One of the toughest things about giving up cable or satellite TV service is the loss of a provided DVR. For many, a DVR’s treasure trove of stored shows and ability to pause and resume programs at will have become staples of home entertainment. While streaming services provide immediate accessibility to specific programming, the ability to record live television using an antenna is basically lost unless the cord cutter invests in a new DVR solution for the home. Luckily, there exists plenty of OTA DVR options for any home theater, and advancements in this category even allow users to watch recorded shows on smartphones or tablets, too.
Perhaps the best reason to switch to an OTA DVR system is the ability to dodge additional hardware fees typically associated with monthly cable or satellite bills. Companies like Time Warner Cable or Comcast charge customers approximately $10 each month for the priveledge of housing their DVR boxes in a customer’s home; to us, this feels like wasted money. To help you save some scratch each month, and to put those ten spots to good use, we’ve put together a list of our favorite over-the-air DVRs, perfect for the both the veteran or budding cord cutter.
Despite having close ties with cable companies like Comcast, TiVo decided to dabble in the world of cable cutting with this impressive OTA DVR. Available for a mere $50 — plus a $15/month subscription for added goodies — TiVo’s Roamio OTA is the most affordable over-the-air DVR on the market. The box records and captures free broadcast HD signals while also offering users access to various streaming apps like Netflix, Spotify, Hulu Plus, and Pandora. TiVo outfitted the Roamio with four tuners as well as 500GB of built-in storage capable of storing up to 75 hours of recorded HD programming. Further, the box’s software allows users to search through all compatible VOD service’s libraries at the same time; a gigantic plus for those uninterested in the tedious process of searching each service individually. Comprehensive and affordable, TiVo’s Roamio OTA is the cream of this crop of DVRs.
Though it touts a steep initial price of $300 — or $180 for the 2-tuner version — Nuvyyo’s Tablo DVR gives cord-cutters everything they need to ditch cable and not look back. After the Tablo’s quick and easy setup process, users need to just input a zip code and the box begins to scan and register all available OTA channels like NBC, FOX, ABC, PBS, etc. Access to streaming hardware like a Roku box or an Apple TV prove the perfect companion for piping Tablo’s streams to a TV, as the box itself doesn’t support HDMI connections. Don’t let this steer you away however, most OTA DVRs come standard with no HDMI port. For those looking for added benefits, Nuvyyo offers a subscription-based service for the Tablo — $5/month, $50/year, or $150/lifetime — which provides users with TV guide data, series info, and the ability to record by series.
If the bells and whistles of other OTA DVR’s has you confused, look no further than Channel Master’s DVR+. Its clean, matte black finish accentuates its sleek, thin style, allowing it to fit anonymously anywhere inside an entertainment center or grouped with other systems in a media closet. While it lacks an interactive interface and the ability to watch recorded shows on mobile devices, the device also lacks a monthly subscription fee, meaning users need not shell out much additional dough to improve their viewing experience. Factor in the price of additional storage space, as the device’s built-in storage allows for around two hours of recorded HD programming. Channel Master’s DVR+ is the perfect companion for those looking for an easy-to-use and simple OTA DVR.
The Simple.TV 2 rounds out our favorite OTA DVRs, and its feature list looks strikingly similar to the other boxes we’ve spotlighted. After setting up the Simple.TV 2, users have the ability to record up to two of their favorite sporting events, news programs, or network TV shows at the same time. Members of the Premier Subscription — $60/year or $150/lifetime — get to enjoy added functionality such as having the option to record entire series’ automatically, or having remote access to recordings around the globe. When it comes time to watch the recordings, the Simple.TV 2 streams to devices like Google Chromecast, Roku, Plex, or Apple TV. Its compact build allows it to fit nicely among other media devices in your living room, and the box itself features Ethernet, USB, and Dual ATSC tuner inputs on the back.