Here are the best ways to stream local TV to your Apple TV or iPhone from an antenna

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited March 30
If you're a cable-cutter who's somehow missing broadcast TV, you can still get over-the-air channels without springing for Sling, PlayStation Vue, or YouTube TV -- you just need an HD antenna and a compatible tuner. These are some of the better Apple-ready North American tuners to choose from.

NBC

SiliconDust HDHomeRun Extend

SiliconDust HDHomeRun Extend


There are actually several HDHomeRun models available, varying mostly by the number of built-in tuners. We'd recommend the Extend ($179.99), which has just 2 tuners but unlike any of the other models includes a hardware H.264 transcoder -- that allows more efficient streaming to connected Apple devices, which can include iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and Macs.

For DVR functions, you'll need a computer or network-attached storage (NAS) with enough space to record videos, saved in resolutions up to 1080p. Streaming in HD quality requires all devices to have at least 802.11n Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

SiliconDust offers a DVR subscription service, simply called HDHomeRun DVR, but you can also use it with alternatives like Plex Pass, which has apps across Apple platforms. In fact we'd recommend using Plex if at all possible, since it's a handy way of organizing all your offline video.

AntennasDirect ClearStream TV

AntennasDirect ClearStream TV


The only other tuner on this list (officially) compatible with both Macs and Plex, the ClearStream TV ($99.99) is a cheaper but barebones alternative. It's less powerful -- for instance offering just a single tuner and potentially taking a long time to load live channels or a program guide -- but it may be enough. You can watch on an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or via Chromecast.

Tablo Dual Lite

Tablo Dual Lite


Like the HDHomeRun Extend, the Dual Lite ($139.99) has twin tuners to offer simultaneous streams. Its big feature however is the ability to stream not just inside the home but when you're away via official apps. These are available for for iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and Macs.

The catch is that you'll need to attach a USB hard drive for both live and recorded TV. A cloud subscription is required for out-of-the-home streaming, along with features like series recording and full show art and metadata.

TiVo Bolt

TiVo Bolt


Remember TiVo? They have less raison d'etre these days, but the Bolt is a quad-tuner powerhouse that can potentially let you skip an Apple TV entirely. It comes with 1 terabyte of internal storage -- about 150 hours of HD video -- as well as a voice-equipped remote, Amazon Alexa support, and 4K compatibility. Native apps are present for services like Netflix, Plex, Hulu, and HBO. If you want you can stream in- and outside of the house, just like Tablo. Mobile streaming covers computers, iPhones, and iPads.

Privilege has its price. The Bolt costs $249.99, and that's before a mandatory service plan that's $6.99 per month, $69.99 per year, or $249.99 for a permanent subscription. You'd better really, really want over-the-air and DVR functions if you choose this over an Apple TV and a service like Sling.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 306member
    How, exactly, do devices make it onto your “best” list?  I’ve been happily using WatchAir for a couple years and it seems to have the same features as the ones you list.  Possibly more.  And I got mine for $80.
  • Reply 2 of 25
    snow66snow66 Posts: 7member
    If you are looking at the SiliconDust HDHomeRun tuners I recommend you try out Channels for their live television viewing and DVR service. I have used both with my AppleTVs and iOS devices for several years now and I highly recommend them for their performance, easy of use and excellent support. Check them out at https://getchannels.com/
  • Reply 3 of 25
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 725editor
    tjwolf said:
    How, exactly, do devices make it onto your “best” list?  I’ve been happily using WatchAir for a couple years and it seems to have the same features as the ones you list.  Possibly more.  And I got mine for $80.
    WatchAir is no longer available at Amazon, it seems: https://www.amazon.com/WatchAir-Antenna-Wireless-Streaming-Recording/dp/B01LY2YX7I/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=boost&srs=12034488011&ie=UTF8&qid=1516711877&sr=1-1&keywords=watchair&linkCode=sl1&tag=streambuzz-20&linkId=25698d599328697e6eb6645c83844abf - sold by WatchAir, not available for purchase now. 

    At their own site,  https://www.watchairtv.com/product/watchair-epus-100b/ every product is on sale, and the white unit is out of stock. I didn't write the piece, but I wonder if WatchAir is going to be around from the looks of it.
    edited March 30
  • Reply 4 of 25
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,504member
    There is also Mohu: http://airwave.gomohu.com/#clearpix

    One of those projects I'd like to make is an OTA antenna with the streaming box all powered with a solar cell and battery to mount on the pole. No cable at all.
  • Reply 5 of 25
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,504member
    vmarks said:
    tjwolf said:
    How, exactly, do devices make it onto your “best” list?  I’ve been happily using WatchAir for a couple years and it seems to have the same features as the ones you list.  Possibly more.  And I got mine for $80.
    WatchAir is no longer available at Amazon, it seems: https://www.amazon.com/WatchAir-Antenna-Wireless-Streaming-Recording/dp/B01LY2YX7I/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=boost&srs=12034488011&ie=UTF8&qid=1516711877&sr=1-1&keywords=watchair&linkCode=sl1&tag=streambuzz-20&linkId=25698d599328697e6eb6645c83844abf - sold by WatchAir, not available for purchase now. 

