What’s the best option for recording antenna TV?

In just a few short years, people have learned to rely on the DVR. If you have pay TV, there is an excellent chance you have a DVR. You may only use it to pause live TV for a phone call or for some other… physical business… but you use it. DVRs were rare just ten years ago, but today they’re in the majority of homes thanks to attractive deals from pay-TV companies.

If you’re looking to cut the cord, you might also be worried about cutting the DVR. Watching truly “live” TV may no longer fit into your schedule, and while a lot of cord-cutters think streaming is going to give them everything they need, they’re wrong. Streaming deprives you of local channels and it costs money over and above your internet cost. Is that really cutting the cord, or is it just paying a different company for the same entertainment?

True cord-cutters know that an antenna is super-important; all of the top ten rated shows are available on free TV. The problem comes when you want to record them. You can rely on Hulu, but you’re paying them. You can rely on a content provider app like WatchABC, but you’ll need a cable or satellite subscription for that. You can hook a PC to your TV, but that’s not exactly friendly. So what to do?

There are several DVR options out there. Often times they’re very expensive because of the parts inside them. It costs a couple of hundred dollars in parts to make a DVR; you don’t realize that because the cable or satellite company usually gives it to you for a discount. If you’re going to pay cash, you’ll pay a few hundred dollars, or you’ll be stuck with a monthly contract (and how is that cord-cutting?)

Luckily there is one option that does work for cord-cutters; it’s cheap and it won’t cost you a dime after you get it all set up. The iView 3500STB started its life as a low-cost converter box when people were still trying to get life out of their old tube TVs. It’s evolved into a DVR, and all you need to do is connect almost any USB hard drive or flash drive to it. At 1GB per hour recorded, you can have a 32-hour DVR for peanuts!

A few things I have to admit – this DVR isn’t going to win awards for polish and ease of use. It records only one thing at a time and it’s not always easy to navigate through the menus. Since you’re not paying for guide data, you set up recordings the old fashioned way, by time. Sure, this can be a pain, but the point here is that you have this option and it doesn’t cost you anything. If all you’re trying to do is get a simple solution for occasional recording and you really just want to pause or rewind live TV, this little device is everything you need without any monthly fees. Best of all, of course, it’s available at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.