Former Channel Master DVR+ Users' Thread - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 29 Old 11-25-2018, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Former Channel Master DVR+ Users' Thread

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Originally Posted by 645824 View Post
Is there a thread for disenfranchised DVR+ users? Since the DVR+ has been discontinued, I've been looking for alternatives. I guess I'm looking for the Former DVR+ discussion thread.
So, you've decided to move on from Channel Master's now-discontinued DVR+. Or maybe you're keeping your DVR+ in service, but want to add a different DVR to your setup. What are your choices? I'm creating this thread so you can discuss your options.

Here are the obvious (at least to me) "new DVR" choices, along with links to their own threads; but feel free to suggest your own! Or suggest "other discontinued" DVRs that DVR+ owners might like.

"Traditional" DVRs: These are DVRs that hook directly to your TV like the DVR+ does.

  • "Cheapos:" There are many low-cost, one-tuner, PSIP-only DVRs on the market. These are often sold as "converter boxes," de-emphasizing their DVR capability, because they have composite video outputs for older analog TVs as well as HDMI for newer HDTVs. Most are based on the mStar 7802 chip and the same firmware, and typically cost less than $40. The most popular brands are iVIEW (models 3200STB and 3500STBII) and HomeWorX (models HW-150PVR and HW-180STB-Y18), but there are dozens of other clones too. Two that aren't based on the 7802 chip are also worth mentioning: iVIEW's 3100STB, and Channel Master's 7004.
  • TiVo OTA DVRs: TiVo's OTA DVRs are operationally most similar to the DVR+. You connect an antenna to it via coax cable and your TV via HDMI, plug it in and set it up. (Update: Link is to the new TiVo Edge OTA thread.)
  • Channel Master Stream+: This is Channel Master's own alternative: a streaming box running Android TV, with two tuners and Google's Live Channels app as its DVR app.
  • AirTV Player: Another Android TV streaming box very similar to the Stream+. The main difference is that the tuner(s) aren't built-in; instead they plug in via a USB port.

"Network" DVRs: These DVRs connect to your home network, not directly to a TV, so to use them, you need a streamer (such as a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, eMatic Jetstream, etc.) at each TV.

  • Tablo DVR: The original network DVR.
  • AirTV "Black Box:" This is a network-attached tuner/DVR, somewhat like the Tablo, made by Echostar (manufacturers of the DVR+).
  • Amazon Recast: Another network-attached tuner/DVR much like the AirTV Black Box but designed to work best with Amazon's "Fire TV" streamers.

Edit: Understandably, there's been a lot of confusion between the two AirTV offerings. You'll see digressions about the "wrong" box on each of the threads linked above. Making matters even more confusing, AirTV recently decided to go a somewhat different, more Recast-like route with some new offerings. The AirTV Player is being replaced with the AirTV Mini, which is essentially the same thing, but without USB ports, so there's no way to connect a tuner dongle or HDD to the Mini; instead, it's just another streamer like Amazon's Fire TV or eMatic's JetStream. With the Mini, you use the AirTV "Black Box" as your tuner and local channel DVR just as you would with those other streamers.

Thoughts and Recommendations:

Each of the above, of course has its own strengths:

The "cheapos" won't fully replace a DVR+ - their big advantage is obviously low price - but they do have some nice features. They only record by time, not by show title, sort of like an old VCR, but they do let you schedule recordings from the PSIP program guides broadcast by the stations. The guide is typically only one day long and one channel at a time (the slightly pricier 7004 does sport a grid-style guide and a somewhat DVR+-esque user interface), but it gets the job done. Whether you keep your DVR+ or replace it, it's probably worth picking up a "cheapo" or two just for "overflow" recordings (when two, or even four, tuners isn't enough).

The 7802-based cheapos make the most of their single tuner; while you obviously can't watch one channel while recording another, you may be surprised to find that you can watch one subchannel while recording another, if both subchannels are on the same signal! (Usually, one RF signal carries all the subchannels starting with the same number; e.g., if you have 8-1, 8-2, 8-3, and 8-4, they would usually be on the same RF signal. There are some exceptions in both directions: sometimes one channel number is split between multiple signals, and sometimes one RF signal carries subchannels from multiple channel numbers.) They also sport multiple "favorite channel" lists, although they have the fixed (and not terribly useful for OTA TV) names "Music," "News," "Sport," and "Movie." And the recordings aren't encrypted and are easy to copy to a PC and edit.

TiVo OTA DVRs (Edge, Bolt, Roamio, Premiere, etc.) probably work most similarly to the DVR+, giving you the easiest learning curve. They also have a lot of features the DVR+ never delivered, inc;luding (depending on the model) four or more tuners, whole-home capability, "Season Pass" (the ability to record every episode of a season, including picking up a rerun if the original show didn't get recorded for some reason), and some of the most popular streaming apps. But it's expensive; the up-front cost is low, but it has a high monthly fee. However, I believe a "lifetime" subscription is still available for the OTA version. I generally recommend trying to find a used OTA TiVo (either the Bolt or the previous Roamio model) with a lifetime subscription (lifetime subscriptions are transferable) rather than buying one new. Also, unlike the DVR+, TiVo requires an Internet connection for the guide; it won't use PSIP at all.

