What is a Mohu Leaf 30?
The Mohu Leaf 30 is an unamplified indoor HDTV antenna that lets you watch over-the-air broadcasts from dozens of local TV stations -- like ABC News or even FOX. The passive antenna can pick up transmissions from TV towers within a 40-mile radius
There is a lot to like about the Mohu Leaf 30 and little to dislike. Most of the hassles associated with setting up this antenna are things that you may run into with other antenna designs.
The Mohu Leaf 30 is an affordable way to pull dozens of free, over-the-air broadcasts into your television. The flat design makes it easy to attach on walls or behind furniture so it blends into your living room decor. However, the included 10-foot coaxial cable may not be long enough to place the Mohu Leaf 30 in the best location for receiving your local TV stations.
Mohu Leaf 30 specifications
The Mohu Leaf 30 is meant to appeal to people living in cities and suburbs who have ready access to strong signals from local TV transmission towers. As a result, the specifications for this product are minimal.
If you have an electronics background and want to design the best setup for your home, you’ll want to look at more advanced antennas.
Weight and dimensions
The Mohu Leaf 30 is slightly larger than a sheet of paper with a height of 9 inches and a width of 11.5 inches. What makes the antenna distinctive is it is only 1/16 of an inch thick and weighs only 3.5 oz.
The Mohu Leaf 30 is based on technology developed to detect improvised explosive devices. This approach allows Mohu to create flat and flexible antenna designs while providing strong signal reception.
A downside to the flat design is that the Mohu Leaf 30 is not an omnidirectional antenna. You will get better reception by orienting the Leaf 30 so its flat surface is perpendicular to the line between your home and your local TV transmission towers.
Another aspect of the Mohu Leaf 30’s design is that it is optimized for UHF broadcast signals. If any of your local TV stations broadcasts over VHF frequencies, then you may have more trouble picking up the signal.
The Mohu Leaf 30 will pick up the resolutions most commonly-used by TV stations in America today. The primary networks typically broadcast in 1080p FullHD resolution without the compression used by cable companies and streaming services. As a result, you can get much better picture quality using an OTA antenna.
Some local stations, as well as the big stations’ subchannels, broadcast in lower resolutions, either 720p HD or 480p SD. The Mohu Leaf 30 will handle both.
You also get future-proofing with the Mohu Leaf 30. TV stations across America will begin launching their ATSC 3.0 broadcasts starting in late 2019. These will let you get 4K UltraHD resolution broadcasts straight into your home. However, no 4K televisions on the market today have 4K OTA tuners. Even though your Mohu Leaf 30 is ready for tomorrow, you may still need to make an additional purchase to enjoy the benefit.
Mohu’s family of Leaf antennas are designed to blend into your living room. One side of the Leaf is black to accommodate darker paint schemes.
The other is white to blend in with a white wall. Alternatively, you can paint the white surface with the same paint you use on your wall.
The Mohu Leaf 30 ships with a 10-foot coaxial cable, two mounting options and a setup guide. One of the mounting options consists of four adhesive-backed hook-and-loop pads. The other option consists of push-pins.
How much does a Mohu Leaf 30 cost?
The Mohu Leaf 30 has a $40 list price. By comparison, the amplified Mohu Leaf 50 costs $60 and has a 50-mile range. Mohu’s least expensive antenna, the Mohu Leaf Metro only costs $18 but has a more limited 25-mile range.
The most comparable indoor antenna from AntennasDirect is the unamplified ClearStream Eclipse which has a $60 list price. Alternatively, the amplified ClearStream Flex sells for $80 and has a 50-mile range.
How do I set up a Mohu Leaf 30?
The basic setup process is pretty straightforward. Attach one end of the coax cable to your television and then attach the other end to the Mohu Leaf 30. Position the antenna where you think you’ll get the best reception. Then run your television’s channel scanning function.
With the Mohu Leaf 30, your television’s tuner could detect broadcasts from dozens of local TV stations. However, it may take some experimentation to get the most channels possible. I decided to see what a worst-case scenario might look like by laying the antenna flat on my TV stand.
I was surprised to see my TV report that it had detected 62 channels. Three of these turned out to be duplicates that probably came from another city’s stations.
Unfortunately, the TV picked up signals from my local CBS and Fox stations but the image was completely glitched.
