|Mohu Leaf Plus|
But many people, mostly apartment dwellers, are unable to have an outdoor TV antenna for a variety of reasons. The FCC has issued "Over The Air Reception Device" (OTARD) rules that specify when outdoor antenna installations may be restricted. You can read the FCC OTARD regulations here. If you find that you can't install an outdoor antenna after reading the OTARD rules, then your only option is an indoor antenna.
I recently was provided with a Mohu Leaf Plus amplified indoor antenna for review. I gave the Leaf Plus a spin and put it up against a Eagle Aspen Dtv2B uhf 2 bay outdoor TV antenna. I located both antennas on the top shelf of a bedroom closet and connected them to a 32" Coby TV.
Here's my results.
The Two Bay Antenna:
|DB2 2-Bay Antenna|
I've used and recommended the Antennas Direct DB2, or Eagle Aspen Dtv2Buhf 2-Bay Uhf Antenna outdoor antenna as an indoor antenna for years. It's inexpensive, effective, and well made. I also have recommended the new Antennas Direct DB2E. Although designed as short to medium range outdoor antennas, they have been used and recommended by myself and others as an indoor antenna.
I assembled the Eagle Aspen and placed it on the top shelf of a bedroom closet in about 15 minutes and aimed it towards the transmitter towers. I connected my 6 foot coax cable (not included with the DB2, but cheap and easy to find) and did a channel scan: 26 channels. All of them where UHF - it did not receive KUTA-LP on VHF channels 8.1-8.3. I expected as much, since the DB2 was designed for the old pre-digital UHF channels 14-69, and as such is tuned toward the higher frequency range of those channels. I tried moving the antenna but it changed nothing - still no channel 8.
The Mohu Leaf Plus:
|Mohu Leaf Plus|
The Mohu Leaf Plus, shown here in the box, is the amplified version of the Mohu Leaf flat antenna. Flat panel indoor antennas are relative newcomers, and there are a number of them now on the market including the WallTenna and the Winegard Flatwave. The Mohu Leaf and Leaf Plus are currently the highest rated indoor TV antennas on Amazon.com.
Out of the box, the Leaf Plus consists of the antenna with attached cable, a USB power supply and USB cable, as well as two velcro "dots" for mounting the antenna. One of the things that I liked about the power supply was that you could plug the USB cable into the USB port on your TV, thus eliminating the need for the always-on "Wall Wart" power supply. When you turn off your TV, you turn off the power to the antenna.
There is really no assembly required for the Leaf. In 5 minutes I plugged the USB cable to my TV and connected the coax to the antenna in, placed the Leaf Plus in the same location that the DB2 was in, and started a scan for channels. I found 26 channels - same as the DB2! But they weren't the same channels. While the Leaf Plus picked up VHF channels 8.1-8.3, it did not get KSL-HD, channels 5.1-5.3, broadcasting from a translator on a much higher UHF frequency.I tried moving and re-aiming, but with no success. Perhaps if I moved it to another room, but then it wouldn't be a fair comparison, would it?
So, 26 channels each. Is it a tie?
Well, yes and no. Sort of. Because each antenna had one channel it just would not receive, no matter how I tweaked them. But different channels. And the Leaf Plus is what it is: you can't put a more powerful amp on it, or modify its design. Perhaps you could get the un-amplified Leaf and add your own, more powerful, amplifier (the built-in amp for the Leaf Plus is 10 db gain). To solve the problem of the DB2, you can use a splitter to add a set of "rabbit ears" for VHF, or add two 30" lengths of metal rod - welding rod works nicely for this - to the center (balun) terminals of the DB2, so it looks like the antenna below:
|It's ugly, but it works.|
Understand that with an indoor or outdoor TV antenna, as in real estate, "location is everything". Before you do anything, go to TVfool and enter your location and the height of your planned antenna. If TVfool tells you that your not going to get much, then you probably won't do well with any indoor antenna. Likewise, if you live in a basement, your odds aren't good. The same warning applies to metal and brick structures: mobile homes, homes metal siding, and also with stucco or brick veneer often have a metal backing or screen that can block signal.
The Leaf Plus is what it is: an amplified indoor only antenna that works well and is unobtrusive, and can even be hidden behind furniture or a picture. It's a fine antenna, and I can - and do - recommend it. If you need more amplification, I would suggest an unamplified Mohu Leaf and a stand-alone amplifier with a gain of 15db or better. For many people, the Leaf or Leaf Plus is the only solution.
If you can find a spot to hide it or can live with it in your living room, then the DB2 is a good choice for you. It's ugly as sin, yea. But it has several advantages if you can live with it: For one, you can add your own amplifier. You can also modify it to get VHF (as above). And if you ever move to a home where an outdoor antenna IS an option, then a 2 bay outdoor antenna is probably best for you.
If you're going to be stuck in a situation where you can't have an outdoor antenna, don't plan on moving to a place where you can have an outdoor antenna, and you can't hide a DB2 or pass it off as an industrial sculpture, then the Mohu Leaf or Leaf Plus is your best free TV solution.