RCA Ultra-Thin Multi-Directional Amplified Indoor Antenna review: Good performance for the price

This inexpensive TV antenna does a good job pulling in strong signals, but you might be happier paying a little more for higher performance.

rca ant3me tv antenna
RCA

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At a Glance

RCA’s model ANT3ME amplified indoor antenna is designed for the reception of VHF-High and UHF TV signals in areas with strong or very strong signals. It combines a thin form factor with a signal amplifier and a filter for local cellular signals.

Before you buy this or any indoor antenna, you should first check and see what you can receive in your area and how strong the signals are from TV towers. Trees, buildings, and hills all influence TV reception, and the range numbers in antenna descriptions are not a reliable indicator of how well it will do where you live. Check TechHive’s guide on how to choose an antenna to make sure you pick the correct type.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best over-the-air TV antennas, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

There are a couple of features on this antenna that set it apart from some competitors.

rca ant3me amplifier Martyn Williams / IDG

The signal strength indicator on the antenna’s amplifier is little more than a gimmick.

The first is the LTE filter. This is a signal filter that blocks cellular signals present on frequencies just above TV stations. If you happen to live close to a cellular base station, strong signals can overload your TV and compromise channel reception, so this could help you depending on where you live. (Click this link to read more information about what LTE filters can do for TV antennas).

The second is a signal meter built into the amplifier’s power supply, but it’s a rudimentary meter that is little more than a gimmick and didn’t prove to be a reliable indicator of reception on any channel.

Performance

The RCA ANT3ME performed satisfactorily in TechHive tests. It managed to receive six local UHF broadcast channels for a total of 39 digital TV stations.

In contrast, our current top-ranked indoor TV antenna, the Winegard FlatWave Amped received the same six UHF channels and an additional VHF channel for a total of 43 digital TV stations.

Additionally, the Winegard received more weak but unusable signals from distant transmitters than the RCA antenna did, leading me to conclude it’s slightly more sensitive. In the case of strong, local TV signals that both are designed for, however, there will be little difference.

rca ant3me unboxing Martyn Williams / IDG

The documentation accompanying RCA’s ANT3ME antenna indicates that its signal amplifier is powered by a USB cable. In reality, it relies on an AC power adapter.

Parts and Installation

The antenna is a paper-thin sheet designed to be pinned to a wall or stuck to a window. RCA includes some sticky pads in the box that make installation easy.

The antenna is black on one side and white on the other, so you can flip it over to match room décor. In most homes, the black would face out and the white indoors, so it’s rather unfortunate that RCA chose to print the antenna’s patent number in a large font on the bottom right-hand corner of the white side. It’s quite unnecessary.

rca ant3me tv patent no Martyn Williams / IDG

RCA should have printed this patent information—which is irrelevant to the consumer—in white (or in black on the black side).

You’ll find a 12-foot coaxial cable between the antenna and amplifier power supply. The power supply has a 3-foot cable that terminates in a wall power adapter.

This is different from the description on the box, which says it uses USB power. The latter could be more convenient if you have USB ports on your television set. In the version supplied to TechHive, the adapter requires a spare electrical outlet.

RCA’s model ANT3ME indoor TV antenna is a relatively good-performing product, but its aesthetic value is undermined by having its patent number printed on it on the side that will face into the room in most installations, and a signal amplifier that terminates in a wall power adapter.

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At a Glance
  • RCA’s model ANT3ME indoor TV antenna is a relatively good performer for the money, but it's not one of our top picks.

    Pros

    • Good reception of strong, local channels
    • Built-in amplifier and cellular filter

    Cons

    • Lacks sensitivity for weaker channels
    • Signal meter is very basic
    • Amplifier function requires an AC outlet
  
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