The perfect OTA receivers for 2022


In an age of streaming media, one may assume that the times of recording our favourite exhibits via a hulking DVR field are over. That is not essentially the case. Whereas streaming units and sensible TVs hold us linked to our Netflix and Hulu accounts, right this moment’s main OTA receivers are glossy, can retailer as much as tons of of exhibits and flicks, and a few fashions may even hook up with the Web.

We have spent loads of time establishing OTA antennas, putting in receivers, and customarily tweaking these techniques to get essentially the most out of them. We consider the Tablo Twin Lite is the very best OTA receiver for most individuals, however we do have another solutions in case it is not best for you. Every affords very particular strengths, and one simply may be the proper match.

Ted Kritsonis/Digital Tendencies

Tablo Twin Lite OTA DVR

The perfect OTA receiver


Versatile method works with streaming units

Simple to arrange

Twin OTA tuners

Non-compulsory premium companies for upgrades


No built-in storage

Switching channels is a bit of clunky

Why you should purchase this: With rock-solid Wi-Fi and help for tons of units, this OTA DVR does all of it.

Who it is for: Individuals with current sensible TVs or streaming units like Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast.

Why we picked the Tablo Twin Lite:

For starters, the Tablo Twin Lite is tremendous straightforward to arrange and use. Its app-based interface is clear and easy, and after a fast scan, it enables you to decide which of your accessible channels you’d like so as to add to your information as a substitute of assuming you need all of them. However the Tablo’s key benefit is its skill to be positioned anyplace in your house, whether or not that’s close to your TV or router. In contrast to different receivers, which must be linked to your antenna, hardwired to your router, and in some instances linked to your TV, the Tablo solely wants an antenna connection and energy. The truth is, it has no TV output in any respect.

As an alternative, Tablo streams your OTA channels to your TV by way of a appropriate media system, like an Apple TV 4th era or a Roku. If in case you have the fitting sensible TV, you might not want an exterior system in any respect. Right here’s the total record of appropriate units, which is intensive and affords one thing for nearly everybody, excluding PlayStation console homeowners.

With two OTA tuners, the Tablo Twin Lite can obtain and file two totally different channels concurrently, however you’re not restricted to 2 units. Relying on the velocity of your property community, as much as six units can watch content material concurrently. Given how many people watch content material on our telephones and tablets, that’s loads of potential screens powered by a single receiver.

The Twin Lite does not include any built-in storage (Tablo sells a 128GB model if that is what you need), however this provides to its flexibility: You may determine how a lot storage you need by merely including your personal USB onerous drive. Some type of storage is required, nevertheless, even should you determine to not file exhibits.

By itself, the Tablo gives you 24 hours of information information and the power to file and livestream any OTA content material you’ll be able to obtain. For a subscription payment of $5 per thirty days, you get 14 days of information information, superior recording options (like the power to start out a recording two minutes earlier or later), and a must have characteristic for frequent vacationers: Distant-view functionality for entry to your entire system from anyplace with a good web connection. You may add Tablo’s Premium Service for $2, which allows the platform’s computerized industrial skip characteristic.

The Tablo’s interface consists of a mixture of the standard on-screen channel information and curated “instructed” content material, sorted by style, making it straightforward to see what’s on faucet. In the event you’re the impatient kind, although, channel modifications could show irritating since, until you’ve obtained a really stable Ethernet connection, there’s a reasonably notable lag because the Tablo tunes in to the brand new channel and begins up the stream. There’s additionally no approach to hold watching one channel when you surf the information for one thing else…however that is a minor quibble for the options that you just get.

Tablo Twin Lite OTA DVR

The perfect OTA receiver

MediaSonic Digital Converter Field

The perfect finances OTA receiver


A robust finances mannequin

A number of connection choices

Helpful distant included


Requires exterior onerous drive

ATSC onlly

Why you should purchase this: You wish to expertise a easy OTA receiver, full with recording and a number of hookups, however don’t need the most important funding of a Tivo or higher-priced OTA field.

Who it is for: Those who wish to expertise the advantages of an OTA receiver whereas buying on a minimal finances.

Why we picked the MediaSonic ATSC Digital Converter Field: 

In the event you’re trying to get your self nudged over into the world of cord-cutters and OTA receiver possession, however aren’t keen to drop the heavy dough required of a sturdy Tivo interface, the MediaSonic ATSC could also be extra up your alley.

By way of {hardware}, there are a number of connections to get you began. As soon as linked into your property’s antenna coaxial connection, you’ll be able to output video to virtually any TV within the house due to the field’s HDMI, coaxial, and composite video outputs. The included distant will web you all the primary capabilities you will must take pleasure in your recordings (extra on that under), full with play/pause, rewind/fast-forward, and an choice to program your favourite stations into the clicker.