The Stream+ is a good choice if you're getting more and more into streaming. When the first ones were shipped at the start of 2018, it had a lot of weak spots compared to the DVR+, but I've seen a lot of encouraging news lately; it's now close to the DVR+ in recording (and of course beats it in streaming). The Google's Live Channels app offers integration with some streaming services such as the free Pluto TV, somewhat like the DVR+'s "Channel Master TV." Live Channels isn't a great DVR app yet, but it is being improved slowly but steadily. The EPG can be up to a full 14 days, same as the DVR+; but at present it can shrink to as little as 2 days if you have over 100 channels available from all your channel sources (even if you don't display them all). As a streamer, it's biggest weakness is a lack of the most popular apps, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, but some Stream+ owners have found working versions of Amazon Prime that can be "side-loaded." (The firmware now runs a side-loaded Amazon Prime app more reliably than before.) The Stream+ can record to a micro SD card, or to a USB-attached HDD, I believe up to 2 TB.

The two AirTV products will be especially attractive to folks missing the DVR+'s Sling app, which was disabled by Sling TV earlier this year. The Player is very much like the Stream+, but you use its Sling TV app instead of Live Channels; the OTA channels and your Sling TV channels are integrated into a single EPG. The Player can be purchased without a tuner, or with either a one-tuner or two-tuner dongle that attaches via USB. (The Player has two USB ports so you'll still have a place to attach an HDD.)

Network DVRs like the Tablo can save you some money if you want DVRs for multiple TVs, and they provide "whole-home" (the ability to schedule and/or watch your recordings from any TV) essentially for free. A network DVR works much like a traditional DVR, except it has multiple "outputs" (i.e., streams), accessed via an app on a smart phone, tablet, PC, or streaming device (such as a Roku) at the TV. They provide the flexibility to place your antenna far from your TV, without having to fish coaxial cable through your walls, and some (I know for sure the AirTV; unsure about the others) will let you watch your local channels and recordings over the Internet when you're away from home! On the downside, network DVRs typically "transcode" video to reduce the load on your home network; that often results in lower picture quality than traditional DVRs, so you may not be satisfied if you have really big screen TVs (65" or more).

The Tablo has both 2-tuner and 4-tuner models. One difference is that the Tablo transcodes video while recording, while other network DVRs transcode video while viewing. Thus, with the Tablo, you have to choose your recording quality, and that determines how much you can record on a given size HDD.

As with the Player, AirTV's "Black Box" (unofficial name) integrates with Sling TV, even if you aren't a Sling TV subscriber. (Sling TV now offers a few free CMTV-style channels, as well as some "a la carte" channels that require a subscription but don't require a $25/month Sling TV "base" package.) You just launch the Sling TV app on your Roku, Fire TV, or Android-based streamer, set up the AirTV BB, and all your OTA channels appear in your Sling TV guide. The "Black Box" has two tuners, like the DVR+, and requires an external HDD up to 2 TiB. The AirTV formats the HDD with a file system I haven't figured out yet, so at least right now, there's no known way to copy your recordings to another drive.

Amazon's Recast is very similar to the AirTV BB, but integrates with the PlayStation Vue service instead of Sling TV (AIUI it can also integrate the Pluto TV guide), and has a built-in HDD. The 1 TB model sports four tuners, while the 500 GB model has two. You can also attach an external HDD, but you can't (yet) control which HDD the Recast records to. (Some folks have gone so far as to deliberately fill up the internal HDD with junk recordings before attaching an external HDD, in order to force the Recast to record to the external HDD!) The Recast formats the external HDD with a Linux ext4 file system, and at least for now, the recording files are not encrypted, so you can copy Recast recordings from your external HDD to another drive. Its biggest weakness is that it won't work with Android devices (except for setup) or Rokus; only Fire TVs and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc. - but not TVOS devices like Apple TV) are supported.
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Last edited by JHBrandt; 10-06-2019 at 07:40 PM. Reason: Expanded the network DVR section a bit
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post #2 of 29 Old 11-25-2018, 07:32 PM
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I think you should separate out the network streamers from the devices that work just like a DVR+ and connect directly to the TV, putting those last two is a separate sub-heading (if they are listed at all). Once you go down that road, you have any number of devices that require network setup including the Tablo and HD Homerun.
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post #3 of 29 Old 11-25-2018, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Good idea! I separated my list as suggested.

Regarding the HDHR, I didn't list it because it's not a "DVR" by itself: it requires another device (such as a PC or Stream+) to provide DVR storage. Edit: Although now, that's no longer true! SiliconDust has announced some new HDHRs that do include internal storage, so they now qualify as network DVRs as I've defined them. I'll need to update my first post to include them, I suppose.

I could also throw in PC-based DVR solutions like Emby, Plex, or even the long-in-the-tooth (but still quite serviceable) Windows Media Center (that is, if you can still get Windows 8.1 Pro new). Along with the HDHR, that would be a third category of DVR alternatives.

