Can you record TV shows from your antenna? The short answer is, yes!
While it’s a little more complicated than when you are recording a show from cable TV. You can still record your TV shows and favorite series if you receive your TV signals from an antenna—especially a digital antenna.
If this is something you’ve been wondering about or are interested in doing, then you’ve come to the right place. You have several different options at your disposal, as we will discuss below.
What devices can you use to Record TV Shows from Antenna?
There are several options that will allow you to record TV shows from your antenna. Let’s take a look at what they are.
This is probably the most old-fashioned option your parents might be familiar with. You can simply buy a blank VHS tape and record your TV show with a VCR.
What is the downside?
VHS is obviously a pretty old format so don’t expect a high-quality recording. You’ll get a much lower resolution (roughly 333×480 pixels) compared to modern formats.
So, if you are not that picky about picture quality, then it’s still a pretty adequate option if you only want to watch your shows. You can set a timer with most VCRs so you can record your shows when away from home.
You can either buy a standalone DVR unit or use the one from your old cable or satellite subscriptions (If any). It will function just like a VCR recorder: simply set a timer and it will record from you.
However, you won’t have to purchase a blank tape to record, as a DVR unit will save your shows on its hard disk.
Convenience and quality-wise, DVR is probably the best option, but DVR units might not be very cheap.
DVD Recorders or Bluray recorders
Another option is to get a DVD recorder (remember that not all DVD players can record). You have to purchase a blank DVD (very affordable nowadays).
DVDs can store videos with pretty decent quality, but it’s not the best according to today’s standards.
If you want quality, get a Bluray recorder instead, but both the Bluray recorder/player and a blank Bluray disc are much more expensive.
TV Tuner + Computer
You can get a TV tuner card that you can connect to your computer (PC or laptop). Simply connect the coax cable from your digital antenna to the available port on the TV Tuner, and connect the TV tuner to your PC.
Typically they come with an included video capture software that you can use right away to save digital recordings to your computer’s hard disk.
What is the Best DVR for Antenna TV
Amazon’s Fire TV lineup is obviously no stranger to today’s TV streaming trends, with some of the most popular and easy to use streaming boxes like the Fire TV Stick 4K.
A good thing about the Amazon Fire TV Recast is that it doesn’t require any subscription from Amazon. It is very easy to install and use, and comes with Amazon’s great channel guide.
The thing is, it’s not the cheapest option available on the market. But, considering it comes with great hard drive storage and the fact that you don’t have to pay for any software and subscription, overall it’s a very decent pick if you are looking for quality. It also comes with a built-in Amazon Alexa functionality.
You will, however, need a Fire TV device (like Fire TV Stick) on your TV if you want to make the most of the Recast’s playback function.
Pros and Cons
- Includes decent hard drive storage space (500GB or 1TB options)
- Integration with Amazon’s excellent Fire TV ecosystem and Amazon Alexa devices
- Supports dual and quad-tuner depending on your option
- Great video playback quality and great streaming performance
- No software subscription included
- Easy to install and use
- Can convert 30FPS signals to 720p 60 FPS signals
- Only supports two simultaneous streams
- Requires an Amazon Fire TV device for playback function
SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun devices are also popular among many cord-cutters due to their excellent sets of features and reliability.
With that being said, the HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro is an excellent option to get if you are looking for a lot of (four) tuners and large built-in 1TB storage.
The HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro also integrates very well with Plex TV, which recently has gained a lot of popularity among cord-cutters as an excellent replacement for OTA TV services. So, if you are a Plex user, this is a great option to consider.
Also, the Scribe Quatro offers a free plan for viewing your recordings, a great TV guide, and other essential DVR functions.
You will need to upgrade to a premium plan, however, if you want to access extra features like scheduled recordings, customized recordings (i.e. the whole season of a show), etc.
