How To DVR without Cable

Posted by Arch on June 25, 2019

People still feel obligated to pay for a cable subscription in order to access benefits like DVR. These cable companies charge a hefty amount for something you do not necessarily need. Paying for both cable and other streaming services like Netflix or Hulu is too much, and more and more people are opting to cut the cord in favor of streaming.

Did you know that there are Over-the–Air (OTA) channels, which are broadcasting HD content absolutely free of charge? These are not even some B-rated channels; you can find all four major networks (ABC, Fox, NBC, CBS), and other top quality channels like MeTV and PBS for free.

So, the only thing that is missing is the DVR. Or is it? Here you will find out how to DVR even without a cable subscription.

Online DVR Services

DVR is very handy when you want to record some unique events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl. Online DVR services not only offer local channels within their packages but also save you the trouble you would have with regular DVR hardware, antennas, and so on.

Here are some of the best choices among online DVR services.



TiVo was the first to offer proper DVR and they are still amazing at it. There are two different variants of TiVo Roamio, one with 500 GB and the other with 1 TB of internal storage. They work with OTA channels instead of cable. You might need to get an antenna to get clearer signal on some stations based on the distance between your home and the towers.

You can get up to 50 TV channels this way without a cable subscription, including the top channels mentioned above. TiVo also works with streaming services like HBO, Netflix, etc. The 1 TB model sets you back $400, but it is a one-time price for recording and storing as much as 150 hours of content in HD resolution at any given time.

You can record 4 programs at the same time because it has 4 tuners on its back. TiVo did a nice job linking their service across platforms, so you can also control it on your smartphone through their app and even watch the stuff you recorded on this app.

tivo roamio

DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now offers the plus package for $50 a month, with over 45 channels and the max package for $70 a month with over 60 channels. You can stream on two devices at the same time, which is neat, and you can pay $5 for a third one.

You get up to 20 hours of HD storage on their cloud DVR, and you can save each program up to 30 days only. The devices that support DirecTV include Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and a wide variety of Roku products. Of course, it is also available on iOS and Android devices. Additionally, you can watch via Chrome and Safari browsers.

YouTube TV

Google came up with another successful project, YouTube TV, which offers online DVR. You get over 70 channels including the major networks like NBC and CBS for a $50 monthly subscription. The price includes 6 accounts per household, each with a separate and personalized DVR. Three out of these six accounts can stream simultaneously.

The best part about this service is the unlimited Cloud DVR. You can record as many programs as you want and keep them for nine months.  The only downside is that this service is currently only available in the U.S. For American citizens, it is great because you can get it nationwide.

YouTube TV can be watched on select Samsung and LG TVs. You can also use Google Chromecast or use the app for Android TV, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One, iOS, and Android devices. You can also watch it in your browser. Of course, since this is a Google service, Chrome is their recommendation.

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation fans are not left out, because PlayStation Vue is tailored to their needs. Their packages start at $45 a month and go up to $80. The number of channels varies with the price. Depending on which package you choose, you can get all the major networks and local channels, as well as specialized movie, sports, and news channels. Premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime are also available separately as add-ons to your existing package.

You can stream on up to five devices at the same time and there is a solid Cloud DVR feature that keeps your recordings for 28 days after airing.

No Cable, No Tripping

In the end, the choice comes down to your personal preference, but these are all excellent options for getting a DVR without a cable subscription. Some may be pricier than others, but depending on what you’re looking for in terms of content, recording quality, and the number of supported devices, they could prove worth it.

If you don’t mind the higher starting price, TiVo might be the right choice for you. In case unlimited storage is your top priority, YouTube TV is the way to go.

Are you already using one of these services? If not, which option seems the best to you? Let us know in the comments below.

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