In a few recent threads, both here and on Twitter, discussion has sometimes veered towards our preferred streamers. And, let me tell you, we’ve got more options than ever. And good ones, at that. So I thought it’d be fun to discuss which product resides in your pole position, whether it be a smart television, box, stick, or dongle.
For me, I’ve become something of an inadvertent Android TV proponent. With a few caveats. Until about 15 months ago, I’d drive my family crazy flipping between Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV (while firmly shunning Vizio’s smart platform on the associated television) and Google had been on the periphery given years of inconsistent support and the remote-less Chromecast being a non-starter in my household.
But as I began plotting my defection from TiVo, I learned the $200 NVIDIA SHIELD Pro could act not just as a Channels DVR client, but also as the centralized home hub. And it’s a Plex Server too (when it works)! After initially bringing in the SHIELD, the fam continued to use Apple TV … until I had enough of its remote (again) and SHIELD (with superior remote) moved to Input 1. Where it has stayed.
Another reason I was willing to absorb the SHIELD’s premium pricing is its dearth of interface advertisements. I’ve been very consistent over the years — I don’t enjoy being spammed and will pay to abstain. But NVIDIA’s insulation from Google’s advertising initiatives may be coming to an end. At which point my family may find themselves on the move again… to Apple’s newest streamer?
So whatcha got and why?
52 thoughts on “What’s Your Streaming Weapon Of Choice?”
Roku is probably my preferred interface, visually anyway. I find the horizontal discovery and/or advertisement placement of some of the others distracting compared to Roku’s banner ads on the right. And despite the platform being underpowered, navigation to desired app is quite efficient. Their television interface is decent too, clear and simple – which is usually prime in our bedroom (with new voice remote)… except when it’s Apple TV. :) However, I do own one of just about everything. Comes with the territory.
Also worth emphasizing that my primary ‘streaming platform’ choice was driven by my legacy television service. Ha?
I have Roku TVs all throughout my house. We use YouTube TV for our primary TV streaming. I chose that particularly over Sling because they offer local channels and don’t require an antenna or the ridiculous red vs. blue channel debacle. There’s no calculus required to figure out if I can watch a channel or not.
Roku’s recent fight with YouTube has turned into a big hassle for anyone that doesn’t already have the YouTubeTV app installed, as you can no longer download it. You can still get to YouTubeTV via the YouTube app, but it’s a klunky workaround.
There is also an AppleTV app on the Roku boxes that gives you access to all of your Apple content, even if you’re not paying for AppleTV+.
I went the Apple TV route. The entry point kind of hurts but it seems to have the best support and the most acceptance with app developers. If you want a streaming service, it’s probably offered there. Android TV/TiVo 4k is probably next. I have a few around the house.
I have tried them all. And I mean all. I bought TCL Roku TV’s for my house, they are inexpensive and the picture is good enough for me. However, the UI has always felt sluggish to me, and then with this whole Roku/YTTV debacle, I went out and bought Google TV with Chromecast for them all, and am about 100% satisfied. Snappy interface, more customizations, and obviously great Youtube integration.
Apple TV for most apps. Netflix on a Roamio Pro has worked just fine once you get past the sluggish launch of the app.
I have TCL with Roku integration that is primary for OTT content. Then TiVo Edge Antenna for OTA. Occasionally use Xbox Series X if Roku is in pissing match with some streamer.
I’m thinking my 20-year run with TiVo may be coming to a close as well… The kids default to Netflix for their content, and there are fewer and fewer shows I bother watching on cable.
Our latest bedroom TV is a TCL with a Roku interface. My first experience with Roku, and it’s been pretty decent.
What I want most is a streamer with universal search that can incorporate my personal Plex library, e.g. get my kids to watch a movie from our Plex server instead of from Netflix, Prime, etc. if possible.
I have em all except perhaps the NVidia box which I’ve been longing to try. AppleTV 4k HDR is my go to default with Roku as a distant second choice. FireTV rarely gets the call and both Tivo Streamer and Chromecast take up valuable HDMI positions on an 4k 6-port HDMI switcher. Using built in apps on the SmartTV rarely happens except as a last resort.
Forgot the elephant in the room. Tivo Roamio still also gets top billing, but it’s been demoted to input 3 from input one recently. The wife isn’t happy about that one.
