Best DVR For Cord Cutters and Streamers

Dropping your cable TV service used to be a very tough decision. Until recently, one of the drawbacks of cutting the cord in favor of internet-based TV streaming services was the lack of digital video recording (DVR) functionality.

The good news is that today, nearly all streaming services come with some form of DVR. Below is a detailed and comprehensive overview of the best DVR solutions for the streamers and cord-cutters.

1. Sling TV DVR

sling tv dvr, dvr for cold cutters
Developed by Dish Network, Sling TV is one of the best Over the Top (OTT) services in the market. It was the first service to live stream sports, live news, and other traditionally cable-TV content without requiring a satellite subscription. Sling TV DVR enables you to watch TV on your terms.
One unique aspect of Sling DVR is that you can keep your TV recordings for as long as you are a subscriber. In addition, your recorded shows do not disappear immediately after you decide to cancel your subscription. The service allows you to access them for 30 days after you unsubscribe.

These recordings will still be available once you subscribe again. This means that you can enjoy your shows when it is convenient for you. Currently, no other streaming service has this feature.

Sling TV only deletes your older recordings once you have reached their 50-hour recording limit. Sling TV cloud DVR is available in High Definition (HD/1080p) across a wide range of devices including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and more. The recording quality is excellent for live TV recordings with smooth high-resolution images at 30 or 60 framers-per-second (fps).

Sling TV DVR Price

The DVR functionality offered by Sling TV is an optional add-on. Sling TV Cloud DVR costs $5 a month for 50 hours of storage on top of the Orange and Blue base subscription plans. This price tag makes it one of the most cost-effective DVR option in the market.

Sling TV offers a free 7 day trial period for this service. It is worth noting that some users have access to 100 hours of Cloud DVR storage. This is a holdover from the service’s Cloud DVR beta tests, which have been terminated for a while now. This additional space accessible by some subscribers suggests that Sling TV may be looking to increase the storage in the future.

The Limitations of Sling TV DVR

As expected with all live TV DVR, Sling TV DVR has a number of limitations although it works on a wide range of channels. You cannot record content from on-demand channels such as Local Now. All the ESPN and Disney channels are also off-limits.

One of the benefits of DVR is the ability to fast-forward through commercials on your recorded shows. While this feature is available for most channels on Sling TV, it is not available for Fox channels (FX, FS1, and FS2) and National Geographic.

Sling TV claims that these channels require the services to display Video-On-Demand versions of your recordings. Video On-Demand recordings do not allow you to forward through commercials. In addition, with Sling TV DV, you are not able to download recordings for viewing offline.

2. Hulu Live TV DVR

Hulu Live TV DVR
Hulu’s live TV streaming service launched in 2017 is a fully-fleshed out the solution for cord-cutters and streamers. Featuring more than 60 channels, including regional sports networks, local broadcast networks, national sports networks, movie channels, and news channels, it is a smartly designed option for those who want live TV and on-demand TV.

Hulu with Live TV has a Cloud DVR feature. This functionality resides in the “My Stuff” section of the application. Hulu Live TV automatically records live events, shows or movies when you add them to “My Stuff.” Hulu Live TV DVR avails up to 50 hours of Cloud recordings.

When you reach this limit, the Cloud DVR will delete your oldest recordings automatically to create room for newer ones. The service also notifies you when your Cloud DVR is full. This allows you to manually delete the recordings you do not want to watch anymore.

If the 50-hour limit is too restrictive for you, you have the option of upgrading to Enhanced Cloud DVR as an add-on. Hulu’s Enhanced Cloud DVR bumps up the recording limit to 200 hours Cloud recording time. This add-on also allows you to fast forward through commercials on your DVR shows.

This service allows you to set up an automatic recording for live TV content and other shows. This way you are able to access your shows ready to go without hitting record for every show. With Hulu’s Cloud DVR service, your recordings do not expire as long as you are subscribed.

Hulu Live TV DVR offers great recording quality both for live TV and on-demand videos. Most of the networks on the Hulu platform distribute their content feeds in HD resolution (1080p/1080i). The DVR services records at the same resolution.

Hulu Live TV DVR Cost

Hulu Live TV Cloud DVR service is included in their standard Hulu + Live TV subscription package. This subscription plan costs $45 per month and features more than 60 live sports, news, entertainment channels as well as Video-On-Demand TV and movies. The basic Cloud DVR option gets you 50 hours of recording time.

