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How to watch over-the-air broadcasts on an Xbox One (even though Microsoft's TV tuner isn't available stateside)

Jared Newman | Feb. 13, 2015
Microsoft makes a big deal about how the Xbox One lets you watch live TV directly through the console. Just plug your cable box into the HDMI In slot, they say, and you can view the full channel guide and schedule your DVR without ever switching inputs. You can even change channels with voice commands (if you have Kinect) and "Snap" the video to the side of the screen while you play a game.

Type in "Mediasonic" when the console asks what brand your box is. At the next screen, choose the manual "Enter it" option instead of guided setup.

Type in "HW" and hit enter. A sidebar menu should appear, from which you can select "HW180STB (new version)." This allows your Xbox controller to communicate with the MediaSonic box, either through Kinect or your IR extension cables.

All that's left is to set up the programming guide. Head back to the TV & OneGuide menu, select "OneGuide," and then "TV lineup. Choose "Antenna" from the sidebar menu and enter your zip code.

And that's it! You can now watch live, over-the-air programming through the Xbox One's TV app. With Kinect or IR extension cables plugged into the back of the console, you can change channels with the Xbox controller instead of the Mediasonic remote. Kinect users can also use voice commands, such as "Xbox, watch ABC." Who knew watching TV with rabbit ears could be so futuristic?

If you have an external hard drive hooked up to the MediaSonic box, you can also pause and resume live video through the Xbox interface, though I had trouble getting playback to run smoothly. MediaSonic also offers DVR scheduling for over-the-air programs, but you must use MediaSonic's clunky remote control and built-in interface for that.

Is there any reason to hold out for an official TV tuner from Microsoft? Not really, unless you believe Microsoft can deliver SmartGlass video playback on phones and tablets, like it does in Europe. To bring that feature stateside, Microsoft needs to grapple with content-licensing issues, and I'm skeptical that'll happen anytime soon.

In the meantime, MediaSonic's box offers nearly all the same features for cheap. It's worth considering if you've cut the cord and feel like you've been missing out on the full Xbox One experience.

 

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