Mix of Apple TVs and Roku TVs. Doesn’t really matter which is being used as it’s just Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+. Have Channels DVR running in the background gobbling up shows. That can only be watched via Apple TV and Channels app, but if I’m desperate, I can fire up Plex and stream recordings to Roku.
I have to admit, the new Apple TV remote is disgustingly overpriced…… but it’s really good! After Apple TV my Chromecast with Google TV is my next favorite, and is my current choice for hotel use, not that I travel anymore.
Ah streaming-while-on-travel is another interesting conversation to have. Will hit that in a future post, thanks!
AppleTV has retained its place on the primary TVs, but Roku Express is now on the others. With 6 TVs in the house the cost alone made that an easy choice. And considering that we use the AppleTV only for streaming, we don’t give up much using the Roku (no volume control on the remote is the one annoyance).
Roku as my main driver for streaming. They have the Xfinity app and the apple app which has most of my digital purchases. The remote for Roku is the perfect size and function. Probably my second favorite remote after the classic TiVo remote.
I’ve tried them all too, and my go-to primary “weapon of choice” is AppleTV.
It has everything I need in an elegant (ad-free) interface. Works better for me than any of the others, most of which are lacking an app or feature or responsiveness I expect. Channels runs great on it (developed first for AppleTV) and FuboTV’s multiview (only on tvOS) is a gamechanger.
^^ I should clarify, having tried a few “multiview” approaches, that what differentiates the FuboTV app specifically is the fact that it’s 2×2 grid of channels (all of which you can easily change/choose on-the-fly) has *concurrent buffers* for all 4 streams. I realize this isn’t for everyone but it works spectacular on big sports/news days. Perhaps this feature will make its way to other streamers one day soon, but I think AppleTV specifically has the horsepower (and user base) to make it possible now, and it’s pretty glorious.
Thanks in part to Dave’s recommendations, we replaced our TiVo with Channels and use Apple TV at the set-top. If Roku worked with Channels, I might have considered it.
I generally use my TiVo Roamio OTA for live TV and some recordings. After that I use either Roku or Google TV. The Roku remote is much better than the Google TV remote which feels cheap and flimsy. The Roku remote feels solid and is well-laid out. For the TCL Roku TVs, a number pad would be nice. Just looking at the Nvidia Shield remote, it looks overly skinny and not well-laid out. Note that I have been really spoiled by TiVo remotes for the last 20 years.
Went Roku/YoutubeTV when we left TiVo after ~20 years, then switched to the native AndroidTV on our main Sony when HBOMax came out and Roku didn’t have a client. The rest of the TVs are still Roku, but really, only because they’re older and don’t run AndroidTV.
I chose Apple TV because Android TV does not have a Spectrum TV client and it has a clean interface. Channels DVR uses TV Everywhere and is also my go to for OTA, I don’t use the Spectrum client that often. The TiVo Bolt has been relegated to our backup in case my server goes down or a recording is missed.
My 2020 LG TV does [almost] everything I want natively. I’ve got the remote button long press programmed for what I use most – YTTV, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime & Netflix (also both have their own special button), Paramount+, Peacock. The only thing missing is HBOMax and for that, I switch to an older Fire Cube.
Am I missing anything viewing directly from the LG? I’ve got the remote buttons memorized, so I don’t go through any menus – just long press a number and the service I want starts.
How’s the upscaling on the NVidia? Is it worth the upgrade? What do any of the others give that isn’t directly built into my LG (with no ads)?
Rick, LG had been embedding ads into webOS for years. Even found this recent Verge article. But if you’re not seeing them or have learned to tune them out, that’s awesome. I think the NVIDIA upscaling is worthwhile, although I go easy on the AI and wouldn’t necessarily make a purchase specifically for that. All dedicated streamers would have more apps and potentially more integrations and with longer periods of support, but if you’re satisfied, it’s generally best to not rock the boat. As far as muscle memory, many or maybe most platforms provide voice remotes these days — opening apps like that is the only way I can actually use Fire TV.
Doug, I like the newer SHIELD remote quite a bit. Other than the back battery cover can slide off when daughter throws remote on the couch and I wish the dedicated transport control buttons were laid out a little more traditionally. Although it provides a dedicated play/pause button, unlike TiVo Stream and Chromecast Google TV, and the five-way nav up top. Generally speaking, it’s solid and clicky, feels and looks more high quality than say my Roku remote, plus some customization as linked in the article.
