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DVR alternatives if you want to cut the cable cord

CNET has picked AirTV as one of the

CNET has picked AirTV as one of the best over-the-air DVRs. Credit: CBS Interactive

On-demand streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu can plug many of the holes that appear when you cut the cable TV cord, but there are still some gaps — particularly news and sports — that only live TV can fill. For the savvy cord-cutter, putting up an antenna to get free over-the-air TV broadcasts is a no-brainer. Here are four of CNET's favorite DVR alternatives for the cord-cutter generation.

Amazon Fire TV Recast

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD There are no monthly fees. Its sophisticated program guide fits live TV channels seamlessly into the Fire TV interface. Setup is easy, and out-of-home streaming to your phone works well.

THE BAD It's more expensive than many antenna TV options. You need a Fire TV device attached to your TV, and can watch on only two devices at once.

THE COST $189.99

BOTTOM LINE It’s easy to watch free live and recorded over-the-air TV without monthly fees.

TiVo Bolt OTA

CNET rating (out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD It offers a plethora of services including streaming apps with 4K support, in-home streaming and voice search. The price per month is a lot more affordable than the full-fat version of the Bolt, and lifetime service brings the total cost to $500.

THE BAD There is no access to live TV streaming services, which would help bolster the OTA options.

THE COST $199.99

BOTTOM LINE This is one of the best alternatives to the still-fledgling world of streaming TV services.


CNET rating (out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD You can watch over-the-air TV channels on any TV in the house, or on tablets and phones outside the home. Setup and integration with the SlingTV subscription service is easy. There's no monthly fee for program information.

THE BAD  If you're not a SlingTV subscriber, much of the appeal fades. Unlike with Recast, AirTV's DVR features requires you to bring an external hard drive.

THE COST $119.99

BOTTOM LINE For SlingTV subscribers, AirTV is a one-time investment that works almost invisibly.

Nuvvyo Tablo Quad

CNET rating (out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD Power users will get the tools they need to record and watch massive amounts of over-the-air television. Image quality is excellent both in and out of the home. The interface is easy and fun to use.

THE BAD The device requires a subscription fee and an aftermarket drive, which makes it one of the more expensive antenna DVRs.

THE COST $194.49 to $219.99

BOTTOM LINE Performance is excellent, but there are cheaper, easier-to-use options for budding cord-cutters.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: section editor Dan Ackerman, senior associate editor Ty Pendlebury and senior editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit


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