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post #4 of 29 Old 11-25-2018, 08:21 PM - Thread Starter
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My Personal Choice

First, I haven't retired my DVR+ yet. One task (recording The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) has mostly been taken over by an even older DVR: Channel Master's CM-7000Pal. But the DVR+ is still in use for other tasks, as well as a backup for recording LSSC when the old CM-7000Pal occasionally fails.

For the future, I have an AirTV Black Box. I like its integration of OTA and Sling TV channels, and it's likely I'll return to Sling TV once the two-year locked-in price for my Spectrum TV Choice package expires.

Also, network DVRs are inherently whole-home, a feature that was promised for the DVR+ (but of course was never delivered).

OTOH, the AirTV BB DVR isn't as polished as the DVR+, but it's still new, so I'm giving it time. The DVR+ had some rough edges when it was new too.

One big feature that's currently missing from the AirTV BB is time-shifting (the ability to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live TV). But the AirTV does support chase play, so I can use that in a pinch: if I need to pause, I can just start recording the show I'm watching, then go to the bathroom or whatever, and when I get back, I can go to "My Recordings" and start playing that recording. That way I don't miss anything, but I have to remember to delete the recording later. It would be better if I could just bring up a menu and select "Pause."

Another big feature for me that's missing from the AirTV BB is the ability to off-load recordings for editing or archiving. In fact, E* seems to have gone out of their way to make this difficult, formatting the HDD you attach with a proprietary file system (I'd bet "Dave's File System," also used by the CM-7000Pal and by Dish's DVRs, but I don't know how to check that).

The AirTV is also very finicky about changing HDDs: if you remove an HDD and attach and format another one, it won't even accept the original HDD back! So even simple backups are virtually impossible, making redundant storage (mirroring or RAID) a must if you want some assurance you won't lose all your recordings to an HDD failure.

Finally, the AirTV BB's channel setup isn't very friendly yet. There's no way to add or remove channels without doing a full rescan!

I hope some of these shortcomings get addressed soon. Otherwise it may be a while before the AirTV BB completely takes over for my DVR+.
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post #5 of 29 Old 11-26-2018, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
Good idea! I separated my list as suggested.

Regarding the HDHR, I didn't list it because it's not a "DVR" by itself: it requires another device (such as a PC or Stream+) to provide DVR storage. But thanks for mentioning it!

I could also throw in PC-based DVR solutions like Emby, Plex, or even the long-in-the-tooth (but still quite serviceable) Windows Media Center (that is, if you can still get Windows 8.1 Pro new). Along with the HDHR, that would be a third category of DVR alternatives.
You have to stop somewhere, and I suspect people looking for a DVR+ alternative are looking for a more plug and play solution like the Tivo, Stream+, AirTV, etc. that attach directly to the TV like the DVR+. Going one more step to a network storage device that is easy to set up is a good place to stop. The ones like the HD Homerun, Plex, etc. do take more network savvy to set up.
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post #6 of 29 Old 11-26-2018, 01:19 PM
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Any reason not to continue to use DVR+?

We will be cutting the cord soon. Is there any reason not to use the DVR+ other than guide issues? I can see upcoming OTA schedule on Zap2it or Titan TV. The DVR+ can be programmed manually. I'd really rather not have to invest in another DVR for OTA.
I may get another Tivo. if I must. I had one briefly, but it's tuner did not work as well on an indoor antenna. Once we have dumped Dish, we may have Mr Antenna out to install a roof antenna, which should alleviate tuner problems. I am near the Black Mountain antenna farm in Henderson, NV but have no windows facing that way. I get some minor reflection reception problems.

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post #7 of 29 Old 11-26-2018, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I still use mine; I don't see any reason not to use it as long as it's doing what you want.

BTW, you'll be limited to a PSIP-based program guide if you haven't updated your firmware to version 135R. The Internet guide server used by earlier firmware no longer works.

If you do decide to replace it someday, I hope this thread will help you make the right choice.
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post #8 of 29 Old 11-26-2018, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
I still use mine; I don't see any reason not to use it as long as it's doing what you want.

BTW, you'll be limited to a PSIP-based program guide if you haven't updated your firmware to version 135R. The Internet guide server used by earlier firmware no longer works.

....
I allegedly have 135R, but my program guide doesn't keep our local NBC affiliate up to date. The other channels seem okay. Fortunately, I can program by time & date (I am a veteran of VCRs).
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post #9 of 29 Old 11-27-2018, 07:52 AM
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Right now I'm considering the Amazon Fire TV Recast as my leading contender to replace my DVR+. Although my previous unit (EPvision) didn't have a guide and I used TitanTV, for the past several years my family has gotten used to having an integrated guide that the DVR+ provides. So I can't go back.

Although my DVR+ is still going strong, and I am in no hurry to replace it, I understand that the Guide could be pulled at any time or the hardware could fail. Even if CM pulls the Guide, each station's broadcast PSIP Guide information will still work.


The Recast doesn't presently support external storage. One issue with adding external storage to the Recast: Amazon's Fire TV Cube does support external storage, but uses FAT32, so a single file is limited to 4 GB.


I'm guessing the FAT32 issue is Amazon's delay is in adding external storage to the Recast. You can see the problem -- an NFL overtime game may extend beyond 4GB; or someone recording a large block of Olympic coverage will have a similar problem. So Amazon either needs to change to a different file format (NTFS, exFAT, etc), or figure out how to split a single show across the 4GB barrier (thus requiring multiple pieces; not a big deal, but probably different logistics from Amazon's standpoint).


One-minute of video captured at 720p HD at 30fps will take up roughly 60MB. 1080i is a tad more. So 4GB = 67 minutes. Attempting to record a 2.5 hour game easily passes that 4GB barrier...


Fortunately, the Recast has a USB 3.0 port (the Cube has a USB 2 port). However, the existing Amazon Ethernet dongle ("Amazon Ethernet Adapter for Amazon Fire TV Devices") is USB 2.0, and anything plugged into *it* would be limited to USB 2 speeds. So Amazon probably also needs a new dongle (so that people like me can plug in a USB3 hard disk AND an ethernet cable).


To use a Recast, I would need the following:
  1. Amazon FireTV Recast 4-turner
  2. Amazon FireTV 4K Stick
  3. Amazon Ethernet Adapter for Amazon Fire TV Devices (to use my existing wired ethernet infrastructure)
  4. HDTV antenna (I already have this)
  5. a large external hard disk (once the Recast supports it) since the internal hard disk is only 1TB (I would just reuse my existing external hard disk presently attached to my DVR+)


Thanks to JHBrandt for starting this thread!

Scott

Last edited by 645824; 11-27-2018 at 08:00 AM.
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post #10 of 29 Old 11-27-2018, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm glad you mentioned the 4GiB barrier with FAT32. You reminded me that the cheap iView/HomeWorx/mStar-based DVRs (similar to your ePVision but with only one tuner) support FAT32 and NTFS; on FAT32 drives they break recordings up into 546GB (=512GiB) files. (Why they chose a file size so much smaller than 4GiB, I don't know.)

Maybe I'll go back and mention the cheapos in post 1, but as @fshagan said, you have to draw the line somewhere. Many of the cheapos are still being sold, but they do seem to be on their way out, possibly because ATSC 3.0 looms.


If/when Amazon moves their Fire TV sticks beyond FAT32, it'll probably be NTFS or maybe ext2/3/4; those file systems are more complex, but Micro$oft patented exFAT so you have to license it to support it. Or they could go the route E* went with the AirTV, or Android with "adopted" storage, and come up with their own file system.

The Recast has probably moved beyond FAT32 already, but someone would have to take one apart and pull the HDD to find out what it uses.
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post #11 of 29 Old 11-27-2018, 09:24 PM
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I think it has to be mentioned that if you have a large screen, the Recast has lousy PQ according to reports. While it receives and records the OTA programs in their native format, which can be as high as 1080i, it streams in a lower quality that is closer to 720p, I guess.

I don't think the other network streamers do that. I love the PQ I get out of the DVR+ and Stream+ connected directly to my TVs. The Stream+ PQ is much higher on the Plex app than my Roku is (my Plex server evidently has to degrade the signal for the older Roku to display it). I wouldn't be happy if all of my OTA channels were coming through at that lower resolution.

How is the PQ on the AirTV network streamer?
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post #12 of 29 Old 11-28-2018, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fshagan View Post
I think it has to be mentioned that if you have a large screen, the Recast has lousy PQ according to reports. While it receives and records the OTA programs in their native format, which can be as high as 1080i, it streams in a lower quality that is closer to 720p, I guess.
Yes. For speed reasons, the Recast stores the info on the internal disk in its native broadcast format (1080i, 720p, whatever). The issue is when it is time for playback -- the Recast transcodes to 720p so that it can be viewed on Amazon Fire TV devices in a uniform fashion. That is what limits the 4-tuner Recast to only 2 simultaneous playback streams -- the horsepower to do the on-the-fly transcoding.

Scott
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post #13 of 29 Old 11-29-2018, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fshagan View Post
I think it has to be mentioned that if you have a large screen, the Recast has lousy PQ according to reports. While it receives and records the OTA programs in their native format, which can be as high as 1080i, it streams in a lower quality that is closer to 720p, I guess.

I don't think the other network streamers do that. I love the PQ I get out of the DVR+ and Stream+ connected directly to my TVs. The Stream+ PQ is much higher on the Plex app than my Roku is (my Plex server evidently has to degrade the signal for the older Roku to display it). I wouldn't be happy if all of my OTA channels were coming through at that lower resolution.

How is the PQ on the AirTV network streamer?
The AirTV BB looks fine to me, but so far I've only watched at 720p. I need to try it on a 1080i broadcast and see how it looks compared to my TV's tuner or my DVR+.

In general, PQ is probably a weak spot for most network DVRs. AFAIK they all transcode. (If they support Roku they have to, because Roku doesn't support MPEG-2!)

