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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67 Customer Reviews for Clear TV Key Antenna

Average Customer Rating: 1.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 stars: 5 4 stars: 0 3 stars: 0 2 stars: 3 1 stars: 59
Bottom Line: 7% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 67
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  • 8 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Clear TV Key Antenna

    • Ontario, Canada,
    • Feb 20, 2017

    I tried everything, even hooked an 18 dB gain booster, and got not one channel.

    Don't buy this crap! I am returning it this morning. This is an honest review by a guy that plays with antennas all the time. I found a better antenna for $11 at a T/A Truck stop!

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

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  • 20 out 22 people found this review helpful

    It's a bad antenna, doesn't work as advertised

    • Indiana,
    • Feb 17, 2017

    This antenna is nowhere near what they say it is.

    It says that it picks up a whole bunch of channels, but I got seven. I can hook up my other antenna (that's an inside antenna) and get 21 channels. So I'd say it's a very poor antenna. It doesn't do the job it says. I tried it on two separate TV's and got the same results (seven channels), and they faded in and out and got glitched up so I couldn't even watch it. And it froze up on all the channels.

    I believe I'll ask for my money back. I'd bet this review won't get published because it's a negative review.

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

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  • 21 out 21 people found this review helpful

    It isn't good

    I have NEVER dealt with this type of rude customer service in my 58 years of LIFE!

    First off, we placed our order and got the second one for free. When the company sent our order, it was not at all what we had ordered. In their statement to us, on that particular day, they stated that they were giving a BONUS package which included boosters without our consent. Of course, we were charged for them at the SPECIAL COST, being an employee discount rate. So, our order was NOT what we ordered.

    After MANY attempts to resolve the issue, NO ONE spoke English with the exception of one individual. After that, I finally realized that I had put the charge on my Discover account, not my bank debit/charge card.

    Long story short, DON'T waste your time, patience, or anything in trying to save money because the antenna DOESN'T work even with the booster. Best of luck to you!

    I have to admit that this company is the winner of the year, and I am not sure which stinks the most; their customer service or their product!

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

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  • 25 out 25 people found this review helpful

    Horrible

    It was horrible; we couldn't get even one stable channel. Even worse was that the As Seen on TV store wouldn't take it back.

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

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  • 19 out 19 people found this review helpful

    Doesn't work

    • Dennis Port, MA,
    • Feb 10, 2017

    This was a total waste of time and money. I followed the instructions as stated and it didn't work at all. I was very disappointed. Don't waste your hard earned money on this.

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

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  • 31 out 34 people found this review helpful

    Don't buy

    The Clear TV Key Antenna is not worth the money nor the time.

    The sales person had me so frustrated because he kept trying to sell me more stuff when I kept telling him I wanted nothing else. He had me so mad that I almost canceled my order. I mean, there is such a thing as oversell.

    It's not as small as I expected. Channels get a little more clear, but it doesn't pick up any extra channels like they claim. I'm very dissatisfied.

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

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  • 48 out 50 people found this review helpful

    Free TV key

    • Dover, Ohio,
    • Jan 21, 2017

    I bought two Free TV keys for family members, which were $57.00. Needless to say, neither one would even get one channel.

    So I called them and was on hold for an hour. When they answered, they told me they would give me back $15.00 and I could give them to a friend. I said no, I wanted my refund. So I paid another 7$.75 to ship them back.

    It took along time to get my refund, and when I did, they gave me only $39.00. I lost the rest of my money. This is a scam, beware.

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

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  • 45 out 46 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    The Clear TV Key is a SCAM. It is worthless. I tried to cancel the order at least three times after the agent kept trying to sell me more. They high pressured into selling me one insisting that it worked. I wish I had read reviews before ordering! It definitely does not work!

    Also, I did not receive any documentation with the product, not even a return mailing address.

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

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  • 33 out 34 people found this review helpful

    Tried two TVs

    • Wisconsin,
    • Jan 15, 2017

    Does not work at all. I tried it on two TVs and it does not work.

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

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  • 34 out 35 people found this review helpful

    Clear TV Key - don't do it

    What an absolute piece of junk. This "key" picked up 0 (zero) channels on both of my smart TVs. I'm in a metroplex surrounded by towers. My cheap little antenna picked them up just fine.

    This advertises that it can pick up 100's of channels. Um, no.

    This is a total scam. You order the thing, they charge you $19.99, the shipping is almost $16.00, and you get it 10 days later. When you try to return it, you'll pay shipping of $7.50 to get it back to them.

    Don't do it.

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

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  • 43 out 44 people found this review helpful

    Phone order

    I was in the process of placing a phone order and I called my mother three way to see if she still wanted the product but she said no. I pacifically stated to the agent to cancel the order and on Sunday I checked my account and found out that the charge was there. What a rotten thing to do out of desperation for a sale!

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

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