Xbox One Digital TV Tuner hands-on: It's smaller than you think

It's amazing what you can find lurking in a place you least expect. And while we were hoping to catch up with the recently announced Xbox One Digital TV Tuner at some point during our Gamescom visit, we didn't bank on it lying in plain sight during a briefing we attended about future Dashboard updates.

To be fair, it was used as part of the demo of a future feature, most likely coming to the Xbox One in October to coincide with the device's launch date. However, even the Xbox team members were surprised when we asked to photograph it as part of a hands-on.

We weren't allowed to take pics of the screen - after all, it was showing German TV and broke up thanks to bad signal coming into the building rather than a fault of the box itself. But we got a good idea of how big the tuner is and what kid of experience it will offer.

In aesthetic terms, it's tiny. It's about the size of a box of Swan Vesta matches, just a bit more deep. There's a USB cable coming out from one end and a coaxial input in the other. It will easily tuck away in your existing AV set-up, so you'll barely know its there.

As for the on-screen experience, it integrates with OneGuide completely, with voice search for channels implemented if you have a Kinect. OneGuide serves as the content-rich electronic programme guide and the entire channel line up normally expected with a digital TV set-top-box will be available for each region.

We saw how easy it is to pause, rewind and forward TV shows. You can even pause a show, spark up a game and revisit the programme later. You will need to do it within 30 minutes though as that's the amount of time the buffer will allow.

The buffer uses around 4GB of your Xbox One's storage space, but you can choose not to allow it to in settings.

Picture quality is good - as good as a reasonable Freeview HD box - and we can see that the Digital TV Tuner is a no-brainer for those without Virgin Media or Sky and want to use their Xbox One as a central entertainment hub. You can't record shows as yet, mainly due to rights issues, but one extra neat feature is that you can stream live TV pictures to a tablet or other device running Xbox SmartGlass. And you can carry on playing a game on the console at the same time.

The Xbox One Digital TV Tuner will be available in late October in the UK, priced at £24.99. It will also be available in France, Italy, Germany and Spain for 29.99 euros.



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