    At their own site,  https://www.watchairtv.com/product/watchair-epus-100b/ every product is on sale, and the white unit is out of stock. I didn't write the piece, but I wonder if WatchAir is going to be around from the looks of it.
    Just so we know the answer to the question: the "best" lists are compiled from products available on Amazon? AI gets a commission from Amazon?
  • Reply 6 of 25
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,007administrator
    eightzero said:
    vmarks said:
    tjwolf said:
    How, exactly, do devices make it onto your “best” list?  I’ve been happily using WatchAir for a couple years and it seems to have the same features as the ones you list.  Possibly more.  And I got mine for $80.
    WatchAir is no longer available at Amazon, it seems: https://www.amazon.com/WatchAir-Antenna-Wireless-Streaming-Recording/dp/B01LY2YX7I/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=boost&srs=12034488011&ie=UTF8&qid=1516711877&sr=1-1&keywords=watchair&linkCode=sl1&tag=streambuzz-20&linkId=25698d599328697e6eb6645c83844abf - sold by WatchAir, not available for purchase now. 

    At their own site,  https://www.watchairtv.com/product/watchair-epus-100b/ every product is on sale, and the white unit is out of stock. I didn't write the piece, but I wonder if WatchAir is going to be around from the looks of it.
    Just so we know the answer to the question: the "best" lists are compiled from products available on Amazon? AI gets a commission from Amazon?
    The best lists are composed of products we like and have used. In regards to commission, this is discussed in the forum rules. Some links may give us a commission, as AppleInsider is not a hobby.

    Editorial staff have nothing to do with monetization at all, and we never skew our coverage in that regard.
    edited March 30 jbdragonGeorgeBMacneo-tech
  • Reply 7 of 25
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 725editor
    eightzero said:
    vmarks said:
    tjwolf said:
    How, exactly, do devices make it onto your “best” list?  I’ve been happily using WatchAir for a couple years and it seems to have the same features as the ones you list.  Possibly more.  And I got mine for $80.
    WatchAir is no longer available at Amazon, it seems: https://www.amazon.com/WatchAir-Antenna-Wireless-Streaming-Recording/dp/B01LY2YX7I/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=boost&srs=12034488011&ie=UTF8&qid=1516711877&sr=1-1&keywords=watchair&linkCode=sl1&tag=streambuzz-20&linkId=25698d599328697e6eb6645c83844abf - sold by WatchAir, not available for purchase now. 

    At their own site,  https://www.watchairtv.com/product/watchair-epus-100b/ every product is on sale, and the white unit is out of stock. I didn't write the piece, but I wonder if WatchAir is going to be around from the looks of it.
    Just so we know the answer to the question: the "best" lists are compiled from products available on Amazon? AI gets a commission from Amazon?
    No.

    I didn't write the article, but my observation is, WatchAir looks like a dead product to me. Sold out, everything else on discount. Not promising for the long term outlook of the company.
    jbdragonGeorgeBMacstompyneo-tech
  • Reply 8 of 25
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 725editor
    eightzero said:
    There is also Mohu: http://airwave.gomohu.com/#clearpix

    One of those projects I'd like to make is an OTA antenna with the streaming box all powered with a solar cell and battery to mount on the pole. No cable at all.
    I first saw this product at CES 2017. 
    At the time, it was just a plastic shell, no electronics, I think. I asked them about it in 2018 on three occasions, and got no response. I'm glad they finally produced it.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    dougddougd Posts: 290member
    I don't need a tuner. I have an HDTV antenna running directly into my ten year old Sony Bravia. Works like a charm
    hammeroftruthGeorgeBMacrob53blah64
  • Reply 10 of 25
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 725editor
    dougd said:
    I don't need a tuner. I have an HDTV antenna running directly into my ten year old Sony Bravia. Works like a charm



    The advantage of a tuner with Wi-Fi in it is that it can work with AppleTV or iOS and potentially be a DVR you can use anywhere in the world. Bravia and a tuner do not work like this.

    neo-techstompy
  • Reply 11 of 25
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,897member
    vmarks said:
    dougd said:
    I don't need a tuner. I have an HDTV antenna running directly into my ten year old Sony Bravia. Works like a charm



    The advantage of a tuner with Wi-Fi in it is that it can work with AppleTV or iOS and potentially be a DVR you can use anywhere in the world. Bravia and a tuner do not work like this.

