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Summary:

Channel Master wants its new DVR+ to be the TiVo of people who don’t like to pay TiVo’s fees – and now, it’s developing whole-home DVR functionality as well.

LeftShadow

Channel Master, known for its over-the-air TV antennas as well as some early digital video recorders that go along with these antennas, started shipping its new DVR+ this week — and the company is already looking to bring additional functionality to the device. Channel Master EVP Joe Bingochea told me at the CES in Las Vegas Wednesday that his company is looking to introduce a small companion device in the next few months that will turn the DVR+ into a whole-home digital video recorder.

Channel Master sells its new DVR+ for $250. For that price, consumers get a pretty neat box with a very clean design as well as a programming guide — something for that TiVo charges around $15 per month, depending on the individual plan.

LeftShadow

However, the device also has its downsides. It only comes with 16 GB of onboard storage, which means that consumers have to connect an external hard drive to record more than a handful of TV show episodes. It also doesn’t support Wifi, and instead offers an Ethernet port and the option to buy an extra wireless adapter. And at least for now, the DVR+ only comes with one streaming app — Vudu — but Bingochea said that others will follow soon.

Channel Master has been positioning the device as a solution for consumer that don’t want to pay any monthly fees at all, and Bingochea also said that many of his company’s customers are more used to the traditional channel grid used by pay TV providers. That’s why the company also isn’t including ann app store. Instead, it lists Vudu right alongside other channels in the channel grid.

Bingochea said that whole-home DRV functionality was one of the most-requested features, which is why the company is now developing an adapter that can be connected to other TVs in the house to stream recordings from a DVR+ over the local network. The device won’t allow out-of-home streaming, but Channel Master cooperated with EchoStar on the development of the DVR+, and as a result, it is compatible with Sling’s Slingbox 500.

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  1. This is exactly what I have been looking for. Add Netflix functionality on the main unit AND the extenders and I am sold.

    We cut the cord about six months ago, and I haven’t even noticed it except for the fact that my combined phone/internet/tv/Netflix bill is now $150 per month cheaper. My kids watch Netflix, instead of the same re-run on the Disney Channel again and again and again. Ooma handles the home phone. I get my news online. Everybody’s happy.

    The extra costs of the monthly fees to use a Tivo – they even charge a monthly fee for the extenders – is a huge dealbreaker. We had one for a while, but it really was highway robbery to pay that much just for channel listings.

    I have been using Windows Media Center with xboxes as extenders. That works very, very well with a hdhomerun as the tuner, but Microsoft has moved away from that model too. The other advantage of this system is that it appears to be plug and play – something that I can recommend without becoming tech support for the recommended.

    When the xbox dies, I am moving to this with two extenders.

  2. I guess it won’t work with Comcast.

    1. IT works with QAM – which is the non-encrypted part of Cable, but the whole idea here is getting rid of those greedy guys who no longer provide value to anyone living in a major metropolitan area. I get 88 Channels in San Jose; Most in HD. I haven’t paid a cable bill in 5 years. I created an entire media center to do basically what these guys have done.

      1. It does not work with QAM. Only with broadcast ATSC.
        “Not compatible with existing cable and satellite connections. Requires a basic TV antenna to receive free over-the-air broadcasts.”

  3. No streaming outside the home is a deal-breaker for me. Tablo looks VERY interesting.

    1. Tablo charges a $4.99/mo subscription fee

  4. If I could get another broadband provider other than Comcast I’d be all over this. The problem for me is that a portion of my monthly fee savings will be offset by Comcast charging me a higher monthly fee for Internet services.

  5. This is that standard problem…. You can do this with off the shelf PC hardware and record OTA all day long and then stream on your local network to devices like Xboxes and Roku’s but the setup and keeping it running requires your own tech Genius. And even if you get it all working, better have a remote access so you can fix it when your wife calls and can’t watch something.

    I am considering cutting the cord myself. Kids watch Netflix like crazy on the BlueRay or the Roku or their tablets. (Nabi 2 and Nabi Jr.). but the one thing I cannot replace if we lose Dish is the Disney Channel. I wish you could purchase just Disney on the Roku as a subscription. Right now those Roku aps only work if you have a Cable Provider that is linked to them.

    I think if some cable channels start offereing thier channel as a la cart, then many cable cutters will never look back.

    I love my 722K DVR, as with the OTA module I have 4 HD tuners, but I can only watch in in HD at the main unit. The Hopper looks great but Dish doesn’t have my locals in HD. So who knows what is the best way to go… This does look interesting.

    1. My kids complained about the loss of Disney, Disney XD, and Disney Junior when we cut the cord last April, but they’ve all moved on since then and, frankly, are watching better programming now than then. When we cut the cord, I would have guessed we would have subscribed to those if they became available. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t now. Frankly, I suspect that’s the experience of a lot of families. For that reason alone, Disney should seriously consider offering such subscriptions sooner rather than later, because after a few months away, the kids’ tastes change.

      1. Check out Futubox. They have Disney XD channel in English! They have a lot of content in French, Italian and German, but don’t let that put you off. There is a ton of channels in English and it streams pretty well – and inexpensively.

  6. You do not have to pay monthly for a Tivo. You can pay lifetime (of the device). Consider it part of the purchase price and amortize it over time.

    (BTW, I still appreciate any competition!)

    1. Sure, you can pay a lifetime fee — $150 for the TiVo mini or $400 to $500 for other models. And when the hard drive dies you’re back to square one. Or, you can pay absolutely nothing for the DVR+, and when your hard drive dies, replace the drive for $50 to $60.

