Right here’s the laborious reality for cord-cutters proper now: The best over-the-air DVR doesn’t exist. And if you happen to’re on the fence about even needing one, it is best to learn the June 22 installment of Cord Cutter Confidential.

Whereas some merchandise are higher than others, all of them—from Tablo and TiVo to Channel Grasp DVR+ and HDHomeRun with Plex—have a minimum of one essential weak spot. If you wish to file broadcast TV channels from an antenna, you have to determine which of these weaknesses you’ll tolerate.

The excellent news is that the lowly antenna is experiencing a rebirth, and we’re prone to see extra over-the-air DVR merchandise later in 2017 and past. However if you wish to begin recording broadcast channels now, right here’s a rundown of the place the present merchandise stand.

This story was up to date on October 10, 2017 so as to add our assessment of the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB. Whereas it is tremendous cheap (just $29.99 at Amazon), we finally did not discover it to be a ok worth to advocate it.

The perfect OTA DVR for many cord-cutters

The recent introduction of the Tablo Dual DVR, with its 64GB of inner storage, hasn’t modified our opinion that the older Tablo DVR is your best option for most individuals. This whole-home resolution streams recordings to almost any linked gadget. Plug in an exterior laborious drive and an antenna, then join the Tablo field to your community over Wi-Fi or ethernet, and you’ll stream dwell or recorded TV by means of the Tablo app on telephones, tablets, computer systems, media streamers, and sensible TV.

Tablo is straightforward to arrange, has broad gadget assist, and gives widespread DVR capabilities similar to dwell TV time-shifting and catching up with recordings in progress. Better of all, you by no means have to change inputs from the streaming field you’re already utilizing. These pluses assist compensate for Tablo’s sometimes-inferior recording high quality, lack of granular recording choices, and occasional glitches.

The perfect OTA DVR for only one TV

The TiVo Roamio OTA feels a bit like a relic of the cable period, with its clunky distant management and infrequently complicated interface. Nonetheless, it’s a robust four-tuner DVR with helpful ad-skipping options, and it consists of lifetime DVR service in its $400 worth. It additionally ties into a number of main streaming companies similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, placing all recorded and streaming episodes of a given present right into a single menu. Nonetheless, many more recent streaming companies are absent—together with channel bundles like Sling TV—and including whole-home or out-of-home DVR requires expensive add-ons. It’s a troublesome promote you probably have multiple tv at dwelling.

Greatest OTA DVR for energy customers

HDHomeRun (we advocate the Prolong mannequin for its h.264 transcoder) is a networked TV tuner that connects to your router and turns into a whole-home DVR when used together with Plex Media Server. (The setup is a bit convoluted, as you want an always-on PC, NAS box, or Nvidia Shield TV for recordings, however video high quality is great, and Plex’s recording choices are multitudinous.

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