How To DVR TV Shows Without a Subscription Fee

By | May 13, 2024

DVR TV Shows  Without a Subscription Fee
Many Cable TV subscribers pay a rental fee that can be replaced and are surprised that they can DVR TV shows and movies without paying.

There are several DVR boxes that have no monthly fee and will record shows.

Most of these No-Fee DVR boxes also have built-in digital (ATSC) tuners. Meaning they can play and record free-over-the-air channels such as CBS, FOX, NBC, and much more.

Is there DVRs that Do Not Require a Subscription?

Yes, there are many DVRs that do not require a subscription.

They record video to an internal hard drive or external flash drive, which can be played back at any time.

They also often have other functions, such as timers, built-in ATSC tuners, and more.

What is the Downside of a Subscription-free DVR?

Subscription-free DVRs often don’t come with many of the features a subscription DVR will have, such as a cable TV box.
How To DVR TV Shows Without a Subscription Fee 2020
For example, commercials will not be skip-able; and support is often limited.

What is the Upside of a Subscription-free DVR?

The main positive is the one-time price of buying the DVR and not worrying about monthly fees.

If you are looking to cut the cable cord, then a DVR box with no fees is ideal since it can record over-the-air free TV broadcasts.

Read Here For Our Pick Of Over-The-Air TV antennas.

Is a Subscription Free DVR Right for You?

This question will no doubt depend on the person and what they are looking for in a home entertainment box.

While one person won’t mind fast-forwarding through commercials, another person might.

Most people looking for such DVRs are in the process of getting rid of cable TV.

If you are getting rid of cable/satellite TV, then a DVR box with an ATSC tuner is a great option since it can pick up and record over-the-air antenna TV.

Below are some of our picks for DVR boxes with many good units available.

As always, be sure to read reviews on Amazon, forums, or elsewhere to be sure a unit is the right pick for you.

*This post contains affiliate links
Our Picks for Best Subscription Free DVR’s

  1. Mediasonic HW130STB
  2. Best OTA TV Converter Box with DVR Mediasonic Homeworx Record Options
    Available Here on Amazon

    The Mediasonic HW130STB has a built-in TV tuner card, so it can convert free over-the-air channels and record them.

    It uses an external hard drive or flash drive to record shows that must be bought separately.

    The Mediasonic HW130STB is a very low-cost option with good basic functionality.

    There are more expensive units with large internal storage and more functions, but for those looking to simply record and playback TV shows or movies, it is worth a look.

  3. ZJBOX Digital TV Converter Box

  4. Available Here on Amazon

    The ZJBOX is a digital TV converter box that is similar to the Mediasonic HOMEWORX.

    It can record and playback videos with a simple-to-use menu system.

    The unit records to a flash drive which needs to be bought separately.

    It can connect to a TV with HDMI or older AV connections, making it compatible with almost any TV.

  5. EXuby X3200RF
  6. Available Here on Amazon

    This unit from eXuby is another low cost option for recording over the air TV channels.

    It is a good basic DVR for picking up broadcasts over-the-air and recording them.

    It Connects to a TV with HDMI, Composite, or Coaxial cable.

  7. Fire TV Recast
  8. Available Here on Amazon

    The Fire TV Recast is a good option for those who use a Fire TV stick.

    It has two versions, 500GB and 1TB, for lots of storage for TV shows and movies.

    The Fire TV Recast does not work with Cable TV and is built to work with free over-the-air TV channels.

    It also does not hook to a TV with a cable but transmits the video over the WiFi.

    This means a compatible smart TV or Fire TV device will need to be used to watch recorded videos.

    An antenna will be needed to pick up OTA stations depending on how far away from the towers it is.

    There are many good OTA TV antennas, from large outdoor units to cheap indoor models.

    The Fire TV Recast is a good option for those looking to get rid of cable and get rid of monthly fees.

    Most locations in the USA can get 50-100 TV channels for free over the air, such as ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, Univision, and more.

