Death and taxes. Now add to that ever rising cable costs for just being able to get a television signal to your HDTV. There may be nothing you can do about the first two, but you can “cut” your cable addiction by finding another way to get your favorite high-definition shows into the TV.
So to paraphrase Scarface, say hello to the makers of one super thin, no-brainer little HD antenna, MOHU. Actually we’re going to do better than that by saying hello to their latest product, the MOHU Leaf Plus HDTV Indoor Antenna (we recently posted the MOHU Leaf HDTV Antenna review).
So why an indoor antenna? Because the airwaves are filled with high-definition TV signals just waiting to be caught. That’s where the Leaf Plus comes in — because it’s built to catch them.
But here’s the rub: most HD digital antennas are made to be used outside or at least sticking close to a window with lots of wiring going from it to the HDTV in order to work. And they’re ugly too — who cares, right, they’re going to be used outside.
But what if you don’t have the room or inclination and want to use a HD antenna inside? And you don’t want it making your HDTV look like it married the runner-up to the Bride of Frankenstein? And you need some amplified power because, well you do if you’re to get a good signal from one of those local broadcast towers since your HDTV isn’t up against a wall or being relocated outside. Or maybe you’re in a dorm room — you get the idea, right? You need a HD antenna you can use right where the HDTV is, and not take a hit because of it. Oh — it would be good if it could blend into the wall, should you not want to be hiding it behind a table-mounted TV, and while we’re at it can we limit the number of wires so that there’s no power cord snaking down the wall on its way to an outlet when your flat panel staring at you with such impeccable coolness?
That’s a lot of “must-haves” so when I pulled the Leaf Plus out of its just-a-few-inches thick box, I had to laugh. This antenna is more like a rectangular flattened piece of play-dough than one of those clunky HD antenna guys Best Buy sticks to the left of its close-out TVs. But I’m hip to the fact that MOHU says that they’ve worked with the U.S. Military and know what they’re doing. You can’t argue with how effective those Drones are, so maybe the Leaf Plus will be that effective too.
I do know that anybody can set this HD guy up: decide whether you’re in a black or white mood since each side comes in one of these colors. Then screw the free end of the Leaf Plus’ attached coaxial cable into that “Ant In” socket on the back of the TV — you know, the socket that you thought would never be used. Now because the Leaf Plus is so insanely thin, you can place it on the wall next to the wall mounted flat panel with some double-stick tape (or a bit more secured if you want using thumbtacks, whatever) or behind the table mounted TV on the wall. But here’s where it gets better.
The Leaf Plus is amplified to “pull” in that TV signal. So does that mean using a wall outlet and some power brick? There ain’t one! Instead, you plug an end of a USB cable into a socket on that credit card-sized box hugging the coaxial cable and the other end into a free USB port on the back of the HDTV — if you’ve a TV less than 4-5 years old you should have at least one free USB port to use. This also means the Leaf Plus is powered down when the TV is. And in the worst case scenario, you can use the included USB charger and an outlet. But I’ve never bothered to use any of the USB ports on the back of my 60-inch table mounted HDTV anyway, so MOHU Leaf Plus HDTV Indoor Antenna, meet one USB socket, some double-stick tape and the white wall at the TV’s rear right side.
[To tell you to go into the HDTV’s settings and set the input for television signals to “Ant In” might seem insulting to some, but it’s in my contract....]
Now for those who like to “tweak” things, you’re pretty much out of luck because the Leaf Plus just works. Sure you can raise it a bit or move it left or right or have the black side out instead of the white, but other than that it is just going to do its thing without any help from you. Running the channels doesn’t give me hundreds of useless HD stations, but I do get the major networks and a number of others. All in glorious, static-free (digital so duh) high-definition. What else is there to say? Sit back and enjoy watching, is what.
Bottom line: $74 dollars retail buys you one sweet deal for watching HD television stations and the cost will never go up. The setup for the MOHU Leaf Plus HDTV Indoor Antenna is so easy that Grandma can come over and connect it up for you, instead of the other way around. But either way you’ll be good to go for high-def broadcasts, and maybe Grams brought along some just baked cookies too…
- Wafer-thin antenna panel
- pHEMT low noise amplifier
- Non-removable coaxial cable
- Black side is highly reflective
- Bracket on Leaf Plus seems oversized
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.