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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Read 85 Clear TV Key Antenna Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 1.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 3 1 star:  76
Bottom Line: 6% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 85
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  • 396 out 404 people found this review helpful

    What a rip off

    What a rip off! This Clear TV Key is a piece of crap. I could have just taken off a slat off my blinds and it would work just as well.

    My mother is 92 years old and paid $35.97 for it. $15.98 was charged for postage. I returned it because it doesn't work and paid under $5.00 for postage. There is no way this should have cost them $15.98 to ship.

    They only refunded $19.99 of her money. I will tell everyone I know what a rip off this is.

    Since it won't let me post unless I give it at least one star, that's what I have to give it. But make no mistake, in my book it gets a BIG FAT 0. They will probably delete my review anyway.

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

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  • 286 out 290 people found this review helpful

    Total rip off

    Very clever, buy one get one free at a total of $19.99 but since there are two antennas, they charge you two S&H at $15.98. Since it doesn't work (that's the rip off), if you try to return the item you'll have to pay another $15.98 so you'll recover $4.01 from your $51.95 total investment. A total waste of time and false advertisement! Plus, if you decide to return it they will have two more "good antennas" to re-sale again, and again, and again.

    I only hope people have access to this review.

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

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  • 265 out 272 people found this review helpful

    Joke

    • North Dakota,
    • May 18, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not waste your money on this joke. We plugged it in and it didn't even pick up ONE channel! Biggest mistake we ever made.

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

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  • 255 out 264 people found this review helpful

    This is a scam.

    • St. Petersburg, FL,
    • Feb 28, 2016

    I ordered a Clear TV Key Antenna on 02/08/16 It was to be delivered by 02/24/16. It never came. They send you many emails and then a text from 37473 saying that FED EX will deliver. That wasn't the case based on my experience. I can't get through to Customer Service. I guess I am one of the last people that these China crooks got to. I'm calling the news. Don't fall for it.

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

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  • 247 out 254 people found this review helpful

    Junk

    Junk. My friend bought it and could only get 3 of the 7 stations in our area. The Flatenna by ChannelMaster ($10 with free shipping from the ChannelMaster site) got all 7 stations clearly, as did the Mohu Leaf ($40) and Winegard Flatwave ($35).

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

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  • 222 out 227 people found this review helpful

    Not Happy

    • Lavallette, NJ,
    • May 8, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Ordered the Clear TV Key on 4/15/16, they billed my credit card for the item. I called them on 4/28/16 and they said it was shipped. As of 5/4/16, and I still do not have the antenna. I called again and they said the mailman returned item (it was being sent to a residential house). They said they will resend. Sounds like a good scam to me.

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

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  • 218 out 225 people found this review helpful

    Piece of junk!

    • Denton, TX,
    • May 7, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased this antenna at Family Dollar for 10.00. I figured, what the heck, I will give it a try. I received two channels that didn't work. Don't waste your time of money. If you see this product, run away very fast! I gave it 1 Star only because it was required. If it were not for that, I would give it zero stars.

    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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  • 196 out 201 people found this review helpful

    Didn't work for me.

    • Harrisburg, PA,
    • Apr 8, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was unhappy with this experience. The product does not work. I tried to contact company to get refund within the 60-day time frame and kept getting a recording stating that due to high call volume could, I could not talk to anyone to get a refund. However, when I called their number to order the product, I was in fact able to get a live operator. This product does not work, and I was unable to get my money back.

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

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  • 192 out 197 people found this review helpful

    Do not do it

    • Staten Island, NY,
    • Feb 26, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Please don't waste your money on Free TV Key by Clear TV, it doesn't work.

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

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  • 187 out 195 people found this review helpful

    Was not what I ordered, scam

    • Shallotte, NC,
    • Feb 19, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I ordered the Free TV Key by Clear TV, and waited almost two months until it came. It was a buy one, get one free offer. The things they sent are not what I ordered. There were four boxes, and they looked like V's, and when you open them up, they have a stand, or you can hang them on the wall. They do not work, and my TV says there is no signal. I only ordered buy one, get one free, but they sent me four of these awful things, and charged my credit for four charges that added up to $100.90. Wow. I called them, and told them that these are not what I ordered, but they said I ordered four. I said no, I ordered buy one, get one free of the Free TV Key, and this is not it. I told them that I wanted my money back, and after getting very mad with them, I was told that I would have to pay to send them back, and then I would get my money back. I do not know how I got this ordered, because I just called the number on TV with the TV key I wanted. I still want the right TV key.

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

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