First used my TiVo Roamio Plus (still in use for our cable TV recording) when they added apps, but the slow performance and lack of upkeep and new services and our increasing streaming needs pushed us to Apple TV HD about 4 years ago. Got our first smart TV (4K TCL with Roku OS) about a year and a half ago and that took over our streaming on the TV, the Apple TV moved to the HD computer monitor in the kitchen. Using the TV Time app to keep track of what show plays where and when there’s a new episode out.
Very happy with the TCL Roku TV, only thing I miss about the Apple TV is the rollup of other services in the Watch Now interface (except Netflix and others that won’t play ball). Only thing I miss about the TiVo streaming days is the unified search.
Roku for me. Cheap, reliable, and supports all the streaming I subscribe to.
TVs should only be a monitor, as that lasts far longer than than any “smarts” is supported or updated in a TV. Replace cheap streaming devices as they become obsolete, while keeping a TV for a long time as a monitor.
I’ve always avoided Apple products. High priced and closed universe. Google can’t be trusted to not kill off a product.
I started with Tivo and loved the interface, but they left me behind without support for satellite services. Sad that fumbled such a lead in the industry.
I like to keep my options open. Attached to my receiver are a TiVo (for cable DVR), Chromecast (because it was cheap), Roku (primary streamer), Xbox One S (I still play Blu-rays and for a time it was my only HBO Max streamer). I suppose my LG TV could stream things but I don’t find that useful.
Primary streamer is a FireStick4K in the TCL soundbar with a Stream4K for ‘Casting and Peacock, but 90% of our content consumption still comes from a pair of Tivo Bolts (cable & OTA). We tend to watch some shows right away and take months for others so short-term cloud DVRs won’t work for us. I’ve bought just about everything to be ready for the demise of cable cards and be usable by all in my family and I think FireTV+Recast+Philo is the closest (I was really pulling for the Stream4k+Sling). Nothing beats the Tivos in user experience and that’s the remote my mother-in-law can use (Stream4k 2nd choice), so we’ll probably stay mostly Tivo until the better end. Of course, when the cable card goes, ATSC 3 will probably make the Recast moot, so I keep reading all Dave’s Channels DVR writing with interest. Maybe that’s the shiny new object?
I have them all.
Apple TV 4K Gen 2 is firmly in the driver’s seat. Extremely fast and fun to use.
Shield TV Pro (2019), is a clear number 2. This one is more for tinkerers.
Fire TV Cube gen 2 is number 3. Roku Ultra 2020 is a close number 4. They are basically neck and neck.
Fire TV Stick 4K is the clear budget winner for me. I would easily recommend this for most people.
My Chromecast 2020 and TiVo Stream 4K are garbage. Stay away.
I recently dumped my TiVo. Did most of my streaming there because I loved that remote. Now I use Chromecast (with their crappy remote) or a WIN10 multimedia pc I built – both connected to a Sonos Arc.
Secondary TVs use either a Fire Cube or a Roku.
Iutnof the bunch, I think I like the Fire Cube the most.
I’ve got Apple TV 4K on two sets. Good interface, well supported, and I put the remotes in cheap silicon cases to improve grip and durability. I will admit, I won both of the Apple TVs in raffles, don’t think I would have forked over $180 x 2 if that hadn’t happened.
If I had to buy something today, I’d probably go with the TiVo Stream– I like the idea of not having to know or care which app a show is streaming on…
When I decided to move on from TiVo, I decided I still wanted to replicate the concept of multiple live tuners. So, I use two streaming devices. For “input 1” and for most streaming apps, I have a current-model AppleTV 4K with the new remote. For “input 2,” I have a de-TiVo-ified Stream 4K almost always with Channels.app open. I can switch “tuners” simply by switching receiver inputs. I have Channels.app on the AppleTV too just in case I want to watch two live channels at the same time. On the backend, I have a Mac mini running Channels DVR, and my sources are an HDHomeRun QUATRO 4K and an HDHomeRun PRIME. I still use the PRIME because I haven’t completely canceled Comcast, I just moved on from TiVo. This setup isn’t perfect compared to my TiVo Bolt (that I kept at the non-Hydra interface,)but it’s close.
