DB8e Ultra Long Range Outdoor DTV Antenna Review

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A lot of people have come to terms with paying for TV — as in having a subscription service for a cable box or satellite.  But free TV — high-definition –only requires a competent antenna, because digital technology means you either get a picture or you don’t. But what if you’re not able to “buy” a TV picture and to top things off, the broadcast towers aren’t close by? Then an antenna will be just the ticket, providing it doesn’t require hours to put together. That’s like sending out a call for Antennas Direct’s DB8e Ultra Long Range Outdoor DTV Antenna.

It’s a classic “bowtie” with a multi-directional design that can be aimed due to the elements being able to rotate 360 degrees. It’s also more compact compared to other antennas of its signal gathering class, although certainly it’s far too unwieldy for having inside (although an attic will find it quite accommodating). The main purpose of this antenna is to be able to receive a quality signal from a far-off tower; a rural area for example, or where the distance between tower and the residence is great. Or where other antennas have failed to succeed, such as due to heavy foliage outdoors or roofing materials if in the attic.

As I found out once assembled, the DB8e’s great strength is its physical flexibility — making for better aiming control as well as its use in a confined space like an attic. The specs marks it as having an added gain of 17.4 dBI and a signal range of 70 miles, but both of these features are easier to see in use than in discussion.

Antennas Direct has preassembled the bulk of the antenna, leaving just a few steps to the owner. No special tools are needed — a #2 Philips screwdriver and a 10mm wrench will do the trick (I used a pair of pliers instead). These instructions are very straightforward and I defy anyone not to be able to assemble this antenna, providing they’ve some patience. My friend Jerry did the assembling while I “supervised” and he had it completed in slightly under 20 minutes, and that included a misstep that required going back to fix.

The kit has everything needed, except the mast to attach to the antenna when assembled or the coaxial cable that needs to run from it to the TV. Because it weights about 10 pounds, the parts were put on a trash can and Jerry started by attaching one of the receive elements to one of the reflectors with the included long bolts in aluminum tubes. This was then done to the other receive element — the diagrams provided in the instructions were very clear as to how to do this.

The Cross Bar was then attached between the two elements with the Combiner (for the provided two short coaxial cables) going onto the Cross Bar mount at the bottom using preinstalled screws and clips. Coaxial cables were then connected inside the Combiner (or you can wait until the DB8e is fully assembled to do this as we did). Zip ties are provided to hold the cables on the antenna so that they don’t flop around.  Believe me, it’s easier to do all this than it was to explain it.

Fully assembled, the DB8e stood at 48-x-36-by-6-inches (LWD). The next step would be to either mount it on a mast on the roof or position it in an attic. We placed it on a short mast and took it to the attic to see whether the DB8e could get a signal. Why this is a worthwhile test is that we’ve tried a portable HDTV antenna here earlier and couldn’t get a single channel.

We temporarily mounted the antenna in the attic. Since the elements could be adjusted, we didn’t have to worry about getting it perfectly aligned in the direction of the broadcast towers when positioned, since we could rotate it as needed. We ran the coaxial cable down to the living room’s TV’s antenna input, turned it on and told it to scan for channels. The channels that should be picked up will be those of broadcast networks as the DB8e handles the entire UHF band (channels 14-51). It did and there they were. We ran through the channels and the picture was as good, if not better, than coming off the cable box the TV is normally attached to. We had questioned whether an amplifier might be needed, due to the length that the cable would have to travel from the attic to the TV, but our fears were naught. The signal that came through was right on.

Editor’s Rating:

[rating:4.5/5]

Excellent

Bottom line: The DB8e Ultra Long Range Outdoor DTV Antenna is surprisingly lightweight for its size and power. $199 retail gets you an outdoor antenna that will “pull” in a signal where other antennas fail. Those looking for free HD television signals and wanting to avoid a huge antenna on the roof will also find the compact design a plus.

Pros

  • Quick assembly
  • High-gain signal response

Cons

  • Roof mounting requires professional installation/high level of expertise

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Marshal Rosenthal

Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.

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12 Comments

  1. I am seriously considering replacing my current antenna with the DB8e, but would prefer to mount it in my attic instead of roof top. At 60 years young, climbing on to the 2-story roof is getting to be a challenge. However, my house also has steel siding. My questions is “will the steel siding interfere with signal reception?”

    Thanks,
    Harley Greg,
    Illinois boondocks

  2. I would like information on combining a DB8e with a One Cable Programmable Antenna Rotator. Is it worth the extra $100 bucks? I live in town but have had very little luck with TV antennas. I am running my antenna from my roof, down to a 5-way splitter and out to the TVs. Any suggestions???
    Thanks from Virginia Beach, VA, USA

  3. I am running TWO, yep count’em -2- DB8 antennas (not this one, but the forerunner to this model, also sold by Antennas Direct (though Amazon). I’m in an area where I was told there’s “NO TV reception”. The nearest transmitter is 26 miles away on the other side of a mountain, most are 65 miles away or more. Well, I have both antennas mounted in the attic, at 90 degree angles to each other and a 3 feet difference in elevation. Both leads go into a combiner and then into a Winegard ANWI8700 Signal Amplifier before coming to my TV. Well, I get TWELVE stations! And some are 110 miles distance in another state. I could not be happier. Additionally, the HDTV signal is amazingly sharp and clear, due to the fact that one is receiving an “uncompressed” over the air (OTA) digital HDTV signal. For my basic TV needs its great. I have high speed cable internet access for anything else I want to watch or stream. Easily saves $60 in cable TV prices for “Extended Basic”, not the mention $10 more in taxes, another $10 more for for converters, etc. And, love my D-Link Movietime Plus (streaming TV Box) for anything else – like a movie rental via awesome Vudu, or watching hours and hours of Youtube shows and vids absolutely FREE (with NO COMMERCIALS). There’s nothing like getting free TV, which is far superior to what you’ve been perviously paying for… and hey, what I don’t have, I really don’t, miss – especially the frackin’ commercials. And, there’s been a HUGE increase in OTA DTV watchers this year (Over 60 Million NOW!) Charter Communications is so upset, they’ll not even take ads from OTA Antenna sellers like Antennas Direct! Go on, get an antenna and try it; you’ll smile from ear to ear! Take back the power, it there and awaiting!

    1. Hi my name is PJ I am interested in combing 2 DB8e antennas for Long Range Reception a little over 100 miles away.I would like to get some input on how do to this. You are getting stations 110 miles away in the attic? If you can get back to me that would be great.

      Thanks,

      PJ

      1. Yes, PJ, two or more antennas can be combined to increase signal to the receiver. This method is called “stacking”. But unfortunately this task is not for laymen. If you don’t already get some usable signal with one antenna then adding an additional antenna probably won’t help.
        Successful stacking requires that all the combined antennas impedances match the receiver’s (TV) input, and that all the desired signals from each antenna reach the feed point at precisely the same time!(Any difference in signal arrival time will reduce the overall combined signal). The impedance of each combined antenna (300/75 ohms) must be raised to provide a parallel impedance of 300/75 ohm. Commercial products are available, e.g.; couplers or combiners, available that will combine the antennas for you, but you will still need a spectrum analyzer with a tracking generator to ensure that the antenna array is properly phased(simultaneous arrival time of each antenna signal).

      1. Could you tell me, very specifically, the hardware needed to combine the cable outputs of your DB8e and my VHF antenna? Thanks.

        1. Antennas Direct has responded to this post but it appears to have been lost. The information will be posted again shortly.

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