The Recast reportedly converts down to an "enhanced" 720p with a resolution of 1440x720 vs. the usual 1280x720. But I think its big problem might be the Fire TV's conversion back up to 4K. It looks like it just outputs each scan line three times instead of interpolating. That probably makes it look worse on 4K screens than it should.
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post #14 of 29 Old 11-29-2018, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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That is what limits the 4-tuner Recast to only 2 simultaneous playback streams -- the horsepower to do the on-the-fly transcoding.
I wasn't aware of that limitation, but it makes sense now that you mention it. So you can record four shows at once, but you can only watch two shows (live or recorded) at once.

I think for a lot of households that wouldn't be a problem; you could, say, replace two DVR+'s with the 4-tuner Recast and two Fire TVs. You'd lose some PQ but gain whole-home flexibility: you could set up, manage, and watch all your recordings from either Fire TV.

But it does mean you're limited in expanding the system. If you add a third Fire TV, once two users are streaming OTA from the Recast, the third one could only stream from the Internet. Something to be aware of before you buy.
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post #15 of 29 Old 12-14-2018, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Wanted to let everyone know I added a bit more info to the Stream+ section in post one. I've seen quite a bit of encouraging news in the last week or two: CM released a new firmware update that seems to have fixed several bugs, and Live Channels is finally moving to a full 14-day program guide (should be up to 7 days for most users by now and will be at the full 14 in another week or so). Still needs time-shifting and chase play, and I doubt there will ever be a "Stream+ Lister/Explorer" as there is for DVR+ HDDs, but the Stream+ finally seems to be becoming the box it should've been to start with.

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post #16 of 29 Old 02-22-2019, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I thought these posts were good enough to be worth cross-posting from the main DVR+ thread:
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Originally Posted by P Smith View Post
What about DVR+ vs FireTV Recast?
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Originally Posted by fshagan View Post
The Recast is a network tuner like the Tablo and HD Homerun and requires a secondary device at the TV. The experience people have can be different depending on the client software in the device at the TV (at least with Tablo and HD Homerun). With the Recast you are locked into the Amazon ecosystem, but people already invested in that ecosystem with Amazon Echos and Prime offerings will probably like it better than any stand-alone DVR like the DVR+ or the Stream+.

To be fair, the Stream+ is part of the Google ecosystem relying on both Android TV and Live Channels. Google's data collection may be "more evil" than we thought after the revelation of secret, hidden microphones in its Nest Security devices. "Wait, we didn't tell you about that? Oh, sorry!" is their response to that revelation. So like the Tivo, data collection is probably a core function of the Stream+ like it is the Recast.

The one thing I have liked about the Recast is the speed of updates I've seen. Missing features are pretty quickly added, although I guess there still aren't channel numbers in the guide (just the network designations). The Stream+ updates have come at a snail's pace and here more than a year later we still have some nagging problems like the guide limited to the number of channels the tuner can receive (vs. the number you actually want data for), periodic network disconnects with Ethernet, and the lack of the features like chase play. In another few years it might get up to speed.
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post #17 of 29 Old 04-11-2019, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Bumping this thread to mention a new option. Tablo has a 4-tuner DVR now they call the Tablo Quad.

I'll add more info as soon as I get it.
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post #18 of 29 Old 04-13-2019, 09:35 AM
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I'm surprised you left out Silicon Dust's HDHomeRun CONNECT Duo and Quatro solutions. True, they're not DVRs, in and of themselves, but one of those network tuners, coupled with software from either Silicon Dust ($35/year subscription) or Channels ($80/year subscription), plus the appropriate streaming device(s), gives you a networked DVR.

One could do it as inexpensively as an HDHomeRun CONNECT Duo + Nvidia Shield + USB drive for around $100 + $180 + $70 = $350. Cheaper, if you hunted for sales or bought used.

I didn't mess about: SD HDHR CONNECT Quatro, Synology NAS, Channels' software and subscription, plus FireTVs and Xiaomi Android TVs. Got about $1,000 invested in it. But that gives use whole-house live TV and DVR, up to four active channels at a time, off one rooftop antenna. If we find we need more than four channels received at a time it's as simple as adding more CONNECT Duos or Quatros. Plus, using Channels' product allows us remote access to live or DVR'd content.

Our DVR+ is still active, but we rarely use it any more.
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post #19 of 29 Old 04-13-2019, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Decided to cross-post xnappo's comparison of four DVR solutions here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnappo View Post
Hi Guys,

I wanted to drop in and do a little review of three solutions I have tried.

Some background - I was doing the HTPC thing for a long time using cable TV with a Ceton card and WMC. My HTPC died, and I moved to NVidia Shields for both my living room and home theater. I have FireTV stick for the bedroom.

I will never go back to having multiple boxes - I love just having the ShieldTV being the ONLY thing to control.

I use SlingTV Blue for my cable now after trying Hulu and YouTubeTV - the interface has the highest family acceptance and the price is right - of course there are no locals.

