Free Signal TV Marathon Outdoor Antenna Review
This is a personal review of the Free Signal TV Marathon Antenna (Model CA-2600)
The Free Signal TV Marathon is our top long-range antenna, and for very good reason.
Free Signal TV makes quality OTA products, and their Marathon antenna is no exception. The Marathon is a fairly large antenna, but since it is mostly meant to be stored inside atics or outside – that isn’t necessarily a problem. I also have to assume due to it being rated for around 100+ miles (a long distance for a TV signal to travel), this size is needed. Despite this, the Marathon antenna has a very sleek and slim form-factor, and will easily fit up against your home’s exterior wall and be next to unnoticeable. The Marathon’s design is top-notch and you will definitely not be embarrassed to have it attached to your home.
NoCable realizes that the Marathon is quite a bit more expensive than some long-range antennas we recommend, but in our opinion, it is well worth it for a number of reasons:
- Quality: All antennas are not created equal, and cheap antennas (with a few exceptions) do not work as well as they say on the box.
- Design: While the Marathon can be attached to a pole (brackets included), it is not required like some others in this category, like the ViewTV 150-mile.
- Relative Cost: While the Marathon is one of the more expensive long-range antennas available, it is still way cheaper than Cable… and by a large margin. The average household Cable TV bill is around $125 a month!
Installation was simple – as all antennas typically are. The bracket on the back of the Free Signal TV Marathon has the ability to be attached to a pole or to be screwed and attached like a picture frame. I did the latter, off the side of my front porch. I connected a spare coaxial cable I had lying around (it didn’t come with one, but I understand why: everyone’s home setup is different.) to the old line that DirecTV had installed when we first moved in 5 years ago.
It is important to note here that the amplifier in the Marathon is specifically designed to propagate the signal multiple times and carry a solid game to up to 4 TVs. (I’ve heard reports of the signal being split into 8+ TVs). This is a significant feature because some other antennas, including most cheap ones, lose significant signal strength if split more than twice.
Inside the house, I connected their signal amplifier. This amplifier needs a power source, and needs to be installed on the coaxial cable between the antenna and your TV(s). I actually did try the Marathon without the amplifier, and I still got most of the powerful channels in my area (KDKA in particular), so this antenna definitely has some serious signal capturing capabilities inside of it.
I was able to pick up all my expected local channels, including my problem child WTAE. There was no choppiness of the picture, and it was crystal clear as is with any good digital OTA HD broadcast (sooooo much better than Cable TV where they compress and ruin the quality of your picture).
This antenna is our top long-range pick for many reasons:
Its sleek and compact design is unique to the Marathon in this range, and the performance matched those antennas that are generally regarded as some of the best in the industry. You could tell the materials were of high quality, however I did wish a coaxial cable was included at the high Marathon price point and the coaxial end on the amplifier felt a little cheaply made. Fortunately I had a spare coaxial cable, and the amplifier was inside my home (i.e. out of the weather) and I only ever have to attach it once at the beginning of the installation.
The Free Signal TV Marathon is definitely going to stay on the top of our highly-recommended list.