I came across a good low-cost solution for cutting the cord from your cable company in favor of over-the-air (OTA) digital HD (ATSC) broadcast signals: the Mediasonic HW-150PVR.
While almost anyone can plug a simple antenna into their TV and get programming (and you should confirm you receive strong signal before buying this box), this $37 box adds DVR and program guide functionality for your broadcast signals – two things people might be less willing to give up when leaving cable. Guide data is received over the air, so results may vary.
Definitely a Tivo is a superior device – one key thing lacking in this device is the ability to set a “season pass” (record every episode of a show by name). But for a fraction of the price and avoiding Tivo’s monthly guide data fee, this device might be adequate for your needs (recordings can still be scheduled by time).
It requires an external USB drive for recording, which means you actually have to spend more than $37, but also means you can have lots of storage and can easily move the recordings to a PC (where you could also convert them into a suitable format for a tablet).
Including rabbit ears and a decent size USB drive, you could easily be up and running for $100 all-in.
Check out the user manual here.
— Adam Berson
[Read the Amazon reviews to learn about some of the frustrating things about this converter. The reason we are including it is because it is a very low-cost alternative to TiVo and other subscription based DVR services. — Mark Frauenfelder]
Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out
Available from Amazon