How to: upgrade your cord-cutting setup w/ HDHomeRun & Plex to enjoy sports, news, more

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cord cutting

Cord cutting certainly has its perks. but ditching your monthly cable subscription does have its downsides too. Missing news, sports, and other live content makes taking the plunge a difficult task for some. That’s where HDHomeRun comes in. When paired with Plex and an OTA antenna, you’ll be able to enjoy everything from your favorite shows to live football and more. Head below for an in-depth walkthrough on how to get started.

In the past we’ve touched on how powerful of a home media server Plex is. I’ve been relying on the software for the past few years, which has made living without consistent access to a cable TV subscription barely an inconvenience. It works with everything from your Apple TV and iPhone to Roku, Fire TV and just about any other connected device.

To get started you’ll need to install Plex Media Server onto a compatible device. One of the great things about Plex is that it can be run on everything from an old computer you have lying around to devices like the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. It’s fairly easy to get set up, but if you get stuck check out this handy step-by-step guide.

HDHomeRun Digital Tuner |

You’ll also need to pick up some hardware to bring your new cord-cutting setup to life. The core piece of technology here is going to be an HDHomeRun tuner. This box allows you to convert a coaxial connection into a digital signal that can be watched on your smartphone and other devices. There are a variety of models on the market that offer anywhere from one to five tuners. I’ve found the HDHomeRun Connect Duo to be a great option, with its two built-in tuners allowing you to record two programs at once or watch live on multiple devices.

OTA Antenna |

To pair with the HDHomeRun tuner of your choice, you’ll also need an OTA HDTV Antenna. I’ve personally been using Monoprice’s 65-inch Outdoor Antenna with pretty successful results. Content is just as high-quality as your average cable stream, so no complaints on that end.

Just about any OTA antenna will do the trick here though. Should you still pay for cable and have a digital set-top box from your provider, you’ll also be able to feed the connect through your HDHomeRun tuner.

OTA Content |

The channels you’ll be able to watch vary based on the area where you live and where your antenna is placed. I luckily have access to 20 stations with my setup, giving me a good mix of local news channels, sports stations, and more.

If your town’s content is pretty limited, consider picking up a longer-range OTA antenna. Odds are you live within the range of some bigger cities, so getting access to a wide range of channels should be easily managed. You can check what’s available near you with Plex’s built-in tool.

Setting things up |

In order to add take advantage of all the features Plex has to offer with live TV, you’ll need to first pair your HDHomeRun tuner with your home media server. Both devices will have to be set up on the same Wi-Fi or wired network, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most.

In Plex’s settings under Live TV & DVR you’ll have the option to add a supported tuner. Assuming everything has been configured correctly with the HDHomeRun, it’ll automatically recognize the tuner and walk you through its setup process. Here you’ll be able to tweak channel settings and more.

It’s showtime! Enjoying content |

Now that things are ready to go, you’ll have a couple of different options to enjoy the over-the-air content. Much like a traditional experience, you’ll be able to navigate Plex’s TV guide to pursue the currently-airing shows. I find this interface to be much more natural than HDHomeRun’s own guide layout.

Plex also offers the ability to record content much like other DVR systems. You’ll be able specify which shows and episodes to record, whether you want new content to be automatically captured, and more. One of the great things here is that it recognizes shows you already have in your library and recommends recording upcoming showings. So you don’t have to find the channel or time that The Good Place airs to schedule the DVR, because Plex just takes care of it for you.

Final thoughts |

At just over $125 to get started, pairing Plex, a HDHomeRun tuner and an OTA antenna makes for an incredibly affordable alternative to traditional cable. You’ll still be able to enjoy sports, local news, and other content even after you’ve completed your cord cutting.

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