What Is Clear TV Key Antenna?

Clear TV Key Antenna is a small digital antenna that helps you watch broadcast television for free.

Just plug it into any TV’s cable output, and you’ll be watching top-rated shows, local news and weather, and even sporting events on networks like FOX, NBC, CBS, PBS, etc. No ugly antenna or messy wires to worry about.

You can even use Clear TV Key in areas where other antennas might fail, such as in an RV, on a picnic, at the beach, and even on a boat.

Here at HighYa, we’ve written in-depth reviews about previous versions of this antenna, including the original Clear TV, as well as Clear TV Black Box.

Is there anything meaningfully different with the Clear TV Key? Can you expect it to work any better? Will you really be able to cancel your cable subscription? We’ll answer all your important questions below.

How Do Digital Antennas Work?

Without getting too detailed, an antenna works by picking up radio waves sent from broadcast towers, putting the electrical information back together, and then recreating an image on your TV screen.

Whether you’re talking about digital or analog signals, the process basically works the same. The biggest difference between the two? Digital signals can be recreated more efficiently (less information loss), resulting in better picture quality.

Why Do You Need a Digital Antenna In the First Place?

The truth? You don’t. Here’s why:

TV antennas don’t differentiate between analog and digital signals – they’re just collections of metal rods that pick up UHF and VHF transmissions at certain frequencies. The antenna doesn’t care what it’s picking up; it just passes signals along to the tuner (be it a tuner box or an integrated tuner inside your TV), which decodes them into a format that can be displayed on your TV.”

In that article, the author shows you how to turn an unused attic antenna into something that can be used to pick up digital. LifeHacker shows us how to do much of the same using a pair of rabbit ears.

At least in the first instance, you’ll need to be minimally handy. The rabbit ears option might entail a lot of frustrating trial and error, so it might not be ideal in all circumstances, either.

Either way, keep in mind that if you purchased your TV before 2008 (as a result of the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, you may also require a separate box that works as an ATSC tuner.

Does this mean you should rule out purchasing a newer antenna like Clear TV Key?

Are Some Digital Antennas Better Than Others?

If you’re looking to watch free network TV with minimal installation, setup, and hassle, a good digital antenna might be a valuable purchase. But is there anything that makes one model better than another?

Types of Antennas – There are 2 main types of digital antennas: omnidirectional, which can receive signals from all sides, or directional, which receive signals from just one direction. If you’re in the middle of a metro area with antennas all around you, an omnidirectional antenna might be best. Or, if you’re out in the country with signals coming only from the city, directional would likely be better.

UHF vs. VHF – Very High Frequency (VHF) signals travel farther, can’t move through most objects, and are lower quality. Ultra High Frequency (UHF) signals don’t travel as far, but are better quality and can easily move through wood, steel, and concrete (like your house). Many digital antennas can pick up both, but if you’re forced to make a choice, buy one that receives UHF signals.

Indoor vs. Outdoor – Antennas like Clear TV Key and Clear TV (more next) are for indoor use only, which means that signals can be weaker after passing through your home. You’ll also have to figure out where to put them to maximize signal strength, while minimizing their appearance.

What Makes Clear TV Key Antenna Different?

Compared to the original Clear TV and the more recent Clear TV Black Box, there are 2 major differences with Clear TV Key Antenna:

First, Clear TV Key Antenna attaches to the cable output in the back of your television. Because of this, you won’t have to worry about running a power cord to your digital antenna.

Second, Clear TV Key is much taller and thinner than the previous two versions:

  • Original Clear TV: 7 ¾ " x 7 ¾ "
  • Clear TV Black Box: 4" x 7" x 1"
  • Clear TV Key Antenna: 16" x 1.25" x 1"

What’s all this mean? Although the company behind Clear TV Key claims it “hides discreetly behind your TV,” this depends on the type of TV you own.

If your TV is 32” or smaller, it’s likely that some portion of the Clear TV Key Antenna will appear above the top. And the smaller your television, more of the antenna will show.

