Picture this: an HDTV antenna that’s not only not an eyesore, it could even make an attractive addition to your living room. By building the antenna into a large picture frame, Antennas Direct created a unique design with its ClearStream View and at least partially solved the problem for cord-cutters of how to hide an antenna in plain sight.
Depending on your location, a simple omni-directional HDTV antenna can pull in dozens of high-resolution digital broadcasts for free. But most antennas are large black rectangles that stick on a wall or window; not very attractive. And concealing an antenna behind furniture or a TV impedes its performance: To receive stations clearly, antennas have to be out in the open.
So Antennas Direct created the $70 ClearStream View, a large picture frame with cutouts for family photos. Concealed within its back is a flat HDTV antenna. The simple plastic 14.25 by 18.75 frame complements any kind of decor (it can even be painted), and it hangs on a single hook or nail. The white collage mat, into which you insert personal snapshots or artistic endeavors, can accommodate nine pictures ranging from 3.5 by 3.5 inches to 3.5 by 5 inches. You can also simply put one large, say, Rothko print in the frame.
It’s a simple yet elegant way of concealing an HDTV antenna, which can be an ugly appendage next to a svelte flat-screen TV. However, the ClearStream View still retains a tail: the black coaxial cable that attaches it to your TV. On the other hand, the supplied coaxial cable is 15 feet long, giving you some freedom as to where to place it for the best reception (and photo viewing) possible.
Additionally, the ClearStream View includes a USB cable for a cigarette lighter-sized power amplifier designed to boost weak signals. The in-line amplifier is rated to deliver a 20-decibel signal boost and the company says the antenna has a 50-mile radius range.
Testing the antenna in New York City, an initial scan of our broadcast options returned a total of 52 stations. But reviewing each individual channel revealed that only 33 of those stations could be viewed consistently. Those channels included all of the local network affiliates, and ranged from the local CBS station in 1080i to rerun-specialty stations, such as Buzzr, in 480p.
Stations that were missing from the ClearStream View’s purview tended to be those with decidedly weaker signals. A couple of channels featuring old TV Westerns, like Death Valley Days, also proved unwatchable.
Compared to scores of other antennas we’ve tested, the ClearStream View antenna turned in average performance. Its unique design is really the main attraction, and it is priced comparably to other amplified antennas. So if you’re looking to cut your ever more expensive ties to the cable or satellite company, the ClearStream View makes for a pretty picture. Available direct.
You can watch their promotional video: