The Xbox One is supposed to be the ultimate living room hub, but Microsoft left one important entertainment feature out of its console: a digital TV tuner for receiving over-the-air broadcasts. The company corrected that deficit for select European Xbox One fans last August, but U.S. users were left searching for workarounds using compatible but unofficially supported devices.
Today, Microsoft announced it will partner with US manufacturer Hauppauge to create a TV tuner for U.S. and Canadian users. There’s no word on a specific release date, but Microsoft says in “the next few months” you’ll be able to buy the Hauppauge TV Tuner for Xbox One for $60.
If you’re in the Xbox One preview program you can try out the console’s TV tuning chops right now by picking up the Hauppauge WinTV-955Q TV tuner and an HDTV antenna. Microsoft says the Hauppauge preview unit will cost you $80, but I saw units on Amazon ranging from $62 to $106.
The impact on you at home: As Microsoft points out in its post on the Xbox blog, the upcoming Xbox One tuner has particular appeal to cord-cutters. The tuner will bring the local versions of the major broadcast channels—ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC—to your TV for free. Combine that with a Sling TV subscription and/or Netflix and Hulu and you’ve got a nice, cheap(er) way to get live TV for sports and other events plus your favorite shows on demand.
Not just the tuner
To get over-the-air broadcasts you’ll need more than just the TV tuner. Along with the tuner available to preview users you’ll need to pick up an antenna, which can run you anywhere from $12 to $150 depending on the quality and range of antenna you’ll need.
Once you’re up and running with a TV tuner connected to your Xbox you’ll be able to access TV listings via the console’s OneGuide. Snap will work, allowing you to watch TV side-by-side with another app. You can also pause live TV, favorite channels, and change channels using Kinect’s voice controls.
In a particularly interesting touch, SmartGlass functionality works with the live channels, so you'll be able to check out OneGuide or stream TV over the same network to Android, iOS, Windows, and Windows Phone devices.