Best OTA DVR: 5 Options for Cord Cutters

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Have you cut the cord from the cable company and decided that livestreaming TV services aren’t worth the cost?

You may be able to get all the entertainment you need with an over-the-air antenna.

Money expert Clark Howard has long recommended an antenna as a free way to access your local television broadcasts. And an OTA DVR is a tool that will help you enjoy that content on demand and on your own terms.

These devices require a significant upfront investment, with top options priced in excess of $200! Still, that can save you money versus a cable or streaming TV bill over the long term. But since you’re paying upfront, you’ll want to make sure you’re making a smart purchase that will last a long time.

In this article, Team Clark will walk you through some of the reasons you might want to purchase an OTA DVR to enhance your antenna content viewing. We’ll also take a look at some of the features and costs of some options on the market.


Table of Contents


What Is an OTA DVR?

An OTA DVR is a device that you purchase to record free, live content that you’re receiving via an antenna.

OTA stands for “over-the-air” which is a term that is often used for the “old-fashioned” way of watching TV via antenna.

But what may have once been considered old-fashioned is back in style for consumers who are looking to slash their entertainment budgets in 2022 and beyond.

Thanks to the technology of an OTA DVR, cord cutters now can rely solely on free content collected via antenna and then watched on demand via hard drive storage. No need for a cable, satellite or streaming TV subscription.

Tablo, which is one of the brands we recommend considering for an OTA DVR, makes the pitch for using this type of technology in this video.

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How Does an OTA DVR Work?

Tablo illustration on OTA DVR
Tablo illustration

So getting free content on a DVR platform sounds good, but just how complicated is this process?

No matter which device you choose, you need to start with an antenna strong enough to pull in good reception on all of the channels you want that are broadcast over your local airwaves. Team Clark primes you with some things to know about purchasing an antenna.

Once you have an antenna in place and a TV capable of tuning these channels in HD, you’re ready for an OTA DVR.

You’ll connect your antenna and television to the OTA DVR. The antenna will bring the content to the OTA DVR, which will then automatically record and collect your desired content for on-demand consumption.

Based on your needs and the functionality of your device, you’ll be able to record more than one channel at once and may have ways to watch multiple recordings concurrently on different devices with your in-home Wi-Fi.

Much like the cable or streaming DVR functionality, these OTA DVR devices generally allow you to pause, rewind and fast forward recorded content.

For an example of how this works, check out this video from TiVO on setting up its EDGE product for home use.


5 OTA DVR Options Worth Considering

There are several OTA DVR products on the market, and the prices vary based on the capabilities of the device. Key elements include storage space, app compatibility, number of TV tuners, concurrent stream options and internet connectivity.

Thanks to the help of our Clark.com community members and some research of our own, we’ve compiled a list of OTA DVR devices that may be good options for your household.

Note: Team Clark did not test these devices for this article. The list below is a collection of suggestions to get the ball rolling as you pick the best option for your streaming goals.

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Silicondust HDHomeRun Scribe 4K

Silicondust HDHomeRun Scribe 4K

Price: $240 on Amazon as of August 2022
Website: HDHomeRun Scribe 4K
Things to Know:

  • You can record up to four shows at once.
  • You can store 150 hours of HD content on the included 1 TB hard drive.
  • You can watch and record TV on multiple devices simultaneously throughout your home with the multi-room tuner solution.

Tablo Quad DVR

Table Quad OTA DVR

Price: $172 on Amazon as of August 2022
Website: Tablo Quad OTA DVR
Things to Know:

  • You can stream or record up to four live OTA TV channels at once.
  • Does not include hard drive. You’ll need to purchase separately.
  • Tablo offers an upgraded experience through its subscription service.

Amazon Fire TV Recast

Amazon Fire Recast

Price: $280 on Amazon as of August 2022
Website: Amazon Fire TV Recast
Things to Know:

  • You can record up to four shows at once.
  • You can store up to 150 hours of HD programming with the included 1 TB hard drive.
  • You can stream your content on all connected Fire TV devices, and you can utilize the Alexa voice command.
  • NOTE: It was recently announced that Amazon will discontinue the production of this product, so you may want to grab one while supplies last.

TiVo EDGE for Antenna

TiVo Edge OTA DVR

Price: $200 on TiVo’s website as of August 2022
Website: TiVo EDGE
Things to Know:

  • You can record up to two shows at once and store up to 75 HD hours on the hard drive.
  • The device includes TiVo’s signature SkipMode which skips entire commercial breaks with one tap.  
  • A Premium TiVo subscription is required; it starts at $6.99 per month.

AirTV 2

AirTV 2 OTA DVR

Price: $100 on AirTV website as of August 2022
Website: AirTV 2
Things to Know:

  • You can record up to two shows at a time and set series recordings with local channel DVR.
  • There’s no hard drive included. You’ll have to purchase that separately for storage.
  • You can use the Sling app to watch your local channels on supported streaming devices, but a Sling subscription is not required.

Do-It-Yourself Cloud DVR Options

If you don’t want the large upfront expense of an OTA DVR with hard drive-based storage, you could instead seek to store your recorded content on a cloud DVR platform.

This process usually involves routing your antenna and tuner through your home computer and then paying for that data to be stored on a cloud-based service.

Plex, which offers a free streaming service that we’ve reviewed, has a subscription service called the Plex Pass that helps you accomplish this. The service starts at $4.99 per month (plus the cost of your antenna and tuner), but you can opt for an annual or “lifetime” subscription for long-term savings.

If you’re using streaming services, PlayOn is another popular subscription option for recording content, aggregating it in one place and then watching it on your devices at a later time.


Final Thoughts

For many consumers, free streaming TV services may be the first step in cutting the cord and freeing yourself from a monthly bill. Major providers including Amazon (Freevee), Roku (The Roku Channel), CBS/Paramount (Pluto TV) and FOX (Tubi TV) already provide high-quality shows, movies, live news and even some live sports for free.

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But if you’re missing access to your local news, the big football game or your favorite network drama, having a strong antenna in your home can help fulfill your entertainment needs without a monthly bill.

Once you’re committed to the over-the-air plus free streaming TV lifestyle, you may decide that an OTA DVR is the next step.

And while you’ll definitely see an upfront cost to acquire one of these, it’s reasonable to expect that it could help you save money versus a cable or streaming bill to access cloud DVR over the long term.

There are many Clark listeners and readers who have dabbled in the OTA DVR marketplace. We asked them to share their experiences in the Clark.com community.

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