Antennas Direct ClearStream Micron-R HDTV High Gain Indoor Antenna Review @ ModSynergy.com
Late last year I had a reader e-mail me thanking me for the reviews and information on OTA (over-the-air) HD television. She did not know what OTA was before she read the reviews. She was looking to break free of her expensive monthly bills with a major cable TV provider, but didn't know what to do or who to contact. With my help and guidance and her continued research, she finally transitioned into OTA HD with a roof top antenna install.
This allowed her to pull in local Canadian channels, along with American channels from Buffalo. She successfully cut the plug on her expensive cable bills and will start saving money for months and years to come. It's great to hear from you my readers, and it's awesome to know that what I'm doing truly makes a difference.
As I mentioned with cable or satellite TV, there's just countless channel selection that it becomes impossible to even make full use of them when people are at work 8-12 hours a day. By the time you come home, you only have a few hours to enjoy with the family/friends, eat dinner, and finally some downtime at the TV.
Why squander hundreds of dollars when you may only be using the TV for 2-4 hours each day at best? I just don't see the point. Unless you're home all day long watching TV, it's pointless. Plus you shouldn't be watching TV for too long as it's more fun hanging out with friends or participating in the community. Sometimes too much selection is not a good thing. Why spend money on channels that you'll never use?
I have reviewed a few antennas that were meant for outdoor use, but have not reviewed as many indoor antennas. Some of you don't have the space indoors for a large antenna, or don't want to spend that much money on a rooftop install, so something such as an indoor antenna may make more sense. We'll see today if you can get away with using an indoor antenna.
Our good friends at Antennas Direct hooked us up with one of their newest indoor antennas, this being the infused red color version of their ClearStream Micron-R HDTV Indoor Antenna. Read on to see if it is any good, because I haven't had too many success with other indoor antennas. But the Micron-R from Antennas Direct may be the solution.
About Antennas Direct
"Antennas Direct was founded on and operates under the premise of providing true, ultra high-performance Digital and HDTV Antenna systems. With effective designs, we have always believed that high quality antennas can deliver performance and reliability at a very affordable price. As such, we would like to extend the opportunity for you to try antennas that offer the highest gain and reliability at a reasonable price.
Because we sell direct to consumers and installation professionals, we hear firsthand the problems that people experience trying to receive HDTV signals. This constant feedback pushes us to continually innovate and improve our products and designs while still keeping our eye on the goal of providing the best value possible.
We are so confident in our products that we happily back them with one of the industry's most comprehensive guarantees and staff our customer service department with antenna specialists that can help select the best product for your needs."
Antennas Direct ClearStream Micron-R Product Overview
The world's most powerful indoor antenna now packs a brilliant punch of vibrant color in bold red, bright yellow, crisp white, matte black and brushed satin black. It is designed for those living in urban areas or lower-level homes, who experience multipath interference. The precision engineered reflector focuses 2X more broadcast signal through the antenna.
Designed and optimized for the core UHF DTV frequencies, the Micron line of antennas representsa new breakthrough in technology.
Utilizing the ClearStream™ Tapered Loop technology enables these antennas to be more powerful and efficient than any indoor antenna. At a compact size of 10" x 11", the Microns are sleek and complimentary to any décor.
The advanced and compact design offers surprisingly long range reception delivering 98% of received signal to the coaxial line, avoiding the typical losses seen in competitive antennas due to impedance mismatches.
With a generous beam width of 70 degrees, the Micron delivers DTV signals from widely spaced broadcast towers without the need to be rotated. Micron DTV viewers have the choice of table top or wall mounting options. The Micron-R utilizes a patented Reflector Screen, which not only provides excellent resistance to the interference problem common with indoor antennas, but actually increases the antenna's power by 2X. It also offers a customizable setup to meet individual preferences and reception needs. With a generous beam width of 70 degrees, it delivers DTV signals from widely spaced broadcast towers without the need to be rotated.
The Micron-R is an ideal choice for those living in urban areas and who want the pure crisp DTV picture a ClearStream™ antenna can offer without the monthly subscription fees. Also available in brushed satin black, matte black, crisp white and bright yellow finish.
Antennas Direct ClearStream Micron-R Product Specifications
ClearStream™ Micron R Antenna
ClearStream™ Micron Reflector
The Antennas Direct Micron-R Indoor antenna derives from the standard Micron indoor antenna. The base model does not have the additional reflector that this Micron-R comes with, hence the letter "R" designation in the model name. The other difference is that the Micron-R comes in multiple color choices ranging from Red, White, Black Satin, Yellow, and Black Matte. We are reviewing the Red Infused model today.
