Record Your Favorite Shows With an OTA DVR

Most of us live busy lives and may not be home in time to watch our favorite TV shows. If you have an over the air antenna you can record many television shows using an OTA DVR. It is an excellent way to record free HD television and then watch it in your spare time. There are several types of OTA DVR’s available on the market. We will look at some of the best and compare what may be a good solution for you.

What is an OTA DVR?

An over the air DVR is a device that will record a broadcast television show onto a hard drive or storage drive for later viewing. You can also rewind, pause and skip through commercials. Many OTA DVR’s allow you to schedule your recordings by show, date and time using their built-in electronic program guide.

OTA Antenna

The first step to recording over the air television is to buy an OTA antenna. You should check to see what channels are in your area first. This will give you an idea if buying an OTA antenna is worth it. In some cases, you may live too far away from the broadcast towers to receive any stations. You can use our handy Station Locator Tool to find out.

TV Station Locator Tool

Types of Over The Air DVR’s

TiVo BOLT 500 GB DVR

TiVo BOLT 500 GB DVR: Digital Video Recorder and Streaming Media Player - 4K UHD Compatible - Works with Digital Cable or HD Antenna

The TiVo BOLT 500 GB DVR is an excellent solution to recording OTA TV shows. TiVo was one of the pioneers of this technology. They developed one of the first DVR’s and then everyone else copied them. They still make quality products and their new BOLT DVR is no exception. The TiVo Bolt allows you to record 4 shows simultaneously with your OTA antenna. The base model will allow you to record up to 75 hours of HD content. If you need more storage you can always add an external hard drive or NAS unit. This box will also work with a cable television. Subscription fees may apply. It has integrated online streaming capabilities. So you can enjoy all of your streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Hulu and many more. This box is very powerful and is capable of playing 4K resolution videos.
Record Your Favorite Shows With an OTA DVR

Specifications:

  • Recording capacity: 75 HD hours
  • Hard drive size: 500 GB
  • Video output: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 4K UHD
  • Ethernet port: 1 0 / 1 0 0 / 1 0 0 0 Mbps
  • Coax connector
  • Optical audio out
  • Analog audio
  • HDMI: 4K UHD, 1080p (24/60)
  • External storage port (eSATA)
  • USB 2.0 ports: 2
  • CableCARD slot
  • Built-in WiFi (AC dual band, N, G, B, A)

Record Your Favorite Shows With an OTA DVR

  1. CableCARD Slot
  2. Remote Finder
  3. Coax (digital cable, ATSC, MoCA)
  4. Optical audio out
  5. Audio L/R
  6. HDMI 2.0 / 4K, 1080p 24/60)
  7. Ethernet port: 1 0 / 1 0 0 / 1 0 0 0 Mbps
  8. USB 2.0 ports (2)
  9. External storage port (eSATA)
  10. Power: 12V

Skip Mode

They have a great feature called skip mode that allows you to skip through recorded commercials with a single button. This is a helpful option if you hate having to wait for commercials.

Quick Mode

With quick mode, you can watch you’re recorded show up to 30% faster with pitch corrected audio. It will not sound funny at higher speeds. So you can fast forward through the slow parts of a show.

Search

The TiVo Bolt has excellent search capabilities. With their OneSearch option, you can search across several resources at once to find your favorite show. It will look online and on broadcast TV to see where the show is available for viewing.

Mobile Devices

Another cool feature is you can stream content right to your phone, computer or tablet through your wireless network. You can also download your recorded content to your device for later viewing.

Where to Buy:

The TiVo BOLT is available at these retailers.

Ebay:

Buy It At Ebay

Amazon:

TiVo Mini

TiVo Mini with IR/RF Remote - No Monthly Service Fees - Extends Your TiVo DVR

If you have more than one TV in the house you can add a TiVo Mini. The TiVo Mini acts like an extension of the BOLT. You can have access to all the features and recorded shows on another television without having to buy another BOLT. They are small and compact.

Record Your Favorite Shows With an OTA DVR

 

Channel Master Stream+

Android Boxes With Built in Tuners That Record Live TV

The Channel Master Stream+ integrates two OTA tuners to record and watch antenna broadcast signals. The Stream+ has a subscription-free live program and DVR guide, that makes viewing and recording your favorite TV show seamless. The Stream+ is capable of 4K and HD viewing. It is all powered by an Android operating system that also allows you to install just about any app, game or streaming service from the Google Play Store. The Channel Master Stream+ is a fully integrated media player for anyone looking to watch and record OTA broadcast TV and have the capability to stream many popular streaming apps.

