How To DVR TV Shows Without a Subscription Fee

By | June 20, 2021

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.

So What’s the Downside?
Subscription-free DVRs often don’t come with many of the features a cable TV company monthly fee box has.
How To DVR TV Shows Without a Subscription Fee 2020
For example, commercials will not be skip-able also support is often limited.

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

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

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

Is a Subscription Free Box 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 is some of our picks for DVR box 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 HOMEWORX
  2. Mediasonic ATSC Digital Converter Box with Recording / Media Player / TV Tuner Function (HW130STB)

    The Mediasonic HOMEWORX connects to a TV through HDMI, Composite, or Coaxial cable.
    How To DVR TV Shows Without a Subscription Fee
    It 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 Homeworx 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 play back TV shows or movies it is worth a look.

  3. ZJBOX Digital TV Converter Box
  4. Digital TV Converter Box, ATSC Cabal Box – ZJBOX for Analog HDTV Live1080P with PVR Recording&Playback,HDMI Output,Timer Setting TV Tuner Function Set Top Box Digital Channel Free

    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 the older AV connections, making it compatible with almost any TV.

  5. EXuby X3200RF
  6. eXuby Digital TV Converter Box for TV View and Record HD Digital Channels for Free (Instant or Scheduled Recording, 1080P HDTV, HDMI Output, 7 Day Program Guide) – Comes with RF and RCA Cable

    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 broadcast over-the-air and recording them.

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

  7. Fire TV Recast
  8. Fire TV Recast, over-the-air DVR, 1 TB, 150 hours, DVR for cord cutters

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

    It has two versions the 500GB and 1TB for lots of storage of 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 no hook to a TV with a cable but transmits 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.



6 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.


    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?

  3. 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.

      You can also take a look at these:

      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.

    2. Jon

      I forgot to recommend:

      Locast depends on your market. It’s available in 22 major U.S. cities. With any luck, you’re in the proper market. If you are in the proper market, you can watch quite a few channels for free. This alone doesn’t solve your DVR concerns but if you’re in the proper market you can couple this with:

      ChannelsDVR turns your computer into a DVR meaning your computer needs to run as long as you’re recording or watching TV. It costs $8/mo and they give you the first month free although it does require a credit card, no PayPal option. Alternatively you can opt to pay $80/yr. It also has companion apps for Android, iOS, AppleTV and Amazon fireTV stick/fireTV. There is no Roku app and I’m not sure if they have any future plans to deploy to the Roku. The companion apps are free as long as you’re paying the monthly fee. The android app has no Chromecast support as of yet so that’s a bummer.

      ChannelsDVR also works in conjunction with SiliconDust HDHomeRun DVRs but an HDHomeRun is not required. Obviously you already have a DVR at that point so there’s no need to use Channels, right? Well Channels also allows you to connect your cable provider credentials if you have access to a cable provider login, multiple cable providers at that. I have 3 cable/streaming providers that I don’t pay for as I mentioned in my previous reply and I’ve added them to my ChannelsDVR account. I don’t own an HDHomeRun so I also don’t have DVR functionality without ChannelsDVR. If I use the standalone Xfinity or Spectrum apps on any of my devices, I have no pause, record or rewind functionality. No bathroom breaks if I am watching something live. I only have those functions with On Demand content. Xfinity isn’t available in the amazon store so no fireTV with Xfinity. I can’t even use Xfinity or Spectrum on my Rokus unless I’m at my friend’s home because they won’t authorize from a IP address other than the subscriber’s home. I’m not a kid and so you’ll never see me with my nose buried into my phone watching anything while I have bigger screens virtually everywhere. Add to that, Spectrum has no Chromecast support for their mobile app and Xfinity FINALLY added Chromecast support. Still no record, etc.. Enter ChannelsDVR.

      With the recent SECOND price increase to YouTube TV, I quit them. Initially it was $35/mo plus tax. After this price hike it’s almost $70/mo after taxes. $69 and change. Even though I had the Spectrum and Xfinity apps/logins I wanted fast forward, pause, record and rewind functionality so I paid for YouTube TV for a few years. Had I found Channels a few years ago, I would have never paid for YouTube TV. I only discovered Channels a few days ago hence my enthusiasm.

      Back to Locast coupled with Channels. Locast is free, provided you’re in the right market (You can use a VPN to change your location), to stream with no recording functionality. ChannelsDVR costs $8/mo. If you want to record Locast channels, that’s an additional $5.50/mo for their lowest donation. Locast accepts PayPal. Free without adding it to Channels for recording functionality, $5.50/mo if you add it to ChannelsDVR. The Locast website says that cost will only go up as they expand into new markets and more people cut the cord. You don’t need Channels to use Locast, Channels is only required to use your computer as a DVR. With that in mind, hard drive space would be a concern. For Channels and Locast it currently costs $13.50/mo if you’re paying by the month and currently $140.50/yr.

      If you DO have an HDHomeRun and don’t need to use your computer as a DVR, you can pay a one time fee of $24.99 per platform (Android, iOS, AppleTV or Amazon). The one time fee approach absolutely requires an HDHomeRun and there’s no ability to add cable providers to your Channels account.

      One final note. I was able to easily change my location using a VPN to pay for Locast and add that to my Channels account on my desktop because there’s no GPS chip in any of my desktops but it took a bit of work under the hood of firefox to add Locast to my brother’s Channels account on his laptop because they jam a GPS chip into laptops. I know this is a lot to take in but I like to be thorough because I really hate when I have to put all the pieces together due to insufficient documentation. Hope this helps someone/anyone.


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