The Xbox One is a video game console. There’s no doubt about that. In fact, picking up an Xbox One makes the most sense if you’re going to use it primarily as a video game machine. Robust processors and graphics hardware inside make it the most powerful console Microsoft has ever made. Some forget that the Xbox One is also a first-class media device. At least, it is with the right accessories and prep-work.
The OneGuide built into the Xbox One is like an ever adapting media tool. At launch, pairing the Xbox One with a cable box or external tuner allowed users to watch live television. Users could simply flip between channels using their voice or an Xbox One Media Remote. This still works, but Microsoft has quietly built out its Xbox One Live TV ecosystem, adding new ways for users to get local programming and even cable channels directly through their console.
External TV tuners allow Xbox One owners to watch local programming while they’re playing a game or on its own. Some digital services allow Xbox One owners to access content previously restricted to only those who signed two-year service agreements to cable companies. Then there’s the HDMI pass-through port that allows cable and satellite subscribers to watch through their Xbox One so that they can change channels with their voice.
Hauppauge TV Tuner
The Hauppauge TV Tuner for Xbox One is how those in the United States watch Live TV on the Xbox One. Unsurprisingly, this is the same dongle that Hauppauge sells for Windows PCs.
The Hauppauge TV Tuner for Xbox One connects directly into one of the USB ports on the back of the console itself. Sticking from the rear of the accessory is an antenna connection for users to attach an external antenna. To get the Hauppauge TV Tuner working, users need a high-definition antenna. A rather basic model comes included with the tuner, but it’s better if buyers buy one with more range.
When paired with the Xbox One SmartGlass app, Hauppauge TV Tuner users can stream television to a notebook, tablet, or smartphone over their home network. Microsoft has a Hauppauge TV Tuner for Xbox One and a Leaf antenna bundle on sale for $59.99.
Microsoft plans to add DVR support for both digital TV Tuners sometime in 2016.
Long before Microsoft partnered with Hauppauge, it had a TV Tuner of its own: the Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One.
Both devices have an identical feature set, complete with USB hook up and external antenna support. Where they different are communication standards. The Hauppauge is strictly for users in the United States. The Xbox-branded TV Tuner supports DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C standards that Europe uses. Local streaming for broadcast channels works the Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One too.
The digital TV tuners are for Xbox One owners who want live television, but aren’t keen on paying a cable company to get it. Those tuners work for just broadcast networks like ABC, PBS, NBC and BBC One. The very first way that users could watch Live TV on Xbox One involved having a cable subscription.
Using an HDMI pass-through port on the back of the Xbox One, anyone can connect their console directly to their cable box. If they do, the OneGuide app surfaces what’s being output from their cable box at that moment. Without a Kinect this means you don’t have to go switching between inputs for television and gaming. Pairing this port with a Kinect unlocks other things.
OneGuide and a Kinect allow users to turn the channel with just their voice. Additionally, the Xbox One handles all of the heavy lifting, updating it’s OneGuide with the latest shows that are airing or will air in the near future.
OneGuide is a key component of the entertainment experience on Xbox One. Pre-recorded entertainment from video providers is a big part of OneGuide. OneGuide’s true brilliance lies in its Live TV capabilities.
The OneGuide pulls down local TV listings through an internet connection and a search of your cable operator if you have one. With cable, OneGuide acts as a go-between, showing you everything that’s airing currently and in the near future. Can’t find what you’re looking for, look through your favorite channels with OneGuide or simply find a different channel. OneGuide is available through the Xbox SmartGlass apps on iPhone, Android and Windows.
Verizon allows cable subscribers to use their Xbox One as a cable box substitute within their own home. Time Warner Cable has an Xbox One app that lets users do the same with a subscription. Comcast no longer has any Xbox apps, possibly because it wants to steer users to its own subscription cable services and X1 cable box. Download these apps if you already have a cable or satellite subscription with these companies in the Windows Store.
Also available in the Windows Store is Sling TV, a cable surface that embraces some key modern conveniences. Sling TV is available to anyone in the United States who has a decent internet connection. The service costs $20 a month and users can bolt on different packs of channels and premium offerings like an enhanced sports package and more. Next year Microsoft plans to integrate Sling TV directly into the OneGuide instead of the separate app download that the console has today.