The Micron-R retails on the Antennas Direct website for a lofty regular price of $74.99US, but goes on sale once in a while for less. This is one of the most expensive indoor antennas I've come across, and to be honest the price tag will put off quite a few people because it soldiers on outdoor antenna price range territory. For example, I reviewed the WineGard HD-1080M outdoor antenna back in 2009 but that sold for around $50US.
Thankfully the Micron-R can be found on sale at other online retailers such as Newegg or Amazon.com. I found it selling for a more sensible sale price of $39.99US on SolidSignal.com (no affiliation with them). So it is possible to find this antenna for much less. If I was forced to, I would not pay more than $50 for an indoor antenna. That would be my cutoff point for indoor antenna pricing.
The Antennas Direct Micron-R arrived to us directly from the manufacture themselves and was presented in a very attractive black and yellow striped cardboard box. The box is essentially the size of a computer motherboard box and has a plastic tab at the very top to allow it to be placed on store shelves easily. The designers made an attractive looking box design.
Dead smack in the center is a large product shot with big bold letters top and below, a sticker indicates the color of the antenna, in my case infused Red. The yellow stripe that spans around the box indicates "Stronger - Sharper - Better". I think they are claiming a stronger and better picture, but digital is digital, no antenna can give you a sharper picture. But if they mean OTA (over-the-air) HD gives you a better picture, and with this antenna gives you more range, then that would make more sense.
Look to the rear of the box to find more information regarding the Micron-R. It claims that this sleek and powerful high-performance indoor antenna can deliver uncompromised high gain digital HDTV reception. The actual reflector that is included helps deliver the high-gain signal by offering a maximum range of 35 miles. Without the reflector that number drops to only 25 miles. So just by adding the metal Micron Reflector system, you gain 10 miles of range. It changes the characteristics of the antenna making it more directional.
The overview on the Antennas Direct website mentions clearly that this is more of an UHF antenna, as they do not mention at all about VHF. UHF and VHF are two types of frequencies antennas can pull in, some more than others, it's best to check whether or not the OTA (over-the-air) HD channels that you can receive are on the VHF or UHF band. Sites such as RemoteCentral.com can tell you if channels around you are in UHF or VHF. VHF are usually the lower channels between 2 to 13, while UHF deals with the higher channels (14 to 69). For example where I live in Canada there are about 3-4 VHF channels that I usually cannot receive as they are on the VHF band. These are the lower channels between 7 and 13. I would need to figure out a way to receive these VHF channels in the future if I actually want to get them.
There is an image on the back of the box that explains this visually. The first and second graphics is of the basic Micron antenna, and the Micron model with an amplifier, the signal waves can be generated on both sides of the antenna, this means that its more Omni-directional. But the third graphic shows you that by adding the Micron Reflector system to the antenna, it ends up becoming more focused and more directional, meaning you must point it n the correct direction of the TV transmitter towers for the best results. It maintains a beam width of 70 degrees which gives it a still wide beam.
The colors that the Micron-R comes in allows you to have the antenna blend in, or compliment your decor. It gives new life to dull boring black indoor antennas that normally exist on the market.
Opening up the box reveals the following items with your purchase...
The Micron-R comes mostly pre-assembled from the factory, all you need to do is hook everything together. There are four main pieces along with a few screws to put everything together, that's pretty much it. The hard work was already done in the factory.
The box contains the antenna, stand mounting base, flush mounting insert, and reflector system with U-bracket, and base hardware screws. The one page insert instructions have clear visual graphics and diagrams so that installation will be simple to follow and put together. The only piece not included that should have been is a screwdriver. It would have been very convenient to have included a screwdriver, even a small plastic one to assemble everything. It should take about 10 minutes to assemble the antenna.
Once you see the Micro-R for the first time you notice how bright the color red actually is. It's very shiny, has nice amount of gloss on it, and it pops! You can tell it's been painted red because at the back of the antenna, the grooves that attaches to the mounting base hasn't been painted fully. The antenna is constructed out of plastic and while its mostly strong for what it is, it's not super strength strong like a tank. But once you assemble it, point it in the right direction, you won't need to touch it ever again.
The company logo sits at the front of the antenna dead center, above is a black sticker that advises you to call the Antennas Direct helpline phone number should for any reason you may have an issue before returning the product back to the retailer. The sticker should be easier to remove once you leave it in the sun for a bit to have the adhesive to become soft enough to peel.
Turn to the back of the antenna and there are a couple of mounting holes, Antennas Direct model number sticker with it being made in Taiwan. Below the sticker you is where the 6" cable extends outwards. The rubber boot on the antenna cable ensures it does not wiggle or kink over time. The cable thickness is not very thick so the cable is able to flex any way you like without issues when routing the cable.