Side note, I strongly encourage any AppleTV owner with the 1st gen Siri remote to toss it in the trash and get the 2nd gen remote.
Roku, Plex for DVR w/ota antenna. Plex still has some ads and tracking nonsense, so I’m always on the lookout for streaming hardware that doesn’t intrude or use my metadata.
My T-Mobile Samsung phone/tablet are my cable box/streamer alternative.
I have a Tivo Roamio 4 tuner OTA/ Tablo 2 tuner to record up to 6 OTA channels at the same time. In the DC area there are sometimes where there is enough simultaneous free OTA content that I need 6 tuners, but rarely. The Tablo is there as a backup if the TIVO dies/fails to record something for whatever reason.
I don’t have a traditional Internet Service Provider, I use a T-Mobile $20 tablet plan SIM in a Kuwfi 4g mobile router to provide internet access to my home network. But I don’t use this to stream. Just for the PC’s/Nest/Garage Door.
I use my phone/tablet to feed content to a Samsung Q60T, which can do split screen, so I can watch the Tivo on the left side and whatever I stream (Tablo/Sling/Disney/Hulu) from the phone/tablet on the right side.
I forgot to mention that Channels DVR doesn’t support Roku. Otherwise, I would not have passed along my Ultra. The developers claim that the Roku won’t support the app but I don’t believe it as there is now a Channels DVR Linux distro for the humble but apparently amply powered Raspberry Pi.
I’m running a 1st gen ATV 4K w/ a Sonos Arc, 2 One SL’s, and Sub. Infuse.
For Xfinity programing I use a Fire Stick 4K.
Bedroom has Chromecast W/ Google TV, ATV HD. Eventually, room will run off a Sonos Beam & 2 Symfonisks, maybe 2 Symfonisk Frames.
I take a Roku for travel.
The latest HBO update on ATV 4K breaks a lot of ATV+ shortcuts. Picture quality sucks.
Joseph, several are trying to collate the content. Obviously TiVo is one of them. Unfortunately, it’s not all inclusive – some corner cases may be overlooked and Netflix the whale won’t play ball in some cases. I feel like Roku will be taking a new look at this (and, by the by, “TiVoMargret” is now driving Roku interface and some have followed her over).
Speaking of Roku and Channels, to Larry’s point, the Roku hardware generally isn’t as powerful and there’s been a wide gap between their low-end and high-end products. For most day to day usage, by most customers it’s never noticed, doesn’t matter. For deinterlacing MPEG2 and such, it does matter. Maddox is unwilling to compromise the experience and quality by launching on Roku. However, Silicon Dust themselves has proven it can be done and I bet most won’t care even if they notice lesser quality. (I periodically fire up Channels’ alpha Roku app, from years ago, on bedroom TV).
Future inflection points for me: If NVIDIA gets ads, I could jump to Apple TV as primary. Unless we move this summer, cancel cable, and maybe don’t need Channels then jump to Roku. Hmm. I have a hard time with the status quo. Sorry family!
I’ve used all the major players and settled on FireTV 4K. It’s affordable for a whole home system (5 TVs in our case), works well 99.9% of the time and I like that the Recast DVR integrates my antenna channels into the same interface. I also much prefer the interface over Roku which is too app focused and generic for me. I’d like to see Amazon do some things though: Make the interface more customizable including less dominance of Amazon content. Come out with a new, more powerful version of the 4K stick (come on already, it’s going on 4 years old!). Also give us some of the promised improvements for the Recast DVR. It’s a good product but hasn’t been refined much since introduced.
Otherwise the FireTV ecosystem is my favorite and overall a solid performer at a very affordable price point. The pricing allows you to feel you can upgrade when new hardware comes out without breaking the bank!
@Dave Z.: Thanks for the info. about TiVoMargret–way to go, Margret! :) Hopefully, Ted has landed/lands well, as well.
Most TiVo personnel are unknown to the outside world. But Ted Malone and David Shoop may be familiar names and both are at Amazon. Chris Thun went to Red Ventures, which is the company that owns CordCuttersNews – so that’s an interesting pivot. ‘tivopm’ from reddit was recently elevated to VP, perhaps related to the recent exodus (some by choice, others not so much). LinkedIn remains blogger gold. :)
Thanks for the fka TiVo personnel update, Dave! Hopefully, Ted and David make Amazon a better place and Amazon is better for them–
I [personally] routinely switch between streaming devices, regardless of the TV. But the household is not quite as flexible.
