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  • Winegard FlatWave vs. Mohu Leaf, part 3: It's all about results



    For part 1 of this series, click here. For part 2, click here.

    Let's get down to it. We've talked about the Winegard Flatwave and Mohu Leaf for about a week. The Mohu Leaf, shown at left, is a little smaller but a little thicker. It has a fully laminated outside edge; that's good or bad depending on whether you think it looks like a Trapper Keeper. The Winegard Flatwave, at right, is a little bigger with a slight texture to its plastic body. Really they look pretty much identical unless you're geeky enough to look closely (as I am.)

    I opened up both antennas and I saw that the Mohu Leaf was soldered together but that the parts were very flimsy. As I pointed out in the comments for the previous article I think solder would be better in a perfect world but not when it's so weak. The Winegard FlatWave was screwed together, with the contacts being held together by pressure. Even though oxidation could ruin the connection fairly easily, I still gave points to the Winegard FlatWave for being a more durable product.

    Now it's time to find out where both antennas rate. Testing conditions were designed to give no advantages either way. The Mohu Leaf specifically says that it will not pick up VHF signals so I plan on only measuring UHF signals. Because of a comment on the last article, I'm going to revise my testing criteria to see if either antenna is better than a plain monopole. I'm also going to see if either antenna is as good as a roof-mounted aerial.


    I stole this monopole off a portable emergency TV I have. It's not that impressive in person.

    I guess I really didn't know what to expect here. The Mohu Leaf is everyone's favorite, well reviewed and popular. The Winegard Flatwave is from a really established company. Let's take a look at what I found.

    Number of Channels Acquired
    I ran the autoscan routine on my TV, then took out VHF and analog channels. Neither antenna is rated for these. I only counted major channels (not subchannels) and I did not give credit for any channel that showed any pixelation after 30 seconds of watching.

    Channels Acquired ADVANTAGE
    Basic Monopole 4
    Mohu Leaf 6
    Winegard FlatWave 9 WINNER
    Roof-mounted Antenna 13

    Average Signal Strength
    This was a time-consuming test. I used the signal meter on my TV, which probably isn't very accurate, to measure only the channels that came in on each antenna. I did not measure signal on a channel that I didn't count. I don't know what these numbers mean except that it's pretty clear that 0 is no signal and 100 is perfect signal. I then averaged all the numbers together to get one number that represents average signal strength.

    Signal Strength ADVANTAGE
    Basic Monopole 57
    Mohu Leaf 69 WINNER
    Winegard FlatWave 66
    Roof-mounted Antenna 83

    So there you have it. Utterly meaningless results. The Mohu Leaf gets a lot fewer channels but on the channels it does get, it averages out a little better. I guess the numbers aren't going to tell me anything.

    Which... leaves me with subjective results. So here they are.

    1. The Mohu Leaf doesn't get ABC or FOX. Both antennas scored well on the UHF channels but in my market ABC and FOX are on VHF-High. The Winegard FlatWave had no problem getting both.

    2. The Winegard FlatWave has a black cord. This may seem like a stupid consideration but I did care for the cable on the Mohu Leaf better. Most walls are white, not black.

    3. The Mohu Leaf just doesn't seem well put together. I'm sorry to say it but I'll call it as I see it. The WineGard FlatWave seemed like a well-made piece of hardware while the Mohu Leaf was flimsy.

    I set out to do a scientific analysis and in the end I came up with this: The antenna has to work for you. The Winegard Flatwave delivered more channels, it seemed better built and it costs less. Unlike other comparison tests I've read, I saw both antennas perform much better than a monopole antenna.

    The numbers may be a bit dodgy but for a lower price, you can have a FlatWave with better performance. I guess that's the end of the story.

    .

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    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Stuart Sweet's Avatar
      Stuart Sweet -
      Like what you've read? Leave a comment!
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      Not sure what the delta of your numbers were, but 66 to 69 isn't enough to be impressed.
    1. Stuart Sweet's Avatar
      Stuart Sweet -
      Yeah, I have no idea what that meter actually measures.
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      I like how you reviewed the two in equal conditions, but given that my market also has two major networks using VHF-hi band, it would be nice to see how the FlatWave compares to the roof antenna. I'm currently using rabbit ears because of the need for VHF.
    1. asen's Avatar
      asen -
      I shopped around for an indoor antenna for over two weeks, reading everything I could online as I hate to return things. This is the first time I have seen any results demonstrating the Flatwave receiving more channels than the Leaf. My mom, my brother, and I all have leafs now after collectively getting rid of cable, we live in three different cities, and have no problems with them either in terms of quality build or channels received. I am just surprised the author found the Wave pulling more channels than the Leaf.

      While I admire the author's attempt to do an unbiased review, I think if someone is looking for a truly scientific one, they should refer to HDTV's, who are respected for unbiased opinions:

      Useful Gadgets: Wall-Mounted Indoor DTV Antennas

      Happy cord-cutting!
    1. TVTony's Avatar
      TVTony -
      Soooooo your 'scientific analysis' includes the use of a signal strength reading that you have no idea what it means (... but this one goes to 11...) and your final results are self-admittedly subjective. Here is a truly objective analysis of performance: Useful Gadgets: Wall-Mounted Indoor DTV Antennas
      Since "The antenna has to work for you" I think I'd trust an impartial source to judge real performance.
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      After googling a bit I found:
      The Leaf will receive VHF stations but it will not be able to reveive them from as far away as the UHF band stations.

      What is common with low gain antennas is their manufacturers don't post specs, which is true with these two.
      Winegard does say: High VHF / UHF 25 Mile Range
      This is more than Mohu does.