First solution: USB Tuner with Android Live Channels

Pros:
Very cheap for one device - tuner is cheap and no cost for guide data

Cons:
Recordings cannot be shared between devices
Need tuner. storage and antenna access for every location
Only one tuner per device

Second solution: SiliconDust HDHomeRun Extend + HDHomeRun app / Kodi unofficial

Pros:
Most geek friendly, can be used with Plex, Emby, Kodi
Recordings can be integrated with other media as they reside on server
Nice Kodi integration with unofficial app

Cons:
Complex setup, needs a server
Firmware updates and app updates too often have negative effects
Poor recovery from signal glitches
Somewhat toxic forum community(sorry to anyone who disagrees) - exception is the Kodi unofficial thread which is lovely.
Need to pay for guide data (fairly cheap)
UI of HDHomeRun app is pretty horrible

Third solution: AirTV 'black box' with Sling App

Pros:
Integration with Sling App (obviously)
Very simple setup
Free guide data (with Sling subscription anyway)

Cons:
No 'trick play' - you can't pause and rewind live TV (you can go through several clicks and start recording, but this is annoying)
No way to set early/late start times for recordings
No way to transfer recordings off drive
Picture quality slightly worse than other solutions
Pretty much zero online presence from Sling for feature requests/status etc (please let me know if I am missing something!)

Fourth solution: Tablo Quad DVR

Pros:
Good native app (grid guide, nice fast forwarding)
Commercial skip (beta, may be pay feature later)
Very simple setup
Recordings can be transferred off device

Cons:
Highest cost of all above solutions
Locked in to a company that may or may not be around in five years
A little slow to change channels

_ _

Okay - that is it. Right now I am happy with the Tablo - of course just yesterday YouTubeTV added the stations that were missing from it that we 1/2 of my reason not to just go with that. If YouTubeTV adds a grid guide - it would be might tempting - even at $50.

Hope this is helpful.

xnappo
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post #20 of 29 Old 07-13-2019, 04:03 PM
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I'm cross posting this from user tapokata from the Amazon Recast thread https://www.avsforum.com/forum/42-hd...-frank-18.html

It compares their experiences with Recast, TiVo, and Tablo.

Thanks,

Scott

Quote:
The Recast arrived yesterday- so my observations and comparisons to my TiVo Bolts, and a Tablo Dual 64:

Setup: Relatively straight forward, although not really descriptive on operations and settings. Faster setup than TiVo, probably a bit longer than Tablo. Channel scan is straightforward, although signal strengths are not shown (ala Tablo) and real channel ID (helpful for multiple stations or repeaters with same virtual channel) is not available (unlike TiVo). Tuner sensitivity and channel selection same as others as installed on same antenna and coax plant. We’ve been OTA consumers for years, before “cord-cutting” was cool, so the number of and quality of channels received via OTA not of great consideration.

Recording setup:
Pick and choose from guide, otherwise use voice search (mixed results- sometimes requires date of broadcast along with show title, but impressive that it works at all) Not known how this compares to VOX service on TiVo.

Options for series recording could offer fewer than 5 to hold (ie, 1,2, etc). Some programs, such as nightly news broadcasts, are one-off time shifts, not “binge-worthy” viewing.

No recording conflicts are immediately noted- recordings are handled by setting priority. Attempting to schedule an additional recording for a time when all tuners are scheduled is prohibited. Attempting to select a non-Recast DVR channel source for recording is (naturally) prohibited.

No web interface, outside of mobile app for iOS or android, where settings functionality is limited, unlike TiVo and Tablo.

No suggested recordings (as on Tivo).

Playback and trick play
No commercial skip (for prime time TV on Tivo, for most non-news, non-PBS on Tablo using FireTV Premiere app).
No quick view or accelerated playback (as found on TiVo).

Recast allows only two playback streams, as no matter the four tuner or two tuner model configuration, transcoding service (which is done on the fly from the recorded or live source) supports only two unique streams to FireTV devices. Like TiVo, the Recaast records OTA sources in their native MPEG-2 format. TiVo can stream recordings to up to 12 IP addressed locations with a TiVo box, and Tablo can support six simultaneous streams to any Tablo app. Recast allows you to playback a recording in progress, as do Tablo and TiVo

Image/Picture quality
Overall, 9/10. Slightly softer compared to TiVo on some content, although not generally distracting (you have to be looking for it), and is greatly dependent upon the TV sharpness and motion settings. Much better than Tablo on SD source material, as found on most market sub-channels (further evaluation needed). Some minor motion issues, but this appears to be related to the FireTV v2 streaming box used, especially when not set at “automatic” resolution. Same source recording motion issues are not apparent on FireTV Edition television. No observed bit-rate ramp up issues reported by others, likely due to all-ethernet connectivity.

User experience:
TiVo attempts to offer a unified, inward-facing “solar” solution- providing over the air, DVR services, and app usage that orbit within and are controlled through the TiVo experience interface. This requires a TiVo hardware box, one for each viewing location, with its own remote. The TiVo remote can be easily programmed to control most other Televisions and AV equipment. The app functions on TiVo are limited: while the hardware on a Bolt supports HDR10, the Amazon Prime and YouTube apps do not support HDR. No apps or app versions are available that support live TV streaming, such as Hulu Live or SlingTV. The storage drives are not easily expanded by the ordinary user. Picture quality from Tivo’s DVR is superb- the near equal of the OTA broadcast. The TiVo apps can be a bit buggy, with lockups of Netflix and/or Prime Video occurring from time to time.

