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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87 Consumer Reviews for Clear TV Key Antenna

Average Consumer Rating: 1.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 3 1 star:  78
Bottom Line: 6% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 87
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  • 144 out 149 people found this review helpful

    Not clear tv

    • Salem Oregon,
    • Oct 27, 2015

    Little squares throughout most channels. Then C channel erases and can not get it back for days, or forever. I have 2 TVs and 1 gets only CBS and Fox. The other TV gets CBS, NBC and FOX, but terrible reception. Can not watch many shows.

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

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    • Feb 9, 2016

      Tom Stevenson

      I worked for Radio Shack for 10+ years and learned a lot about antennas in that time. There's three main things about antennas that count, which is size, placement, and direction. There's a reason why in the 70's and 80's, you saw a big aluminum antenna on everybody's house. THEY WORKED, and worked well. Also, the bigger the TV screen, the bigger the antenna. The amplified, inside antennas don't work very well either. We used to return a lot of the ones we sold. If you don't want cable or satellite, then your best bet is a tried, and true, outside antenna. If you live in an apartment or can't put one up outside, then your best bet is to get one of the biggest amplified, inside antennas, and perhaps place it next to a window. The less material between the antenna and the outside world, the better.

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  • 144 out 152 people found this review helpful

    It's a scam

    • Nov 10, 2015

    It's a scam. They told me to allow three weeks for delivery, it's been two months. They continue to give me B.S. stories on why I haven't gotten my product yet.

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

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  • 168 out 177 people found this review helpful

    Poor reception

    • Whitehouse TX,
    • Nov 23, 2015

    If you live in East Texas not near the broadcast station it will not work. However, the line of site is blocked by trees and hills.

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

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  • 126 out 129 people found this review helpful

    Scam. Worthless device

    This is a scam. The device does not work.

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

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  • 146 out 148 people found this review helpful

    Total Junk

    • Bakersfield, CA,
    • Jan 15, 2016

    This item not only does not work but it doesn't pull in any channels. Certainly nothing like what is advertised.

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

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  • 149 out 157 people found this review helpful

    Wrong Item

    • Jan 22, 2016

    I order the TV Key, a flat no wires antenna but they send me the big black box antenna with wires and plugs. To top it off they get to keep $31.96 of my money. I called and told them they send the wrong item, they wanted me to return the item and order the right one. They want more money out of me for their mistake. Be careful if you decide to order. I ordered 2 of this. I won't be back.

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

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  • 123 out 128 people found this review helpful

    My review of my experience

    • Waukegan, IL,
    • Feb 9, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I do not know how the product actually works because my order was never received as I ordered it. When I first called to order my Clear TV Key Antenna, the agent convinced me to order the box which I did and had so many problems just trying to install it. It was very frustrating. So I sent it back. I was told that they just couldn't exchange it for the Key Antenna, that I would have to pay again for the key which I did. Then was sent the box again, I called back and refuse to pay a third time. It has been a horrible ordeal trying to get my refund for both. The first one came in two increments, one for shipping and handling the the other for the product . That is not how I paid for it. I am still waiting for the refund for the second order, I am very disappointed in the whole process and still haven't tried the product. I probably won't even order it again. It has made me afraid to order online again.

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

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    • Feb 11, 2016

      Alice Andries

      I ordered it, got it and found out that you have to be 25 miles from a TV tower that broadcast to your TV. I sent it back and they kept the $15.99 for shipping. That's how they get you. You get $19.99 back while they keep $15.99.That's how they're staying in business - off your shipping cost. Fact is, it only cost me $1.78 in return shipping. What a big rip-off. Scam all the way!

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  • 141 out 149 people found this review helpful

    Worthless

    • Athens, TX,
    • Feb 10, 2016

    This product is worthless and it took almost two months to show up at my house. Also, I received a call from a PRIVATE NUMBER asking me to buy some necklace and with that purchase I would get some free earrings for my wife. WHAT? The woman would not let me say no for an answer and she said the earrings were free either way as a gift even if I didn't want to purchase the necklace. NO FREE earrings were in the box. They just wanted to get more money because this is a SCAM. I will call later today to start the process of getting my money back.

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

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  • 169 out 184 people found this review helpful

    A scam

    • Akron, Ohio,
    • Feb 9, 2016

    This product is the the exact thing as a converter box. Scamming at its finest. Do not buy it. You also don't get cable channels. Liars.

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

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  • 183 out 197 people found this review helpful

    The higher your Antenna is the better the reception. (No Brainer)

    • Bakers,
    • Feb 9, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    The higher your Antenna is the better the reception. (No Brainer.)

    I have my Antenna twenty feet off the ground, three feet above the chimney. I paid less then 20 dollars from Walmart. I get 60 channels up to 150 miles away. It rotates 360 degrees with a remote. For TV's made before 2008 you need a ASCI compatible device. I bought one from Walmart for 32.98. Works better than the built-in one in the TV. And just with it hooked up, without an antenna, I get 10 plus stations. You want movies get an Android box, I recommend the SkyStreamx 4 sold on Amazon. Happy surfing.

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

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  • 205 out 210 people found this review helpful

    Very important

    This item requires attention, so don't get it. It's a scam, and does not work.

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

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Showing 1-11 of 87

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