Besides gaming, the Xbox One is pretty handy as an all-in-one home entertainment tool. Oneguide and the overall integration with your cable box is certainly impressive, but the key item is the cable box. If you're using free-to-air TV, there hasn't been any integration at all.
For selected markets in Europe there's now this, the Xbox One TV Tuner and for all intents and purposes it's designed to provide the same exact experience as plugging your cable box into your console. Only without the cable box.
The device and setting up
There's almost nothing to it, really. You get a pretty unassuming, small, black box with a USB cable coming out of one end and a socket to attach your TV aerial in the other.
The great thing is that as it is so small, if your aerial connector is close to your TV you'll never see it at all. Just tuck it away out of sight.
Set up is simple and swift as you'll see in the video above. There's no trickery involved, just plug it in and your Xbox One will guide you through the process one step at a time. This includes deciding whether or not you want to be able to pause live TV (Hint: You do!)
It essentially involves telling it where you are, your free-to-air TV provider for your area and then letting it scan for channels. The initial scanning can take some time, though, but in our testing we'd say no longer than it takes a TV to do the same job.
Once it's found the channels you'll be prompted to set up Oneguide and then you're all set.
Oneguide and streaming TV
As with plugging in a cable box, the TV Tuner allows you to make full use of Oneguide on your Xbox One. And that means all the same channel listings, programming information and the mini player.
Perhaps the feature that's most exciting is the TV streaming through the Xbox One Smartglass applications. It's a great feature to have and gives you TV in every room in your house, basically. It works pretty well with a solid connection, though I did encounter a little jankyness when at the furthest point away from my Wifi router.
Other points to note
- The Xbox One TV Tuner is only available in certain markets. Be sure to check yours is compatible before ordering one.
- You need a good aerial. The reason only 9 channels were found above is because this review was conducted using an internal aerial of questionable quality. But it doesn't pick up less or more channels using the TV Tuner than it does just plugging the same aerial into the TV.
- You may need to retune a couple of times to get all of your channels imported.
The bottom line
For around £25 the Xbox One TV Tuner is one of those impulse buy items that can really change the experience you have with the console. The integration with your TV is one of the consoles highlight entertainment features and now, thanks to this little black box that's opened up to the huge number of people without cable TV.
But it's limited in support. With only a handful of countries supported right now it's not the product for everyone. But if you can get one, and you can use one, it's definitely worth your money.
- Buy Now: Xbox One TV Tuner (£21.95)