      I got one of the first DVR+ units that shipped and I’m loving it so far.

  7. ChickenLittle Friday, January 10, 2014

    This thing has a single tuner???? Are you kidding me? I was excited to see this story pop up as I think Channel Master does have their eye on the cord cutter market, but what’s the point of having a single tuner whole home DVR? If I have 4 TVs, I need to be able to watch 4 live shows in 4 locations at the same time! 2 should be minimum at this point!

    1. I’m pretty sure it has dual tuners.

      1. Yes it does. We will be posting a full review as soon as I can get my hands on a unit.

    2. How ignorant are you? This is an Over-theAir scenario, aka cord cutter situation, where you are using a television antenna to pick up signals. Yet you are going to complain that this item might only have ONE tuner? You’ve got 4 tv’s and you need to be able to watch 4 different stations at one time on each tv? So all of your tv’s are sitting next to each other or in different room? First off tv’s have built in tuners, so right there you can watch all of those 4 different shows. You have no need for a DVR.

  8. birminghamforsale Friday, January 10, 2014

    The lack of whole home DVR is one of the big barriers for me as to this product. Their plans to solve that is a huge step. I’ve used a homegrown PC solution for quite awhile and just recently converted to Simple.TV, which is working great so far (much better than the experience from the review posted to “Cord Cutters” more than a year ago). It’s good to see that real, out-of-the-box solutions for this problem for cord cutters are finally becoming available. DVR+, Simple.TV, Tablo, and Aereo are all developing compelling solutions. I wouldn’t be surprised if more companies get into the market.

    This is a huge indication that some investors see cord cutters as a growing and potentially lucrative market. The cable/satellite companies must be starting to realize they face a real problem. I think 2014 will be the year which sees massive cancellations of cable/satellite and even more cord shavers, who keep basic, but ditch all the extras.

    1. http://thebeersoncomcast.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/59700000-cable-cutters/

      there are a lot of cord cutters. They get less attention because they spend less money. To make money in a cord cutting world, you have to make your money on the hardware sale because there is no follow-on service relationship.

      This could change going forward. With 4k and Aereo hitting the internet hard, and premium terrestrial providers prioritizing content they do not compete with, OTA may be the best place to get high quality programming in prime time.

      Also, as users migrate away from premium providers, the cost per consumer increases which drives away more users.

    2. I agree. I sold Tivo short.

  9. I think it is great. I have held off purchasing one of these devices for years because of the tivo tax. Use a HTPC with WMC for a DVR and it works well. The problem is as previously stated. I am the tech genius in my house and if it was just me using the device it would fine. It works most of the time. The downside is that Microsoft is moving away from supporting or expanding WMC. We still have issues with the programming guide data also.

    My concern with this device is the guide data. How accurate and up to date will it be since it is free. Here is hoping that this doesn’t have the same amount of limitations the DVRPals had. The last one had a major heat issue and this slim design worries me.

    If you look at cost. Your talking $250 plus say $85 for a 2TB hard drive. Not sure what drives are supported. So your in for say $325. If you bought a Roamio for $150 and lifetime service your at $650. Double the cost.

    I like the Simple.tv and how you can daisy chain to expand your tuner pool. But you have to have both an external drive and roku or similar. Same with Tablo but the 4 tuner for $250 sounds interesting.

    Final point is after years of being left out in the cold we finally have a market for this. I know no one will believe this but I have never had cable or satellite. Not as a kid and not now. We the bevy of streaming services and the expansion of OTA options I am feeling optimistic.

    1. Usually the main source of excess heat is a hard drive buckled into the same box with the rest of the tronics..That’s why they are calling for an external usb drive to store what you want to store..With 2 tuners and HDMI TV input ,1080/720 p it should be a nice network tv addition..

    2. You might be the “tech genius” in your home, but you certainly aren’t one when it comes to television.

      The EIT (Event Information Table) is extra data that is broadcast with a television signal, much like Closed Caption Text in the VBI stream. EIT provides program data for the current show and future shows which can be then used to view on-screen program information, such as title, length, description and more. This can also be gathered to build a program guide for current and future shows on all your available channels. Most cable and satellite services use an Electronic Program Guide, or EPG. Even many modern digital televisions can have a program guide by gathering and storing EIT.

      EIT is typically available over digital television signals, either terrestrial, cable or satellite. With terrestrial signals, each channel provides it’s own EIT. Information is usually only available for the upcoming 24 hours. With satellite, the EIT is broadcast on it’s own stream, or an Aggregate Event Information Table (AEIT), and contains information for all the channels broadcasted, and can provide scheduling information for more than a week.

      Each broadcast station writes and broadcasts their own EIT.

  10. Go to the Channel Master website and check the connections on the back of the device. The signal input is RF only — in other words, NO HDMI or Component input. In view of that, how good can the resultant recorded programs look?

    It seems to me that in order to make truly high-quality HD recordings, the recorder must have either an HDMI or Component input — something that few, if any, equipment manufacturers are willing to include for fear of lawsuits by the MPAA, the Hollywood studios and the television networks.

    HD recorders (both Blu-Ray and hard drive-based) with HDMI and Component inputs ARE commonplace in Japan and have been for years. But apparently, we in the U.S. aren’t entitled to the same privilege of being able to retain HD copies of the output of our own domestic entertainment industry.

    1. HDMI input will be useless due to HDCP encryption. But more to the point, for recording TV, over-the-air is pretty much as good as it gets, as long as you’ve got good reception.

    2. I’m confused by your comment. How would this device tune in RF signals over HDMI?

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