Best External TV Tuners in 2020



SiliconDust HDHR5-4US HDHomeRun Connect Quatro 4 Channel Tuner Bundle with Blucoil 10-FT 1 Gbps Cat5e Cable, 5-Pack of Reusable Cable Ties Review:


I've always loved the idea of being able to record live TV. This box alone *only* streams. It can NOT record without a 3rd party app. Luckily, software like PLEX or their own make this possible by using your PC's HDD to record your favorite shows and make a live channel pausable.

Upon purchasing, the box contained the device, a cat5 cable, the power adapter and the advertised extras (another longer cat5 cable and the velcro straps). The device its self is very light and fits in the palm of my and! Only 3 simple connections required. One to your router, one to power and the last to your cable or antenna. After said, there are NO drivers necessary! Plug & Play if you're already a Plex Pass users such as myself.

I highly recommend this item for the fact it does as it advertises and allows up to 4 separate channels to be streamed or recorded at a time. It shows up as a Network Device in windows, but you can't really comfortably use it without 3rd party software.

Pros:
- Small footprint
- Works very well
- Two cat5 cables included
- Runs cool, very easy setup.

Cons:
- Needs more blinky-flashy LEDs! (not really a con, just a preference)



SiliconDust HDHR5-4US HDHomeRun Connect Quatro 4-Tuner Live TV for Cord Cutters (Renewed) Review:


This thing is a home run! It's such a nice device with such a great interface that I want to use it just for the thrill of using it. I can now just buy one good TV antenna and watch TV from my computer, phone, fire sticks, tablets, etc.

This is even better than when I was directly connecting to my TV because it has a channel listing with program guide, so you can see what's on and what's next. The interface is superb and one of the things I like best!

Getting it set up is a breeze. I just plugged it into my router, powered it up, went to the website, and ran the setup routine to discover channels. It worked flawlessly.

One complaint -- a WiFi connection would have been nice to have on this, because my router is not located in the same room where I wanted to place my antenna. But I just got a Netgear AC750 WiFi extender for $30 that has an Ethernet port for plugging the HDHomeRun into, and now I can put the antenna/HDHomeRun in any room in the house and it connects to the router wirelessly. As an added benefit, my WiFi is extended now too!

This thing is phenomenal and well worth it for me. I wish I had purchased it long ago!



Nooelec NESDR Smart v4 Bundle - Premium RTL-SDR w/Aluminum Enclosure, 0.5PPM TCXO, SMA Input & 3 Antennas. RTL2832U & R820T2-Based Software Defined Radio. Review:


These work great for RTL-SDR use. Plus they give you a pack of 3 Various antennas. NooElec also sends you an Email link on how to setup this SDR up in Windows. For the price, these are just incredible to mess around with for looking at the RF spectrum or to check signal levels For Your New Scanner Antenna! You should also buy a (SMA male to F female adapter ) to hook up to some RG6 cable for an outdoor antenna setup for less interference (noise floor) from your computer, etc. Very revealing, to see just how good/bad a signal comes in to you and how high the noise floor level floats underneath. You could spend thousands and get a high end device to do that too, but this SDR (with the free software) will give you nearly that accuracy for $25. I have at least one running all the time and after an hour or so, there is No Drift whatsoever! I'm locked on a P-25 control channel and the carrier peaks exactly on frequency and just stays there all day. It has no drift. You can't ask for better specs. It receives radio signals from about the CB band (27Mhz) to about 1.7Ghz. Great for radio type "pirate experiments" too. You can hear and examine any signal you point it at, but it will only decode audio on Analog signals with the standard software. Digital P-25, etc signals will just be heard as noise bursts. For these digital signals P-25/trunking you'll need two of these SDR units and other software and yet more advanced computer skills. You can also use it to look at FM radio broadcast signals, and RDS data too. You can hear those as well. I also have the NESDR mini 2, but this is the better package deal. The case gets warm but it does not block another USB port, so this thing was well thought out. It is not a toy. NooElec gets my 5 stars vote for an Incredible Radio Receiver Device that really delivers the goods as a full fledged advanced RF Analyzer Tool with a low price. They don't know how Great it really is. I have wanted this particular device in my possession for 40 years. Great product, NooElec!



NooElec NESDR Smart v4 SDR - Premium RTL-SDR w/Aluminum Enclosure, 0.5PPM TCXO, SMA Input. RTL2832U & R820T2-Based Software Defined Radio Review:


New design is very nice. The narrower body makes it much easier to use these in cramped quarters. Having two or more side-by-side where USB port spacing is tight shouldn't be an issue, although stacking them top-to-bottom could be an issue if the ports are close together.

Aluminum case feels solid, fit and finish is excellent, no issues with either the USB or SMA connector. TCXO has a very tight tolerance; mine only needs 0.25ppm correction.

Performance wise, these compare favorably to the popular RTL-SDR.com dongles. I see no discernible difference in the noise floor or any other performance category to distinguish one from another, aside from the slightly better TCXO that NooElec uses in these dongles. Both perform equally well, and are the only 'budget' RTL dongles that you should be spending any money on these days.

I already own a few of the RTL-SDR.com dongles, and was previously not all that impressed with NooElec's offerings. I found them to be overpriced at the time for features that RTL-SDR.com was including at less than half the price. Now that they've gotten their prices in line with RTL-SDR.com, and have come out with this new design with a better TCXO, they've won me over. I plan on picking up a few more of these.

See attached photos for a physical comparison alongside the RTL-SDR.com dongle.



AV Access HDMI Extender(HDBaseT), Uncompressed 4K 60Hz Over Single Cat5e/6a, 70m(230ft) 1080P,40m(130ft) 4K, PoE+IR+RS232+HDCP2.2, HDR & Dobly Vision, Dolby Atmos & DTS:X, CEC Review:


Received AV Access HDMI Extender model 4KEX70-L, plugged everything in, as instructed, and everything seem to work well for 1080P content. Only issue that I have is the IR function. I reviewed the instructions and connected what I believe to be the receiving IR (big sensor) to the IR input of the RX Extender and the transmitting IR (small sensor) to the IR output of the TX Extender. It seem to work for just a few minutes using the device remote, but then stopped transmitting the IR signal to the remote device.
Removed power and recycle Extenders, but still not IR functionality. Then, tried to align the IR emitter, which did solve this minor problem. This was the only minor issue that I had to resolve. Upgraded the review from 4 to 5 stars, as this device does exactly what I needed to do. It works very well for the distance that I need to have HDMI/IR signal transmitted to and from.
Great find!

UPDATE (10/18/2016): I've had this device for a week and have put it through it's paces. This thing rocks, I used this device to setup a second zone connection in a living space with only a HDTV mounted to the wall exists. I have access to all of the components connected to the AVR, as if they are in the same room. As I'm using a AVR that can support multiple zones, I have the ability to use a single set of decent components, which in the past I've had to purchase multiple blu-ray players, media players and soon. With this device, I'm able to setup a second video zone where I only need to have power plugged in to the transmitter and at the receiver end I simply connect the IR emitter, Ethernet and HDMI cables to enjoy accessing all of my Media devices that are conveniently located in the basement within a server closet. This device is a great way to use a single Ethernet cable extend the HDMI connection for a device or component that is located several meters away. Within my home theater, I only have a HDTV, a blu-ray player and a 9.1 speaker system. Everything works, as if they are stacked up in front of the TV.

