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Finding the Right RV TV Antenna

When we started RVing 13 years ago, we saw no need to buy an RV TV antenna. But times have changed.

In those days we had a small (6-inch screen), black-and-white TV with rabbit ears. As long as we weren't in the real boonies, we could usually pick up a local signal, sometimes a choice of several stations although they might be a bit fuzzy. Then, a few years ago, came the news that the airwaves would no longer carry analog signals. Overnight, our little TV became a useless relic of times past.

Actually, we don't watch much TV when we're on the road; however, we do have fond memories of tuning into special programing like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl Game on that little TV. In those days we didn't carry a laptop, which we've used on more recent trips to watch an occasional movie. We pick up a free DVD from a library or rent a more-recent movie at a Redbox booth ($1.27 for 24 hour- rental) and watch it on the laptop. Still, we've missed being able to watch The News or shows like the Academy Awards.

We had been looking for a reliable, low-cost, low-profile option (no high-tech satellite dish or monthly fees). We had seen the Winegard Rayzar antenna at Camping World and similar RV stores and were already considering purchasing it when, out of the blue, Winegard Rayzar contacted me and asked if we'd like to test and review it. I guess it was meant to be.

Winegard Rayzar RV TV antenna
The Winegard Rayzar antenna

Best of all, it's exactly what we were looking for. (Of course, it requires a TV capable of picking up a digital signal so it won't bring life back to our old black-and-white telly.) We got the amplified version but, actually, because our initial tests have been close to urban areas, it worked just as well without the amplifier. Amplification should, however, make a difference when we camp in more remote boondocking locations.

We were immediately impressed with the Winegard® RAYZAR™ Amped HD antenna. For starters, connection and setup was very simple. They haven't skimped on the cord either - 20 feet long, it easily reaches every part of the RV. It performed beyond our expectations and has other qualities that, in our situation, are equally important. It is the ultimate size: a 12-inch square, almost paper-thin, extremely lightweight, stores anywhere and takes up virtually no space. It doesn't need to be placed on the roof or anywhere outside the RV so it won't sway in the wind, suffer weather damage, or be prone to vandalism or theft. This also makes it perfect for those times we're parked in a Walmart parking lot, rest area, or in the driveway of a Boondockers Welcome member - anywhere we need to be "discreet" about overnight parking.

Probably the best test of performance was at locations where we knew exactly what TV signals should be available -- outside our own home and those of family members. In fact, our daughter and son-in-law were amazed this antenna picks up all the signals their home-version does.

So, the search for an antenna is over. Now we're looking for a laptop TV tuner (the kind that plugs into a USB port). We'll invest another $40 to $90 to turn our laptop into a TV. Then we'll have the ultimate RV entertainment system for our needs and budget!

Stay tuned (pun intended) to find out how that works out for us.

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