      With such low gain, I doubt a "scientific review" will be worth as much as simply testing in your area, as there are so many variables in each location.
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      Quote Originally Posted by TVTony View Post
      Soooooo your 'scientific analysis' includes the use of a signal strength reading that you have no idea what it means (... but this one goes to 11...) and your final results are self-admittedly subjective. Here is a truly objective analysis of performance: Useful Gadgets: Wall-Mounted Indoor DTV Antennas
      Since "The antenna has to work for you" I think I'd trust an impartial source to judge real performance.
      Since the author didn't bother to give the azimuths of the stations received, I'm not so sure his tests are any better.
      Should the antennas have been mounted on another widow facing another direction, the results might have been different.
    1. Stuart Sweet's Avatar
      Stuart Sweet -
      Yep, I admit that my scientific analysis ended up being anything but. All I can tell you is the results. I should also point out that I tested the base Leaf and other sites have tested the Leaf Plus which is much more expensive.
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      Quote Originally Posted by SS@SolidSignal View Post
      Yep, I admit that my scientific analysis ended up being anything but. All I can tell you is the results. I should also point out that I tested the base Leaf and other sites have tested the Leaf Plus which is much more expensive.
      The Leaf Plus has an amplifier to attempt to make up for the lack of gain from the antenna, which isn't uncommon with small/low gain antennas.
      Some of these [not those tested here that I know of] have actually had negative gain from the antenna, as the output has been less than the amplifier gain.
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      "The amplifier in the Leaf™ Plus provides 10-15 dB of gain "
    1. Anthony Thomas's Avatar
      Anthony Thomas -
      This why its confusing... I have a old Radio Shack "Surf Board" Flat Antenna that has an amp. It pulls in over 100 Digital Channels. I live in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles and the antenna is mounted 7 feet high in the window and straight at Mount Wilson. These settings are from Antenna Web in 2007, no reason to move it.

      However since the digital switchover, 7-13 have moved to Hi-VHF and I don't get those channels, I get everything around them though.

      I was looking at the Flat Wave from Winegard, it will likely do well since I can amp it if I needs any help. I say that because I am no more than 27 miles from all the towers and my problem isn't UHF at all, I can get the same channels with a simple mono pole like was used in this "test" with no amp.

      But it looks like all the praise for the Leaf is justified. Seems most of the naysayers are in difficult conditions (mountains, hills, facing the opposite direction from the towers and just too far away).

      I just may have to pick up this antenna after all, too bad its not available locally, even in Los Angeles...
    1. noway's Avatar
      noway -
      Quote Originally Posted by TVTony View Post
      Soooooo your 'scientific analysis' includes the use of a signal strength reading that you have no idea what it means (... but this one goes to 11...) and your final results are self-admittedly subjective. Here is a truly objective analysis of performance:
      Since "The antenna has to work for you" I think I'd trust an impartial source to judge real performance.
      His tests were just as valid as anything you have done. Different antennas are going to receive different frequencies better than others. Different angles, signal propagation, weather, location, signal frequency all have different effects on reception. So saying one antenna is better than another by taping a test subject to a piece of glass has little to do with an objective analysis as you say.

      Different antennas will produce different results in different situations. It's a fact. To say the Mohu is better than the Wingard doing one test is narrow minded. Passive vs amplified antennas will give different results in different applications also. Amplified is not always "better".
    1. jpagesq's Avatar
      jpagesq -
      The tests were very useful. Confirmed my notion that Weingard is gold standard. I bought one for my RV when rooftop antenna was damaged. The Flatwave was better than the old rooftop. I would like to mount it permanently but problem is RV never in same place or position & usually 20+ miles from any source. Think orientation of antenna is important. QUESTION what if I mounted two Flatwaves at different angles. Then, either wire them in parrell or have selector swich (thinking old game switch)? QUESTION I bought the Winegard Amplifier have not had chance to test. Does it help?
    1. Stuart Sweet's Avatar
      Stuart Sweet -
      An amplifier will generally help if you are trying to drive multiple TVs. It will not generally help you get more distant stations except in very specific cases. The Flatwave is an omnidirectional antenna so trying to aim two together will probably not work. An A/B switch would potentially help but it may not have enough signal rejection to cancel out the antenna you're not using.
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      Quote Originally Posted by jpagesq View Post
      The tests were very useful. Confirmed my notion that Weingard is gold standard. I bought one for my RV when rooftop antenna was damaged. The Flatwave was better than the old rooftop. I would like to mount it permanently but problem is RV never in same place or position & usually 20+ miles from any source. Think orientation of antenna is important. QUESTION what if I mounted two Flatwaves at different angles. Then, either wire them in parrell or have selector swich (thinking old game switch)? QUESTION I bought the Winegard Amplifier have not had chance to test. Does it help?
      Combining antennas isn't always the best thing, so switching might be your better option. Switch between antennas to see which has the better signal.
      The amp won't hurt, but it may also not make a difference too. The amp can improve your signal to noise ratio, but if you have enough to start with, you won't see a change.
      If the signal is weak and has a low SNR, the improvement with the amp "might be" enough pickup it up.
    1. adventurer7's Avatar
      adventurer7 -
      I get every available over the air station with my mohu leaf. Your test was not very scientific!
    1. lulak's Avatar
      lulak -
      However, Mohu leaf is a good antenna, not only it delivers best quality pictures, but it comes at an affordable price...... and it is too popular as well. Try reading reviews on Amazon, you will get ~ 95% happy users...
    1. VOS's Avatar
      VOS -
      Quote Originally Posted by lulak View Post
      However, Mohu leaf is a good antenna, not only it delivers best quality pictures, but it comes at an affordable price...... and it is too popular as well. Try reading reviews on Amazon, you will get ~ 95% happy users...
      For the same price the Blade offers 5-6 dB more gain, so it would be my choice.