For recording functions, that is the place the “finances” deal with definitely comes into play. Do not anticipate the automated recording of content material throughout a number of tuners that you’re going to discover with a number of the heavyweight OTA receivers on this record. Whereas the MediaSonic is able to 2TB of storage, that is off of an exterior onerous drive (USB 2.5 and three.0 with MBR formatting). Because the product identify suggests, the MediaSonic can be solely able to choosing up and recording ATSC alerts, so apologies to our NTSC hopefuls.

When all is alleged and completed, although, you are merely not going to discover a cheaper method into OTA viewing and recording. Whereas the MediaSonic ATSC Digital Converter Field could lack streaming apps and an intuitive person expertise, it will undoubtedly get the job completed.

MediaSonic Digital Converter Field

The perfect finances OTA receiver

Riley Younger/Digital Tendencies

Amazon Hearth TV Recast

The perfect OTA receiver for Hearth TV homeowners


Excellent for Hearth TV customers

Constructed-in storage

Fashions accessible with as much as 4 tuners


Loses most of its benefits with out Hearth TV

Why you should purchase this: It integrates completely with Hearth TV units and does not require any ongoing charges.

Who it is for: Hearth TV homeowners who wish to add free over-the-air TV viewing and recording to their media decisions.

Why we picked the Amazon Hearth TV Recast:

In the event you’ve already taken step one towards ending your dependence on cable or satellite tv for pc by shopping for considered one of Amazon’s wonderful Hearth TV media streamers, you need to significantly think about going all the best way with the Hearth TV Recast. It’s designed to enhance the Hearth TV’s already very complete set of streaming apps, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, with free native TV and a DVR.

The Hearth TV Recast can dwell nearly anyplace in your house so long as it may hook up with an influence supply and your antenna’s cable, making it a lot simpler to put your antenna the place it may get the very best reception. The Recast then makes use of your property Wi-Fi community to transmit each dwell TV and your recordings to any Hearth TV units you will have at house. You may as well entry the content material from a cellular system utilizing the free Hearth TV app.

As a result of the interface is dealt with by your current Hearth TV system, it is clear and straightforward to make use of. In the event you personal any Alexa-enabled sensible audio system like an Echo Dot, you’ll be able to management the expertise along with your voice, simply as you’ll be able to with different Hearth TV capabilities.

The perfect a part of the Hearth TV Recast is that there is not any extra payment for any of its options. Merely plug it in, set it up utilizing your current Amazon account and that is it. It is available in two variations: A 2-tuner 500GB mannequin and a 4-tuner 1TB mannequin, which implies there’s a Hearth TV Recast for nearly any finances or family measurement.

Nonetheless, it is not as intelligent as a TiVo: There isn’t any computerized recording of exhibits you may be serious about, no skill to skip adverts with a single click on, and it solely works with Amazon’s Hearth TV streamers. However these are minor drawbacks to what’s in any other case an ideal OTA DVR improve for these in Amazon’s media ecosystem. And whereas the REcast is not precisely low cost, you’ll be able to equip every TV in your house with entry to its dwell and recorded content material for simply $30 (or much less) with the brand new Hearth TV Stick Lite.

Amazon Hearth TV Recast

The perfect OTA receiver for Hearth TV homeowners

Sling Media AirTV 2

The perfect receiver for Sling customers


Nice Sling TV help

Versatile OTA streaming choices

Twin tuners


Requires exterior onerous drive

Why you should purchase this: It is a versatile OTA mannequin that performs effectively with the Sling TV app

Who it is for: Sling TV customers, who utilizing AirTV, Roku, Hearth TV, or Android TV, these keen so as to add an exterior onerous drive

Why we picked the Sling Media AirTV 2:

The AirTV 2 bears some similarities to our Tablo Twin decide, with the identical kind of inherent flexibility that means that you can stream native channels over your Wi-Fi, work alongside different units like a Roku or Hearth TV, and, after all, file your dwell native channels … so long as you are keen to connect your personal exterior onerous drive.

However this mannequin has one other trick: It is particularly pleasant with Sling TV, and might seamlessly combine along with your Sling TV, exhibiting your native OTA channels together with the streaming Sling channels, so that you get all the pieces in a single spot. That is much like what the Hearth Recast does, however you do not want an Amazon subscription for this integration, so it may very well be an important match for individuals who’ve already reduce the wire and are utilizing Sling.

The mannequin can handle two dwell TV exhibits on the identical time or file them each as obligatory, and categorize recordings in numerous methods, together with single episodes or as a part of a sequence. The Sling compatibility additionally means you’ll be able to obtain the Sling TV app in your smartphone, after which entry your dwell TV feeds instantly out of your cellular system.

After all, the AirTV 2 does not have so many benefits should you aren’t utilizing Sling. However it may nonetheless show you how to file and examine your dwell exhibits so long as you will have a set-top field in addition to an HD antenna. That makes it a superb choice for including some HDR to your cable-free house TV setup.

