While you can get away with plugging your HDTV antenna directly into your TV, a separate tuner opens so many more possibilities. A tuner adds some estimated costs, but also a great advantage for cord cutters.
Your TV (probably) has a built-in tuner, but with an external tuner you can divide the signal from the antenna to a number of different channels. Different models of external tuners have different numbers of individual internal tuners and this indicates the number of simultaneous streams it can handle.
For example, if you have a four-tuner model, you can watch four different channels on four different screens ̵
Tuners will connect to your home network with Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and the tuner manufacturer will offer an application to watch live stream on most platforms. Some tuners have hard drives built-in to record, or you can record directly to your Plex server .
HDHomeRun Connect Quatro ($ 150)
This unit has four tuners inside, just as the "quatro" name suggests. It has a coaxial connector for connection to your antenna and an Ethernet jack to connect to your home network. I have personally used this tuner to record and stream live TV with Plex, and it started immediately. If you do not have a Plex subscription, HDHomeRun has a live TV app for every platform that can be thought of, as well as a website. However, if you want to use their software as a DVR, you need to be warned that there is a $ 35 subscription fee per year that includes both their multi-platform software and a TV guide type system. A Plex Pass will lead you to $ 40 a year or $ 120 for lifetime subscriptions and many prefer their live TV interface and recording system.
Connect Quatro is currently bundled with a 30-mile OTA antenna, but it will work with any antenna. The configuration is a wind: plug in the coaxial cable from the antenna, connect it to the network, put it into power and let it scan your channels. It is!
Amazon Fire TV Recast ($ 230- $ 280)
If you are on the Amazon ecosystem (or Echo system, if you like) The recast will be a natural fit in your home. Four TV Recast comes with either two tuners and a 500 GB hard drive (good for 75 hours of recording), or four tuners and a 1 TB hard drive (good for 150 hours). There is a difference of $ 50 between the two, which is not trivial, but it is also not an unreasonable amount to give you some extra capacity.
The real magic comes when you use Fire TV Recast with other Amazon products. You can stream your live TV feed to a tablet or phone with the Fire TV app, any physical fire TV or an ecotillis. You can use Alexa to search for the view, open the channel guide, and schedule your recordings. Not sure if an Amazon-only external tuner is for you?
Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder ($ 195)
Tablo products are great if you want it to record directly to your own hard drive without using Plex . This unit has four tuners inside and includes two USB-A 2.0 ports for connecting to an external hard drive. There is also an Ethernet port for streaming to all of your devices, as well as Wi-Fi if you can't drive Ethernet to your antenna.
You can save your recordings to your external hard drives and then look at them from the Tablo app available on most platforms. Tablo allows you to automatically skip commercials while playing a recording, so you don't have to touch trying to scrub yourself.
Hauppage WintTV-DualHD USB TV Receiver ($ 70)
If you make all your live TV recording and streaming through your Plex server or another dedicated computer, you do not have to worry about getting a tuner with network functionality. This Hauppage model plugs into an extra USB port on your computer and has two tuners inside so you can watch two programs, record two or watch for a while while recording another.
The tuner is a bit bulky compared to other USB accessories, so when I had a similar model, I pair the tuner with one of those USB extension cables . The tuner still worked perfectly, and I didn't have to worry about my other USB ports being blocked.
Hauppage WinTV-quadHD-PCI Express TV Receiver Card ($ 100)
This product moves your tuner hardware for an external dongle to an internal PC component, as long as you have an extra PCI Express port (PCIe) on your computer's motherboard This also has four tuners inside, so you watch or record two more shows than the USB model.The tuner gets all the power it needs from the PCIe site, so you don't have to worry about connecting it to your computer's power supply. 19659003] The tuner works perfectly with Plex, but the driver installation is a little careful, and you have to install the drivers manually after downloading them from Hauppage's website .
None of these tuners are cheap, but the money you save each month on your cable bill quickly pays for the cost of the hardware. Just pair it with a quality antenna and enjoy your shows!