Cord cutters, viewers who watch television over the Internet rather than subscribing to expensive cable plans, now have another option.
In the week where HBO Now launched, Microsoft is the latest company to offer an alternative to cable TV with an upgrade to the TV streaming capabilities of the Xbox One console.
The Xbox team announced on April 8 that it would be bringing over-the-air TV functionality to Xbox One owners in the United States and Canada, through a partnership with Hauppauge, 23-year veterans in the over-the-air TV space.
The Xbox One is already a fairly capable media consumption tool that provides access to HBO Go, Netflix, Comedy Central and Hulu Plus, and live Internet TV from Sling TV. Xbox owners can now add free over-the-air TV channels like CBS, FOX, NBC, and PBS to that list.
"Starting today, members of the Xbox One preview program in the U.S. and Canada can get over-the-air TV by purchasing the Hauppauge WinTV-955Q (MSRP $79.99 at Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop and Micro Center), and an HDTV antenna," the Xbox team wrote on its blog. Hauppauge will also be releasing a $60 version of the TV tuner soon.
Before investing in the hardware you might want to check which over-the-air channels are available in your area through this link. In Brooklyn, the basic $25 HDTV antenna will give you access to 68 free channels, including CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, and ABC.
As well as getting access to the television channels, Xbox One users will also get a host of new features including a special guide across all their media options that allows them to see the latest tweets about their favorite programs. Xbox users also can pause live TV, split the screen between TV and gaming, change channels by voice using Kinect and stream the television feed to a mobile device using Xbox One SmartGlass, an app that connects your phone tablet or computer with your Xbox. A tablet, phone or computer running SmartGlass essentially becomes a second or third screen for the TV.
If you're not already an Xbox owner this probably isn't the cheapest way to stream TV, but it's definitely a nice extra perk for existing users. The ability to consume all your media through one box is particularly appealing. The video below explains how to get over-the-air TV on your Xbox.