Do you demand an over-the-air DVR with a wealthy program information, automated series-based recordings, a silky-smooth interface, and whole-home streaming options? If not, the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB is likely to be the DVR for you.

This $35 field—billed primarily as an analog-to-digital converter—has not one of the subtle options you’d discover in different options, such because the Tablo and TiVo Roamio OTA. The menu system is clunky and sometimes complicated, there’s no simple solution to resolve scheduling conflicts, and even some widespread duties like weekday-only repeat recordings are a chore.

However at $35 with no subscription charges, it’s among the many least expensive options you’ll discover for recording free broadcast TV channels. And since the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB shops its recordings to exterior arduous drives in a format that Home windows acknowledges, PC house owners can seize their recordings to observe on-the-go. Simply be ready to wince by means of each a part of the method.

Maintaining it guide

The Homeworx is bigger than most streaming TV bins, however smaller than a TiVo or a typical cable field. Plug any antenna into it, then plug it right into a tv through HDMI or composite video output, and you can begin watching dwell broadcast channels. Connecting an exterior USB arduous drive allows the recording features.

Jared Newman / TechHive

The Homeworx has HDMI and composite outputs for each your latest and oldest TVs.

An included infrared distant management requires line-of-sight to the field, and is loaded with buttons for issues just like the channel checklist, programming information, channel recall, and playback controls. But it may’t study any TV controls similar to quantity or energy, so that you’ll nonetheless have to maintain a second distant useful.

The Homeworx software program itself does little to information you alongside, so it’s your job to both seek the advice of the directions or determine issues out. For the programming information, info comes straight from the airwaves, which usually means the information will be sluggish to load and you may’t see greater than a day’s value of programming at a time. (Extra superior DVRs are inclined to pay for information knowledge from on-line suppliers similar to Rovi, passing the price onto customers although subscription charges.)

mediasonic1 Jared Newman / TechHive

The Homeworx makes use of over-the-air knowledge to energy its crude channel information.

From the information, you may choose any program for recording, mentioning a menu for tweaking begin and finish occasions, and establishing day by day or weekly repeat recordings. You may as well open a separate menu to create new recordings manually. There’s no simple solution to set weekday-only recordings for information and discuss exhibits, although, so the one workaround is to schedule 5 separate weekly recordings for every day. In any other case, you would possibly run into scheduling conflicts with weekend programming. Talking of which, the Homeworx affords no conflict-management options in any respect, so that you’re by yourself to maintain monitor of overlapping recording classes.

mediasonic2 Jared Newman / TechHive

Recording choices are restricted on the Homeworx DVR.

Time-shifting for dwell TV is equally clunky, however useful. Urgent pause or the file button on the distant enters time-shift mode, which takes about 10 seconds to initialize. The gadget doesn’t file video for time-shifting mechanically, so until you keep in mind to set it up, you may’t rewind to observe one thing you missed. You can also’t entry this system information or channel checklist whereas time-shifting or recording is in progress.

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