MICROSOFT HAS JUST SCREWED OVER SOME OF ITS CUSTOMERS!
I’ve had a rough draft of a review for the Xbox One’s digital tuner sitting in my drafts folder for over a year now. I just never got around to finishing the article, and at a certain point it seemed logical to just wait and review both the tuner and the DVR when the promised DVR features are enabled in 2016 (presumably after E3 next week.) Well today it was announced that Microsoft is abandoning their plans for the XBOX ONE to have a DVR. And I am pretty frickin’ angry at them over it.
For fans of Windows Media Center, things have been a bit grim for a while. WMC has been ignored, become buggy, and finally the word came down from Redmond that Windows Media Center would be no more. Regular readers also know that I was TERRIBLY DISSAPOINTED by the multimedia features of the Xbox One when it came out in 2013. Of course, that assumes that this site has anything resembling a ‘regular reader’.
For a while, it looked like Microsoft had a few plans that will restore to the Xbox One some of the features of the Xbox360 when used with Media Center. Streaming my music library (after it has been uploaded to OneDrive) and supposedly supporting FLAC after Windows 10’s release looked like promising improvements – but never lived up to their potential in my own testing . Dolby Digital has been added to Blu-Ray playback and now there is the ability to watch live television – so gee-whiz the XB1 finally does the job of $65 blu-ray player and a $15 HDTV antenna. Not bad for my initial $499 investment on day one. Then in 2015 Microsoft promised us that the Xbox One will get DVR functionality within the next year. Even a die hard WMC fan such as myself would have had to admit that having DVR right on the console would have been a big plus over the old server-client design that was used with WMC and the Xbox360.
As soon as the promised DVR was announced I went out and purchased the TV Tuner. It is a usb tuner from Hauppauge that retails for roughly $60. (Yes, it was stupid of me to buy something in anticipation of a future functionality. I know – but I was excited.)
Nonetheless, I picked one up and decided to give it a test run. My enthusiasm for the tuner stemmed from the promise that if the XB1 added DVR, then it would become the only streaming device that can do live TV, Amazon Prime, HBO, HULU and Netflix. (For a meager $300 more than it’s closest rivals – the Apple TV and the Roku.) Fortunately, I didn’t spend the extra $99 for another external hard drive which Microsoft specified would be necessary to enable the DVR features.
The tuner sets up easily and does deliver a good live picture. I’ve used it twice, to watch the Superbowl. Other than that – without a DVR – it is a paperweight.
I have been a Microsoft fanboy for years, but this may be the last straw for me. The Xbox One is a descent gaming machine, but is only as good for home theater use as a $40 Roku streaming stick. Quite frankly, I’m not even super impressed with the games anymore and have been spending more time on Steam than Xbox Live. I think that a Steam Link may be in my future and Microsoft will have to work pretty damn hard to get my loyalty back.
Microsoft – the hardware is there, the tuner is there, the OTA programming guides are there – why won’t you finish the job?? This was a promised feature and some of us spent money on the tuner. Personally, I feel they ought to initiate a refund program to allow people to get some kind of credit for their old tuners (or their new paperweights – either way you want to look at it).
So in the final analysis – the Xbox One digital tuner is a DON’T BUY item. Without the DVR features, it is no better than a cheap HDTV antenna.