UPDATE 3/20/2017:
Unit began to flicker video after three (3) months of use and then gradually got worse. Reached out to AV Access support/sales several times over the passed 3 weeks about the difference between 4KEX70-L and the newly release 4KEX70-R and why DTS audio does not play. Apparently the "R" version is updated and supports more features than the "L" version. All my initial tests of the 4KEX70-L were with blu-rays using Dolby Audio 5.1, however, I have a large number of DTS audio blu-rays that never seem to play DTS audio. Not sure if it's a compatibility issue with this 4KEX70-L version and other devices, but DTS audio transport should be standard and there seems to be a problem passing thru DTS audio. Have reached out to AV Access again, concerning the issue and would like to request a exchange with the newer "R" version in order to support their documented "Stereo Audio,LPCM 2.1/ 5.1/ 7.1CH, DTS,Dolby pass through" claims and to address the flickering video issues. Of course when video drops out, so does audio. At this time reducing my review to 3 stars, pending AV Access response to my situations.

UPDATE (06/26/2017):
After working with AV Access Support, it was determined that the unit that I had been experience drop-out of video and audio was defective. Jessica from AV Access Support worked with me to ensure I received a functioning replacement unit which did resolve all the issues that I had been experiencing. The units that I have now are working exactly as advertised and I can not say enough about the support that I received from Jessica. She wanted to make sure that the product addressed my needs and stayed focused on my situation, to ensure I was satisfied with the operation of the units. THANKS Jessica for hanging in there with me. I appreciate the commitment that you have demonstrated to ensure your customers are satisfied.



SiliconDust HDHomeRun Connect Duo 2-Tuner LiveTV for Cord Cutters (HDHR5-2US) Review:


Bought this for use with Plex DVR. Setup couldn't have been easier. Plug in antenna, plug into my network, and Plex immediately found and configured it. There's really nothing to configure as far as the HomeRun is concerned. If you're using this with Plex, the EXTEND version seems like a no brainer, since it will significantly reduce the storage requirements for the streams. Plex is able to transcode in real time to h.264 when recording, but I am sure my 6 year old PC Plex server is not capable of doing that with any kind of quality, and certainly not two streams at once. The extra $60 seems a small price to pay to keep load off the server when recording. If you have a really fast server and fast hardwired network, then maybe not necessary, but seems like cheap insurance.

HARDWARE

Appears to be of good build quality. Solidly made. No buttons, one light on the LAN port. Simple.

SOFTWARE

The internal web UI for configuration is (charitably) basic, but there's really not much to configure other than transcoding options. Plex can manage the options through its DVR setup anyway. It would be nice if the web UI had some kind of integrated signal strength meter to help with positioning antenna, but there's a free android app that works well enough for this.

I tried the "beta" Android app for watching live TV and the Kodi extension running on my Amazon Fire TV (gen 1). The Android app works OK, though the video seems to stutter a bit. The Kodi extension works flawlessly. It's a little surprising that they don't have better apps since this product has been around for such a long time, but I guess most people use it in conjunction with some other software anyway.

OVERALL

HDHomeRun + Plex DVR is awesome. Having OTA broadcasts appear in Plex is a dream come true. I just canceled my DirecTV service. The only thing I am missing right now is being able to start watching recordings while they are in progress (though this has nothing to do with this hardware, and really just software support - perhaps Plex Live TV will support this).



SiliconDust HDHomeRun Connect Duo HDHR5-2US Dual Tuner Bundle with Blucoil 2-Way TV Coaxial Cable Splitter and 5-Pack of Reusable Cable Ties Review:


I have had the HD HomeRun installed and running in my home for about a month and a half now. I bought it to work in conjunction with Sling TV, since Sling does not include local channels (4, 5, 7, 10, etc.) When signing up with Sling, I got a free HD antenna to hook up to a TV, but I connected it to the HD HomeRun instead.

I installed the app on my Amazon Fire Stick, and it detected the HD HomeRun device on my network immediately. The app runs fine on the Fire Stick. With the antenna situated in my front living room window, I am picking up 45 over-air broadcasted channels. I like the selection of channels the antenna has picked up (some are channels I've never heard of before), and the picture is great - most of the time. Since these channels are all over-air, and because I have a low-end HD antenna, the channels will come in well, only if the weather is fair. If the weather is lousy, forget it - the channels come in blocky. The HD HomeRun isn't to blame for that, though.

