More TV-watchers are cutting the cable cord to save on expensive bills, and the Mohu Leaf antenna has rightfully earned a lot of buzz as one of the best replacements for HD cable and satellite services on the market.
The paper-thin Mohu Leaf antenna ($44.95) from Mohu Inc. allows users to watch network shows and sporting events in high-HD quality for free. The antenna is designed to pull in over-the-air waves with its multidirectional pattern, so it optimizes reception without needing to turn the device to pick up waves from different HDTV towers, as some other HD antennas require the user to do.
The Mohu Leaf was invented by Greenwave Scientific antenna engineers last spring after years of designing and developing special purpose antennas for the U.S. military.
In most areas, HD programming on cable can cost an extra $20 or more per month for eachdigital HD cable box. Of course, Mohu Leaf doesn’t pick up cable channels such as CNN and MTV, but all of the major networks — including most of the top shows on TV — are broadcast in full HD for free over the air.
The antenna, which connects to the TV and then mounts on the wall, has some cable companies worried, with many customers opting to save on cable and HDTV for the less expensive alternative. In fact, Time Warner Cable last month refused to air a 30-second commercial from Mohu Inc. highlighting how to watch free HDTV with the device. [Read: Time Warner Won’t Air Commercial for ‘Free HD’]
The company touts that the antenna is as easy to set up as changing a light fixture, and it’s true. Connecting and setting up the antenna only took us about 25 minutes, and most of that time was spent performing an automatic channel scan. A video on the Mohu site walks you through how to set up the device and provides extra tips on how to pick up the most channels.
After connecting the Mohu Leaf to the antenna input port on the back of the TV – where a cable cord would normally go – the company advises users to tack the device to the wall. However, we just tucked it behind the TV and it still worked just as well. It’s recommended that the antenna is hung high away from the TV and other devices, with the white side of the device toward the wall.
To configure the TV for the device, users need to change the TV settings to "air" or "antenna." A channel scan must then be run, which allows the antenna to pick up various networks in the area. After the channel scan is complete – it took us about 20 minutes to run the scan – the Mohu Leaf picked up a whopping 50 channels in the New York City area. Some customers living in smaller towns have picked up about 15 to 20 stations in their areas.
Although some competing HD antennas also boasts between 25 and 30 channels, a major plus for the Mohu Leaf is that it doesn’t require occasional repositioning.
The quality of the HD stations was, as promised by the company, even better than some of the standard cable stations with a HD box subscription. This is due largely because cable takes the signal and re-compresses it to a different standard for their system, while the Mohu Leaf antenna picks up a pure off-the-air HDTV quality signal.
Overall, the biggest advantage is that the cost of the Mohu Leaf is less than one month’s cable bill. Even if you don’t want to eliminate cable all together, it’s the perfect device to keep around when you want to watch certain shows and sporting events such as the Super Bowl in HD.