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30 June 2021

Indoor aerials jargon buster

Digital aerials seem like simple products but they come in a variety of designs and with a number of different features.
Martin Pratt

Digital aerials seem like simple products, but they come in a variety of designs and with a number of different features.

Which one you choose, and how likely it is to help you get the very best reception, will depend on a number of factors. Make sure you're familiar with all the key terms before you buy with our jargon buster.

Find the best model for your money with our indoor aerial reviews

4G filter

These built-in filters can block picture interference from 4G mobile signals.

5V adaptor

The aerial's amplifier can be powered by plugging it in to a set-top box or compatible television aerial socket. 

12v adaptor

Most aerial signal boosters are powered by the mains but some models can run on a 12v adaptor, making them ideal for use on a boat or caravan.


Even with Best Buy indoor aerials, you aren’t guaranteed a good picture. Amplifiers, or signal boosters, can marginally increase the likelihood of picking up weak signals, but the internal amplifier of the TV will usually do a better job and boosters on inferior indoor aerials can cause picture interference.


For the best reception the aerial may be some distance from your TV, so if you don't want to buy extension cables, it's important to have long enough power and aerial leads.

Flat panel aerials

Flat panel aerials can sometimes be mounted on walls or easily hidden away. Some even come in the guise of picture frames. Flat panels are often loops and antennas folded into a panel. Hence, horizontal or vertical angling shouldn't be a worry. However, some models work according to different principles and do require angling. Simply turning to a 90° angle usually does the trick.

Gain control

This lets you adjust the power of the signal booster. Lots of indoor aerials boast this feature but our experts consider it superfluous.

Log periodics

These models look the most like typical roof-top aerials. They usually have a perspex fan and the aerial elements are etched onto the panel. The design of log periodics means they can usually be adjusted vertically or horizontally with ease.


Usually consisting of a circular loop, this design does not require any specific horizontal or vertical angling and so will work with both types of transmitter. We find that loops generally have good sensitivity, but don't always get every available channel.

Monopole or 'rod' aerials

These look a bit like car antennas. They can be omnidirectional, but you'll also find ones that shift from horizontal to vertical polarisation.


Digital TV and radio stations are grouped in bundles called multiplexes that are transmitted at different frequencies across the TV band. There are six multiplexes altogether. Poor reception in one part of the TV band could mean you can’t receive a multiplex and therefore you will miss out on all the channels it carries.

Omnidirectional aerials

These indoor models don't need to be polarised to vertical or horizontal alignment to match your local transmitter.

Patch aerials

These flat panel aerials can sometimes be mounted on walls or hidden away - some even double up as picture frames. They're often loops and antennas folded into a panel, and are usually omnidirectional, so you don't need to worry about horizontal or vertical angling.


Indoor aerials come in a variety of weird shapes and sizes. Whatever the design it’s important for aerials to be angled horizontally or vertically to match your local TV transmitter.

We generally find that positioning the aerial near a window at about head height gives the best results. Most transmitters are horizontally polarised.