REVIEW: Mohu’s Leaf, A Paper Thin HDTV Indoor Antenna

With the cost of cable and satellite television, many people are opting to switch over to basic over-the-air television in combination with a streaming service like Netflix. The last time I had airwave basic television, rabbit ears were more than just animal body parts and the only broadcast signal was analog. Analog broadcasting is a thing of the past and digital antennas have flooded the market. The Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna by Mohu is among the newest and is quite different from what is available.

The Device

When you think antenna, what comes to mind? Big metal, large plastic, and lots of wire comes to my mind. As for indoor varieties, bulky units, set-top devices, and blocks are available. What makes the Leaf different? Well, it looks like a piece of laminated paper with a cable attached. The entire antenna, from edge to edge, is just over the size of a piece of printer paper at 9 inches tall by 11 1/2 inches wide. Along the bottom is the coaxial cable connection, slightly thicker than the cable itself at the thickest part of the junction, which tails off into a 6 foot, 75 ohm cable. One side of the antenna is black and the other is white, but the connector and cable are both completely white.

Easy to Use

The Leaf is simple to set up. Connect the cable to a digital-ready television or relay it through a converter box for older sets, position it on the wall, and program the channels. Depending on your area, it may take several positions to get the best programming results. The antenna comes with two small round adhesive tabs, but the installation guide recommends using tape or push-pins (only through the 1/4 inch clear laminate at the edges) until the desired location is found. The dual-color of the Leaf is an aesthetic option and not a positioning requirement of the antenna; depending on your decor style or personal preferences, the white side can face the room or the black side. The size and thinness of the unit also allow for the antenna to be hidden behind a painting, photo frame, or other wall adornment.

The Leaf is an omnidirectional antenna and does not need to be constantly adjusted; once the channels are programmed, the antenna can be forgotten and ignored. If it is moved, however, the channels must be re-programmed for the best results. If 6 feet of cable is not enough, Mohu does suggest the use of a low-loss coaxial extension, but warns that anything over 25 feet may result in a degraded signal.

Determining Need

Mohu offers a list of links and resources to determine the stations in your area, their relative signal strength, and the best type of antenna to use to capture them. These sites, such as AntennaWeb.org, have disclaimers that the search results are conservative estimates and that actual results may vary.

Surprising Results

When I picked up the Leaf, I knew immediately that I would be testing it in my apartment in Arlington and across DFW at my dad’s house in Richardson. Before looking at the online information, I knew that I would be hard pressed to pick up any stations in my apartment; I live on the first floor, I have 30-40 foot tall trees less than ten feet from my back door, and I live within eight miles of a huge airport. The quick search on AntennaWeb only confirmed what I expected: my best bet for DTV reception would be a medium, directional outdoor antenna at a minimum height of “rooftop”.

I hooked up the Leaf anyway. I chose several locations: an inner wall, low on the outside wall, high on the outside wall, and in a window. With the interior wall, I received one channel and three of its four sub-stations. The signal quality held steady around 15-20%, but without understanding Spanish or Hindi, the station was useless to me. Along the outside wall, however, I was picking up four or five channels and various sub-channels. I was even able to pick up Fox 4 and watched an episode of SVU! The signal strength varied by station, as low as 20% for Fox and peaking at 45% for the Spanish/Hindi channels.

Considering my apartment as a “worst case” location, I traveled to my father’s house for a “best case” location. The same search on AntennaWeb showed that his television, in an area away from skyscrapers, trees, and airports, would receive about 22 channels with a minimum of a rooftop antenna. His television is set about 8 feet from an outside wall, so we stretched the 6 foot cable as high as we could toward the wall. The resulting channel programming was an astounding 28 channels and sub-channels received without the black screen error message, “signal too low”. My dad fell in love; not only were the local stations coming through clear, but so were channels we never knew existed. Of the 28 channels, only four were stations he would ignore, the rest he could easily see himself watching on a regular basis.

Overall Impressions

As an alternative to cable or satellite, the Leaf is definitely worth consideration. It’s easy installation, versatile positioning, and ability to be color coordinated or hidden as desired make the Leaf a unique antenna for anyone wanting to watch over-the-air television. The entire unit costs $44 and Mohu is currently offering free shipping on all orders.

Comments

  1. Dhiren Parbhoo says

    Great review. Just a slight correction I am an amateur radio operator and have well a little bit of RF knowledge and experience, just to clarity one point made at the beginning. There are no such things as “digital antenna,” it is a common misconception. I have an arsenal of different antenna at my house that I use for a variety of purposes. The term “digital antenna” and “HD TV antenna” are merely a marketing terms. I can use my antenna that I use for analog satellite and emergency communications hook it up to my TV and wow, I get all the channels I could want, needless to say that is not a “digital antenna.” In radio and TV the term digital just refers to the type of encoding used which is done on the transmitter and receiver side, not by the antenna.

    Anyways it looks like you got your hands on a good antenna, of course I would rather put a giant directional TV antenna on my roof if I were to switch over. Does the box have any of the technical info on it? I am wondering about the antenna design and the gain that is listed.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Jeffrey C. says

    I am looking into buying a Leaf. The only problem is I’d be using it at home on an Air Force Base. I’m not sure how good the reception will be.
    Is there any way to see how the reception will be altered by living so close (pretty much on top of) the base?

    • Avatar of Talyna Morrison says

      The different links Mohu provides are very conservative. If they tell you that you will have somewhat decent coverage, then you should be fine.

      You can always purchase the antenna and test it for yourself. They offer a full 30-day guarantee, during which time you may return it for a full refund “minus the shipping, handling or other additional charges.” Just keep in mind that they do have their own hoops for you to jump through before sending it back! -> http://www.gomohu.com/returns/

    • Avatar of Talyna Morrison says

      The only other digital antenna I have used was soon after the conversion. It wasn’t very good and the reception (which, keep in mind, wasn’t very good *before* the switch) really sucked. We felt like we were watching a skipping DVD, but had no control over any of it.

  3. KilltheCableBill says

    I agree. The Leaf Antenna is the best option out there. Most people are unaware that it’s now possible to receive FREE High Definition and Digital broadcasts over-the-air (OTA) using a simple antenna connected to your television set! You also can get a $5 Off Promo code at killthecablebill