RGTech

is a new company in an old space: over-the-air antennas. But while OTA has been around for ages, it has changed a lot recently. Modern free over-the-air TV comes in crisp HD, and new products are springing up every day to help cord cutters take advantage of the free TV that's all around us. RGTech's offerings, the Monarch 40 and Monarch 50, are remarkably affordable antennas that promise the omnidirectional mid-range coverage that suburban cord cutters are looking for. Do they cut the mustard? Here's our complete RGTech Monarch 50 review (for our Monarch 40 review, click here).

Note: We received test copies of the Monarch 50 from RGTech. This did not affect the objectivity of our review.

RGTech Monarch 50 Review

The device

RGTech Monarch 50 Review: Models
The clear and black models of the RGTech Monarch 50

The Monarch 50 is much larger than the Monarch 40, but it's still a very reasonable size for an antenna with its range. It's about 16 inches by 7 inches, and it's only a third of an inch deep at its thickest point (the antenna itself is extremely thin). It comes in black and clear (unlike the Monarch 40, it does not come in white), and the two have different grids on them (the clear's grid is smaller and in black, and the black's grid is bigger and done in varied textures).

The cable is 15 feet long, which is 5 feet longer than the one on the 40. Like the 40, the Monarch 50 ditches the screw-on coaxial cable for a push-on model, which I found a bit more convenient.

The antenna can be hung from the wall with double-sided 3M tape, which comes already attached on the antenna side. You can also put together the little two-piece stand that comes in the box and have that hold your antenna up.

RGTech Monarch 50 Review: Clear
Clear RGTech Monarch 50 shown with stand

The antenna is simple-looking. I preferred the black model, but both were pretty sharp. The Monarch 50 looks utilitarian and straightforward, which is what I prefer in an antenna.

Range and reception

The Monarch 50, like most antennas we review, didn't quite match its advertised range in our less-than-perfect conditions. It picked up one or two (depending on my luck with my several scans) channels more than its little brother, the Monarch 40, did. The channels that the Monarch 50 did detect, it delivered loud and clear; the ones that it did not detect were, for the most part, ones I'm used to seeing antennas fail to grab (these stations are presumably blocked of from my testing space by hills or buildings).

Overall, the Monarch 50 didn't do a ton to distinguish itself from the Monarch 40 or rival antennas designed for the 30-40 mile range. With that said, it did improve the channel count slightly and seemed a touch better in terms of reception quality and consistency.

Price

Price is where the RGTech models really shine. As of this writing, the Monarch 50 is on sale on Amazon for just $19.90. That's an absolute steal for an antenna of this size and range. It's only about $5 more than the Monarch 40, which really takes the sting out of the fact that the Monarch 50 didn't far outperform its little brother in our trials – for $5, the small difference is probably worth it.

The $19.90 price is a markdown from $44.90, which is a bit more typical of this size of antenna. $44.90 is nothing special, but the sale price right now is fantastic, so the Monarch 50 gets high marks for its low price as of this writing.

Verdict

The Monarch 50, like its little brother, is a reliable mid-range antenna. Like almost all antennas, it came up a little short of its advertised range in our real-world tests, but that's neither surprising nor particularly damning. The Monarch 50 doesn't blow its competition out of the water in terms of range or reception, but it certainly does so in price – it's quality and remarkably low cost make it arguably the best value on the market right now. The improvement over the Monarch 40 is incremental, but so is the price point. I recommend this antenna.