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Xbox One TV Tuner Review: A Small Device, A Big Upgrade

24/10/2014 15:05 BST | Updated 24/10/2014 15:59 BST

The Xbox One TV Tuner is out now for £25.

The Xbox One always had ambitions to be more than just a games console. That's why it comes with an HDMI-in port to accept signals from your Sky Box, Apple TV or whatever else, and lets you switch between games and TV with the press of a button (or a straightforward voice command).

But in the UK at least, the picture has always been a little incomplete. Without true integration with our digital TV system, non-Sky or Virgin subscribers haven't been able to use most of Microsoft's neat One Guide TV schedule feature, and live pause/rewind has also been off the cards (unless you use your existing DVR and its separate remote).

The Xbox One Digital TV Tuner fixes all that. For this is a small, simple, £25 USB dongle that rather surprisingly might revolutionise how you use your Xbox One.

Plug the tuner into your USB port, plug in a co-axial TV aerial or cable into the back, and the Xbox will automatically search for the 125-or-so Freeview TV and radio channels that you know and love/endure. For an optional 4GB of storage space you can then live pause, rewind and forwardwind TV, as well as check schedules up to eight days ahead via the One Guide.

The picture quality was great, and it picks up both HD and standard def channels. You can also use the Xbox One remote or Kinect voice commands to control the whole TV for the first time.

As is the way in the world of AV, the product has inevitable flaws: it doesn't allow you to record TV shows, like more capable true DVRs, for instance. It only has one tuner, so only streams one show. And many of the coolest features (see below) don't work for Android versions of Microsoft's Smartglass app.

But it also has a couple of unexpected features. It can send the TV stream via WiFi to any device on iOS or Windows Phone/8.1 with a Smartglass app, for instance. That means you can play games and watch TV in the other room, if you're a particularly skilled multitasker (or, which is more likely, there are non-gamers in your home).

This is a very solid, simple gadget that makes a big difference to the Xbox One, if you're using it as your main under-TV box. In fact it makes quite a good case for making the console one of the very best such solutions on the market. All for £25. Bargain.

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