HD channels look great. When I get a good signal, the only gripe I have is that at times, depending on the channel and the content, I can see horizontal lines in the picture. This only happens when something is moving fast on the screen. Let me try to explain. If I'm watching an HD channel that is a live news broadcast, and the people on the screen are moving fast, the horizontal lines appear on the moving objects, not the static objects. Family and friends will see the lines, too, only when I point them out. I feel this is due to the antenna, not the HD HomeRun.

I bought the one-year license to activate the DVR feature. I have a local NAS on my network to save the recordings. What I don't like about the app is that when playing recordings or when watching live TV, I don't see a progress bar when I hit pause, fast forward or rewind. Other than that, the recordings work and play back fine - as long as the signal was good at the time of recording; if it wasn't then the recorded show will be blocky. Again - that's a problem with the antenna and its position.

I've also installed and run the HD HomeRun app on my phone and tablet, and it works fine. I can pull up recordings from the DVR from these devices without issue. I think the app's menu options for navigating channels, setting recordings, searching for shows, etc. are good, but could use some tweaking.

I think if I had a better antenna, and had a better position in relation to the broadcast signal, I think I would have less blocky feeds.

Overall, I like the HD HomeRun. It's easy to setup and use. If you're thinking of cutting ties with cable TV, like I did, then this is a good solution for local, over-air broadcasted channels.



Nooelec NESDR Smart HF Bundle: 100kHz-1.7GHz Software Defined Radio Set for HF/UHF/VHF Including RTL-SDR, Assembled Ham It Up Upconverter, Balun, Adapters & Cables Review:


The build quality and finish is clean and professional, conveying confidence in the product. Installation and set-up (including software installation on a mac) was straightforward, problem-free and quick. There is a fairly comprehensive set of accessories included in the kit, though the user will need a USB cable to power the 'Ham it Up' module. It is also a good idea to get a short USB patch cable to avoid plugging the 'NESDR Smart' unit directly in to a USB socket (the USB-A to USB-C / thunderbolt 3 converter for a MacBook Pro is just the job). This reduces mechanical loads on the connection - the module is compact but quite heavy.
The cubicSDR software is almost intuitive to run and the features that it provides (especially the spectral displays) are powerful assets for short-wave listening. Setting up for short-wave work with the frequency offset is easy, but it might be better clarified that there is an upper limit to the frequency range:To go to the higher VHF/UHF ranges it is necessary not only to select 'passthrough', but also to set the frequency offset to zero.
And finally, the provided antennas perform very well, even indoors. I find that the simple telescopic antenna performs just about as well as a 10m long wire hung outdoors.



Nooelec NESDR Mini USB RTL-SDR & ADS-B Receiver Set, RTL2832U & R820T Tuner, MCX Input. Low-Cost Software Defined Radio Compatible with Many SDR Software Packages. R820T Tuner & ESD-Safe Antenna Input Review:


I bought this little guy thinking that it would be a neat way to check out some parts of the local RF scene without investing a lot of money. It is that and more.

First, a couple of nits: the software that you can get for these is not exactly intuitive. I had some minor trouble getting SDR Sharp up and running with this device. The antenna connector is miniscule; I'm thinking this unit would be helped a great deal with a better antenna than the stock unit, but it's going to take some searching to find an adapter to convert the antenna port on the unit to a more common size like BNC or SO-239. Neither one of these issues is a show stopper, and if you get into this with the idea that it is for experimentation, then you'll be satisfied with what you get.

One disappointment: if you are interested in eavesdropping on your local emergency services with Unitrunker and they are using the newer trunked multiplexing 800MHz systems, one of these units is not enough. You will need two: one to monitor the control channel, one to monitor the individual trunked frequencies. I didn't realize this when I made the purchase, and I'm waiting for the right opportunity to buy my second one so I can pick back up where I left off with that idea. With two of these units and Unitrunker software, you'll have a police/fire scanner on the cheap.

