Fellow site contributor Adam Miarka has cycled through a ton a television technology in the years I’ve known him and I thought it’d be beneficial to share his current configuration.
TL;DR: HDHomeRun Quatro, Mohu Leaf, Channels DVR, Synology DS218+, Infuse, Apple TV, iDevices
I’d call Adam something of an inadvertent cord cutter, as he didn’t wake up one morning and declare his intent to divorce cable. But his television approaches have evolved as the market has shifted and new gadgets have presented themselves. He (and his family) had started off as a CableCARD-powered TiVo household but, as a fellow geek, the SimpleTV network tuner really caught eye and that’s when he began dipping his toes into over-the-air television. Simple was ultimately replaced by the superior Tablo, where he happily dwelled for some time (with cable television service still periodically in play).
But, like me, Adam had a kid. And suddenly the math changed (keeping in mind he’s a frequent gadget flipper, also like someone you know). There was more, but differing, television to be watched, including viewing from mobile devices in and outside the home. So he started experimenting with HDHomeRun hardware (using the same, old reliable Mohu Leaf antenna).
Adam ultimately settled on the HDHomeRun Quatro, given his increasing deemphasis of cable and it’s been a more effective OTA tuner than Tablo — although Silicon Dust’s native software clients still don’t measure up (after one hundred years). Plex has had its own set of issues (many of them). So Adam’s rocking Channels DVR ($8/mo) – “it’s as simple as it needs to be” yet powerful and fast, especially since it moves untouched MPEG-2 around the home, versus the channel changing delays experienced with MPEG-4 transcoding (hello Fire TV Recast, Tablo). The DVR software and recordings live on his existing Synology DS218+ NAS – but it could have been hosted by any number of computers around the house, like a Mac Mini. Adam’s television set-top boxes are Apple TV. Channels also streams to Amazon Fire TV… but picture quality isn’t quite as stellar as Apple’s presentation, even after enabling hardware decoding.
I’m trying to fit Adam’s progression into a linear narrative. Yet, many of his solutions have coexisted. And it was about a year or so ago when he finally cancelled cable. But while he’s no longer a cable customer, he still values a smattering of pay television content and subscribes to HDHomeRun Premium ($35/mo) – a newish Internet streaming service that aggregates pay television channels into a relatively decent lineup… that his aforementioned Channels DVR will similarly schedule, record, and playback. WITHOUT any encryption or other offloading hassles, which leads us to Infuse.
To offload content onto iPhone or iPad, Adam currently swears by Infuse – an app he points at his NAS to download shows before they hit the road. While he gives up Channels commercial skip capabilities, he has efficient access to high resolution content without worrying about network connectivity outside the house.
Adam’s always changing it up and I expect HDHomeRun Premium’s days are numbered, as Nick Jr isn’t in the lineup and given a plethora of other content sources. Not to mention an ongoing contract dispute that has seen HGTV, Food, Discovery Channel and others pulled from the service. I also keep nudging Adam towards YouTube TV, although the lack of downloads could be a deal breaker for him.