Last month Microsoft announced an Over The Air tuner for US & Canadian Xbox One owners (a similar device has been available in parts of Europe for some time).
As originally described the Xbox One tuner would allow you to pause live TV for up to 30 minutes, but not store that content for later viewing. At the time I wrote:
I think Microsoft really missed an opportunity by not giving us full DVR capability. Wouldn't it be great if you could plug in a nice big external hard drive and record live programs to it for watching later?
Well it seems I might be getting my wish. In a post about the death of Windows Media Center, the usually reliable Paul Thurrott makes an almost off-hand reference to an Xbox One DVR feature:
Microsoft’s solution for this need will apparently be the Xbox One, though the console currently only provides live TV watching, but not recording. My sources tell me that will change, and most probably this year, to include TV recording.
Of course this is just one blogger referencing unnamed sources and the OTA Tuner isn't even out yet, so don't cancel your cable TV subscription just yet.
Assuming the rumor is true we don't know how extensive support will be, but my expectation would be that it only works for OTA content coming in via the USB-attached tuner. If you have a cable box using the Xbox One's HDMI pass-through, I'm guessing this DVR won't do anything for you.
I'm basing that assumption on politics, not technology. I don't think the big cable companies would be very happy with Microsoft if it started to cut into their lucrative DVR rental business (my Time Warner Cable DVR costs me $15/month in rental fees, for example) and I think Microsoft wants to remain on good terms with them.
Whether or not I'm wrong about the cable box, this DVR feature has me excited. If I can capture and time-shift OTA programming from the major networks and supplement that content with streaming options from Hulu or Sling then cutting the cable cord is that much more enticing. And if I have it wrong and you will be able to replace your cable company's DVR (or your Tivo) with the Xbox One DVR, that gives me an even simpler option (keep cable, ditch their DVR) and will still save me some money.
For the price of an external USB drive (the Xbox One's 500 GB internal drive is too small to use for games, apps and DVR storage) the Xbox One could replace the awful DVR our cable companys offer (maybe I shouldn't assume they're all bad but I've used DVRs from Comcast, FiOS and TWC and haven't liked any of them), or make an OTA solution more useful for people with hectic schedules who need to time shift their TV.