Best OTA DVR CordCutters 2020
Just because you decided to cut the cord and go with an over-the-air antenna doesn't mean that you shouldn't be able to record your favorite TV shows. Thankfully there are some great options out there to help you not only tune into your OTA channels but also record them for later watching. One of the best is the TiVo BOLT OTA which stands out for its inclusion of four to six tuners, built-in storage, and a plethora of features to make watching your shows a joy. Check out the full breakdown of the TiVo BOLT OTA, as well as some other options that may fit your particular needs.
- Best Overall: TiVo BOLT OTA
- Best for Fire TV users: Amazon Fire TV Recast
- Best All-In-One for Power Users: HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro
- Best Budget: Tablo Dual LITE
Best Overall: TiVo BOLT OTA
When it comes to DVR's, TiVo is one of the first consumer digital video recorders, and it continues to lead the charge in that category. The BOLT OTA is available in two configurations — 4 tuners and 500GB of storage or a 6 tuner and 1TB of storage. The TiVo BOLT OTA has so many features and is going to be appealing to someone leaving cable that's new to cord-cutting or a long time cord-cutter.
There's SkipMode for bypassing commercials, QuickMode that plays shows 30% faster while maintaining the correct audio pitch, and OnePass the gather up all available episodes of a show for the binge sessions. Along with great hardware and included features, there's also support for 4K, HDR, as well as DOLBY ATMOS for fantastic video and sound. Home networking comes built-in for up to 10 boxes supported while also offering mobile viewing too.
The BOLT OTA also integrates streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and more into your guide, even putting a dedicated Netflix button on the remote. TiVo does require a service plan for the guide and recording features that are available in three different options — monthly, annual, or lifetime.
- Support for 4K, HDR, and DOLBY ATMOS
- Voice Remote
- Lots of viewing features
- Integrates OTA and streaming services
- Monthly fee required
- A bit pricey upfront
Ready out of the box
For the best looking and sounding OTA content and well-done hardware as well as software, the TiVo BOLT OTA has it in the bag.
Best for Fire TV Users: Amazon Fire TV Recast
In terms of streaming devices, the Fire TV line-up from Amazon are some of the best, and when you combine that with a fully integrated OTA DVR, you've got a pretty great setup. With the Fire TV Recast, Amazon is making that setup a reality.
The Fire TV Recast comes in a 2 tuner and 500GB option as well as a 4 tuner and 1TB storage option for your DVR enjoyment. To view your OTA shows, a Fire TV streaming device is required. The streaming device and the Fire TV Recast communicate with each other wirelessly so that you can place the DVR and antenna where the best antenna reception is in your home.
Syncing the Fire TV Recast to your Fire TV lets you integrate OTA TV right into the Amazon ecosystem you are already familiar with. Now watch your local shows right alongside your Fire TV streaming shows.
- Smooth integration with Fire TV streaming
- No monthly fees
- Alexa enabled
- Lacks 4K and HDR
- Requires Fire TV streaming device to use
Best for Fire TV users
Alexa started it
For someone who is in the Fire TV world, it's hard to pass up the Fire TV Recast if you want OTA channel access.
Best All-In-One for Power Users: HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro
HDHomeRun devices from SiliconDust have an appeal to many cord-cutters due to their broad product line, expansive features, and as a more carte blanche approach separate from TiVo and Amazon. The HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro is the one to get if you are someone who wants lots of tuners, 4, and wants their DVR to have built-in storage, 1TB.
The HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro also integrates very well into Plex. Plex has a shortlist of OTA receivers that work with its server system, so the Scribe Quatro is a perfect option if you are a Plex user. You'll be able to see your OTA channels right alongside the rest of your Plex library for a seamless experience.
The Scribe Quatro also has a free service plan for viewing your guide, recordings, and other essential DVR functions. However, should you want to access all the features like 14-day channel guides, scheduling out recordings, recording an entire season of your shows, etc., then you will need to pay for the annual plan.
- Plex server integration
- Four tuners and 1TB of onboard storage
- Mobile viewing
- Subscription isn't required
- Service plan is needed for expanded features
- Doesn't integrate with other streaming services
- Software isn't quite as polished as Amazon and TiVo's
Best All-In-One for Power Users
Give me the control
Onboard storage, four tuners, and integration with a Plex library make this the perfect DIY'ers OTA DVR — with the subscription.
Best Budget: Tablo Dual LITE
If you really want to a simple way to get into streaming your free over-the-air channels but want to do it on a budget — then the Tablo Dual LITE is the way to go. Instead of connecting to your TV through an HDMI cable, the Tablo Dual LITE connects to your home network/Wi-Fi so you can stream it over your internet-connected devices. This can be a smart TV, tablet, phone, a Chromecast, or many others.
The Tablo Dual LITE has access to Tablo's cloud-based DVR, with that you'll get 64GB of recording space. This also means that your recordings are anywhere you are, although you can plug in USB hard drive storage — up to 8TB — to record shows for future watching. There are two-tuners onboard for pulling in signals as well as an included automatic commercial skipping when paying for a subscription.
There are some basic DVR features included for free, but options like a 14-day channel guide, cover art, filters, out-of-home viewing, and others a subscription will be needed. There are three different subscriptions — monthly, annual, or lifetime.
- 64GB cloud storage and up to 8TB of USB hard drive storage
- Easy access to recordings anywhere
- Automatic commercial skipping with a subscription
- Subscription required to access DVR away from home
- Only two tuners
- No access to recordings without internet
It's in the cloud
Cloud stored recordings, low-cost of entry, and simple access to your TV is where the Table Dual LITE shines.
When it comes to ditching cable and going into the world of streaming services and pulling in your OTA channels, things can get a bit daunting — especially if you are someone who enjoys recording your shows for later watching. The best option for putting all of those options into a cohesive guide, while also giving the features you may be used to from cable or satellite providers, is the TiVo BOLT OTA.
The TiVo BOLT OTA blends your streaming services and your OTA channels together for easy navigation either by manual buttons on the remote or using your voice. With up to six tuners, you'll never have to choose between what shows to record, especially when you have up to 1TB of built-in storage. Sure, there is a fee to get access to some of the features, but TiVo offers some innovative features with SkipMode and QuickMode.
With the inclusion of 4K UHD, HDR, and DOLBY ATMOS, your favorite shows will always look and sound their best. You can even take your shows with you and watch them on your phone or tablet when you're away from home. All of this wrapped up in a unique looking package gets you a complete DVR experience for your over the air TV.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech. Living in the rural midwest with his wife and two young boys can make finding ways to stay connected with all the gadgets and streaming services difficult, but it's a welcomed challenge. Bring it on
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