Microsoft is doing its part to help people cut the cable TV cord with an official Xbox One TV tuner for U.S. broadcast channels.
The $60 tuner is manufactured by Hauppauge, and plugs into the Xbox One via USB. Users can then hook up an over-the-air antenna for watching live TV channels through the console. Microsoft is also bundling the tuner with a Mohu Leaf 50 antenna for $100, for a savings of $30.
Going through the Xbox brings some benefits that you might not get by plugging an antenna directly into the television. The console provides a full channel guide, and can pause or rewind up to 30 minutes of live programming. It can also stream the video to phones, tablets, and computers on the same W-Fi network using Microsoft’s Smartglass apps for iOS, Android, and Windows. Kinect users can also change channels using voice commands. (Full-blown DVR support is rumored for later this year.)
Microsoft first announced TV tuner support last month, letting Xbox Preview members test the new features with Hauppauge’s existing WinTV-HVR-955Q tuner. The new tuner is functionally the same, but has some Xbox branding on it and is $20 cheaper.
If you’d rather not spend $60, MediaSonic’s $35 HomeWorx HW180STB box lets you tap into the channel guide and works with Kinect voice commands, but it doesn’t support SmartGlass streaming or time-shifting of live video.
Why this matters: At $350, the Xbox One still isn’t going to make sense for cord-cutters that don’t have any interest in gaming. But for gamers, the console is starting to look like a complete solution. Between over-the-air channels, streaming apps such as Netflix, and the $20 per month Sling TV service, it’s possible to get plenty of entertainment for much less than the cost of cable TV.