Right here’s the arduous reality for cord-cutters at the moment: The best over-the-air DVR doesn’t exist.
Whilst some merchandise are higher than others, they all—from Tablo to TiVo to HDHomeRun with Plex—have no less than one crucial weak point. If you wish to document broadcast TV channels from an antenna, you should make a decision which of the ones weaknesses you’ll tolerate.
The excellent news is that the lowly antenna is experiencing a rebirth, and we’re more likely to see much more over-the-air DVR merchandise. However if you wish to get started recording broadcast channels now, right here’s a rundown of the place the present merchandise stand.
Up to date Might 15, 2019 so as to add our overview of Nuvyyo’s Tablo Quad DVR, which displaces the Tablo Twin Lite DVR as our peak select on this class.
The most productive OTA DVR for many cord-cutters
For those who don’t want 4 over-the-air tuners, the Tablo Twin Lite DVR—our earlier peak select on this class—stays a compelling price. The Tablo Quad DVR is somewhat dearer, but it surely makes the fewest trade-offs and of any product on this elegance. We do have a couple of nits to pick out—interlaced video can’t play again at 60 frames in keeping with moment, and there’s a restricted collection of streaming packing containers you’ll use for out-of-home viewing—however in a box that doesn’t come with the easiest OTA DVR, the Tablo Quad DVR comes the nearest.
There’s so much to love right here, particularly for cord-cutters who’ve made Hearth TV units their media streamers of selection, however there also are sufficient shortcomings to restrict the Hearth TV Recast (which is to be had in each 75- and 150-hour SKUs) to our runner-up select on this class.
The most productive OTA DVR for only one TV
We mentioned that our earlier select on this class, the TiVo Roamio OTA, felt just a little like a relic of the cable TV technology. TiVo has erased no less than a few of that complaint with its new TiVo Bolt OTA, which is constructed on a lot more fashionable . However TiVo continues to forget about most of the easiest streaming TV products and services that enchantment to wire cutters, and its easiest DVR nonetheless products and services only one TV except you’re prepared to put money into further dear .
Best possible OTA DVR for energy customers
If putting in place a DVR the use of Plex was once more uncomplicated, it could be our no-reservations peak select. Because it stands, putting in a Plex-based DVR is a frightening procedure involving merchandise from no less than 3 different producers (you’ll want a TV tuner; a TV antenna; and a set-top field, NAS field, or private pc). That blend may end up in difficult-to-troubleshoot issues.
Upon getting the whole lot assembled, you’ll have a powerfully extensible gadget that delivers granular regulate over the recording and recording-management processes. However one among stuff you received’t get with a Plex DVR is a grid-based channel information on maximum units. (Plex lately added a information to its internet app and says it’s coming to different platforms, however hasn’t given a timeline.) This in-depth overview must assist making a decision if the trade-offs are price it.
What to search for in an over-the-air DVR
Comparing over-the-air DVR answers is hard, as a result of there are such a large amount of components that may make or spoil the revel in. If you wish to examine additional, listed below are some components to believe:
Advert-skipping options: Promoting remains to be a staple of broadcast TV, however some DVRs supply equipment that will help you skip them. TiVo is the most efficient on this regard, offering an auto-skip button for some methods, and a 30-second skip button for the whole lot else.
Antenna placement choices: Over-the-air DVR is unnecessary in case your antenna can’t obtain channels, so except you’ve were given coaxial cable stressed to the roof, you’ll wish to arrange your DVR in a spot with cast indoor antenna reception. Tablo can perform anyplace in the home, HDHomeRun should be stressed in your router, and TiVo and Channel Grasp are tied in your tv. Plan accordingly.
Granular recording choices: Possibly you’d love to stay just a positive collection of fresh episodes, or substitute your recordings with higher-resolution variations when to be had. No longer all DVRs are equivalent within the recording controls they supply. Our complete evaluations will supply extra main points.
Are living TV time-shifting and catch-up: Wish to pause for snack breaks? How about looking at partway via a program so you’ll skip the ads? Maximum DVR answers reinforce this sort of time-shifting, however HDHomeRun and Plex lately don’t.
Choice of tuners: Extra tuners approach extra simultaneous recordings or are living viewings. TiVo has 4 tuners, Tablo has two- and four-tuner choices, and HDHomeRun means that you can daisy-chain more than one dual-tuner devices in combination.
Out-of-home streaming: Tablo and Plex each assist you to watch are living and recorded TV from out of doors the home. TiVo calls for a $130 TiVo Flow for cell instrument get admission to.
Garage choices: Apart from TiVo Roamio OTA, the entire DVRs we reviewed reinforce garage on exterior arduous drives. Tablo has additionally began beta checking out a cloud-based garage carrier, however we don’t but know what it’ll price, and we haven’t examined it but.
Entire-home reinforce: Until you best plan to look at on a unmarried tv, you’ll need a whole-home gadget, this means that purchasing a networked tuner (Tablo or HDHomeRun) or putting in place extenders (equivalent to TiVo’s $150 Mini devices).
Streaming carrier integration: Most of the DVR merchandise we’ve reviewed are whole-home answers that you just get admission to by way of apps for your current streaming units. In those circumstances, you’ll get admission to your whole favourite streaming products and services along over-the-air video with no need to modify inputs. TiVo is a notable exception. It helps some primary streaming products and services equivalent to Netflix, Amazon High, and Hulu, however you’ll nonetheless want a separate streaming field to get admission to others, equivalent to Sling TV and Philo.
OTA DVR answers nonetheless in building
The over-the-air DVR area must get extra aggressive over the years. For those who’re at the fence about nowadays’s answers, listed below are some long term tendencies (as of April 2018) to believe:
Tablo LIVE and cloud DVR: Tablo was once meant to release a $99 networked tuner with cloud DVR features remaining 12 months, however thus far it hasn’t materialized. You’re most certainly with the $140 Tablo Twin Lite anyway, since it will probably document as much as two channels at a time and has a difficult pressure for native garage.
HDHomeRun Attach Duo+ and DVR enhancements: SiliconDust’s personal DVR carrier didn’t fare neatly in our overview previous this 12 months, however the corporate says an interface overhaul is at the means. SiliconDust could also be operating on a brand new dual-tuner type with a integrated recording engine and 250GB of garage, making it extra of an immediate competitor to Tablo. The corporate is focused on mid-2018 for the latter, even though it has a historical past of delaying merchandise that aren’t ship-shape.
AirTV Native Channels DVR: AirTV’s primary hook is the way it combines over-the-air channels and Sling TV’s streaming cable channels right into a unmarried TV information. Previous this 12 months, AirTV started checking out DVR for over-the-air channels, and all you wish to have to allow it’s an exterior arduous pressure. As a beta characteristic, it nonetheless has some primary obstacles—you’ll’t watch recordings till they’re whole, for example—however it will turn out to be a killer answer for cord-cutters who’re bored with switching between apps.
ATSC three.zero: This 12 months, broadcasters are beginning to check a brand new broadcast TV usual referred to as ATSC three.zero (often referred to as “Subsequent Gen TV”). The brand new usual can reinforce 4K HDR video, higher encompass sound, interactive options, and more uncomplicated get admission to on telephones and pills. At the problem, ATSC three.zero received’t paintings with current tuners on nowadays’s over-the-air DVR answers. This isn’t a right away fear, since any channel that adopts ATSC three.zero must simulcast within the present usual for 5 years, and thus far checking out has best begun in Phoenix, Ariz. Over-the-air DVR units are nonetheless price purchasing, however remember that they most certainly received’t paintings endlessly.