Tablo is an outward-facing “planetary” system- providing DVR and limited live OTA viewing services to a variety of operating platforms at the center of the viewing experience, including OTT boxes such as Roku and FireTV, and native apps for LG/WebOS, Samsung/Tizen, and Android based televisions. Tablo does not attempt to integrate other apps or services. Tablo allows the user to easily add USB based external storage. The Tablo menu screens are relatively straightforward, although the guide grid does not always show at least two weeks worth of program data (this information is available through other recording-programming features, however). Tablo does not support voice command or voice controlled search.

The Recast is a “lunar” like system- it only works with the FireTV system, so unless you are using FireTV edition televisions exclusively, like TiVo, the Recast requires a separate FireTV device. However, with those limitations, it works well: easily integrating TV sources recognized by Amazon, including Prime Channels such as HBO, PSVue, and others into the viewing guide, along with the Recast DVR channels. Image quality is better than Tablo, and nearly equivalent to Tivo. The 720p transcoding of material really isn’t an issue, as the viewing experience is dependent upon how well the television upscales to the native display rate. ATSC 1.0 does not provide for 1080p source material (never mind 4K)- so provided the transcoding system is designed properly (and typically favors hardware based transcoding over software based solutions), the final image quality is typical of what can be found from most OTA source material.

My conclusion:
The Recast is a fairly robust first version platform. It’s not the perfect solution, but may serve well, especially when associated with a FireTV Edition television. In all other cases, it requires a secondary box, with an additional remote and input settings. If Amazon could add a couple of user features (commercial skip, for one), and find a way to integrate the Recast services into all Prime Video apps, regardless of platform, they’d likely have a world-beater. On the other hand, if TiVo could improve their app offering to include OTT live TV services that are integrated into the Rovi guide, they’d likely have the best of all worlds. If Tablo could improve their transcoding, and allow for Tablo DVR services to be incorporated with outside guide services- they might be the best choice. So, in short, whatever works: nothing is perfect.

Is the Recast enough to get me to dump my lifetime-guide service TiVo Bolts? Maybe… maybe not. I suspect whenever our second TV is upgraded, we’ll look at a FireTV Edition set as a solution. I’m going to pick up a FireTV 4k stick on Prime Day to replace the FireTV 2.0, to see if that makes a difference on our primary LG set. Time will tell, especially on features updates to the Recast, such as commercial skip.
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post #21 of 29 Old 10-05-2019, 07:56 PM
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The new Tivo Edge for Antenna (OTA DVR) is scheduled to start shipping on October 7 and is accepting pre-orders now:
https://www.tivo.com/products/edge-antenna
Here are the specs from their web page:
  • 4 tuners
  • 2 TB internal disk
  • Coax Antenna, ATSC
  • Optical audio out
  • Remote finder
  • HDMI: 2.0 / (4K, 1080p 24/60)
  • USB 3.0 ports: 2
  • Ethernet port: 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • Power: 12V
  • and there are vague references on the web page to streaming.

There is no picture of the back panel on their web page, so the picture I'm showing here comes from Google from CNet (https://www.cnet.com/news/tivo-takes...g-dvr-the-edge) but has since disappeared from that page. Strange.


Unlike the Tablo or the Recast, this Tivo Edge for Antenna also has HDMI and plugs into my HDMI cable that runs to my TV. So no dinking around with box-to-box converters to get into a normal TV.

Scott
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Interesting. I assume there will be a dedicated thread for it here, which I'll link to. I just hope Microsoft doesn't give them grief over the name Edge (which is Microsoft's current Web browser).

What are the USB 3.0 ports for? What could you possibly plug in? A WiFi adapter and/or external HDD like the DVR+? (Letting users plug in an external HDD would be an advance for TiVo.)

I assume the 4K-compatible HDMI must be for streaming. ATSC 1.0 doesn't even support 1080p, and I'm all but certain they don't have ATSC 3.0 yet. But come to think of it, maybe one of those USB ports is for a future ATSC 3.0 tuner?

TiVo typically includes some of the most popular streaming apps. It's not a Roku (where you can get hundreds of streaming apps) but if all you want is the "biggies," it's fine.

BTW, AirTV, Tablo, and Recast are "network" DVRs that work under the assumption that your TVs already have streamers, so they aren't directly comparable to TiVo. If you don't have streamers at your TVs, you're probably better off with a more traditional DVR like TiVo.

One nice thing about TiVo is that it has whole-home capability just like the network DVRs; it just does it differently. You need TiVos (at least Minis) at the other TVs instead of streaming boxes, which can get expensive; but it does avoid transcoding and the loss of resolution that comes with it. I think TiVo may have the only 1080-and-up whole-home DVR solution outside of cable/satellite or PC-based DVRs.
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post #23 of 29 Old 10-05-2019, 10:40 PM
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$350 for the unit and $250 for the lifetime guide. A bit pricey.

