Clear TV has been heavily advertised lately, and appears to be quickly gaining popularity. As a result, you probably just watched a commercial for Clear TV, visited the product’s website, and are excited about all the possibilities this antenna may offer. Before placing your order though, you want to know more, and to read some legitimate online customer reviews. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, we've has accumulated more than 200 consumer voices since early September 2013. Before we dig in though, let’s do a quick recap:
Clear TV is an “As Seen on TV” digital antenna that claims to provide you with HD broadcast channels at no charge, other than the cost of the antenna itself. However, “broadcast” means that Clear TV only works with local network channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and other local stations, but not with cable channels (see more about this in the following section).
With this in mind, Clear TV is currently priced at $19.95 plus $7.99 shipping and handling. As with most “As Seen on TV” products, you can purchase a second Clear TV antenna for “free,” just pay an additional and $7.99 S&H.
Our Clear TV Review: Does it Actually Work, or Is it a Scam?
Anyway, you’re probably all hyped up, and are eager to learn more about Clear TV—and who could blame you? Who on earth would say no to free HD channels? But here’s the bad news: Unfortunately, most of Clear TV’s customer reviews appear to be negative.
So what’s going on? Does Clear TV really live up to its claims? Allow us to dissect everything for you.
Factor #1: How Clear TV Really Works
In general, Clear TV doesn’t work the way you probably think it does, and here’s why: Tristar, the manufacturer of Clear TV, makes it seem like you could replace many of the services (e.g. programs) you already enjoy with traditional cable, but for free. As an example, here are some quotes taken directly from the promotional video on the product’s website:
“Receive hundreds of crystal clear digital and HD shows for free.”
“Why spend hundreds of dollars a year for cable and satellite, when you can watch broadcast television for free?”
“That’s right! Free digital TV!”
“Bypass cable and satellite…”
…and many more. Unfortunately, the average consumer likely won’t pick up on the important distinction between cable television and broadcast television, which is the main problem. So remember this:
Clear TV is only able to receive free HD broadcast network channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc. In other words, much like any other antenna, Clear TV will basically just give you access to the signals already floating around in the air. It will not, however, give you access to premium cable channels (e.g. HBO, The Discovery Channel, HGTV, Lifetime, TBS, etc.).
Factor #2: Signal Strength Means Everything
Even if you already understand the difference between broadcast and cable stations, you may not understand that—as with any other type of antenna—the device will only pick up signals from towers located within a specified distance of your home. In the instance of Clear TV, you’re looking at a maximum range of 25-30 miles, which could be a problem if you live in a more rural or remote location.
On top of this, figuring out local antenna locations may not be as straightforward as you would think, either. While the Clear TV website does display a couple links that claim to help with this, the AntennaWeb site is clunky and filled with technical jargon, so we’d recommend avoiding it. However, the FCC link here is much more straightforward, since each station is rated based on strong, moderate, and weak signal strengths. In fact, these ratings are even color-coded to make identification as simple as possible.
Here’s a heads up though: We’ve received some reviews from customers claiming that they checked a channel on one of the above websites prior to ordering. After receiving their Clear TV and installing it, however, they ended up not being able to tune in to that channel after all. So buyer beware.
Factor #3: Why You May Not Need Clear TV
Finally, if you own a television built in 2008 or later, you probably don’t even need a Clear TV antenna in the first place. This is because all TV sets manufactured after this date are required by the government to include a built-in HD antenna (also called an ATSC tuner), which performs the exact same function as Clear TV.
Hint: If you’re unsure whether or not your TV contains an ATSC tuner, this is a quick article that can get you moving in the right direction.
The Bottom Line About Clear TV
The number one reason why customers call Clear TV a scam is that it doesn’t do what it claims to do, which is to “receive hundreds of crystal clear digital and HD shows for free.” In other words, it’s all a gimmick, and they’re venting their frustration.
This is a completely legitimate complaint, however, because Clear TV only picks up local broadcast (e.g. major) stations, does not add any channels, and has nothing to do with cable. With this in mind, the reality is that you’ll probably only be able to receive 8-10 channels—and even then, numerous reviews claim that the picture quality remains poor.
So here’s the bottom Line: If you’re interested in obtaining free broadcast HD channels, check to see if your TV already has a built-in ATSC tuner. If not, we’d recommend choosing an antenna from a more reputable manufacturer, such as the Mohu Leaf or Winegard Flatwave.
On top of this, if you’re looking to free yourself from your cable bill, check out our recent Cutting the Cord article. In it, you’ll read about other, less expensive ways of watching premium content, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more!