Lets now look at the patented design Micron-R reflector system that comes in this bundle. This piece alone makes all the difference. Slapping this on in tandem with the antenna gives it 10 extra miles of range at best. This allows the antenna to be more directional than usual and gives the antenna a peak gain of 8.4dBi.
The Micron-R reflector is made of full metal construction and adds the most heft to this package. Size wise it is a tiny bit larger than the antenna and the edges are curved forward to aid in more directional reflection and feeding of signal. Dead center lays the company logo. The whole piece reminds me of a grill on a barbeque, it would be interesting to cook a steak on it, I'm sure the grill marks would show through along with the company logo on the steak! At the bottom of the reflector are little pegs that will fit into the metal U-bracket, which then the U-bracket attaches to the mounting base.
As you will know from my previous antenna reviews, the testing setup had changed. Each antenna is tested on the 2nd floor of my home, facing out of the window (south toward Buffalo). The antenna is then routed to the basement (through the rooms TV jack) and then routed to a Samsung Plasma HDTV in the 1st floor living room. To make up for the cable loss, I have the antenna hooked up to my personal amplifier (PCT-MA2-1P).
In the case of the Micron-R indoor antenna I am reviewing today, I will provide results with and without it hooked up to my own amplifier. Without amplifier results will paint a better out of box result for you.
As you can see by the results, the Micron-R does a fantastic job considering the small size of 10" x 11". Without using my own amplifier, the Micron-R still manages to pick up all the local channels around my location at fair to great strength, along with 2 channels coming in from Buffalo in the USA, though at lower strength. This is fantastic because these USA channels are much farther than 35 miles stated on the box. It performed much better than the TERK HDTVo Amplified Directional HDTV Antenna that was "advertised" as being both an indoor and outdoor antenna, but underperformed in reality, the TERK was just good enough at receiving local channels. I did not give the TERK a recommended logo designation for a reason.
With my own personal amplifier hooked up to the Antennas Direct Micron-R indoor antenna, signal got better across the board and the channels from the USA also strengthened a bit more making it more stable. Three additional USA channel were found, though the signal was still intermittently weak. Mind you this is being tested in winter, so the summer results should be better. Atmospheric conditions play a big role in how clean the signal is being seen.
Where Can It Be Found? And For How Much?
The Antennas Direct Micron-R is quite the indoor antenna. Even though I don't have many indoor antennas tested on ModSynergy (only have two), it doesn't mean I haven't tested indoor antennas outside of the website. It easily becomes the best indoor antenna I've personally tried over the years. With the patented design reflector system, the Micron-R packs a bunch in terms of performance with up to 8.4dBi of maximum gain. Antennas Direct is keen on claiming that the Micron-R is the most powerful indoor antenna on the market, though I have no way in verifying that claim as I haven't tested that many indoor variants, I can only verify that the performance is quite impressive considering the size.
Visually it's a breath of fresh air as you can choose which colors you want to have, allow the antenna to become a compliment to your decor. It's a step in the right direction from the bland antennas that dominate the market. Because of the reflector, the Micron-R will take up a little more footprint, but I find it hardly anything to be worried about, it's still a relatively compact 10" x 11" indoor antenna.
Performance wise the Micron-R manages to pull in all local OTA HD broadcast stations where I live easily at near to full strength, and also manages to pull in stations from Buffalo, USA which is quite further away than the rated 'up to 35 miles' the box suggests the Micron-R is capable of. I would have been fine with the Micron-R only picking up local content, but I'm thrilled it can do more, this is quite impressive to say the least. Adding your own respectable amplifier should help improve things further, but as it stands out of the box, it's a powerful little antenna.
Installation shouldn't pose an issue for most, the included instruction sheet is very clear, concise, and offers visual aid to help you out. The only thing missing from the bundle would have been a screwdriver, that would have been the icing on the cake to make things convenient for the user.
The only problem I have with the Antennas Direct Micron-R indoor antenna is the price at which it sells for directly on Antennas Directs website. I personally would not spend more than $50 for an indoor antenna, and that's only if the antenna is revolutionary. It sells for $74.99USD on the Antennas Direct website, that's far too expensive, a bit crazy in my opinion.
Thankfully the Micron-R indoor antenna is not exclusively sold at one place, but many other retailers and online retailers sell it. I found it sells for a more realistic and competitive $39.99US at SolidSignal.com. If purchased at this price, this is one of the best deals you can get and I would have no qualms at recommending the Micron-R.