Tech Specs

The Channel Master Stream+ technical specifications and features:

What is in the box:

  • Stream+
  • Quick Start Guide
  • IR/Bluetooth/Voice Remote
  • 2 – AAA Batteries
  • Power Supply
  • 1 Year Limited Hardware Warranty

Hardware and Software:

  • Quad-Core ARM Processor
  • Android Nougat 7.0
  • 4KP60 UHD 10-bit HEVC
  • HDR-10
  • SD or HD, Up to 1920 X 1080
  • 4kp50-60, UHD Up to 3840×2160
  • Integrated Voice Search
  • Two internal ATSC 1.0 tuners
  • Built-in Google Cast (Chromecast) functionality
  • Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital+ audio support

Connections:

  • RF Port (ATSC 1.0 Dual Tuner)
  • HDMI Port (2.0 with HDCP 2.2)
  • Optical Audio Port (SPDIF)
  • USB Port (USB3.0)
  • Ethernet Port (10/100BaseT)
  • MicroSD Port (U3 Required for DVR Capability up to 512GB)
  • Wireless 2.4 GHz /5 GHz WiFi
  • Dual Band 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1
For a more indepth look at the Channel Master Stream+ check out our article.

Where to Buy:

The Channel Master Stream+ is available at these retailers.

Channel Master:

Channel Master Stream+ OTA DVR and Streaming Box

Channel Master Stream+

 

Tablo TV OTA DVR

Tablo DUAL OTA DVR for Cord Cutters - 64 GB with WiFi - For use with HDTV Antennas

The Tablo TV OTA DVR works differently than a typical over the air DVR. It does not hook up to your HD television. This DVR is designed to record broadcast television onto an external USB hard drive and stream it to your media devices. You can push this content to just about any network connected device that has the Tablo TV app installed.

Record Your Favorite Shows With an OTA DVR

Want to know more about how the Tablo TV OTA DVR works. See our review here.

Digital Converter Box DVR

If you are looking for a simple and cheap solution for recording OTA content you can also use a digital converter box with a built-in DVR to record. They do not offer all the capabilities of these other DVR’s, but if you are looking for a basic solution it may be a good choice. You can see our article below:

How to Record Over The Air TV With a Digital Converter Box.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many options to record OTA TV with a DVR. You can take free broadcast television to the next level using one of these methods to watch and record your shows. These devices let you combine an OTA antenna, DVR and online streaming services into one box. It could be the only solution you may need.

May 2, 2018 0

Eliminate Over The Air Antenna Interference

Last updated: Monday, May 7, 2018I received an email from a reader last week with an interesting problem. Every time her friend turned on the lights in the living room she would lose 4 over the air antenna stations from her television. Once she turned off the lights the channels came back. It turns out that using certain types of LED light bulbs can cause interference with some frequencies. The LED pulses on and off at a very high frequency (beyond that which our eyes can perceive). This pulsing can create RF noise. If not shielded sufficiently, this RF noise can interfere with TV or radio signals. So I figured in this article, I would discuss what else can cause OTA antenna interference and how to eleviate it. OTA [...]
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About Johan
I started the site to educate the public on the alternative ways you can watch television besides subscribing to cable. I have been in the audio visual business for over 20 years. I also have an extensive computer networking background. I am a Microsoft Certified Professional and CompTIA Network+ Certified Technician. I hope you will find my articles and reviews helpful in conscious uncabling.

7 Comments

  1. A very helpful article. I have an OTA digital antenna and just bought a new UHD 4K TV with HDR. I was looking to purchase a Channel Master DVR+ to run with it. In this article, I saw in the DRV+ specs its HDMI output was 1.3a (with HDCP 1.3) The TV specs said I would need a HDMI cable of 2.0a (HDCP 2.2) to utilize all of the TV functions. So the questions are:
    1. Will the CM DRV+ even work with my new TV?
    2. If I don’t use the DVR+ can I just connect the cable directly into the TV or is it more advantageous to connect the cable to some box that supports a HDMI output of 2.0a (HDCP 2.2)and buy a HDMI cable and then connect to the TV? HELP!

    Jeff

    • The manufactures are really making a mess with this new HDCP 2.2 technology. It is used to prevent copyright content. The problem is it is not backward compatible. So you cannot use old HDMI standards with theses HDCP 2.2 inputs. Unfortunately, the Channel Master DVR+ does not support HDCP 2.2 so it will not work. The TiVo Bolt does support HDCP 2.2 so you may be better off using that as your OTA DVR. 4k is still a emerging technology. There is not a lot of content available yet in 4K. The other problem is all of the OTA broadcast tower signals are in either 720 or 1080. They do not plan on upgrading their signal to 4k anytime soon. It would be to costly. So you can’t watch 4k content anytime soon from an OTA signal. Some online providers like Netflix and You Tube have some 4k content, but it is also limited. You can watch 1080 content on your 4k TV. It may take some time till everyone makes the shift to 4K.

      • I just wanted to make a correction, HDCP 2.2 is backward compatible with older HDMI standards. It is not backward compatible when it comes to 4k content. So those inputs should work fine to display 1080 or 720 content. Just not when it comes to 4k content. Sorry for the confusion.

  2. I have a question..I’m about to cut my cable. $166.00 a month is just too costly. I now have Sling TV, but I’m never home to watch live TV, so I’m looking for something to record shows that I can watch later when I get home. Is there a DVR box that can record from Sling TV and how would i set it up?

  3. I’m looking for a DVR that will record and play back TV shows like a VCR would but WITHOUT Internet connection of any kind. Is there something out there that will do that? I was told the TiVo Bolt but after ordering it, found out that wasn’t the case.

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