Zapperbox Update Allows DVR Recording of Encrypted ATSC 3.0 DRM Protected Content

After reviewing the latest update on the ZapperBox, an over the air TV tuning device, it’s clear that there have been significant improvements in its functionality. This includes the ability to record and play back DRM encrypted ATSC 3.0 channels. You can check out the changes in my latest video.

The ZapperBox, which retails for $275 for the dual tuner unit, requires a $30 annual subscription for a channel guide that’s essential for its DVR capabilities.

The biggest change is the addition of the DVR functionality – which makes full use of the dual tuners built into the Zapperbox. Unfortunately playing live or recorded ATSC 3.0 encrypted content requires an internet connection for accessing encrypted channels. This seems counterintuitive especially as the TV signals themselves are delivered via an over the air antenna.

DVR recording includes a requirement for a minimum of a 128 GB SD card or USB hard drive to utilize the DVR functionality. Viewers can pause live TV, record, and access previously recorded content with relative ease, though the system does experience delays in playback due to encryption checks.

Recording setup is user-friendly, allowing for both scheduled and manual recordings. The ZapperBox supports simultaneous recording of two shows, or watching one live while the other records. Additionally content can be played back while both tuners are recording. An intriguing upcoming feature is the ability for multiple ZapperBoxes to recognize each other on a network, enabling combined recording capabilities across devices.

Despite its advancements, the ZapperBox still faces limitations, especially in distributing content across different devices in a household. This issue stems largely from ATSC 3.0 content protection restrictions rather than technological shortcomings. Upcoming updates promise to address some existing bugs and introduce new features, such as the ability to view encrypted content offline and enhancements to the multi-room DVR functionality.

ZapperBox has a detailed feature roadmap on their website and are to be commended for being transparent and largely meeting their development goals on time.

Nevertheless, the product’s feature set and development are hindered by the ATSC 3.0 content protection. None of the features on the roadmap are all that innovative – in fact ATSC 1.0 gateway devices have been able to do them for over a decade. We need to keep the pressure on the FCC to deny broadcasters the ability to encrypt their signals.

Let them know here!