Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reaching for The Sky

Mohu's Sky outdoor antenna aims high.

North-Carolina based Mohu is arguably one of the more cutting-edge antenna manufacturers since the digital over-the-air TV revolution. Already popular or its paper-thin Leaf antenna and the recent indoor Mohu Curve 30 which we reviewed, Mohu has sets its sights high (literally) with the Sky: its first attempt at an outdoor model and the longest range antenna has to date in its product line.

While Mohu has proven it can design attractive antennas known mostly for their “cool” factor, how well does the Sky deliver on it advertised 60 mile reception range performance? We tested it out in our Canadian skies and here is what we found.

Model: Mohu SkyHDTV Attic/Outdoor Muti-directional HDTV Antenna

Size (main antenna element): 28cm H x 54.5cm W x 2.5cm D (11” x 21 1/2” x 1”)

Package includes: Mohu SkyHDTV antenna, J-Mount (unassembled), amplifier, USB power adapter, 30ft terminated coax cable with weather boot on one end, all assembly hardware, mounting hardware for 2 types of substrates, English / Spanish instructions

Output: One F-type connector (cable coax) on the antenna for RG-59 or RG-6 cable, amplifier is F-Type in-line with USB power input.

Pros: Compact aesthetic appearance, good performance when used outdoors, performs well within advertised range, versatile mounting positions, complete package for the consumer right down to the last little bits of hardware, extremely user friendly, clear instructions

Cons: Price point may seem elevated when compared to other antennas of this range, compact size is a trade-off in terms of performance when brought outside its advertised range, the antenna will not mount to larger diameter antenna masts / rotator without some sort of adapter

Build Quality

Mohu continues to provide the best product packaging in the business. Items are enclosed in a well thought-out custom-made box with each component held securely in place and smaller hardware items clearly labelled.  It would be difficult for items to arrive damaged or scratched from transit or handling.

The components themselves show the same level of professional build quality. The main antenna is made of two halves of a high quality thick-walled plastic that is sealed closed with a well-compressed rubber gasket. It is rigid, solid and appears very well sealed in terms of weatherproofing. With no exposed elements or wires, the Sky is definitely ready to withstand the snow and ice that Canada’s winters are ready to throw at it.

The included J-mount is of good quality as well and is covered in a shiny (sparkly?) silver powdercoat . The finish is of good quality, and does not scratch as easily as other commercial J-mounts when the hardware is adjusted and re-tightened. Please note the tube diameter is much smaller than standard J-mounts used for satellite dish installations.
The details of the other components were well engineered as well: the amplifier is compact and completely silent when operating, generating only very little heat even during prolonged use (absolutely no concerns on our part for its lifespan). The pre-terminated 30 ft cable makes this antenna ready to go right out of the box, and features a good quality weather boot (below) at one end for a safe and reliable outdoor installation.


Assembling the Antenna

The antenna comes with some assembly required when using the J-mount. (If desired, the antenna can be simply hung off two hooks if used indoors or in an attic, so in that case no assembly required)
The instructions are well-written and show detailed steps to install the J-mount base and attaching the arm and cable to the antenna body. The entire antenna can be assembled and ready for installation using a standard screwdriver and small wrench / pliers / key in about 5 minutes.

The Sky is definitely a lot easier on the eyes than some other antennas within this reception range. The antenna is completely enclosed in its cosmetic cover and there are no exposed reflectors, elements or wires. Its grey colour and silver mount makes it easy to blend in on any roof or balcony, although some neighbours may ask you what’s up with the inverted Batman symbol hanging off your house. This antenna scores just as big in the size-to-power ratio as it does in the appearance (dare I say “wife”?) factor.


The best part of the Sky is that it really comes as a complete kit, right down to two types of mounting hardware being provided in the box. Threadforming hardware is provided to install the J-mount securely into wood / aluminium siding or on a shingled roof. A nut and bolt combination is also given for other thru-hole applications, for example if installing in thin walled applications like a shed. The hardware appears anodized for weatherproofing, but also works inside. Installation is made easy by a lot of the hardware being captive in the mating parts through carriage bolt features and embossed hex counterbores. Everything you need is basically in the box; the only extra we recommend are UV-resistant ty-wraps for securing the cable run and caulking to seal any penetration points when installing the mount outdoors.