    Great for motor homes.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    zeus423zeus423 Posts: 43member
    We've had a Tivo OTR DVR with an antenna for about 8 years and absolutely love it. It makes things so easy and is very reliable. Sure, it costs a bit more, but we love the convenience.
    stompy
  • Reply 13 of 25
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,189member
    dougd said:
    I don't need a tuner. I have an HDTV antenna running directly into my ten year old Sony Bravia. Works like a charm
    I have my antenna plugged directly into all my TV’s as a backup.  Never have watched TV that what.  I can't believe there are still people out there watching programs at the time they air, and hen sits through all of the commercials.  I haven't done that since I got my first Tivo back in 1999,  I'm using a Tivo Roamio now which I got for $299 which included life e-service. Then have a cou of Tivo mini’s for the bedrooms. So you can watch in one room and continue in another if you  are t. It can record up to 4 shows at once. It has a commercial skip for most primetime shows. Where you just hit the green button and skip all the commercials.  It's a great feature. But if not, you can still fast forward through them. You can watch when you want to, time and day.  I don't watch anything live.  I could never go back to those prehistoric days.  Before Tivo, it was the VCR recording.  My last one had a commercial skip. It would record, then auto rewind and go througthe recording marking the commercials. That was 1 recording at a time. So I would record one show and watch something else live.

    A number if TV’s these days don't have a built in tuner.  So you need something, or your stream.  That's a Tivo or a cable box or whatever.
    stompy
  • Reply 14 of 25
    Investigating options to convert about 500 DVD+RW recordings of over the air news and PBS programs to a more permanent and more compact solution.  Has anyone else done something similar?  Long term project, maybe next year or two...  Would be ideal if these could be streamed either to a Mac, digital TV or iPad.  
    edited March 31
  • Reply 15 of 25
    Hi "Vmarks":
    For "anywhere in the world use", you'd likely need lots of different tuners in different countries, since some (many?) different countries use different standards: "While NTSC and PAL have both gone away, the US and UK implemented incompatible digital TV standards, so you cannot just switch the power cord for a US TV* and watch TV in the UK. That said, many cable and satellite boxes, game consoles, and Internet TV devices support both digital standards." https://britishexpats.com/forum/moving-back-uk-61/moving-us-uk-bringing-computers-television-897749/

    Haven't checked lately, but when Japan first went to HDTV, they chose an analog system that was backward compatible with the old system (as when US went to color, it chose a backward compatible system with the old BW system. Don't try this in foreign countries before checking for compatibility.

    While a given tuner may support several popular country standards, they may not support all of the countries you may plan to visit.
  • Reply 16 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,290member
    dougd said:
    I don't need a tuner. I have an HDTV antenna running directly into my ten year old Sony Bravia. Works like a charm
    I have a $35 tuner & antenna feeding my 1985 GE 27".   I'm fine.   It gets used several times a year.  But now, with News+ coming out, I may not need it as much.
    edited March 31
  • Reply 17 of 25
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 725editor
    Hi "Vmarks":
    For "anywhere in the world use", you'd likely need lots of different tuners in different countries, since some (many?) different countries use different standards: "While NTSC and PAL have both gone away, the US and UK implemented incompatible digital TV standards, so you cannot just switch the power cord for a US TV* and watch TV in the UK. That said, many cable and satellite boxes, game consoles, and Internet TV devices support both digital standards." https://britishexpats.com/forum/moving-back-uk-61/moving-us-uk-bringing-computers-television-897749/

    Haven't checked lately, but when Japan first went to HDTV, they chose an analog system that was backward compatible with the old system (as when US went to color, it chose a backward compatible system with the old BW system. Don't try this in foreign countries before checking for compatibility.

    While a given tuner may support several popular country standards, they may not support all of the countries you may plan to visit.
    Not necessarily. You understood something different than I meant.

    You could have one ATSC tuner in the US, and use the app on iOS or AppleTV while traveling around the world. Or you could do the reverse, put a DVB tuner in the UK and use the app while traveling around the world. I did not mean that you should have multiple tuners around the world as you understood me to be saying.
  • Reply 18 of 25
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 725editor
    Investigating options to convert about 500 DVD+RW recordings of over the air news and PBS programs to a more permanent and more compact solution.  Has anyone else done something similar?  Long term project, maybe next year or two...  Would be ideal if these could be streamed either to a Mac, digital TV or iPad.  

    Handbrake would be a good way to rip these, provided you have a DVD drive connected to the computer. Then use a server (Mac, PLEX, or a NAS like a Synology) to host them for serving up to streaming.

  • Reply 19 of 25
    anomeanome Posts: 1,304member

    I'm actually kind of sad that Elgato killed off its TV line. I have a Diversity stick that still kind of works, but I have issues with antennas. Plus EyeTV keeps throwing up messages about not being fully supported, suggesting it will stop working with the next OS update.

    On the positive side, I rarely watch live TV these days, so not having a tuner doesn't really matter. I feel I should still have one, for some reason, and there are a couple of TV shows I prefer to watch live as they go out, but with the majority of our programming coming from overseas, there really isn't much point.

  • Reply 20 of 25
    rwx9901rwx9901 Posts: 87member
    I use both HD Homerun and Channels.  Both work really really well.
    StrangeDays
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