Microsoft from day one has insisted that its Xbox One is more than just a traditional gaming console. To the Redmond-based technology giant, it's a full-on entertainment hub and has been marketed accordingly.
The Xbox One launched with an HDMI pass-through that lets users connect their cable or satellite set-top box to the system to utilize its digital programming guide but that's only the beginning.
Roughly a year ago, Microsoft partnered with Hauppauge to launch the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One, a USB dongle that can be used in conjunction with an antenna to watch live over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts on the console absolutely free.
One of the shortcomings with the OTA approach on the Xbox One, however, is the fact that you still can't record and save live broadcasts. Microsoft acknowledged the issue last August, confirming that the long-rumored Xbox One DVR was indeed in development and that it would be released sometime in 2016.
According to Paul Thurrott, Microsoft is now testing its Xbox One TV DVR functionally internally.
Sources familiar with the matter tell Thurrott that an update for the console, referred to internally as Xbox One Threshold Beta 1603 System Update or th2xboxrel_1603.160308-1900, allows it to record OTA broadcasts. The looming feature is even said to work while playing a game, watching live TV or even when the machine is asleep.
Being able to record live OTA broadcasts may not sound like a huge deal (especially to cable or satellite subscribers) but for cord-cutters and cord-nevers (those that have never subscribed to paid television), it's an incredibly attractive proposition that can supplement existing over-the-top (OTT) content from services like Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV and more.
There are a handful of OTA DVRs already on the market but some are rather expensive up front while others, like the TiVo Roamio and TiVo Bolt, require a monthly service fee. If you already own an Xbox One, the only additional hardware you'll need to watch and record live OTA TV is the aforementioned Hauppauge TV tuner (around $60) and a quality antenna.
Some initially criticized Microsoft's decision to focus so heavily on the entertainment aspects of the console, fearing that gaming would become an afterthought. In hindsight, however, I think most would agree that Microsoft made the right move. It would have been convenient had the console shipped with a couple of integrated OTA tuners but considering a large segment of the population probably wouldn't have used it, it made sense to omit it for the simple sake of keeping costs down.
Outside of paid TV, fragmentation is a very real issue that cord-cutters and cord-nevers continue to deal with. Adding an OTA TV DVR to an existing media hub like the Xbox One makes it that much more well-rounded.
No word yet on when exactly Microsoft plans to push out the DVR-enabling update.