s antennas. This speaks volumes to how good the ClearStream actually is. You can also see our guide on the best long range tv antenna here.

This is why we have decided to make our ClearStream 4 Outdoor Long-Range TV antenna review, because this is one of the best long-range antennas you can get. Even though it’s fairly expensive, it’s actually pretty much worth it. Without wasting any more of your time, let’s take a look at why is it so good.

The antenna’s design

The first thing you’ll notice with the ClearStream 4 is the design. You may be surprised, but the unique loop design is actually patented. It has a 180-degree reception angle, which results in a very broad reception of UHF frequencies. With a multidirectional reception, the need to have it facing exactly at the antenna is somewhat negated.

It’s not just the distinctive loops – the mesh wiring behind the loops are actually signal-enhancing reflectors. They focus the receptive power of the antenna, which doesn’t only minimize signal multipath interference, but helps with the power and range quite a bit.

One interesting things that should be mentioned, is that the ClearStream 4 can be painted if you want it to match your home’s exterior. This isn’t too much in terms of functionality, but for aesthetics, it goes a long way.

Let’s discuss the features

When you get the ClearStream 4, you’ll find that it advertises a 70-mile range. With most outdoor (and some indoor) antennas, the advertised range can be achieved only in perfect, near laboratory-level environments. Even a single tree, or a single building, can have a massive impact. That’s why almost none of those 150-mile antennas actually give you 150 miles. With the ClearStream, things such as obstructions do have an impact, but it is actually much less noticeable. In great
conditions, you have 70 miles. In sub-par, that may drop to 55 or 60, which is
truly a small difference. As we mentioned with the design, the multi-directional elements help quite a bit with the reception.

In terms of the signal, 12.25dB is plenty, and you’ll be able to receive UHF channels. The output to your TV will come in 1080p, full HD, which should be pretty good – but you should also have good signal reception for that.

The last thing isn’t that much of a feature, but it’s important. ClearStream give you a lifetime warranty on the antenna, which is one of the reasons why it’s so expensive. If anything goes bad, they’ll replace it for you and you’re good to go.

Assembly and installation

The ClearStream 4, for obvious reasons, does not come preassembled. However, assembling the frame, reflectors and loop elements is very easy. All you need is a Philips screwdriver, as well as an adjustable wrench, and you should be done in no more than half an hour. This is a lightweight antenna, so mounting it on a mast afterwards shouldn’t be an issue.

An interesting thing to note is that the antenna is also reported to work indoors – whether it’s in a room, or in the attic. If you can’t mount it outdoors, this is another option. Note, though, that because of the construction of your home, the thick walls and metal roofs, you may actually end up losing up to 40 or even 50% of your signal.

Once you’ve got it installed, you’ll want the front end to be aimed towards transmission towers. The two panels are actually rigid, so you’ll need to aim it yourself when you’re installing it on the mast. Setting it up shouldn’t be too difficult, and something like TVFool can help you quite a bit, too.

Wrapping things up – do we
recommend the ClearStream 4?

The ClearStream 4 is a very interesting proposition. On one hand, it costs a lot. On the other hand, you’re getting excellent range, a 180-degree design, all packaged in a lightweight antenna that works admirably.

If you’re going to be using the ClearStream 4 indoors, there are better options. You’re pretty much halving your range, and you’ll almost never see all the benefits of the antenna. If, however, you need it for outdoor applications, few can do better than the
ClearStream, and even fewer with all the extra features. It’s certainly a great buy.

Lava Omnidirectional TV Antenna OmniPro HD 8008 Review

Almost every time you mention buying an omnidirectional antenna, you’ll get comments along the lines of “you’ll never get good reception” or “you don’t have broadcast towers surrounding you”. And while these may be right for some folks, there are others, that live in densely populated areas, that could very much use an
omnidirectional antenna.

If you’re one of those folks, we’ve got an excellent suggestion for you – the Lava OmniPro HD8008 review. We’re taking a look at one of the best omnidirectional antennas you’ll come across on the market nowadays, and it’s one that doesn’t cost too much either. Without wasting any more of your time, let’s take a look at the details of the OmniPro HD8008, and see whether this should be your next investment.

The HD8008’s design

Kicking things off with the outside, we have to be honest – the design isn’t really impressive. It looks very simple, and yes, we don’t want to use “ugly”. When you mount it, you have a circular antenna with two metal pieces sticking out. However, the design of the OmniPro isn’t meant to look good. Instead, it’s meant to be functional, and be able to receive signals from all directions. There’s one more thing here – the antenna has anti-UV coating and is completely waterproof. If you’re worried about the weather damaging it, you shouldn’t be. And, it’s also shielded, to
reduce interference as much as possible. 

Inside the box, it will also come with a mounting pole. The pole has an adjustable angle for the base pivot, which lets you set it up for flat, vertical or angled use. There are also wall mounts and brackets, if that’s the route you want to take with your antenna. It’s one of those options that let you set it up basically any way you want it.
Oh, you can also rotate it 60 degrees to get even better reception.

Now, we’re talking about an “omnidirectional” design all the time. But what is that, anyways? Well, with a regular antenna, you’d have to point it towards the direction of the broadcast tower. However, if you have an omnidirectional one, it is able to receive
channels from any direction. This makes it much better for densely populated
areas, where there are a lot of surrounding towers, and plenty of objects for
the signal to bounce from.

And while this design does come with one big loss – range, the HD8008 actually deals with this quite well. The ideal distance is anywhere between 40 and 80 miles, depending on the conditions, as well as the signal and the surrounding objects. If you give it ideal conditions, though, it can easily reach over 100 miles of range. For an
omnidirectional antenna, this is truly impressive. What helps quite a bit here,
actually, is the built-in amplifier. It has high gain, but very low noise, which allows it to function very well.

Features and functionality

A functional design and excellent specs “on paper” don’t make an outdoor antenna great – the functionality does. The antenna has a built-in dipole that allows you to receive both UHF and VHF signals, as well as FM, making for a very versatile option. There’s also DVB-T, DMB-T/H, ATSC and ISDB-T. With this, you can expect both 1080p, Full HD image, as well as 4K images on your TV set.

Mounting and using the HD8008

Just like with most large items you could order online, the HD8008 doesn’t come preassembled. However, assembling it and setting it up on the pole should be a piece of cake. All the components are included, so you can get things up and running in no time.

A huge benefit is that you don’t have to aim for the broadcast towers. With an omnidirectional design, you should be able to receive channels regardless of how you set it up.

Wrapping things up – is it any
good?

As we mentioned in the beginning of our Lava omnidirectional TV antenna OmniPri HD 8008 review, an omnidirectional antenna isn’t good for everyone. If you live in a rural area, and find that you don’t have many towers around you, a directional antenna may do a better job.

However, if you live in a city, or other urban area with a lot of tall buildings the signal could bounce off of, and you have a couple of towers surrounding you, you’re actually pretty much set to go with the HD8008. You’ll get a lot of free channels, and chances are you’ll be able to completely cut the cord!