Obviously, this depends on where the cable output is located on the back of your set. In most instances though, the 32” guideline could be a good one to follow.

Pro tip: If you’re worried about Clear TV Key Antenna appearing behind your set, grab a tape measure, set it to 16”, and measure straight up from the cable output. Now you’ll know for sure!

What you might not be sure about is exactly which channels you’ll be able to receive with Clear TV Key.

Which Channels Can You Get with Clear TV Key Antenna? Can You Cancel Cable?

If you’re looking to watch free network TV with minimal installation, setup, and hassle, a good digital antenna might be a valuable purchase. But is there anything that makes one model better than another?

Which channels won’t you be able to watch? Premium content networks like HBO, TNT, Lifetime, HGTV, and hundreds of others. One is free, and the other you have to pay for.

The bottom line: Will Clear TV Key allow you to still watch programming if you cancel your cable subscription? Yes. Will you be able to watch all your favorite shows? If any of these shows are on cable-only networks, no.

Even with this restriction, are customers pleased with the Clear TV line of digital antennas?

Will You Experience the Same as Other Clear TV Customers?

Between the original Clear TV review and our updated Clear TV Black Box review, more than 550 HighYa readers have talked about their experiences.

What’s the result? Overall, these digital antennas had a 1.9-star average rating. Why? Usually because they didn’t live up to customers’ expectations.

Primarily, this was based on complaints of poor reception, even though customers were within the recommended 25-30 miles of a broadcast tower. Ultimately—if they worked at all—this meant they only received 1 or 2 channels, not the “hundreds” claimed by Clear TV Key's manufacturer.

And when customers decided to return their Clear TV antenna, they were often met with poor customer service and high, non-refundable S&H charges.

Will you experience the same with the Clear TV Key Antenna? It remains to be seen, but in our opinion, it’s certainly worth keeping in mind.

Let’s talk about more pricing next.

How Much Does Clear TV Key Antenna Cost?

Clear TV Key Antenna is priced at $14.99 plus $6.99 S&H. During checkout, you can also purchase a second for an additional $6.99 S&H.

Like most Tristar products, Clear TV Key comes with a 60-day refund policy, less S&H charges. Important note: If you choose the BOGO offer and decide to process a return, you’ll lose more in S&H than you’ll get back as a refund.

See Also: 3 Easy Steps for Cutting the Cord & Saving Money

Regardless, you’ll need to contact customer service at 973-287-5193 to request a return.

Is Clear TV Key Antenna a Good Digital Antenna?

We didn’t test Clear TV Key firsthand but based on the product’s commercial and what we learned during our research, we think it might be a good digital antenna option—as long as you keep your expectations realistic.

Yes, you’ll be able to continue watching broadcast TV without an expensive cable subscription. But this also means that you’ll no longer have access to cable programming, which might be a drag if this is where you watch most of your shows.

However, it seems that most Clear TV customers reported that they didn’t receive the number of channels they were expecting (generally 2-3). Obviously, this doesn’t mean you’re certain to experience the same with Clear TV Key, but it might be worth keeping in mind.

Add to this that Clear TV Key is attached directly to your TV, so you won’t be able to move it around as much as previous versions to improve reception.

Our recommendation? The goal for most ASOTV products is to reach store shelves, so you might want to wait until this happens with Clear TV Key. Why? This can save you a boatload in lost S&H charges if you’re dissatisfied.

In the meantime, there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of digital antennas similar to Clear TV Key, including Mohu Leaf, Winegard Flatwave AIR, HD Free TV Antenna, and TV Free Way Antenna—many of which have stronger online reputations than Clear TV products.

You’ll also find plenty of digital antennas at local stores, so you’ll definitely want to explore all your options before making a decision.

Read Next: Streaming Services: With So Many Choices, How Can You Pick the Right One?

