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The Mohu Sail is a gently curved, smart-looking TV antenna that is intended to be mounted either indoors, probably in an attic space, or outdoors on the side of a house or chimney.
Inside the antenna are reception elements for VHF/UHF channels and an amplifier.
The Sail is one of the first Mohu antennas to feature an amplifier at the antenna rather than at the end of the cable. The advantage is that signal can be boosted immediately after being captured rather than sent down the cable—where it can get weaker—and then amplified. This is especially advantageous over long cable runs.
Mohu gives the antenna a 75-mile rating, but don’t rely on that when choosing an antenna. TechHive has already written about how these distance ratings assume ideal conditions—something many of us don’t have—and we also have a comprehensive guide to selecting an antenna. Read it so you won’t be disappointed.
TechHive tests antennas by performing a number of scans to see how many channels are received. A pattern emerges over the course of the scans, and we get to see how well an antenna pulls in the various strong and weak channels on air in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.
The Mohu Sail did an average job for an antenna of its size, successfully receiving signals from six broadcast channels in San Francisco for a total of 33 TV stations (each digital broadcast channel carries several TV stations), and another six channels when orientated to face Sacramento for a total of 37 channels. While facing Sacramento, however, all the channels received were the same stronger signals as when facing San Francisco, which makes me wonder how directional the antenna is.
The curved design might contribute to this, because the antenna is bent and probably receives signals from a wider angle than traditional antennas. If you live in an area with several strong signals coming from different places, this could be an advantage; but if you’re dealing with weaker signals, as I am, it can also lead to more noise and interference being received.
The antenna includes elements for reception of VHF TV stations. While not as common as UHF stations, there are many on the air across the country, so check our TV antenna selection guide before buying one without them. In our tests, the Mohu Sail failed to receive any VHF stations with a good enough signal level to watch.
The Mohu Sail didn’t outperform TechHive’s current top pick, the Winegard Elite 7550, which received eight broadcast channels when facing San Francisco for 44 TV stations, and nine broadcast channels when facing Sacramento for 69 TV stations. In previous tests, the Winegard antenna has done even better.
Parts and Installation
The Mohu Sail is a single-piece TV antenna in a hard plastic case shaped into a gentle curve. It can be mounted to an antenna mast with a supplied metal mounting bracket. If you don’t have a mast on your house or apartment, it comes with a small pipe and mount suitable for attaching to the side of your house or chimney.
The mount is of good quality, which is important because the antenna needs to be tightened down well to stop it twisting in the wind due to its shape.
Also included is a 30-foot coaxial cable. That should be long enough for many installations, but you might need longer. To optimize your signal, it’s better to buy a new coaxial cable to the complete length required than to use multiple cables with couplers.
There’s also a power injector in the box, which is intended to be connected in the antenna line near the television. It sends power down the coaxial cable to an amplifier built into the antenna. It requires USB power to operate. Mohu supplies a USB wall adapter, or you can use a powered USB port on your TV, if it has one.
The Mohu Sail is an attractive TV antenna, but it delivers only average performance. If you’re drawn by its looks and live in an area blessed with strong TV signals, you’ll probably find it fits your needs. If you’re facing a more challenging reception condition, you’ll be better served by the slightly more expensive Winegard Elite 7550.
Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.