You will still encounter commercials that you cannot fast forward through. The Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on costs $15 and raises your DVR recording limits to 200 hours. The upgrade also allows you to fast forward through commercials. Hulu offers a free 1-week trial for Hulu with Live TV.

The Limitations of Hulu Live TV DVR

Just like with most streaming TV services, you will not be able to record content such as blacked-out local sporting events. There are a number of local channels on Hulu that you cannot record. This is due to regional availability restrictions.

For the true TV devotees, the 50 hours basic limit may fill up pretty fast. The $15 a month upgrade fee is a bit costly for extra DVR storage space, even with the skips ads feature. Some of the competition provides much more storage at a lower cost.

3. YouTube Live TV DVR

Youtube Live TV DVR
In many respects, YouTube TV is establishing itself as a formidable player among the top live TV streaming services. Google’s live TV streaming service offers an impressive collection of over 60 channels, including specialty sports channels and local channels across a wide range of devices. The extensive DVR function available on YouTube TV sets it apart from the competition.

YouTube TV provides unlimited storage space to subscribers of the service’s standard plan. You are able to record as many shows as you like and keep them for a period of 9 months. The 9-month expiry period may not be as good as keeping your recordings forever, but it is a great trade-off in all ways you look at it.

YouTube TV provides Cloud DVR, so can access your recordings on any of your devices logged into your account. YouTube TV has significantly simplified the recording process. Shows that you can add to your DVR list are listed on the application home screen.

When you select a show, every available instance of the show will be recorded. This happens indefinitely unless you instruct YouTube TV to stop. YouTube TV DVR functionality can be summed up as a record as much as you want, watch it when you want (at least for 9 months).

If you are a subscriber, you can set up accounts for up to 6 users, each with a dedicated Cloud DVR feature. All users have access to unlimited cloud DVR storage. However, only three users can watch recorded TV at a time.
YouTube TV has been working with a number of broadcasters to increase the number of channels that can let subscribers fast forward through a commercial on recorded programs. YouTube Live TV DVR records your shows at an HD resolution (1080p).

YouTube TV DVR Cost

YouTube TV’s DVR functionality is included in the service membership with no additional costs. YouTube TV cost $50 per month and $55 a month if you subscribe via AppleTV. YouTube TV does not provide any DVR feature upgrades. YouTube TV has a free 5-day trial option. For most consumers, YouTube TV’s DVR service is among the most affordable when taking into account the features provided.

The Limitations of YouTube TV DVR

YouTube TV DVR does not provide a completely seamless, ad-free DVR experience. You can fast forward through commercials but with some exceptions. Fortunately, YouTube has steadily increased the number of channels that allow users to do this.

Another limitation is that your TV recording only lasts for 9 months so you cannot hoard your favorite episodes forever. However, this duration is still the longest of any TV streaming service.

4. PlayStation Vue DVR

Playstation Vue DVR
PlayStation Vue’s excellent amalgam of live television, On-Demand video, and Cloud-based DVR has made it one of the most popular OTT streaming services. Its DVR functionality, referred to as My DVR, allows the user to record TV content and watch shows from any compatible device.

PlayStation Vue offers subscribers unlimited Cloud storage. However, you can only keep your saved programs for 28 days before they expire. So you may forget about keeping your favorite episodes forever.

The DVR function resides in the “My DVR” menu on PlayStation Vue’s app. You simply select the show you want to record, press save and you can watch it whenever you want. One of the key areas where PlayStation Vue DVR stands out is the features.

Unlike other streaming services, you are given the full control over almost all of your recordings. A standard command such as pause, play, and fast-forwarding through ads (with some exceptions) are available without an additional charge. In addition, the DVR service records based on programs and not channels, eliminating the instances of accidental recordings.

It is worth noting that if PlayStation Vue lacks the DVR rights for a particular show or channel, they offer On Demand content in its place if it is available. While PS Vue can stream 4K (2160p) TV content, the DVR records show at a resolution of 1080p (HD).

PlayStation Vue DVR Cost

Sony includes the Cloud DVR service cost in the PlayStation Vue membership fee. DVR is always on by default from the moment you log into your account.

There are four tiers of membership that you can choose from, each with its own set of unique offerings. They include Access ($45), Core ($55), Elite ($65) and Ultra ($85).PlayStation Vue has a free 1-week trial option.

