Over-the-air DVR: An illustrated guide for cord-cutters

Even if I’ve attempted on many events to articulate the variation between TiVo, Tablo, HDHomeRun, and different over-the-air DVR answers, one can most effective do such a lot with written descriptions.

Over-the-air DVR can briefly change into difficult. If you wish to file unfastened broadcast channels from an antenna, it’s possible you’ll wish to string in combination separate tuner packing containers, demanding drives, antennas, and streaming gamers. Whilst I’m a wordsmith at middle—a truth that are supposed to quickly change into obvious from my drawing abilities—the idea that is basically more uncomplicated to provide an explanation for with photos.

So let’s do exactly that. Underneath is an illustrated information to the most efficient and most well liked DVR choices for cord-cutters, with some further textual content descriptions the place acceptable.


tivodrawing Jared Newman / IDG

TiVo DVRs such because the Edge and Bolt OTA are the very best to grasp: Simply plug in an antenna, then attach them in your TV with an HDMI cable, identical to you could with a cable field.

The issue with TiVo’s means is twofold:

  • As a streaming tool, TiVo most effective provides a small collection of apps, together with Netflix, Amazon Top, and Hulu. That implies you’ll want a separate tool (reminiscent of a Roku participant or Amazon Fireplace TV Stick) for many different streaming resources, together with Disney+, Tubi, Pluto TV, or Peacock. Additionally, you’ll be continuously switching backward and forward between inputs.
  • Getting access to your TiVo DVR on further televisions calls for a TiVo Mini extender attached to every TV. The present TiVo Mini Lux prices $200 according to field and will have to be hard-wired in your Wi-Fi router except you spend an additional $60 according to extender on Wi-Fi adapters. This type of funding is ill-advised given TiVo’s fading pastime in DVR.

Illustrated underneath are some fashionable whole-home DVR choices that resolve each issues.


tablodrawing Jared Newman / IDG

Right here’s the most straightforward technique to describe Nuvyyo’s Tablo DVRs: They’re whole-home DVRs that you just get entry to via your sensible TV or streaming participant. As a substitute of connecting at once in your TV, the Tablo streams video over Wi-Fi to the Tablo app, which you’ll be able to obtain on a variety of units.

With this means, there’s nearly no prohibit on the place you’ll be able to get entry to your DVR. And as the Tablo app is to be had on streaming gamers and sensible TVs, you don’t wish to transfer inputs to make use of different streaming products and services, reminiscent of Netflix or Disney+.

Relying on which Tablo style you purchase, on the other hand, it’s possible you’ll wish to provide your personal demanding pressure. Some fashions have interior garage integrated; others don’t.

Fireplace TV Recast

recastdrawing Jared Newman / IDG

The speculation in the back of Amazon’s Fireplace TV Recast DVR is equal to that of Tablo: It captures broadcast channels from an antenna, then streams the video to different units over your Wi-Fi community. Once more, it does no longer plug at once into your tv.

The an important distinction is that the Recast calls for a Fireplace TV tool to look at to your tv. Which may be a Fireplace TV Stick, a Fireplace TV Dice, or a Fireplace TV Version sensible tv. It’s incompatible with different streaming units reminiscent of Roku gamers or Apple TV.

At the upside, the Recast is deeply built-in with Fireplace TV in ways in which different over-the-air DVRs aren’t. You’ll be able to track to reside channels the use of Alexa voice instructions, as an example, and there’s a channel information constructed proper into the Fireplace TV menu gadget. It’s price bearing in mind in case you’re all-in at the Fireplace TV platform already.


airtvdrawing Jared Newman / IDG

Like Tablo and Amazon’s Fireplace TV Recast, AirTV streams broadcast TV to different units round the home. However this networked tuner places a novel spin at the whole-home over-the-air DVR thought.

As a substitute of supplying its personal app, AirTV integrates with the Sling TV app on Roku, Amazon Fireplace TV, Android TV, and Apple TV. In case you’re a Sling TV subscriber, that implies you’ll be able to get over-the-air and cable channels via a unmarried app and TV information.

Something to notice: Whilst the fundamental AirTV 2 tuner calls for you to glue an exterior demanding pressure, the lately introduced AirTV Any place has a 1TB pressure inbuilt.

Plex and Channels

hdhomerundrawing Jared Newman / IDG

Plex and Channels are necessarily homemade DVRs, the use of an HDHomeRun tuner to seize broadcast channels and a media server tool to file them. The server is usually a desktop pc, NAS field, Nvidia Defend TV Professional, or (in case you’re up for an extra problem) Raspberry Pi micro-computer. Like the opposite whole-home DVRs above, you’ll use a separate streaming tool to look at reside or recorded TV. (Plex additionally helps a number of different tuners but even so HDHomeRun.)

The setup is obviously extra laborious than the opposite choices I’ve described, in part as a result of there’s extra hardware concerned, and in part for the reason that HDHomeRun tuner calls for a stressed connection in your router. However each Plex and Channels are awesome at conserving the entire high quality of broadcast TV, they usually come up with extra flexibility over how and the place your recordings are saved. Channels DVR additionally has the facility to file positive reside streaming resources, so that you’re no longer simply restricted to what’s broadcasting over the air, and Plex supplies a full-blown media server that may circulate your own track, film, TV display collections to different units round the home. Those further options lead them to nice choices for energy customers.

Remember that HDHomeRun does be offering its personal DVR carrier, which is able to run at once on its Scribe and Servio tuners and not using a separate media server tool. It’s no longer just about as polished or tough as Plex or Channels, although.


streamingdrawing Jared Newman / IDG

A commonplace false impression in cord-cutting is that you want this kind of answers within the first position. Whilst an over-the-air DVR can give you so much to look at at a low price, it’s infrequently the one technique to reduce the wire.

Are living TV streaming products and services reminiscent of YouTube TV, Hulu + Are living TV, and Sling TV all be offering bundles of channels past what you’ll be able to recover from the air, they usually all come with their very own cloud-based DVR products and services. In the meantime, standalone streaming products and services like Netflix, Amazon Top, and Disney+ be offering massive catalogs of on-demand video, rendering DVR redundant.

So don’t depression if over-the-air DVR turns out too difficult or in case you’re not able to obtain broadcast channels from an antenna. It’s only one means amongst many.

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