When you purchase the Mohu Sky you aren’t just getting an antenna; you’re getting a complete kit right down to the screws to bolt the mount into the wall.

Given its compact size, the Sky is perfect for attics. We’ve had issues where larger antennas need to be disassembled or brought up in pieces to fit through small attic openings; at the size of a laptop, the Sky is compact and lightweight enough to fit anywhere, even if your best reception spot in the house is inside the office closet.
Aiming the Antenna
The Mohu Sky can be pivoted on its mount for azimuth alignment as well the mount for elevation adjustments. The foot of the J-mount provides infinite adjustment points and once tightened the hardware locks the position of the antenna firmly in place.
We found the best orientation was having the flat face of the Sky antenna facing the transmitter. Although the reception angle is quite wide, we found the side reception lobes were a bit unpredictable and dependent on the vertical adjustment of the antenna. In any case, we were able to find a reception sweet spot for our test location, but be forewarned it may take time. We highly suggest taking your time in really finding the best spot for the antenna and to not only look at the signal strength but the sound-to-noise-ratio (SNR on most TV sets) since it is an amplified antenna.


The antenna was tested head-to-head against a baseline main brand outdoor VHF/UHF antenna with similar range characteristics. As the Sky is amplified, we added a standard amplifier (Antennas Direct CPA-19) as well to the baseline antenna and factored the cost of the cable and mount as well, rendering it essentially equivalent in cost. The antennas were tuned based on obtaining the most possible channels and were not rotated during testing.

Station (RF)
Distance (mi)
Baseline Antenna ($160)
Strength / SNR
Mohu Sky ($160)
Strength / SNR
100 / 68
98 / 78
99 / 71
90 / 52
100 / 100
100 / 84
100 / 100
100 / 91
100 / 92
99 / 81
81 / 60
90 / 69
100 / 96
88 / 67
100 / 100
100 / 93
92 / 77
88 / 65
89 / 75
78 / 52

Based on our test results, the Mohu Sky performed fairly well compared to the larger baseline antenna. In particular we were surprised by the respectable VHF performance given that the antenna is so compact. The beamwidth also allowed it to receive multiple signals from various incident angles without needing to be rotated. Our tests show that the antenna definitely maintains its advertised 60 mile range and can reasonably go further than that if the conditions are right (i.e. LOS to distant signals, etc)
Prices and Where to Buy
As mentioned in our other Mohu reviews, what’s somewhat prohibitive to Canadians is that Mohu products are not sold by the usual cast of retailers north of the border. Mohu will ship to Canada from their US website at extra cost, and duties are to be expected upon delivery. However, Mohu does recommend buying off amazon.ca.
Promotions are few and far in between, with most of the promos being around free shipping in continental US. If you are interested in the Sky are able to wait, we suggest to follow Mohu on Facebook and Twitter to know when sales or other promo are underway on their products.
Overall, prices in Canada are fairly offsetting. Canadian online retail prices will range over $200. If you live within driving distance of the US border, it may be more advantageous to buy directly form Mohu.com and drop-ship to a border holding point (like The UPS Store).
Although the cost may seem a bit steep at first, if you can get the Sky within the $160-170 ballpark, it is a fairly good deal. Consider the following: excluding junk clone antennas, most name brand antennas in that reception range will cost around $100, and you will have to add a mount, an amplifier and RG-6 cabling to get what the Sky antenna kit delivers.
Although it may seem like you're paying a premium price for the Sky, you have to realize you're not just getting an antenna in the box.


The Mohu Sky is a good quality, user-friendly (and neighbour friendly) antenna that can deliver the goods when mounted outdoors. We found it works well inside its advertised range and can yield some surprises with stations technically beyond its reach.

Although some sites citizen Mohu products as being gimmicks or overprices, the value is there when bought at the right price. It is an excellent antenna for the “condo crowd” or people that are willing to pay slightly more to have something that looks as sharp on their roof as what they see from uncompressed OTA HD on their TVs screens.

Final Score: 8.5/10

For more information and to purchase the Mohu Sky, please visit the Mohu Website