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What is an OTA box and how is Free TV improved?



  Matrix lines scanning an old antenna television.
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Cutting through the cable and switching to over-the-air TV (OTA) can be tricky, especially if the DVR function of cable TV works to spoil you Simple OTA box make your Free TV experience more cable-like.

An OTA box turns Free TV into a cable-like experience

If you want to watch free wireless TV channels, you only need one antenna ̵

1; you do not need an OTA box. However, an OTA box adds some functionality, including the ability to record channels.

An OTA box is essentially a DVR for over-the-air TV. Even the simplest (or cheapest) OTA box can be programmed to automatically record your favorite shows, football matches and late-night infomerials. You can play these shows anytime and skip commercials as you would with a cable DVR.

However, the best OTA boxes go beyond the DVR functionality. They turn the free TV experience into something like cable. Good OTA boxes provide cable-like raster guides for Free TV, have multi-channel and programmable recording capabilities, enable live TV to stop, and bundle exclusive streaming capabilities that can match any cable configuration.

RELATED: How To Get Free HD TV Channels (No Cords To Pay)

Stream Free TV To Your Phone Or Tablet

Do you ever sit at work and dream of a future in which your phone can overtake the air transmissions? Well, before broadcasters and phone manufacturers are serious about ATSC 3.0, your daydream will never come true – unless you have an OTA box.

Premium OTA boxes, such as the TiVo Bolt OTA or the Tablo Dual Lite, have companion apps that you can use to download on your phone, tablet or computer. With these apps, you can stream live TV and recordings directly to your device, even when you're away from home. You can also use these apps to remotely program your OTA's DVR feature so you do not have to go home quickly to record a show.

  A TV remote control with streaming services and TV channels.
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This streaming feature can extend the functionality of an OTA box to TVs and computers throughout the home. If a device can install the companion app on your OTA, you can use it to watch OTA recordings and live TV. For "dumb" televisions, however, a streaming stick (such as a Roku) is required to download the companion app of an OTA box.

Some OTA boxes can replace your Roku

The HDMI ports on your TV may already be in place for streaming sticks, game consoles, and Blu-ray players. Fortunately, premium OTA boxes have streaming service apps and can be used as an alternative to a Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV, or whatever you're using to watch Netflix and other streaming services.

The TiVo Bolt OTA, eg packed with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Plex and more. And with regular firmware updates, you do not have to worry about missing out on new services like Disney +. In addition, the TiVo Bolt OTA can be streamed in 4K, making it an ideal alternative to the expensive 4K streaming stick in your Amazon wish list.

You can integrate an OTA box into your Smarthome

Most streaming sticks are built for smarthome integration. Whether you're using a Fire TV stick or a Chromecast, you can use your voice to search for new shows or pause playback. Luckily, some OTA boxes have a smarthome feature that makes them a good streaming alternative for smarthome geeks.

When you pair a product like the TiVo Bolt OTA and Amazon Fire TV Recast with your Smart Assistant, you can use voice commands to switch channels, find shows, skip commercials, or schedule recordings. You can also use voice commands to remotely control an OTA box, whether you are facing the house or in a supermarket.

Which OTA box should you buy?

Before you buy an expensive OTA box, make sure that you have done a digital antenna. Otherwise, your OTA box will not work. You should also check which channels are available in your area. There is a possibility that your favorite channels are all cable and not all OTA channels are broadcast nationally. OTA boxes enhance the Free TV experience, but this improvement is useless if you can not find anything you can see.

There are a plethora of OTA boxes on the market that differ in quality and functionality. Some of them can dominate your entertainment center and replace your streaming sticks, while others are essentially a DVR for aerial television. And to be honest, some cheap OTA boxes do not offer suitable DVRs.

  A TV tower in front of an evening sky.
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So, which OTA box should you buy? In the end, it depends only on your needs. Would you like to see Netflix through an OTA box, or do you just want to record some football matches? Do you need intelligent assistant functions or are you satisfied with a remote control?

The TiVo Bolt OTA

If you are looking for a feature rich 4K OTA box, consider the TiVo Bolt OTA. This product essentially makes your Free TV experience something more akin to cable television (or better than cable TV). The TiVo Bolt can record multiple shows simultaneously, stream live TV and recordings to other devices, and serve as a 4K replacement for your Roku or Chromecast. You can also remotely control the TiVo bolt using the TiVo app or an intelligent assistant such as Alexa or Google Assistant.

Of course, the TiVo bolt has some disadvantages – the price is big. The TiVo Bolt costs around $ 250 and will not work without a TiVo subscription that will give you $ 7 a month. But hey, it's much cheaper than cable TV and can replace the dormant streaming sticks that strain the HDMI ports on your TV.

The Tablo Dual Lite

Like the TiVo Bolt OTA, the Tablo Dual Lite can replace your streaming sticks and enhance your free TV experience. It can record multiple shows simultaneously, pause live TV, stream TV to other devices, and have a handful of integrated streaming service apps.

With its features (and its price of $ 140), the Tablo Dual Lite is a great OTA and a cost effective alternative to the TiVo Bolt. The Tablo Dual Lite has a subscription fee of $ 6 per month, it does not support 4K, and you can not control it with Alexa or Google Assistant.

The Fire TV Recast

Amazon makes a ton of products, from the echo to the fire tablet. Strangely enough, the company also produces an OTA box called Fire TV Recast. This is not a standalone product and does not work without Fire TV. That is not necessarily a bad thing. If you have an Alexa Smarthome, the Fire TV Recast may be the perfect OTA box for you.

Like other premium OTA boxes, the Fire TV Recast can record multiple shows simultaneously, broadcast video to phones and other devices, and it can pause live TV. The key feature of the Recast, however, is the Alexa compatibility. With a recast you can bring live and recorded TV programs to any Fire TV or echo program in your home. As expected, this feature is easy to set up and can be controlled with voice commands.

At $ 190, Recast is a product that works best in a well-established smart device. It does not work without Fire TV, and its defining features depend on Alexa compatibility.


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