Update: Microsoft has just released a cheaper, officially branded tuner that you can check out here to go along with the Xbox One antenna option. However, the one originally mentioned in this article will still work.
Microsoft recently announced that you’ll soon be able to get free live HD over-the-air (OTA) television on Xbox One in the U.S. and Canada (it’s currently only available to Xbox preview program members). That means all the big networks like FOX, NBC, ABC, and CBS, assuming you’re in range. Here’s what you’ll need to make it happen.
You’ll simply hook your antenna to the tuner, then the tuner to your console. Once connected, the OTA channels will be available on your Xbox One.
But Can’t You Get Free TV Already?
At first glance, you might be thinking…so what? Why would you want to buy an extra piece of equipment (the tuner) to connect your antenna to your Xbox One when you could just connect directly to your TV and get free TV that way?
Good question. That was my first reaction. But after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that this is kind of a big deal. Here are 5 reasons why being able to get live OTA channels with the Xbox One antenna option matters.
#1 You Get a Channel Guide
When you hook up your over the air antenna and tuner to your Xbox one, it will scan to find all available HD stations. Once this process is complete, the stations will populate your One Guide, giving you show times and descriptions. So rather than flipping through the stations to try and figure out what’s on like you’d normally do with your antenna, you can search the guide, which creates an experience very similar to cable.
#2 Pause Live Programming
One of the things missing with live OTA TV is the ability to pause shows (unless you have an OTA DVR like the Tablo). However, when you connect to your Xbox One, you can pause live programming for up to 30 minutes. This modern convenience is a must for anyone using an antenna to catch OTA TV.
#3 Stream to Your Mobile Devices
Typically, an antenna will only allow you to watch on the TV you have it hooked up to. However, when you run your antenna through the tuner and Xbox One, you can then stream live content to your mobile devices using the Smartglass app. So for example, if your kid is playing a video game in the living room, you can connect via your iPad and stream OTA TV simultaneously.
True you can directly wire your antenna to multiple TVs, but you can’t stream to mobile in that manner.
#4 Watch While You Play
The Snap feature on Xbox One allows you to do two things at once. How does the relate to your antenna? Well, say you’re playing a videogame, and you decide you want to watch your local pro football team play at the same time. You can pull up the broadcast in the corner and keep an eye on it while you continue to play.
#5 Have All Your Media in One Place
Perhaps the biggest benefit here is the fact that Xbox one pulls all your media streaming avenues together in one place. No longer do you need separate remotes for OTA TV, streaming services like Sling TV, and for your video games. All you need is your Xbox remote, and you can control it all at once.
Will Xbox One Work as a DVR?
No. As of right now, you will not be able to record and store OTA TV in the manner that say, Tablo does. However, it’s speculated that this feature will be coming soon. And why not? It seems the logical next step for Xbox One. But for now, we can only cross our fingers and hope.
Are There Other Ways to Watch Live OTA TV on Xbox One?
What you might not realize is that there is already a way to get live OTA TV to your Xbox One, but it’s not necessarily the official way. This can be accomplished with the MediaSonic HomeWorx HW180STB, a small converter box. Here’s a great article that shows you exactly how it’s done.
Should You Purchase Xbox One if You Don’t Have One?
This new option makes perfect sense for those who already own an Xbox One. But it seems like what Microsoft is really doing here is setting up Xbox One as a one-stop media center solution, even for those who don’t live and breathe video games.
In the future, when you purchase an Xbox One you’ll have a media center for all your streaming services plus free OTA HD TV. And oh yeah, you can play video games too if you want. All Xbox needs to do is add a way to store your recorded content.
Take a Sneak Peak
Here’s the video that goes into detail, letting you see exactly how it will work.
Need Help Cutting the Cord?
Whether you’re an Xbox One owner or not, you can rid yourself of the big cable companies once and for all. Check out my step-by-step guide for easy-to-follow instructions.
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