Thinking that conditions would improve if I placed the Mohu Leaf 30 the way it’s supposed to be, I used the adhesive pads to attach the Leaf 30 to the wall a few feet above the TV.
After running my TV’s channel-scanning function, I did get my local CBS and Fox stations. However, I lost another 12 channels including PBS World, PBS Create, QVC and Retro.
Troubleshooting the installation
Unfortunately, a lot of things can keep you from getting all of the channels in your region. Natural obstructions like hills and trees can block signals. Architecture can also degrade the signal you receive. Nearby buildings can reflect signals away from your home and the metals in your walls can absorb the signal as it passes through.
In general, placing the Mohu Leaf 30 in a position where its flat surface faces the direction of your local TV transmission towers should deliver the best performance. As I experienced, you may need to go through some trial-and-error to find the right place. You may need to place the antenna near a window to ensure the signal gets in. This is where the included coaxial cable’s 10-foot length could become an issue. If you need to reach a different wall, you may need to buy a longer cable. Keep in mind that each time you move the antenna, you have to run your TV tuner’s scanning function all over again.
Which local OTA channels are available on the Mohu Leaf 30?
The easiest way to find out which channels you could receive is to visit AntennaWeb. The site was created by the consumer electronics industry to give people a simple snapshot of their local TV stations.
For more detailed information, you can go to the TV Fool website. You may need to study the information more carefully, but the details come in handy when troubleshooting antenna installation.
Using the Mohu Leaf 30 doesn’t just get you the local affiliates of the major networks: ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. You will also get local affiliates of the national networks few streaming services support: The CW, PBS, Univision and Telemundo. On top of that, each of your local stations may broadcast additional content on their subchannels. PBS stations, for example, broadcast PBS Kids, World and Create. If you have a local station owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, you may get the sci-fi channel Comet.
Can you extend the range of the Mohu Leaf 30?
If you are more than 30-40 miles away from your nearest TV transmission towers, the Mohu Leaf 30 may struggle to pull in solid signals. In certain circumstances, an amplifier might help. If you think there’s a good chance you’ll need an amplifier, you may be better off buying the Mohu Leaf 50 which is a $60 bundle of the Leaf antenna and Jolt amplifier.
Can you record shows on this antenna?
By itself, the Mohu Leaf 30 won’t let you record TV. If you are using a networked TV tuner like the HD HomeRun Connect Duo to stream TV signals from the Mohu Leaf 30 over your home network, you have another option. The HD Homerun’s manufacturer, Silicon Dust, offers a subscription-based DVR service for $35 per year. You will need to run the HD Homerun DVR App on a computer that’s always running on your home network.
Alternatively, you can get a dedicated Digital Video Recorder like the TiVo Bolt for OTA. This device has four HDTV tuners built-in which lets you record four shows at the same time. The built-in storage can record up to 150 hours of content. However, you will have to pay a $70 annual subscription on top of the TiVo Bolt’s $250 price. This gets you an always-up-to-date 14-day programming guide so you can schedule your recordings.
Our takeaway: Not the cheapest, but flat and flexible
The Mohu Leaf 30 isn’t the cheapest HDTV antenna on the market, but its flat, flexible design makes up for it. You can place the antenna behind furniture or even paint it the same color as your walls. Once set up, you ought to be able to pull dozens of local stations into your TV — many of them in full 1080p high definition.
The only complaint about the product itself is the length of the included coaxial cable. At only 10 feet, the cable does not let you position the Mohu Leaf 30 very far from your television. You may need to buy a longer cable to get the best TV reception possible.
The most frustrating aspect of the Leaf 30 is something Mohu cannot control. The way your home was built, nearby buildings, hills and other factors strongly influence the number of channels you ultimately receive. The trial-and-error process of repositioning the antenna and re-running your television’s channel-scanning function could turn this into an afternoon’s project. However, this will happen with any antenna you try to use.
Buy a Mohu Leaf 30 today.
Chris Casper • Author
Chris Casper is a former tech industry product manager who escaped from California for New Mexico. Now he writes about science and tech while searching for the perfect green chile sauce.
Desiree Wu • Editor
Desiree is a full-time Honours Business Administration student at Ivey Business School at Western University. She also served as an Editorial Intern at Flixed. Desiree is based in London, Ontario.