Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Cord cutting has led to renewed interest in a relatively old thing: free over-the-air TV. Of course, modern free over-the-air TV is much more advanced than the old-school stuff that your grandparents picked up on rabbit ears. There’s no surer sign of that than the fact that new companies are still arriving in the HDTV antenna space. The latest arrival is RGTech, maker of two new antenna models (the Monarch 40 and Monarch 50) in two different styles each. We’re here today with our RGTech Monarch 40 review – watch out for our review of the Monarch 50 next.
Note: We received test copies of the Monarch 40 from RGTech. This did not affect the objectivity of our review.
The first thing you'll notice about the Monarch 40 is its size and shape. It's rectangular, like a business envelope, and that helps it feel even smaller than it is. The antenna is just over a foot wide and only about three and a half inches tall. Depth is only a third of an inch, with the bulging part on one side, so it won't protrude much from your wall. The antenna park is very thin and seems to be made of plastic.
The cord is 10 feet long, which is pretty decent for a model like this.
And stick to your wall it will, thanks to the included 3M sticky tape. Three pieces come already attached to the back of the antenna – just peel off the backing and slap this bad boy on your wall, and you're good to go.
As for the technical specs, it's right there in the name: this is a 40-mile antenna, or so RGTech claims. It's omnidirectional and uses what RGTech calls “Ultra-Wideband Antenna technology” to deliver superior reception.
There's one more little design feature I want to mention, and that's the push-on coaxial connector. It's a small thing, but it's a joy to not have to screw on the little cap thing that other antennas always have. If you swap out your antennas often – taking them on the go, for instance, or alternating between the antenna and another source for your TV's coaxial jack – it's a nice perk to not have to deal with the little screw-cap thing.
There are technically two Monarch 40 models, but the only difference is the color. You get the option of white or black. The black model has a grid outlined in textural differences on its surface.
Like many antennas, the RGTech Monarch 40 failed to reach its advertised range in our tough testing environment. With that said, it didn't perform poorly – just not quite up to claims, which is pretty typical with antennas.
I scanned a few times with the RGTech Monarch 40, and it missed a few nearby channels each time. Some of these exceptions are ones I've learned to expect from the testing environment, but others were ones I've seen picked up by competitors with lesser advertised range. For instance, the range was nearly identical to that of the Mohu ReLeaf, which has a lower advertised range (30 instead of 40). But the Mohu ReLeaf is larger and pricier than the RGTech Monarch 40, other than a little advertising hubris, it's the Monarch that comes out on top.
The channels themselves came through in crisp HD. I had no problems with choppiness or static with this antenna – if it detected a channel, it delivered it.
The Monarch 40 is very nicely priced for a 40-mile antenna. It's on Amazon for $14.90 (marked down from around $25). The Monarch 40 has some flaws, but its price point is not among them. It's an excellent value for the money, and a strong choice for cost-conscious cord cutters. (While we're talking price, by the way, the Monarch 50 is an even better deal at $19.90).
According to their website, RGTech offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on their products.
The Monarch 40 bills itself as a 40-mile antenna – a pretty ambitious claim for an antenna this small and affordable. In our trials, it didn't manage to hit the advertised range. But aim for the moon and you'll land among the stars: while the Monarch 40 is not the ultra-cheap 40-miler we'd hoped for, it's a very affordable 20- or 30-mile option. At less than $15 as of this writing, the Monarch 40 is an excellent option for cost-conscious cord cutters in the suburbs. It's still serviceable a bit further out, but as you start to approach the advertised range you'd probably be better off opting for something larger and more powerful (like the device's big brother, the Monarch 50).
Do all these antennas need to be by windows? My TV is on a wall in the middle of the house.
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