Channel Master delivers OTA television with a side of Roku

Dave Zatz —  August 19, 2016

CM-7002-3

One of the primary drawbacks of most streamers is a lack of live over-the-air television integration. Sure, you can switch inputs away from your television’s tuner. But wouldn’t a unified interface and guide be cool? Bonus if it comes with universal search. Roku and Terk once went down this path but failed to deliver and Amazon may be working on something. Into the current vacuum, enter: Channel Master’s new Digital TV Hub.This small, single tuner box’s secret is HDMI pass-thru, similar to Xbox One and original Google TV implementations … but with hopefully more interest and appreciation.

While the Digital TV Hub (aka Channel Master CM-7002) doesn’t provide universal search of over-the-air and over-the-top content, like TiVo, it does seem to nicely merge OTA and OTT into a single UI – given the inclusion of a learning remote. Two days of programming is also provided, possibly with picture-in-guide and presumably populated by your local stations over-the-air as there’s no mention of network capabilities. A USB port and remote control “record” button are reserved for future usage, suggesting the possibility of wireless networking or DVR capabilities down the road. Last but not least, the set-top features a dimmable, blue clock.

Whether or not this clever little box is worth $89 (or $69 when using code ‘dtvhub‘) is somewhat debatable. For the interim, I’m thinking the best options for over-the-air television on streamers remain Tablo (which includes DVR), or Channels on Apple TV via HDHomeRun, with AirTV on deck… all at a significantly higher cost than Channel Master’s new offering.

(Thanks AeroR1!)

9 responses to Channel Master delivers OTA television with a side of Roku

  1. Also tunes clear QAM.

  2. Great way to add a “watch only” third tuner to CM’s DVR+ When it’s 2 tuners are used up by recordings.

  3. I’m a big proponent of the idea of integrating live OTA TV with streaming but this new Channel Master gadget just doesn’t cut it. At best, it makes the user experience equivalent to what you have with a smart TV: access your streaming apps and your OTA tuner on the same input, with the same remote, but there’s no integration in terms of UI/search/watchlist/recommendations, etc. For the money, I’m not sure that this is any better than the set-up I now use: a Harmony programmable universal remote to control both the TV tuner and the streaming box.

    Still holding out hope for what we’ll see soon from Android TV (including the upcoming Mi Box) in terms of integrating OTA DVR functionality into a robust streaming platform…

  4. You bring up a great point with Harmony – flipping inputs really isn’t much of a thing for me. I have a TV button and a Roku button basically, with the Roku button flipping inputs and automatically dropping me into the Netflix app. I’m hopeful Amazon will add a USB TV tuner and guide – that could be pretty interesting. TiVo’s got the best OTA-OTT integration, but their app selection and presentation is inferior at this point. Xbox is too big and too pricey to place at each TV.

  5. If you read the remote control commands page in the manual you will notice a lot of buttons that are reserved “for future use”. I wonder if this device will at some point integrate with the DVR+ and be the whole-home solution that Channel Master promised years ago.

  6. Guess it depends what’s under the hood. For reference, the DVR+ does support a USB WiFi adapter – so similar could be done here… again, depending what’s going on inside. I’ll reach out to Joe Bingochea and see if he’s will to foreshadow.

  7. I connected the Roku and noticed Amazon prime nor Netflix will stream movies. It tell me device isn’t compatible.

  8. Wonder if there’s some HDCP handshake issue yet to be worked out.

  9. @ dave , that’s what the tv says and it is a very bright purple screen. Lol