The Limitations of PlayStation Vue DVR

PlayStation Vue’s excellent features are somewhat dulled by its limitations. The most notable limitation is that your recordings last only 28 days from the time you recorded them. In addition, you can only record up to 500 episodes.

You cannot record some shows on PlayStation Vue DVR. This restriction affects some of the platform’s notable premium channels including HBO, ESPN Classic, Cinemax and Showtime. If available, the PlayStation Vue will offer On Demand versions of the shows.

Recording local TV on PS Vue is still an issue. Hundreds of local channels are locked out of PS Vue DVR as Sony works out the DVR rights for local affiliates. The local affiliates whose channels you cannot record include ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates.

5. TiVo DVR

Tivo DVR
TiVo Corporation has developed and marketed a series of TiVo Over-the-Air (OTA) DVRs since 1999. It was among the first companies to introduce DVR technology to consumers. The most recent and advanced TiVo DVR is the Bolt OTA DVR and is as mainstream as a DVR for cord-cutters can get. It precedes the TiVo Romaio OTA DVR.

This sixth-generation DVR combines an excellent DVR experience with streaming media capabilities. Bolt OTA DVR connects to an OTA antenna to broadcast the free TV channels in your area. This DVR comes with four OTA tuners. This allows you to record up to four different channels at the same time.

Bolt OTA DVR also grants you access to OTT streaming content through the apps for Netflix, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Hulu Plus, Plex, and more. TiVo’s main advantage over other live TV streaming services with cloud DVRs is that it is a hardware solution. Your live TV recordings are always within reach and not susceptible to buffering and outages.

The TiVo Bold OTA DVR is capable of storing up to 150 hours of High Definition shows on its 1TB hard drive. It comes with a standard 14-day guide for scheduling your recordings. TiVo DVR streams 4K (2160p) content from the compatible streaming services but its recording quality maxes out at 1080p (HD).

An e-SATA port is available for additional storage in case you run out of recording space. The TiVo Bolt DVR features other connections that include HDMI, optical digital, coax antenna, Ethernet, 3.5 mm analog and two USB ports.
On top of the standard DVR features like pausing and rewinding live TV and skipping through commercials, TiVo DVR has a vast array of other less common features including electronic programming guide (EPG), OnePass, TiVo Search, and Speed Watching,

TiVo DVR Cost

Unlike the Cloud-based DVR options, you will need to buy the TiVo DVR box outright. TiVo Bold OTA costs $500 with a Lifetime Guide subscription included. The box itself retails for $250. The “All-In Service Plan” costs $ 250, bringing the total lifetime cost to $500.

You have the option of opting into monthly subscriptions, which cost $15 per month. There are price breaks for annual and lifetime subscriptions. The TiVo Romaio OTA DVR costs $350 with the lifetime subscription included.

TiVo DVR Cost

Unlike the Cloud-based DVR options, you will need to buy the TiVo DVR box outright. TiVo Bold OTA costs $500 with a Lifetime Guide subscription included. The box itself retails for $250. The “All-In Service Plan” costs $ 250, bringing the total lifetime cost to $500.

You have the option of opting into monthly subscriptions, which cost $15 per month. There are price breaks for annual and lifetime subscriptions. The TiVo Romaio OTA DVR costs $350 with the lifetime subscription included.

The Limitations of TiVo DVR

With TiVo DVR, you need an extra device (TiVo Mini) to be able to view recordings on multiple Televisions simultaneously. TiVo DVR functionalities lean too heavily on streaming. In addition, the TiVo Service fees may seem a bit too high for some cord-cutters.

6. Tablo DVR

Tablo DVR
Tablo DVR, developed by Nuvyyo, is an OTA DVR controlled by a web-based or tablet application. Tablo collects free OTA HDTV signals using an HDTV antenna allowing you to record shows to an external USB hard drive or watch live TV. Tablo can also connect to home networks via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi connections.

Tablo DVR is versatile, easy to install, and has multi-room capabilities. You connect the DVR to your network rather than your TV. Once you connect Tablo to your router, you can record and watch programs via the app on your streaming or smart device.

Tablo DVR features a function called Tablo Connect. This allows you to access your recorded program remotely via a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. You can also skip ads automatically on recordings through Tablo’s supported apps. While there are a number of different Tablo devices, the most popular ones are the Tablo Dual Lite OTA DVR and Tablo Quad OTA DVR:

Tablo Dual Lite OTA DVR –

Is capable of recording and streaming up to two free broadcasting networks from an HDTV antenna. It features 2 OTA ATSC tuners, Wi-Fi or Ethernet Connection, Whole-Home and Out-of-Home Streaming and automatic ad skip.