But other than those things, this is a great little receiver. I was able to spy on the ADS-B aircraft location reports, tune local radio stations, listen in to a few Ham radio transmissions (quality was not so good on those, I'm thinking it's the antenna) and more with just the included antenna and some freeware I downloaded off the web. (SDR Sharp, Cubic SDR, HDSDR, etc.) Let me be clear: the included antenna is seriously cheesy, and it's a very poor substitute for a more substantial, and possibly homemade unit. But it's good enough to pull in strong signals to prove the thing works.

If you've done your homework, you will know that these units were originally designed to receive European digital television signals, and that they have been "hacked" via software to make them a more broad-spectrum receiver. (They are useless for U.S.-spec television, by the way.) As such, they include a credit-card sized remote control that you might as well just throw away when you get it; there's no use for it here. So this is not a simple, finished product that you just plug into your computer and use; you have to tinker with it to get the capability out of it. As I mentioned, I had some trouble with getting some of the freeware software to run on my Win10 laptop; the problems were driver issues that I managed to overcome with lots of help from my research assistant, Dr. Google. If you are a radio amateur with some experience, this will be a cool thing to play with. If you're more like me, a radio amateur n00b, you might have to futz around a bit. More's the fun!



MyGica A681 USB ATSC HDTV Tuner with Mini TV Antenna IR Remote Control (A681 with IR Remote&Antenna) Review:


Original Software does not work? Try using Kodi as the Frontend to NextPVR. I've noticed that if you only use NextPVR as your main source the screen will get skippy. Kodi with a buffer lessons that. NextPVR is kinda sticky on Buffering. Kodi has a Plugin for the NextPVR for it. Just look under Addons/PVR, install, when done click configure. Only If you're wanting to watch it on other PC per say, change the IP to the main PVR PC. It'll connect. Remember also to turn on UPnP(PVR) in Kodi in Settings/Services/UPnP. Just the top one in the setttings of the UPnP(PVR) needs to be on. Unless you want your PC to act as a server. Which is not needed if you use NextPVR on another comp. Only if you are doing a out of your network connection. Change Local IP to the Main in Kodi NextPVR configuration to the main PC if you're connecting via another PC/Laptop/Tablet. Works for me.

PS. Only one unit can be connected. Other units can connect, but have to watch the same channel. This is not a Multi-Channel unit. So I guess you can set up multiple layouts on the same channel if you're idk football-ing it. lol, Tablet getting a beer. Never miss a tackle. Not my thing watching kneelers, but ok. you get the drift. College works for it.

PSS. Can also get some of those little Android boxes. I picked up Scishion X Android TV box. Install Kodi, turn on UPnP(PVR), install NextPVR Plugin, Configure IP of Main PC. If you want the TV Guide. Install zap2xml on the NextPVR PC. Getting the LineupID is tricky for getting the Guide though. Lookup your guide(Area) on zap2it.com, click the "PRTINT", and in the URL of the PRINT page you'll find your LineupID(Somethjing like "SC58417"), and Zip, but you know your zip.

1. Place zap2xml.exe in a folder in C called EPG - "C:EPG"

Get YOUR LINEUPID as mentioned above, and CHANGE your ZIP, and LINEUPID.
EXTENSION has to be a .BAT file. You need to un-hide your Extension tag to change it.
Start/ Control Panel/Folder Options/View/Un-Check "Hide Extensions for known file types"/Apply/OK
2. copy this into a UpdateEPG.bat file. REMOVE THESE ( )
(C:
cd "C:EPG"
zap2xml.exe -Z "YOURZIP" -Y "YOURLINEUPID" -W -I -a)
Place UpdateEPG.bat in C:UsersPublicNPVRScripts
3. Update your channels. Edit your Channel numbers coinciding with your XML. Enjoy the TV guide on your NextPVR.