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Summary:

Channel Master is squarely targeting cord cutters with its new DVR product, which promises TiVo-like time shifting functionality and online video content without any monthly subscription fees, for a price: The device costs a whopping $400. Is it worth the money? Check out our review.

channelmaster dvr

The Channel Master TV is a new DVR that squarely targets cord cutters who don’t want to pay any monthly subscription. But is the device worth $400? Check out our take on it:

Show notes for this episode:

Do you miss your cable DVR after you’ve cut the cord? Have you replaced it with something else, or are you still looking for the perfect solution? Let us know in the comments, get in touch with us on Twitter (@cordcutters) or Facebook or email us at cordcutters @ gigaom.com.

  1. I’m still using BeyondTV to record over-the-air TV, software I bought from Snapstream, more than six years ago. All I needed was a couple of USB tuners. They still provide the guide data for free.

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  2. I did miss my DVR. So I went out to a second hand PC shop and bought a cheap small for factor PC for about $120, a dell optiplex. I upgraded the hard drive to 2 TB, an HDMI video card and installed windows 7. I use windows media center as the DVR. It works pretty well. I just need to figure out how to get my harmony to work with it. Since then, it is now also serving as my media server, and a boxee. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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  3. After I cut the cord several months ago, I did miss the DVR. So I went to a second hand PC shop (PC outlet in San Antonio, TX :) ) and bought a cheap small form factor pc, a dell optiplex. I upgraded the hard drive, and bought a few usb tuners. I use MythTV, and it works great. It also serves at my media server. I just need to figure out how to get my harmony remote to work with it.

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  4. Zach Holbrook-Deye Friday, November 18, 2011

    I have used the Channel Master 7000 and the over the air TV guide went 7 days out on most of the big 3 channel. So do they limit it only to 2 days even though it’s provided free?

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    1. This box doesn’t use the OTA guide, it was too problematic and just didn’t work for a number of users. They use the WiFi connection to supply the guide data.

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  5. RT @jank0: my latest up on @newteevee Channel Master TV – Cord Cutters: @ChannelMaster TV – a #DVR for cord cutting http://t.co/mTgv0kHq

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  6. RT @CordCutters: check out our newest episode: #ChannelMasterTV – a #DVR for cord cutting http://t.co/mVCf7Cry

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  7. Only 2 tuners, according to their web site. Other DVRs are now doing 4 in the high end ones (someone mentioned a 5 tuner DirecTV one too).

    Note, # of tuners is not JUST for shows actually “at the same time” (timeslot wise), it’s also for overlapping shows because the networks don’t follow their own official timeslots.

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  8. I looked at this a couple of months ago when they announced it and concluded that you’re better off buying a TiVo Premiere with lifetime service, which comes to a total of about $600. Since this box is $400, and the guide is $50 a year, you break even in four years. But the TiVo gets a 10-14 day guide, and support for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Blockbuster OnDemand, YouTube, Music Choice, web videos, Pandora, Rhapsody, Live365, and more. And if you ever decide to go back to cable it is ready for it – it does antenna and analog & digital cable. And it just has better features as a DVR. http://giz.lv/ngFhVk http://giz.lv/oxd7gZ

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  9. I cut the cord from DirecTV in July 2010. There was no way I was going to do this without a DVR. I went with TiVo.

    Contrary to popular belief, I have no monthly fee! TiVo offers a lifetime subscription option which eliminates the monthly fee. Yes, this is more expensive upfront. But I was paying $60/mo to DirecTV. It only took about 10 months to recoup the cost of the TiVo + lifetime subscription.

    Of course, if you aren’t willing to shell out $600 up front, then TiVo offers a $100 DVR + a $10/mo subscription for antenna users ($20/mo for everyone else).

    TiVo has access to Netflix, Amazon VOD, Pandora and YouTube. And it’s an awesome DVR. I’m thinking of adding a Logitech Revue to my setup. Combined with the TiVo, it addresses your “major deal breaker” with Google TV – it allows it to work with OTA HDTV.

    I am surprised that you haven’t talked about TiVo in this blog as an option.

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    1. Yeah, TiVo has the $10/month promotion for antenna-only use (http://giz.lv/nZJUhi) or you can get lifetime for $500 ($400 if you know an existing TiVo owner and have then buy the service, then transfer it). And the TiVo Premiere is $100 – and it has WAY more features.

      Break it down – let’s call the $50/year fee $4.17/month. So $400 + $4.17x = $100 + $10x, or $300 = $5.83x or x = 51.45. That’s 51.45 *months*, or 4.29 years, before TiVo catches up to the cost of Channel Master TV and starts to cost more – with the monthly option. If you go lifetime on TiVo it is $200 (or $100 if you use the trick) more up front. But after four years Channel Master starts costing more, and just keeps going up year to year for the guide data.

      So if you expect to use the box for more than four years – go with a TiVo on lifetime. If you expect to use it for less than four years you could go with a TiVo at $10/month – though personally I’d still go lifetime because a) you don’t have payments to deal with and b) you have equity in the box and when you do decide to replace it it will have some value on the used market (aka eBay) while a used monthly box is basically worthless.

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      1. My bad – turns out the $10/month deal from TiVo for antenna-only users ended on 11/15/11. I’d still recommend TiVo, just with the lifetime option.

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  10. RT @ChannelMaster: RT @CordCutters: check out our newest episode: #ChannelMasterTV – a #DVR for cord cutting http://t.co/mVCf7Cry

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