Summary: The Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One is the perfect accessory for cord-cutters to watch live TV on their Xbox One or on a mobile device using the SmartGlass app.
Last winter on the MVP Award Program Blog, I wrote about how you could connect external digital TV tuner boxes to the HDMI port of your Xbox One. This allowed you to watch live TV over the air using an ATSC antenna such as this one from RCA. This solution worked ok, but it wasn’t great. You can find many external digital TV tuners out there and they all look the same, but some of them weren’t supported by the Xbox One remote and some didn’t broadcast digital audio correctly. In general, they were all pretty cheap and you get what you pay for. These issues are all solved with the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One.
Figure 1: Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One.
Previously, this USB digital TV tuner was only available outside of the United States. Now you can get it for $59.99 USD. I suspect the cable TV industry pressured Microsoft not to release it here, but it is finally out now. This particular tuner has had limited availability on Amazon but you should be able to pick it up at the Microsoft store as well.
Inside the box
The box comes with the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner, Portal 10-mile antenna, USB extension cable, a quick installation guide, and an activation code for the WinTV v8 application. You can use the activation code to hook the device up to your computer and watch TV if you wanted to.
Figure 2: The contents of the box of the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One
Setting up your digital TV tuner
Setting up the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner is simple. Simply connect it to the USB extension cable and plug that cable into one of the USB ports in the back of your Xbox One. Connect the other end to the included 10-mile antenna. I strongly recommend picking up a stronger antenna like the RCA Indoor Amplified Antenna as it will pick up more channels.
With a good antenna, you might be surprised at the number of channels available in your area. For the channels that you can’t pick up, you can always look at Sling TV, which may get you hard-to-get channels like ESPN, TNT, and AMC. However, as a cord-cutter, you’ll quickly realize this is just bringing the problem of bundled channel packages to a different delivery medium. At $20 per month, the price (for Sling TV) already exceeds all of the other online streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.). During the fall and winter, though, you might consider it if you are into football and basketball.
You can configure the USB tuner in the Settings menu under TV & OneGuide. If you have previously connected a digital tuner, you will need to delete its channel listing first before you can select it with the USB tuner. Otherwise, you will get an error when you try to select it. You can actually use both tuners if you still have a tuner or cable box connected via HDMI.
Figure 3: The OneGuide settings allow you to specify the TV lineup for both an HDMI source and a USB source.
Once you enter your zip code, the Xbox One will start scanning for local channels in your area. The number of channels you pick up can vary by a lot of factors. If it didn’t pick up many, try pointing your antenna in a different direction. Once the Xbox One completes the channel scan, you are ready to go. When you launch OneGuide, it will match up the over-the-air channels it found and show the appropriate logo for each one.
You can use your new Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner by selecting the TV tile. From here, all of your regular TV functions work. You can tune channels using Kinect if you have one as well. For example, you can say “Watch Channel 5.1” and it will tune to that channel for you. See this guide for the list of all available voice commands for TV.
You have the ability to pause Live TV up to 30 minutes as well. This feature will use up to 4 GB of hard disk space. I find the experience is best if you have an Xbox One remote (or a third-party one), but you can control everything as well using the Xbox One controller. There really isn’t any documentation on using the controller with Live TV so normally you have to stumble through it. Press the X button to bring up OneGuide.
Figure 4: OneGuide shows you the channels available over-the-air as well as what shows are trending on Twitter.
You can use the directional pad to preview what’s on other channels quickly without launching the guide. Use the right analog stick to flip channels just like you would on a remote. Press the A button to bring up the on-screen controls where you can pause Live TV.
Although the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner provides the ability to pause live TV, unfortunately it doesn’t provide DVR functionality. What that means is that you select a program out of OneGuide and set it to record later. It seems like the Xbox One should be more than capable of this so maybe we’ll see that functionality in the future.
Xbox One SmartGlass
One of the coolest features with the Xbox One and this TV tuner is the Xbox One SmartGlass app. This app, available for Windows, iOS, Android and Windows Phone, allows you to control your Xbox One from another device. The Xbox One SmartGlass app will live stream TV right to your mobile device. That means you can sit in another room with your Surface and watch the TV channel currently showing on the Xbox One at that moment. The Xbox One SmartGlass app integrates with OneGuide, which means you can change the channels remotely. It’s very slick.
To watch TV on your device, start the SmartGlass app, it launches and you then click the TV tile (figure 5) to get started. Then click Watch TV and the live TV feed will start streaming to your device after a few seconds.
Figure 5: On your device, launch the Xbox One SmartGlass app and click the TV tile.
Tap the screen to bring up controls for your TV (figure 6) including the ability to pause.
Figure 6: You have the same controls available to you when watching TV via the Xbox One SmartGlass app.
Click the menu icon in the bottom left to bring up OneGuide (figure 7).
Figure 7: The SmartGlass app for Windows makes it easy to watch TV anywhere in your house.
SmartGlass does a great job bringing the familiar Xbox One experience to your portable device. The only catch is that whatever you are streaming remotely is the same thing showing on the TV connected to the Xbox One. You can’t watch one show remotely while someone else in your living room watches a different show.
Summary and availability
If you own an Xbox One and are a cord-cutter, you should get a Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One. It provides the cleanest interface for viewing over-the-air TV on the Xbox One. It’s nice because it doesn’t require a big bulky TV tuner box, the HDMI pass-through, or the IR emitter. I kind of wish it had DVR functionality, but I am not missing it that badly. Maybe we’ll get that functionality in the future.
The Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One has had limited stock right now in the United States since Microsoft announced availability. I ordered it while it was out of stock and it shipped about three days later. Otherwise, check out your local Microsoft Store if you want to pick one up.