Antenna use is a growing trend in the cord cutting community, and that’s no surprise, since some of the best content available on cable is also available for free over the air. But while deciding to get an antenna is easy, choosing which one to purchase can be tough. For a few lucky residents of urban areas, simple rabbit ears may be enough, but most of us need antennas that pack a little more punch.
For a lot of cord cutters, an amplified indoor antenna is the best bet. These antennas usually pick up stations from as far away as 50, 60, or even 70 miles, making them a great choice for cord cutters in the suburbs.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at one such product: the TERK Horizon amplified indoor HDTV antenna. Check out our full review below!
A Quick Disclosure
It’s our policy to always tell our readers when we get free stuff from the companies who make the products we’re reviewing. In this case, TERK’s marketing representatives were kind enough to send us a free product to review. As always, this doesn’t affect our impartiality.
The first thing to know about the TERK Horizon is that it’s really, really big. It’s a long rectangular antenna that looks like of like a taller, thinner sound bar. It’s not a subtle thing to stick in your window.
However, the TERK’s design does make it surprisingly unobtrusive when you put it amongst your other entertainment devices. You can stick it right in front of the TV and most casual observers will think it’s just a sound bar. You can also stick it onto the top of your TV using the mounting system. That’s a lot less subtle, but still not the ugliest thing in the world. The device is black, so it matches most electronics.
There’s no getting around the size of the thing – it’s 32” long – but we were pretty impressed with how well it hid in plain sight. Of course, if you have a small TV or if you have to put it in a window to improve your reception, this thing is going to stick out like a sore thumb.
One small annoyance was that the length of the power cord was pretty short. The USB power plugs into the little amplifier, not the antenna itself, so the short cord is no problem when the antenna is set up on your TV. But move it to a nearby wall or window, and you’ll start to stretch the limits of the short power adapter.
The device includes a small mounting attachment that comes with an adhesive.
Reception and Picture Quality
Before we get into the picture quality and reception details, we should mention that this antenna was tested in your faithful blogger’s apartment. It’s a pretty tough area for antennas: the thickest wall faces most broadcast towers, the other buildings in the apartment complex are in the way of signals, and I live in a part of Washington that gets a lot of inversions, which affect signal strength. Generally, we expect antennas to underperform a bit in our testing environment, which we like: it really sets the good ones apart.
In this tough environment, the TERK Horizon didn’t hold up as well as we’d hoped. When set up in front of the TV, undercover-as-a-sound-bar style, it picked up 12 channels – fewer than we’ve found when reviewing antennas that retail for less of what the Horizon does.
High on the wall or in the window, of course, the Horizon did better. In those positions, we were able to pick up 24 channels. That’s on the high end of average for antennas we’ve reviewed, though it’s short of what it should be for Horizon’s advertised 60-mile range (that’s no surprise – our testing environment eats advertised ranges for breakfast).
The TERK Horizon retails for $99.99, which is on the high end for an amplified indoor antenna, but nothing mind-blowing. Considering the advertised range of the TERK, this price isn’t unreasonable.
We really wanted to like the TERK Horizon, because it represents a cool new idea of what an antenna should look like. We have no problem with a larger footprint as long as it’s as elegant as possible and offers a performance advantage over smaller devices.
Are these things true of the Horizon? Well, sort of, but in our tests, we couldn’t get them to both be true at the same time. We got $100 worth of reception when putting the huge antenna high on the wall or in the window, but putting this giant thing up there negated any aesthetic appeal that the Horizon has.
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