Top OTA DVR Options for Cutting the Cord
August 20, 2023

Top OTA DVR Options for Cutting the Cord

Cable and Satellite Alternative: OTA DVRs

Cable and satellite TV can be expensive, but there's an affordable alternative that lets you watch TV for free. If you live in an area with good over-the-air reception, you can install a TV antenna to cut the cord and access free TV channels. To enhance your experience, you can pair the antenna with an OTA DVR, which allows you to pause live TV, save shows for later, and fast-forward through commercials. Some DVRs even let you stream your recorded content to multiple TVs or when you're away from home.

While the upfront cost of an antenna DVR is not entirely free, it is still cheaper compared to cable TV or live TV-streaming services like Hulu Plus Live TV or YouTube TV. Even the most expensive antenna DVR will pay for itself over time.

NextGen TV and Future Updates

It's important to note that the NextGen TV, the next version of the ATSC broadcast standard, is now available in over 60% of homes. This new standard promises visuals in up to 4K resolution and interactive features. However, it is uncertain if current DVRs will meet the newest requirements. As NextGen TV is not expected to be fully implemented until 2024, we will cover such DVRs in a future update.

Best OTA DVR Options

When it comes to cord-cutting digital video recorders, there are three standout OTA DVR products to consider: the AirTV 2, TiVo Edge for antenna, and Nuvyyo Tablo Quad. Each has its own unique features and capabilities, but the one I recommend for beginners and experienced users alike is the TiVo Edge for antenna. It may have a higher price tag, especially with the lifetime OTA DVR service, but it offers a wide range of features and streaming apps packaged with TiVo's user-friendly interface.

The AirTV 2 is a more budget-friendly option that works without incurring a monthly charge. However, it is designed to complement a Sling TV subscription and requires an external hard drive to function as a DVR. If you want pause functionality, upgrading to the AirTV Anywhere, which includes an onboard 1TB hard drive, is worth considering.

The Tablo Quad is the latest version of the popular cord-cutting DVR and offers a wide range of features, including four tuners and internal storage. It is controlled through the Tablo app, but a subscription is required to access many of its features.

Set-top vs. Networked TV Streamer

There are two main types of OTA DVR options: traditional set-top DVRs and networked TV streamers. The TiVo Edge for antenna is a set-top DVR, which also offers in-home streaming. It is best for those who primarily watch on a single TV. On the other hand, the AirTV 2 and Tablo Quad are networked TV streamers, which allow you to watch on multiple devices. These streamers are more flexible and can better complement live TV streaming apps or services like Netflix.

Additional Features to Consider

Regardless of the type of OTA DVR you choose, there are some key features to look for:

  • Two or more HD tuners for simultaneous recording and viewing
  • 1TB or more of storage for storing programs
  • The ability to add extra storage via USB or SD card
  • A 14-day program guide for easy scheduling
  • No ongoing fees to save money

Consider these features when selecting the best OTA DVR for your needs.