ClearStream 2MAX The ClearStream 2MAX is an (advertised) 60-mile antenna that works indoors, an an attic, or attached to the exterior of your home. ($52 at Amazon.)

CordCutters Choice Awards

A couple years ago AntennaWeb hit me up and asked if I wanted to look at its ClearStream 2MAX antenna. (I forget when and I forget why — probably after I did one of my early cord-cutting videos.) I do, however, remember taking them up on it for one very simple reason:

An antenna that's mounted along the roofline was going to do better than a cheap one stuck to the inside of my window, facing the wrong direction. So why not.

This brings me to the important part of any antenna review: Where you live and where you put the antenna will affect the real-world results more than anything else. And my results will vary from yours. (None of us lives in anechoic chamber, right?)

So the most important part of any antenna for me is going to be the installation process. How clear are the instructions, how easy is the mast to erect, and how easy can the antenna be mounted?

Oh, and how easy can you take it all down again should the need arise?

The good news is that the ClearStream 2MAX passed all of those questions with flying colors.

I decided to mount it just along my roofline, facing west. My problem VHF channels come from that direction, and an indoor antenna on an east-facing window just wasn't getting it done.

Installation was simple. A few bolts into the side of the house — along with a nice set of sealing pads to keep wood, water and metal separate — and the mast was up. It pivots, so you can adjust things however you want. And the antenna rotates on the mast just fine (don't forget to tighten the U-bolt later, though), so you can adjust things as needed.

Setup was easy, and I get more channels than I need. What else is there?

I wasn't scientific at all about this. You can dial things in all you want — I just pointed the 2MAX in the right direction, attached 50 feet of coax (the connection has a decent rubber hood on it), ran it into my HDHomerun Connect Quatro, and hoped for the best.

The end result? Definitely good enough. I now have more channels — for free — through the antenna than I want to watch. HDHomerun is showing 37 channels, but realistically there are just six channels we care about —  our local ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS affiliates. Everything else is just a bonus, and not something we watch very often anyway. But the networks are important for live news and sports. And the two trouble spots — the CBS and Fox affiliates — are well within the 60-mile advertised range, and don't drop out anymore.

There's really nothing bad about this antenna. It was easy to install, and it'll be easy to take down. (Which I plan on doing if an when a hurricane eventually makes its way here.) It still looks like an antenna, and it's not exactly inconspicuous, but it's also not the most homely antenna you'll find.

All in all? Put it in the right location for you and it should serve you just fine.

4.5 out of 5

The Good

  • Doesn't break the bank.
  • Won't blot out the sun.
  • Stands up to a good Florida monsoon.
  • Easy setup, with a pivoting mast.

The Bad

  • Not conducive to hanging laundry.
  • May attract aliens.
  • Seriously, it's just a good antenna.

ClearStream 2MAX ($52)

See at Amazon

Don't overthink this thing. The ClearStream 2MAX is just a solid 60-mile antenna. You can mount it in an attic, or outdoors. (Remember that outside and higher is always better than inside and lower.)

Installation is basic homeowners stuff. A few screw and bolts and you're up and running. The mast and U-bolts make for easy removal when needed.

The best over-the-air antennas

Who doesn't like free TV, right? And it turns out that in 2018 there's still plenty to watch — free and legal — if you've got a decent enough over-the-air antenna. For the cost of a decent meal at the Sizzler you can get an antenna that pulls in stations from dozens of miles away, piping free 1080i content straight into your TV.

All you have to do is pick the right one for you.

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