Tablo Quad OTA DVR –

Is capable of recording and streaming up to four free broadcasting networks from your HDTV antenna. It features 4 OTA ATSC tuners alongside all of the other features available on the dual lite version.

With Tablo DVR, you can record virtually unlimited shows. The aforementioned Dual and Quad Tablo DVRs do not have an internal drive. You may add an external USB drive or record your shows on Tablo’s unlimited cloud for a fee. Tablo DVR can record TV shows in HD resolution (1080p). Up to 6 devices can display TV content recorded by Tablo DVR simultaneously.

Tablo DVR Cost

The Dual Lite OTA and Quad OTA versions of the Tablo DVR go for about $125 and $200 respectively. You are provided a free 30-day guide subscription when you buy a Tablo DVR. After this trial period, you may or may not purchase a guide subscription.

The guide subscription fees are $4.99 per month, $49.99 per years or $149.99 for a lifetime subscription. The lifetime subscription is tied to a user, not a device. The guide offers program data two weeks in advance to facilitate recording. In addition, the aforementioned unlimited Tablo Cloud DVR storage service costs $4.99 per month.

The Limitations of Tablo DVR

With Tablo DVR, you can use one USB port for external DVR storage at a time. It also has a 2TB storage limit per drive. Tablo TV also lacks an HDMI cable for direct TV connection.

You will need a separate player such as Chromecast, Roku, or AppleTV to watch content on your TV. There are some limitations, including not being able to listen to your recordings in surround if you use a PC or Xbox One.

7. Amazon Recast

Amazon Recast
Amazon Fire TV Recast is a live viewing and DVR box, which functions with a Fire TV device and antenna to provide local OTA TV channels at home and on-the-go. It features seamless integration with Amazon accounts and Fire TV as well as reliable recording and viewing functionalities.

The box has up to four tuners and allotments for up to 150 hours of recorded TV content. Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR is available in two models. The models look similar but have different internals. The first model has a 500GB hard drive and two tuners to record two shows simultaneously. The second model has a 1TB hard drive and four tuners to record four shows simultaneously.

To use Amazon Recast, you need a Fire TV product or Echo Show, an OTA antenna and a device with the Fire TV app. The setup process is quite easy, and the Fire TV app walks you through it. The DVR option resides in the Fire TV main menu. You may use Amazon’s Alexa or manual Guide recording to record your live TV shows. Amazon Recast DVR picture quality is great as it records in HD resolution (1080p).

Amazon Recast Cost

The Amazon Recast model with a 500GB hard drive and two tuners cost $230 while the one with the 1TB hard drive and four tuners costs $280. There are no monthly fees for Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR.

The Limitations of Amazon Recast

The most notable limitation of Amazon Recast DVR is that it does not function with other streaming devices such as Roku or AppleTV.

Full Chart Feature Comparison

1. Sling TV

  • 50 hours recording limit
  • Ability to skip ads(with exceptions)
  • No expiry on recordings
  • $5/month on top of the base plan

2. Hulu Live TV

  • 50 hours(Basic package ) or 200(Enhanced package) hours recording limit
  • Ability to skip ads (available in Enhanced package)
  • No expiry on recordings
  • $45/month included in subscription package ($15 extra for Enhanced DVR Package)

3. YouTube Live TV

  • Unlimited storage space
  • Ability to skip ads (with exceptions)
  • 9- month expiry period
  • $50/month included in service membership

4. PlayStation Vue

  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • 28 days expiry period
  • Ability to skip ads (with exceptions)
  • $45, $55, $65 or $85/month depending on service membership (inclusive).

5. TiVo

  • Up to 150 hours recording
  • No expiry on recordings
  • Ability to skip ads (with exceptions)
  • $15/month subscription ($250 for set box/ $500 lifetime subscription)

6. Tablo

  • Unlimited cloud storage/ 2TB HDD storage
  • No expiry on recordings
  • Ability to skip ads
  • $4/month Guide subscription fee, $4/month cloud DVR ($125 -$200 for set boxes).

7. Amazon Recast

  • Up to 150 hours (1TB) recording
  • No expiry on recordings
  • Ability to skip ads (with exceptions)
  • Free for Amazon Fire TV subscribers ($230 -$280 for Recast DVR models).