Microsoft has confirmed my previous and exclusive reports that it would deliver digital video recording (DVR) capabilities to its Xbox One video game console in the coming year. But some will be disappointed to learn that this initial release will only be for over-the-air (OTA) TV, meaning that Xbox One still has a way to go before it can replace such solutions as TiVo or Windows Media Center.
Sources told me that Microsoft would add DVR capabilities to Xbox One some months ago, and I’ve mentioned this a number of times on Windows Weekly and on this site (here and here, for example). But the software giant is moving slowly towards this obvious future, no doubt in deference to its media partners. The firm has offered an OTA TV tuner in Europe and Australia since last year, and this year it announced and then released a goofy Hauppauge-based TV tuner in the US and Canada ahead of a late 2015 launch of its own branded tuner.
Now, it is starting down the DVR path, meaning that in addition to watching (and pausing) live TV shows, Xbox One users will soon be able to record them as well. As noted, however, this will only work over OTA TV solutions like that Hauppauge tuner or the Xbox-branded version Microsoft offers in Europe and Australia. That is, you can’t use this feature to record shows off of a cable, satellite or similar system.
This feature is called DVR for Over-the-Air TV, which really rolls off the tongue. “You’ll never miss a minute of your favorite TV shows, movies or sporting events when you want to play a game or need to step out,” Microsoft explains. “Once your Xbox One is set up for over-the-air TV, it’s as easy as plugging a USB hard drive into your Xbox One console and recording your content. And by recording content to an external drive, there’s no impact on your gameplay activities or ability to save to the console.”
To recap, DVR for Over-the-Air TV requires an external USB hard drive. It of course requires one of the aforementioned TV tuners. And it will only be available in select countries where over-the-air TV is available, starting in 2016.
In the good news department, there are no monthly service fees for OneGuide or over-the-air DVR services. You will be able to stream recorded TV shows to Windows 10 devices using the Xbox app or other devices using SmartGlass, and schedule recordings from those devices. You will even be able to copy those shows to Windows 10 PCs, tablets, and phones so you can watch them offline. The amount of TV you can record and save is limited only by the size of the hard drive that you plug into your Xbox One, Microsoft says.
So I know the OTA TV limit will cause some groaning. But at least Microsoft is moving in the right direction.