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HDHomerun is the perfect addition for an Apple-loving cord-cutter

The thing about being a cord-cutter is that you're always trying to plug holes. It doesn't matter what streaming video service you ultimately go with — there's almost always something missing. For many of us, that hole comes down to local channels. And while services like YouTube TV are trying to fill that hole, there's still something to be said for a good, old-fashioned broadcast antenna.

This generally is simple enough. You stick an antenna somewhere, and it plucks the local broadcasts out of the air and pumps them directly into, well, wherever. (Generally that'll be a TV, but hang on a second ...)

There are a couple problems with this, though. First is that if you're going straight from the antenna into a TV (assuming it still has a tuner, and not all models do these days), you're pretty limited. One antenna, one TV. And zero consideration for all your other devices. Second is that broadcasts can be pretty directional, especially if it's on a VHF frequency. In other words, if the antenna isn't pointing the right way, you might well be missing channels.

So the key here is flexibility. I've dabbled in wireless antennas. But as many have pointed out, there's a better way. A much better way.

Enter HDHomerun. Or, more specifically, HDHomerun Connect.

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Here's the gist: You plug your antenna into this little gem of a box, which then connects to your router via Ethernet. From there, it spits out the broadcast channels over your wireless network, to be picked up by the HDHomerun app, or any number of third-party apps — I'm using Channels on Apple TV (opens in new tab) and InstaTV on iOS (opens in new tab) — on nearly any platform you can think of. The box has dual tuners, so you can watch on two devices simultaneously, and it downloads channel listings, too, so you're not guessing what's on. (Like we had to do in the bad old days of OTA TV.)

If it sounds like I'm skipping some setup steps involving scanning and networking, well, I'm not. This has been one of those rare products that just works. Plug in the antenna. Plug in the Ethernet cable. Install the app. Watch local TV, for little more than the expense of the HDHomerun box ($99 and change), and an antenna.

HDHomerun fills the content gap on nearly every platform and is ridiculously easy to set up.

What can you watch on? Damned near everything. Mac. Windows. Linux. (!) Android. iPhone and iPad. Xbox via the Media Center app. You can record what's coming in through any number of methods, including Plex and HDHomerun's own DVR service. That ups the complexity of this little endeavor by a decent amount, and you can venture down that rabbit hole just as far as you want. If all you want is live TV, though, it couldn't be simpler.

Now's the time to mention that there are three products here, actually — HDHomerun Connect, Extend — which includes a hardware transcoding which makes recorded playback easier on your network — and Prime, which is meant for Cable Card situations. For me, Connect has been just fine.

Yeah, it's another expenditure in the quest for cheaper TV. But in this case it's absolutely been well worth it, plugging what for me was a pretty big hole in my lineup.

See at Amazon

How to watch Live TV on Apple TV

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days.

4 Comments
  • You left out the $24.99 for Channels and $29.99 for the iOS version of InstaTv. No ones made a good case yet for cutting the cord with replacement services or hw. The nickel and dining of all these services adds up to closely what you pay for cable and internet. Hidden from these articles is the fact that your internet service is going to go up dramatically if you cancel your tv service through said provider. Plus, if you watch your local sports teams, which you can't get on any service other than cable 99% of the time, it's just not worth the cobbling of bits to get what you want.
  • The problem with cable for sports fans is that they only televise some of your favourite team's games. So you end up buying stuff like NFL Sunday Ticket or something anyway on top of it. What I usually do is to just get the league pass and watch it cordless for the regular season games, then turn on cable just for the month of post-season games. (For the Sunday Ticket for some weird reason, the NFL can not sell you post-season games in Canada, although they do in the U.S. So you have to turn on cable for this!)
  • Living out of state/country is a little different. When you live in the home state of your favorite team, things like NHL and MLB packages blackout the home teams. So, the NFL is different with that respect. Most of the games I watch are on local national channels anyway, but there a few a year that are on cable provided channels. If I wanted to watch my local MLB, NHL, or NBA team, they are only on cable here.
  • This great I just wish it went into plex a little more. Plex you will pay to use this feature they have developed into Plex. You get a HDHomerun 99.99 Antenna 30 plex pass lifetime 119.99. Then you should be good to go.
    Granted the entry is big at first but if you have a plex pass account and an antenna at home then its not too steep. At this point I J=just need and HDhomerun box. You can look it as investment over time. If you can just watch the channels OTA with the antenna connected to the TV much cheaper, This hardware give you the ability to DVR and have a guide. IMO the apps and hardware are worth the money.