Xbox One DVR Looks Messy (but will be free)

Dave Zatz —  August 4, 2015

Xbox One’s media center capabilities continue to shift away from the original, but perhaps misguided, promise of HDMI pass-thru and IR control. After recently adding over-the-air HDTV tuning, and as foretold, Xbone will receive DVR capabilities in 2016.

Microsoft has been doing DVR longer than just about everyone, so I assume it’ll perform well — including functional requisites like season passes and premium like streaming or offloading features to feed Windows 10 and Android devices. Sadly, as this is something of a retrofit, both the OTA tuner and hard drive for recording will be USB appendages hanging off already bulky hardware. And there’s no talk (yet?) regarding the potential of CableCARD integration or other set-top endpoints like Roku. However, unlike the very fine Tablo OTA DVR, Xbox One will receive these capabilities fee-free and bring it to hardware many of us already own. With Sling TV and Netflix apps, the addition of OTA DVR may dramatically shift the dynamics for potential and existing cord cutters. TiVo Aereo, who?

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13 responses to Xbox One DVR Looks Messy (but will be free)

  1. Could we possibly see an integration of the Xbox One DVR with an ethernet-connected cable card tuner like a HD HomeRUN Prime?

  2. Technically, I’m sure it can be done. Especially with Xbox’s new Windows 10 underpinnings. It’s mainly a question of resources – does Microsoft think the potential audience is big enough to mess with. CableCARD will be replaced by something. Not sure it’s worth investing in now vs whatever’s coming down the pike.

    Probably could also use a more practical 2-tuner OTA USB accessory… I’d certainly be interested in an OTA networked device with more than one tuner, like Silicon Dust makes. Not only does it make the clutter more palatable, but I’d get to position it for better reception.

  3. As long as this remains a single tuner it’s mostly useless as a primary device.

  4. Meh. I’ve had Tivo since buying my Philips back in ’00 (expanded by AVForum’s Hinsdale back in the day), and having used a Series 3 for a while now, there’s only one instance when both tuners are in use — in the morning when I use them to put on two news shows so I can get the weather. With just one tuner via Xbox, I’d program it for one channel and watch the other via my TV’s own antenna. That’s how people did it back in the VCR days, and it worked just fine then.

    With all the streaming options available today (and torrents and account sharing if people really want to risk either of those), a OTA-focused DVR doesn’t need a second tuner at all. (Which likely explains the lack of “DVR” terminology that Tim noted in the Bolt thread yesterday.)

  5. UX vs $.

  6. Ugh. Brilliant timing, Microsoft. Kill off Windows Media Center in Windows 10 now but promise some sort of DVR on XBox One a year later? They really should do a better job transitioning customers without pissing them off.

  7. I’m curious why you think it’s “messy.” The OneGuide is a great experience (though it could benefit from the improvements announced today), and with this seamlessly integrating with that and offering streaming and offline playback, it sounds pretty slick. It’s not everything people want in a DVR yet (e.g., digital cable and multiple tuners), but it’s a good step.

  8. I agree. I am eager to get this next year. DVR, games, blu ray and streaming all in one. Plus offloading to Windows 10 (which I also like) for travel outside the home.

  9. This will definitely be a nice feature for many who primarily use streaming services. And eventually, when CableCards are software based, one would hope MS could include DVR for cable on the Xbox One.

    What I don’t understand is why this feature is only for the Xbox One. MS must be doing this as a Windows 10 app…why aren’t they also releasing this as an app for Windows 10 PC’s and tablets? At least then they’d have a real replacement for Windows Media Center. And I’d much rather put the DVR app on my PC than on Xbox One. Xbox One is just too unstable. I have to reboot frequently to get games to “unfreeze”, which would cause gaps in recordings if I’m using the DVR.

  10. Richard, messy in terms of buying and attaching two USB accessories (above and beyond my existing car-sized power brick;). Maybe we’ll see a smaller Xbone next year with some of this integrated? I’d trade up.

    Similarly, I think many would find a Roku with an integrated tuner and some DVR capabilities very interesting. Not sure if CEO Anthony Wood, who also presided over Replay TV, would backtrack on some previous proclamations to build such a thing.

  11. William C Bonner August 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I agree about the mess. I’ve used SiliconDust’s ethernet tuners for several years and like that they can be located somewhere other than my computer stack or tv stack.

  12. “Similarly, I think many would find a Roku with an integrated tuner and some DVR capabilities very interesting. Not sure if CEO Anthony Wood, who also presided over Replay TV, would backtrack on some previous proclamations to build such a thing.”

    Were I the King of Roku, I’m not sure I’d get within a mile of the mess of locally cached OTA. First, if I understand correctly, somewhere upwards of a third of the US can’t get decent OTA. Second, it doesn’t scale internationally. With all the hassles, why bother?

    The recent Federal District Court case that said an OTT service could offer an FCC-set minimum payment for OTA retransmission is the Roku-esque solution, if it gets upheld through higher Federal courts. Without that, OTA is determined to reside in less mass-market kludgey solutions, I do think.

  13. Bizzaro-world. Cable subs are down %.05 in the annually weak quarter, with prognostication of a 1% annual drop in the face of a continuing weak middle-class economy, and all the content companies dropped 10% in an hour on the news.

    Not an investor in the sector, but I’d buy the drop here, no?