5 thoughts on “How To DVR TV Shows Without a Subscription Fee

  1. Ann Margaret Lala

    I have a sharp tv which I bought in 2008
    I am getting the main channels WDSU NBC Fox, and channels 26, 38.49, 54.
    I do have a problem every once in awhile with Channel 4 or 6 and the sub channels but the picture is not very clear on some of the channels. I think I need a signal booster or something else. I have a mohu antenna and I am close to New Orleans.
    I live in Metairie,La.

  2. Cheryl

    we purchased a Tivo Bolt OTA and a Tivo Mini vox but we really are not happy with how the signal from our DSL internet (that is all we can get in our area) will not stay connected very well when we try to do streaming. We were trying to get away from Dish satelite because we don’t watch most of the channels on there. There are tv shows we like to record on OTA tv is there any good sugestions?

    1. Jon

      You can look into these but they hook directly up to the tv so no streaming throughout your home. I bought mine years ago when they were just being discontinued at the price of $189 I believe. I scored mine at a local electronics shop for $75. Stock they only came with 40 or 80 GB drives so I upgraded mine to a 500GB drive. Bear in mind they use the older PATA/IDE drives and not the standard SATA drives of today, unfortunately. Otherwise I’d slap a 1 or 2 TB SSD drive into it. It could probably be done with a little modification. I may have done it back then had SATA & SSD been the norm. SATA was already in use but I’m not sure if SSD had come out yet. I felt like I had cable when I’d come home and watch my recordings while having the ability to skip commercials. If you desire, you can even edit out commercials and burn a program to DVD. It’s not the most intuitive for commercial removal but I’m uber geek so I like figuring out how to make things work, usually. While I haven’t completely retired this thing I haven’t used it in a while because I’ve had the luxury of having access to multiple cable provider logins for more than a few years thanks to a few friends and family members.

      I’m a gadget guy so I have 3 Hauppauge products. 1 internal tuner and 2 of their capture devices. I’m not seeing the desktop pc internal dual tuner cards on their site any longer but I see some available on ebay. The internal dual tuner models are HVR-2250 and I wasn’t aware of the upgraded HVR-2255. The HVR-1150 listed on the Hauppauge site is a single tuner card. If you search on ebay for any of the Hauppauge products, you’ll have varying degrees of success depending on your search terms. For example, HVR2250 or HVR2255, vs HVR-2250 or HVR-2255 and even HVR 2250 or HVR 2255. I noticed a difference if I included or omitted the hyphen. They also have a WinTV-quadHD tuner available. The 2250, 2255 and quad tuners come with a remote if brand new in a box, as well as a few other accessories. You may not receive all the accessories from some ebay sellers so keep that in mind. The 2250, 2255 and quad internal tuners support half height computer cases as long as all the accessories are included. If you don’t know what half height means, my half height HP is 4″ high while my full height Dell is 7″ high. It’s worth noting that Hauppauge provides guide data via “”. You won’t have to visit the site to grab guide data. Hauppauge’s accompanying software is called WinTV which may need to be purchased separately if you buy a tuner from ebay. WinTV will place a shortcut on your desktop to access your guide data. If I remember correctly, WinTV 7 and WinTV 8 require internet for guide data while WinTV 10 pulls the guide data OTA from the television signal. I’m not familiar with any of the TiVo products because I don’t like to pay exorbitant subscription fees although I’m aware of the OTA products including the Roamio OTA. I’m not sure why your DSL speeds would affect your streaming in the house with an OTA device.

      I hope that helps out a little. I didn’t see anybody else chime in on this so hopefully you’ll come back and see my reply and if not, hopefully it will help someone else that may stumble onto this site/post.


    we have smart tv’s that get netflex, hulu and all other pay movies and shows.
    we just want a dvr ota that works like the old VCR’s. with options to manually schedule records over the air channels, fast foward, rewind and pause! JUST LIKE THE OLD VCR’S kid

    1. Joe DeLalla

      I’m looking for exactly the same thing Connie. Were you able to locate one that works this way?


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