Best DVR without subscription fees – cable or antenna

If you are looking for a DVR that doesn’t involve subscription fees, you are in the right place as we will share the best options, suitable for cable or an antenna. Although cord-cutters offer a better choice, it is possible to reduce or get rid of your cable DVR fees. The items in this list work in a different way and they suit different purposes. Some give you the possibility of streaming live and recorded shows online from any location. Others are ideal for enjoying your content at home. Here are the options available.

OTA (Over-The-Air) DVR without subscription fees

There are multiple DVR without subscription options that work well for those who have cut cable subscription, or who just want to record shows with an antenna from networks like NBC, CBS, FOX or PBS. Here are the top choices.

Channel Master DVR+

This is a great DVR without subscription that works with an antenna. HDMI is needed to connect it to a TV and a separate adapter is required for WiFi. It is possible to expand the internal storage of the base model using a USB hard drive. The Channel Master DVR+ is available from $249 when you buy it from the Channel Master online store, but you can also get it from Amazon for $299 as a bundle that features HDMI cable and USB wireless internet adapter. Additionally, if you want the full DVR functionality and enable streaming to mobile devices, you can get the Slingbox for around $150.


TiVo is a well-known name and its Roamio OTA is a practical option that includes a lifetime subscription and up to 1TB of storage, allowing you to store nearly 150 hours of HD video. In the past, the device was available for $50, but it had a mandatory subscription of $15 per month. Nowadays, the base price of the device has increased to $400 or more, but there is no monthly subscription fee required.

Xbox One

It is also possible to use the Xbox One as a basic DVR that doesn’t require subscription fees. You can connect it to a TV tuner and antenna and pause live TV for up to half an hour. It is also possible to watch TV in a separate window while you are playing a game. The Xbox One is available from $250 and additional DVR functionality is likely to be implemented.

Tablo TV

This is another OTA DVR that doesn’t require subscription. It works on your home network and can be connected to a TV, computer or mobile device using Apple TV, Chromecast or Roku. The base model, which features two tuners and built-in WiFi is available from $180. Additional accessories required include USB hard drive for recording and HDTV Antenna. A programming guide is also available for an extra $5, but it is not essential to manage the unit.

Cable DVR without subscription fees

It is possible to find cable companies that provide fully-functional DVRs, but they charge over $10 per month for renting the devices. Although TiVo offers devices that include a lifetime subscription, the total cost has been increased and you may pay around $500 in the end. In order to get good value for money, you would need to keep the TiVo for at least 3 years. Otherwise, the may be too high.

However, it should be noted that apart from offering lifetime service, TiVo includes a great range of features. With TiVo you can stream content from services like Hulu and Netflix, stream recorded shows from mobile devices and get access to a fantastic programming guide that browses through TV and streaming services. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that TiVo devices offer more storage than cable DVRs. Tivo also lets you use a CableCard to replace your cable box and although this may limit features like on-demand, it will also reduce your monthly bill. It is also possible to find used TiVo devices on online marketplaces and they include a lifetime service. Another alternative for the tech-savvy is to build a PC that offers DVR functionality.


It is likely that physical DVRs become unnecessary in the future, if media content is available online for streaming directly from the cloud. In the meantime, you can try solid options, such as the Channel Master DVR+ to enjoy DVR functionality without a subscription, if you have cut off the cable service. If you still have a cable subscription, you can opt for TiVo.

Renee Biana

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