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82 Customer Reviews for Clear TV Key Antenna

Average Customer Rating: 1.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 3 1 star:  74
Bottom Line: 6% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 82
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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    This junk is the worst

    • Cedar Rapids, IA,
    • Sep 20, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    This Clear TV Key Antenna should not be on the market. It's a total scam and does not work, plain and simple. I can't get a refund, and if I find any store that has this, I will make sure I spread the word not to shop there.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Piece of crap!

    • Palmdale, CA,
    • Sep 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I ordered and received two of these antennas. What a waste of money. They only pick up digital channels (no analog, so you can't get any local stations, i.e. 2,4,5,7,9,11, 13 and so on). I got a couple of channels, but they are crappy! Don't waste your time or money!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Worst thing I ever bought

    • Missouri,
    • Aug 28, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I would not recommend this to anyone. This is the worst thing I have ever bought. You can get no cable channels, just local channels. They flat out lied. I can get this at Family Dollar.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 19 out 19 people found this review helpful

    When I turn the channel I get a no signal or I just have to keep moving the antenna

    When I turn the channel it freezes up or I get a no signal sign, and I have to keep moving the antenna until I get a signal or until the freezing stops, and I have to fight with the antenna until a channel comes in.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 16 out 20 people found this review helpful

    Not worth the money

    • Bedford, Indiana,
    • Jul 13, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Any amplified digital antenna will pick up, local only channels within 50 miles, if you buy one that mounts on an outside pipe. This antenna is not amplified and cannot be used outdoors. I have not seen any reviews that say anything positive about it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 26 out 26 people found this review helpful

    Total crap

    • Sallisaw, Oklahoma,
    • Jul 6, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    It does not do what it claims. All of the fine print and excuses are inside the package but are not available before the purchase. I get a lot better performance from a $7.00 rabbit ear antenna. Big hype of crap.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    Comments (1)
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    • Sep 1, 2017

      Don

      If this clear TV antenna is advertised over TV, saying you get sports channels and so on, and it does not work as they say, then that is a false advertisement. Correct?

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  • 33 out 33 people found this review helpful

    This is a joke

    This is a total joke, don't fall for it. This does absolutely nothing, so do not waste your money on this product. I wish I had read the reviews first.

    Then good luck getting your money back. It will cost you more to send it back then it's worth.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 91 out 97 people found this review helpful

    It does not get all channels

    My son brought me a Clear TV key for a Christmas gift. I told my son that it is a rip off and two of my friends said it is a scam, so please do not buy this piece of junk.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 87 out 88 people found this review helpful

    Horrible

    • New York,
    • Apr 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    This is a horrible product for city use. It constantly drops channels and reception is horrible; the worst product I ever bought. I am totally pissed off. Very flimsy and horrible design.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 111 out 112 people found this review helpful

    This is garbage!

    • Hamilton, Ohio,
    • Mar 22, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do NOT buy this product; it is a scam!

    I bought this and not only is it garbage, but the refund they talk about is not true! I tried it, and it was useless, so I tried to get the refund, and after seven weeks I am still calling them with NO progress. They REFUSE to refund me even though I have sent their product back. They are rude on the phone no matter how nice I was.

    After all this time, I got NOWHERE. They DO NOT know how to run a business, and quite frankly, don't care about customer satisfaction!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 112 out 116 people found this review helpful

    Non productive, cheap, and expensive

    • New York,
    • Mar 16, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    We were assured by the seller that this would work in our area because we were told that there were at least eight local connections. Not true.

    We called our TV provider after receiving the sticks and were told that NOT ONE connection was available for us. We returned the sticks the very next day. We fell for the offer "Buy one, get one free, plus separate shipping and handling." The total of the invoice was $38.85 ($19.95 plus shipping and handling). We paid an additional $2.85 to return the original package.

    We received a refund of only $21.59 posted to our credit card. This non-productive product cost us $19.11 in return shipping and handling. Not fair. We are low income, and we didn't appreciate the guarantee.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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