When the Xbox One first launched in 2013, there was talk of the console being able to integrate with your over-the-air TV tuner. A year and a half later, the Xbox One’s software has been updated for watching over-the-air broadcasts. So, cable cutters rejoice! The Xbox One is now the ultimate media center for your living room.
To get started, you’ll need a compatible OTA TV tuner like the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One, which retails for just $59. However, you’ll also need an antenna — a compatible Mohu Antannae retails for about $70. The Microsoft Store is offering a bundle which includes both items for $99, and that will save you about $30. But before investing in these accessories, we wholeheartedly recommend going here to see what free OTA channels are available in your area. That said, while testing in Manhattan, we were able to pick up 63 channels!
We also wholeheartedly recommend investing in the Xbox One Media Remote. This remote control costs just $24 on Amazon and is a lot more convenient than using the controller for media-centric tasks. The remote also features motion-activated backlit buttons that allow you to use the remote in the dark. Once you’ve set up the remote, the remote is able to control both your TV and Xbox One, so that it will be able to conveniently power your TV on and off too.
Aside from the guide, you can pause up to 30 minutes of live TV and even watch TV on the right side of your screen while playing games using the Xbox One’s Snap feature. You can also use Kinect voice controls to bring up your favorite channels.
The Xbox Glass app also comes into play here. Using the Xbox Glass app you can pause live TV and stream live TV around your home. Because the Xbox Glass app is available on most smartphone platforms, you’ll be watching live TV on your iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or Windows Phone in no time.
Our biggest gripe with the OTA experience is that there is no DVR support. This is a real shame, since the Xbox One seems like it would be a perfect fit for recording TV shows with its large built-in hard drive.
With the addition of over-the-air TV tuner compatibility, the Xbox One has become the ultimate media streamer and all-in-one entertainment system for your living room — especially for cable cutters. And as if the Xbox One wasn’t already popular with college students, the Xbox One has even more usefulness in a dorm room where most students don’t have access to cable TV.
So, even if you’re not a serious gamer, you’ll want to consider the Xbox One. Sure, it’s more expensive than a Roku or Apple TV, but it’s also a lot more powerful than those little streamers. Heck, it can even transcode MKV files, which is something those other small streamers just can’t do. The Xbox One also offers dedicated storage of up to 1 TB built in. And at the rate that Microsoft rolls out Xbox updates, we’re confident that the experience will keep getting better and better. The good news is that price for the Xbox One has recently dropped, making it even more enticing.
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The Good: Easy to set up, helps you get rid of your cable for good, One Guide is sleek, lets you pause live TV, lets you stream TV to your phone or tablet, switching to your favorite channels can be done with Kinect voice commands
The Bad: Between the cost of the Xbox One and the TV Tuner plus antennae – the entire package is pricey, missing DVR support