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post #24 of 29 Old 10-05-2019, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
What are the USB 3.0 ports for? What could you possibly plug in? . . . (Letting users plug in an external HDD would be an advance for TiVo.)
TiVo's have had an eSATA port for plugging in an external HDD for over 10 yr, so it's not something new for them. USB ports on TiVo's have been used for tuning adapters and external WiFi adapters.

The picture of the Edge back panel does not show an eSATA port. USB-3 is comparable in speed so it is possible that one of the USB-3 ports could be used for an external HDD. TiVo's use of an external HDD is to extend the volume of the internal HDD so it is not something you could detach and plug into a PC -- but then why would you since you can easily do a fast network transfer of any non-copy-protected recordings (along with the commercial skip data).

Quote:
I assume the 4K-compatible HDMI must be for streaming.
That would be a fair assumption since streaming bit-starved 4K from Netflix , Prime, etc, is pretty much what 4K support means for just about any streaming device that boasts 4K. However, TiVo also has a Plex client. AFAIK, only the nVidia Shield's Plex client is capable of streaming full bit-rate 4K rips with HD audio passthrough. It would be very nice if the new processor in the Edge could do likewise.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crabboy View Post
$350 for the unit and $250 for the lifetime guide. A bit pricey.
You get what you pay for. TiVo never throws their users under the bus when new models are released.

I paid over $500 for my first Sony stereo VCR back in the early 80's. This doesn't bother me.
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New TiVo Edge thread
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crabboy View Post
$350 for the unit and $250 for the lifetime guide. A bit pricey.
With TiVo, the best bargains are often had by buying a used one with lifetime on eBay. You won't find a used Edge, of course, but there's nothing wrong with a used Bolt or Roamio OTA model.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post
USB ports on TiVo's have been used for tuning adapters and external WiFi adapters.
Being one of the first DVRs on the market (and constantly adding new features instead of sitting on their laurels) has its advantages: one is that TiVo has grown large enough to work with Big Cable on things like DTAs, DRM, etc. and can afford to sign those NDAs with huge penalties for inadvertently leaking DRM info. This has made TiVo the only real competition to Big Cable's own DVRs.

The OTA market has been a lot more open, but ATSC 3.0 is threatening to change all that. As with cable, TiVo may be just about the only game in town if/when ATSC 3.0 becomes dominant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post
TiVo's use of an external HDD is to extend the volume of the internal HDD so it is not something you could detach and plug into a PC -- but then why would you since you can easily do a fast network transfer of any non-copy-protected recordings (along with the commercial skip data).
That's similar to Amazon's Recast, except with the latter, you can detach the "overflow" HDD and plug it into a PC - which is useful because unlike TiVo, the Recast can only stream its recordings; it can't transfer them over the network. This has led some Recast owners to intentionally fill up its internal HDD with junk recordings to force everything onto the overflow HDD!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post
TiVo never throws their users under the bus when new models are released.
And that can be worth a lot over time. If you have an old TiVo with lifetime, your Internet guide still works - but DTVPal/CM-7000Pal owners lost their week-long guides when Rovi (who would later go on to buy TiVo) unilaterally pulled the plug on their OTA guide, and E* no longer supported the boxes so no firmware update to switch to Rovi's Internet guide would be forthcoming. CM-7400 owners similarly lost their paid guide when CM's provider pulled the plug.

DVR+ owners have been luckier so far - our Internet guides still work - but we're well aware of the history and realize that our DVRs could also become PSIP-only appliances any time, at CM's whim (a big reason this thread exists).

On the plus side, at least CM's DVRs can use PSIP to provide at least some guide info even without the Internet.
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post #28 of 29 Old 11-17-2019, 10:33 AM
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Cord Cutters has a comparison table and some brief summary information:
https://www.cordcuttersnews.com/tivo...ters-compared/
Nothing really new on that web page, but it does highlight one of the drawbacks of the Amazon Fire TV Recast that we've all mentioned here before (output is limited to 720p).

At this point, I'm leaning towards the Tivo Edge Antenna since I (now) have a spiffy new 4K projector, 4K compatible receiver (Denon X3600H), and a Panasonic 9000 (the latter boxes were necessitated by my recent replacement of my Oppo 103D). So even though these components could up-convert the Recast's 720p to 4K, I'd rather have the original source box (DVR) do the conversion to 4K. And, quite frankly, I like having a DVR with an HDMI output (to avoid all of the box-to-box-to-box issues). So for my situation, these issues are pointing to the Tivo.


My DVR+ is still working fine and it is the best DVR that I've ever owned -- especially the record-by-name feature. I hadn't realized how much I rely on that. My wife gets ALL soccer games this way ("soccer" on all of the english channels, "futbol" on the spanish channels). No need to worry about "when" something is broadcast, the DVR+ grabs them all and feeds that to my external 2TB disk.

...So I'm not in any hurry to replace my DVR+, but have to keep tabs on developments since it could stop working at any moment.

Thanks,

Scott
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post #29 of 29 Old 11-18-2019, 02:25 PM
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I've always wanted a DVR+ but I'll be d*mned if I'm paying eBay prices for one especially now.

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