Pros and Cons
- Integration with popular Plex TV
- 1TB onboard storage with four tuners
- Easy mobile viewing with great quality
- Doesn’t require any subscription
- Need to upgrade to the paid premium plan for expanded features
- Doesn’t integrate with other streaming services besides Plex TV at the moment
- The app is not as polished as Amazon’s
If you are looking for an affordable option, the Mediasonic Homeworx can be a great pick. It has a lot to offer, especially considering its price tag.
It doesn’t really offer a polished app or refined channel guide, and the interface might look a bit cluttered, but it can save recordings in various formats and comes with a lot of output options from HDMI, composite out, and an antenna passthrough.
Comes with a pretty basic remote, but has all the useful buttons you need from a DVR remote like channel list or program guide. Also, you don’t need to pay for an additional software subscription.
In short, although it doesn’t offer any impressive features and the onboard app isn’t very polished, it’s very affordable.
Pros and Cons
- An affordable option with no subscription fees
- A lot of output options (HDMI, composite for older TVs, RF for antenna input)
- USB input available
- Recordings saved to external HDD in DRM-free file formats
- Compact and portable
- Doesn’t come with an included HDD, you’ll need to connect an external drive via the USB port
- Obsolete software experience
- Single tuner only
Using USB Drive to Record TV Shows
If you have a TV set with a USB out port, then you can simply use an external HDD or a USB drive to record your TV shows from antenna reception. A good way to check for whether your TV supports this is to check your TV’s built-in remote whether it has a Record button (or red circle) on it.
You can simply insert your USB flash drive or HDD into the TV’s USB port. Simply press the Record button on your remote, and it should start recording. Your external HDD or USB drive will essentially function as a DVR.
Keep in mind, however, that you will need a USB drive with a sufficient read/write speed, and our recommendation is to get an actual HDD or SSD with sufficient storage size.
If it’s an HDD, make sure it has a sufficient spin speed of at least 5400 RPM (7200 RPM recommended).
Today’s TV shows can eat a lot of storage space, especially if it comes in HD resolution, so you might want to get an HDD of at least 500 GB or 1 TB in size.
Ideally, the HDD should have its own power source (i.e. it comes with an AC adapter), if the drive takes its power from the TV set via USB, then make sure the cable is short enough to prevent performance loss.
When you plug in your USB drive or HDD/SSD to the TV, the TV should let you know whether the drive is OK and supported, or whether you’ll need to format it first. If the drive isn’t empty you might want to first back up its data.
Playback Your USB Recording
When the USB is connected to the TV, you may actually see playback options on your TV screen for newer TV models. If not, press the Source button on your remote, and select the USB drive from the option
Keep in mind that not all TV models offer recording and playback functions.
How To Use TV Tuner to Record TV Shows from Antenna?
TV-tuners might come with cloud DVR capabilities, has a built-in DVR, or alternatively, you can connect it to a supported DVR or your PC to record your TV shows.
We’d recommend connecting the TV tuner to your PC/laptop so you can easily manage the files and you don’t have to connect an external HDD/USB drive as the files will be stored in your computer’s hard disk instead.
To do this:
Step 1: Connect the TV tuner to your PC by plugging the USB cable from the TV tuner into your PC’s USB port.
Step 2: Attach the cable from the antenna (or other signal sources like cable or satellite) to the TV tuner. Typically this will involve a coaxial cable with a coupler on the end. You can turn the coupler clockwise around the threaded jack to connect the coax cable.
Step 3: if you haven’t already, perform a channel scan on the TV tuner, there should be a “Scan, “Auto-Tune” or similar functions on the tuner.
Step 4: Open a video recording software (might come with the TV tuner) on your computer. Your TV tuner might also support third-party recording apps.
Step 5: Set the tuner to the desired channel.
Step 6: Click the Record button on the video recording software to begin recording the show. Click Stop when you are done. The software typically will then prompt you with an option to save the recorded file. Simply type a name for the recorded file and click Save.
We hope we’ve answered your question, how to record TV shows from your antenna. If you liked this article consider sharing it on your favorite social channel. Also, check out some of our other great content below.
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