Microsoft and digital video specialist Hauppauge are helping prospective cord-cutters take a major step closer to breaking up with their cable TV companies.
"Starting today, members of the Xbox One preview program in the United States 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," said Microsoft in an April 8 announcement.
A growing number of consumers are parting with cable TV giants. These so-called cord-cutters rely on streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku, and online services like Netflix, Hulu and the newly independent HBO Go, to enjoy televised entertainment without a pay TV subscription.
Now, some North American Xbox One owners can fill in a major piece of the cord-cutting puzzle: over-the-air broadcasts.
"Support for over-the-air TV on Xbox One means access to broadcast networks available in your area, like CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS, with no subscription cost," added Microsoft. For more live TV options, customers can pair it with Dish Network's Sling TV app. Launched during this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Sling TV enables live viewing of ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, AMC, Adult Swim, Disney Channel, Food Network, HGTV and the Cartoon Network for $20 per month. Themed add-on packs (sports, kids, movies, news and lifestyle) are available for an extra $5 per month each.
WinTV-955Q from Hauppauge is a USB TV tuner for Windows that supports standard- and high-definition broadcasts. Buyers can connect the device to one of the USB 3.0 ports on the Xbox One console. The Xbox One preview program, like its operating system counterpart, Windows Insider, is an early-access program that offers members test versions of upcoming updates and feature releases.
For those with a little more patience, a cheaper, Xbox-specific version is on the way, teased Microsoft. "In the next few months, Xbox will be partnering with Hauppauge to release a lower-cost version of this tuner, the Hauppauge TV Tuner for Xbox One, retailing for MSRP $59.99, and available to everyone in the U.S. and Canada."
Apart from the tuner, users will likely have to invest in an antenna. "Every location is unique in terms of local terrain that may affect channel availability," cautioned Microsoft. The company is directing interested buyers to antenna maker Mohu's site for location-based channel coverage and antenna recommendations.
In addition to an integrated One Guide experience, including TV listings and pausing live TV, consumers can use the Xbox One to stream over-the-air programming to their mobile devices with the Xbox One SmartGlass app for Android, iOS, Windows and Windows Phone. "Now you have access to your full OneGuide in the Xbox One SmartGlass app with the ability to tune channels on your TV and stream TV within your home from your Xbox One to one or more of your devices," stated the company.