Sling Media AirTV 2

The perfect receiver for Sling customers

HDHomeRun Join 4K Plus Plex Dwell TV

The perfect OTA receiver for ATSC 3.0


ATSC 3.0 help

Designed to work by way of Plex server

4K help


Requires a subscription to avoid wasting video

In-depth Plex administration

Why you should purchase this: It makes Plex much more highly effective and helps ATSC 3.0

Who it is for: DIY aficionados with a devoted Plex server, a quick native community, and a need to be on the forefront of OTA TV.

Why we picked the HDHomeRun Join 4K Plus Plex Dwell TV:

ATSC 3.0, or NextGen TV as it is also recognized, is the most recent and biggest model of free, over-the-air TV. When it is totally adopted, we’ll see all of our favourite TV stations begin to make content material accessible in 4K decision, with HDR video, and even Dolby Atmos for immersive encompass sound. For a deep dive into its many advantages, take a look at our full ATSC 3.0 explainer.

It is obtained 4 tuners (two that may do ATSC 3.0 and 1.0 and two that solely do ATSC 1.0) so you’ll be able to watch and/or file as much as 4 channels concurrently.

Talking of recording, the HDHomeRun Join 4K has no built-in storage, so if you wish to file, you want to join SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun DVR service — a $35 per yr subscription that allows you to save applications to a NAS drive, or a PC, and watch them from quite a lot of supported units.

Nonetheless, we expect that Plex Dwell TV is a extra versatile choice. Plex is an extremely full-featured media server platform that organizes and allows you to watch your whole music, TV, films, and photographs on nearly any system you’ll be able to consider. Once you subscribe to the Plex Cross service ($120/lifetime), you get Plex Dwell TV, which may use the HDHomeRun Join 4K as a dwell TV supply. The great thing about the Plex integration is that your Plex Media Server is the DVR, so no extra storage is required.

Sadly, way more than with TiVo or Tablo, your Plex Dwell TV and DVR efficiency will fluctuate based mostly in your {hardware} and community. As a result of Plex purchasers don’t natively perceive MPEG-2 video, which the HDHomeRun Join 4K distributes from OTA alerts, they should be transcoded to the H.264 format. Mac and PCs can deal with this job effortlessly, however should you run Plex on a NAS drive, just like the WD My Cloud Mirror we used for testing, you might discover restricted help in your Plex purchasers.

The channel information view can show as much as two weeks of program information, if accessible in your area. Channel modifications are much like the Tablo: There’s a definite lag as the brand new stream will get going, and there’s no approach to watch one stream whereas trying to find one other.

Spending $200 on the HDHomeRun Join 4K and. say, a one-time value of $120 for a lifetime Plex Cross, is just not a nasty funding when you think about it places you method forward of the ATSC 3.0 curve — particularly should you’ve already obtained numerous Plex-enabled units round the home and a devoted Plex Media Server. But when this doesn’t sound such as you, or the considered establishing a Plex server and utilizing it to observe TV leaves you in a chilly sweat, you need to most likely take a look at our different picks.

HDHomeRun Join 4K Plus Plex Dwell TV

The perfect OTA receiver for ATSC 3.0

Regularly Requested Questions

How does an OTA receiver work?
An OTA (over-the-air) receiver works along with your property’s TV antenna to give you an expertise nearer to a cable subscription. As soon as your antenna is lined in, OTA receivers let you file over-the-air programming, generally throughout a number of stations without delay. Many OTA bins can retailer as much as 500GB or extra of recorded exhibits and flicks, identical to a cable-DVR bundle. Superior OTA receivers even have entry to streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu.

Will ATSC 3.0 enhance reception?
Sure. As soon as broadcasters are beaming alerts in 4K with added HDR help, the image we’ll see on our TVs must be noticeably improved, particularly in comparison with older ATSC broadcasting. Like most main tech advances, although, the format has arrived earlier than {hardware} has totally caught up. It could be some time earlier than ATSC 3.0 is customary in each OTA receiver house.

Do Good TVs have a built-in antenna?
Not fairly. Whereas sure sensible TV manufacturers can join you to free programming via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, OTA alerts are solely captured by an exterior antenna that requires a connection to your property’s TV (or appropriate OTA receiver).

What is the newest model of OTA broadcasts?
ATSC 3.0, formally often called NextGen TV, is the subsequent model of over-the-air HDTV broadcasts. With help for 4K decision, HDR, and Dolby Atmos, it is ultimately going to exchange the prevailing ATSC system. The rollout of ATSC 3.0-compatible OTA receivers has been gradual, however they’re starting to indicate up now, and we anticipate to see extra quickly.

Do I want a sure antenna for OTA receivers?
Getting essentially the most out of your OTA setup actually begins along with your antenna. The sort you purchase and the place you place it’ll decide what number of channels you obtain. Digital Tendencies has a complete information to choosing the fitting antenna in your house, which we encourage you to take a look at earlier than you decide to an OTA receiver. And don’t fret — any antenna that you just purchase right this moment will work with NextGen TV when it is time to make the change.

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