Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mohu Curve 30


Checking out Mohu’s Curves

Mohu is a relative newcomer to the over-the-air (OTA) television scene. As opposed to many well-known TV antenna brands that have been around since the glory days of TV aerials in the 1960’s and 70’s, The North-Carolina based Mohu was founded this century with a fresh look on antennas.

Mohu gained popularity in the late 2000’s with its flagship product, the Mohu Leaf: a paper thin napkin-sized antenna that changed the way people thought of indoor TV reception and essentially relegated the rabbit ears to history’s dumpster. Since then, Mohu has branched out into new innovative products and OTA accessories, being paraphrased by some as a sort of “Apple” in the OTA marketplace. Its antennas show cutting edge and unique designs ranging from the micro Leaf Metro to the outdoor/attic model, the Sky. Its products have cool, modern looks and names; like a super-discrete USB-powered amplifier aptly named the Jolt. Recently, the company went back to its roots and unveiled a new line of indoor antennas, this time branded as the Curve.
The Curve comes in two models: The passive "30" and amplified "50". We've testing out the Curve 30.
 
 
Your Average Joe has been testing the base model to see if Mohu still has its mojo. Time to check out the Curve:

Model: Mohu Curve 30

Size (fully assembled): 20cm H x 30cm W x 6cm D (8” x 11 3/4” x 2 3/8”)

Package includes: Mohu Curve 30 antenna, stand, 10ft coax cable, English / Spanish instructions

Output: One F-type connector (cable coax) on the antenna for RG-59 or RG-6 cable

Pros: Looks great, respectible performance for a passive antenna on both VHF-Hi and UHF, respects rated/advertised range, refined in terms of design and build quality.

Cons: Pricey for an indoor antenna of local range, instructions don’t really provide much information on aiming
 

Build Quality

Mohu’s products always come well packaged and accompanied by professional documentation.
 
The plastic casing of the Curve is of good quality and appears well built. The entire unit is bonded together and even when the stand is assembled, there are no visible screws.

The rear plastic stand seems a bit flimsy but once clipped into place is fine and not a real area of concern. 
 
Good build quality and high quality plastic finishes are the main characteristic of the Curve’s sleek and minimalist appearance.

 
Assembling the Antenna

The plastic stand simply clips firmly in to the antenna and is also easily removable if need be. No tools are required and the antenna is ready to go out of the box in less than a few minutes.

 

Appearance

As mentioned previously, the case is assembled with no visible hardware, so in terms of appearance this antenna is as clean and sleek as they come. The only marking is a very discrete Mohu logo in the bottom right corner.  The antenna comes in a matte white finish; it looks clean and professional enough to fit into any d├ęcor or high-end home theatre setup. If you don’t like the colour scheme, Mohu encourages its users to paint and decorate their antennas as desired.
 

Installation

The installation instructions are clear and easy to use. The stand somewhat restricts access to the coax cable so if you have big fingers like me, it’s important to follow the instructions and attach the coax cable first. The cable provided is a special Mohu creation with knurled connectors as opposed to the default hex connectors on most coax cables. Although a minor detail, we noticed the cable was of very good quality and the connectors were easy on the fingers and a breeze to tighten with the fingertips.
 
Nice feature: Mohu’s cables are easy on the fingers thanks to custom knurled connectors

The antenna is designed to stand upright on its longest edge (i.e. “landscape”) but can also be mounted flat. “Portrait” mounting is not possible and would have been a cool feature as sometimes ideal TV reception requires maximum versatility.
The stand gives this antenna the ability to be standalone and makes it more versatile than the Leaf in the sense that you’re not restricted to taping or clipping it to a wall or window.
 

Aiming the Antenna

Like with any indoor antenna, orienting the antenna for best reception isn’t always straight forward. The task was made a bit harder as the instructions really didn’t tell you how to aim the antenna with respect to the local TV transmitters, leaving you to trial and error.
We found VHF reception was best when angling the flat part of the antenna towards the transmitters, while UHF reception was best head-on to the flat area. In the end, we were able to find a reasonable compromise that suited both types of signals, but the antenna is anything but omni-directional. Some fine-tuning or adjustment when channel flipping may be required for those that receive TV signals from opposing geographical locations.

 
Performance

The antenna was tested head-to-head with a baseline main brand indoor passive VHF/UHF antenna available at most major Canadian retail stores. For comparison purposes on signal strength, the values from an outdoor antenna for the same test location are provided.



     Station (RF)

Distance (mi)

Baseline Indoor Antenna ($50)

Mohu Curve 30 ($65)

Baseline Outdoor Antenna Setup

10

12

51%

76%

92%

13

81

No signal

No signal

69%

14

81

49%*

71%

82%

21

12

86%

90%

100%

22

81

No signal

54%*

77%

29

12

No signal

66%

76%

32

81

No signal

68%

74%

35

12

60%

73%

80%

43

81

No signal

No signal

59%

*Unstable reception; image macroblocking and drop-outs

Overall, the Mohu Curve 30 performed above the average performance of an indoor antenna. It was able to pull in more channels and solidified a borderline station. While not tested at its limits, it appears capable of bringing in local channels within a 30 mile radius as advertised.
 

Prices and Where to Buy

Unfortunately the Curve products are not officially sold in Canada by the usual cast of retailers. The Curve 30 currently retails at $50 USD south of the border. Mohu will ship to Canada from their US website at extra cost (about $25 USD depending on your shipping option), and duties are to be expected upon delivery.
In Canada, some Curve products can be found from some specialized OTA brick and mortar local retailers and also online on the Canadian versions eBay, Amazon and Newegg with an average retail price of about $65 CDN, plus taxes and shipping if there is no promo.

Conclusion

Is it stylish? Yes. Does it perform well? Yes. Is it worth the price? Well, that’s up to you to decide. If looks are your main criteria, the antenna will deliver both sleekness and above average performance for an unamplified antenna. However there are also many other good (or better) ugly-duckling antennas in that price range that could pull in more channels for you and be easier to procure in Canada.
Hey, no one said good looks came cheap.

Final Score: 7.5/10
More information on the Mohu Curve 30 is available on the Mohu website