The Xbox One was designed to be the ultimate cable box—but what if you don’t have cable? Soon, you’ll be able to plug a USB dongle into your Xbox One to get live, over-the-air TV programming in North America.
The $80 Hauppage WinTV-955Q will be the first TV tuner natively recognized by the game console, integrating into the Xbox’s existing TV schemes—meaning you’ll be able to pick and choose what you want to watch with Microsoft’s OneGuide (see below), switch channels with your voice ( if you have a Kinect), beam it over to a connected tablet (if you have the Xbox One SmartGlass app), and watch it snapped side-by-side with your favorite video game.
The Xbox also has a pretty nifty feature that’ll let you “pause” live TV if you need to take a break—it can buffer up to 30 minutes of TV on the hard drive.
Before you get too excited, there’s a bit of setup involved, and this feature isn’t available for everyone right away. Not only do you need the USB TV tuner, but you’ll also need an antenna—indoor or outdoor—that can actually pull down signals from the ether. Me, personally, I’m in an over-the-air deadzone behind a big hill and a freeway, and you might be in the same boat. Microsoft recommends this website to help you figure it out.
If you want to start today, you’ll also need to be a member of the Xbox Preview Program, or else wait a few months till Microsoft rolls out the feature to everyone. There’s another reason to wait, though: according to the company, there’ll be another, cheaper $60 version of the dongle, specifically designed for the Xbox One, that’ll arrive about the same time as the new feature.
Oh, and if you live in Europe or Australia, check out this device instead. It’s available in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and Microsoft says it’ll be coming to Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland soon.