In our house, the HDHomeRun Connect has been the go-to network turner for over the air broadcasts. After picking up the redesigned Quatro tuner over a year ago, it’s powered our Plex DVR (bad) and Channels DVR (good) solutions. Now manufacturer Silicondust is out with new hardware that expands HDHomeRun capabilities. The 2TB Servio ($149) network storage accessory brings native DVR to HDHomeRun. And included with the purchase price is 1 year of service, which normally runs an additional $35. (Those just starting out would pick up the HDHomeRun Scribe, which combines the tuners and a 1TB drive into a single unit).
The Servio is a networked hard drive that specifically connects to a HDHomeRun tuner. If you have an existing HDHomeRun, you simply unbox the Servio, attach it to your network via Ethernet, plug in the power cable, and your HDHomeRun is now a DVR for over the air broadcasts. The setup for this thing could not be simpler. The only other bit of config was hitting http://my.hdhomerun.com to download the latest update for the Servio. This required having either a Mac or a Windows machine to execute the update. It’s not possible to update to the latest software directly from the device (yet?).
While the setup was the dead simple, the same can not be said about using the HDHomeRun app, at least from an iOS perspective. HDHomeRun has a plethora of devices that are able to take advantage of the tuner and DVR software and maybe that was my problem. I used my existing iPad to control all playback and recording for the HDHomeRun/Servio and was continually lost as to what I was doing. While getting live TV to stream caused no issues, once I tried to start recordings or manage recordings, things fell apart quickly for me.
When watching live television, you are able to easily click the record button to start a recording to the Servio. Clicking the list button at the bottom right will take you to the main interface which features a Live, Recorded, Discover, and Tasks tab at the top. The Recorded tab shows all your existing recordings and by selecting a recording, you can see all the recordings for that specific show. Selecting the Discover tab will give you a view of all the currently now playing shows while allowing you to move ahead in time to see upcoming shows. When you’re in a show within the Discovery tab, you are then able to select a specific show to see upcoming episodes and choose which ones to record simply by selecting the specific recording or choosing to record the entire series. Recording a series only gives you a “Record All Episodes” or “Record Current Season”. There doesn’t seem to be a way to do a record all, but skip duplicates. Lastly there is the Tasks tab which provides an overall view of your recording schedule and the ability to delete or rearrange the priority of a task (recording).
After using the HDHomeRun app for a few days, I was able to start to get the hang of how to manage the overall DVR software, but it was counter-intuitive to me compared to other solutions like Tablo and TiVo. Let me state though, that at no time did playback or recording shows have an issue. The HDHomeRun Servio hardware is top notch, I can not emphasize that enough! It was quick to flip between live channels and start a recording. Even recording playback was fast. My personal issues revolve around trying to record and manage those recordings within the interface. Silicondust has a great hardware product on their hands if they can figure out how to better present content to a user.