Primary is Amazon Fire TV 4K or Amazon Fire TV Stick Light, depending on the TV.
Secondary is Google Chromecast or Sony built-in Google TV, depending on the TV.
Tertiary is the TiVo Stream 4k (We used to be a TiVo household).
Last is Roku streaming stick / stick 4K / TV depending on the TV set. (Note: Roku and Tablo do not play nice together with 3D sound enabled on the Tablo unless you use an external surround sound capable external sound system).
I also have an Xiomi Mi Box sitting in a drawer, and am about to acquire the new Walmart ONN Android TV streaming stick out of pure curiosity and the potential to coop the remote for use with my Google Chromecast.
I have to caveat all of this with my wife’s reluctance to change anything that is technical. She came kicking and screaming from DirecTV to YouTube TV. So even with YouTube TV operation being pretty consistent across streaming platforms, new remote controls and interfaces are verboten. She was not happy about Amazon’s recent interface update.
Amazon Fire TV leads because I can still use my Fire TV Recast on all of the sets to watch local channels not available on YouTube TV, plus that is the remote control my wife is now used to. Google TV/Android TV are actually my preferred streaming platforms, but I can only use my secondary Tablo DVR to watch those channels, but Tablo’s interface pisses off my wife.
Lessons learned: There are no real advantages of one platform over another, just personal preferences.
Our subscription streaming has been taken over by the new Apple TV 4K, which is very responsive, and has a pretty good UI and remote. But part of the “why” is related to ATSC 3.0…
Live and recorded OTA for our multi-path compromised channels** have been taken over by the ATSC 3.0 tuners of an HDHomeRun Flex 4K, thus making it local streaming (feeding the Apple TV… which is capable of decoding ATSC 3.0’s AC-4 audio). The UI is ok for recorded programs, very slow and bit awkward for live channel changes (but we don’t watch live much), and best programmed via computer and HDHomeRun’s web interface. For other OTA channels and multi-path compromised channels when they aren’t compromised, our non-Hydra, OTA TiVo Roamio is still preferred due to the superior UI.
Dual Logitech Harmony 880’s (his and hers; programmed to not be device power-state dependent) cover the Apple TV, TiVo, TV, AV receiver, and DVD player nicely… but they may become secondary to dual Apple TV remotes when the TiVo Roamio is retired.
I currently see HDHomeRun as my post-TiVo live/recorded OTA solution when/if the HDHomeRun UI and “record options” improve, if TiVo terminates program guide updates, or when ATSC 1.0 hits EoL.
** ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are available for all the major networks in the Portland, OR market, and the reception has been rock solid (I’m not far from the transmitters, but I’m on the downside of a hill that blocks line-of-sight, and wind and/or rain can cause poor ATSC 1.0 reception for a couple channels).
Yeah, I don’t love the HDHR apps. Can/does Channels present the ATSC 3.0 intact?
+Most providers/apps don’t play games with Apple and they are always available.
=If you have Apple stuff I guess this could make sense, but seems silly to get locked into a single company for all items.
-I don’t have one and wouldn’t drop that much on something that I can get the functionality elsewhere for a fraction of the price.
-Lacks guaranteed ability to fully control a TV when using the device
+I probably like this very simplistic interface the best for my usage, but some of the other people may miss some of the recommendations being front and center.
=Generally has everything, but the recent contractual negotiations
-Can be a bit sluggish at times and sometimes requires reboots
-Lacks guaranteed ability to fully control a TV when using the device (Input)
-Only see negatives compared to Android TV options, so why handicap yourself.
=If you have some reason why this is better in some instances than an Android TV, please let me know. I might reconsider.
+Unlike Fire TV and Roku doesn’t seem to have the issues with the providers.
+Some hardware options allow for full control of the TV (CC+Gtv, TS4k, Onn)
=Hardware options can be hit or miss, but there seems to be more and more coming.
-Some devices still seem to be having significant growing pains
Mythical being that doesn’t exist:
The one that has a TiVo Mini replacement app on it
Or a TiVo Mini that has any one of them integrated for apps.
What I am really after is something that marries my TiVo with streaming apps. I had the beginnings of this with my Roamio. For a while, Netflix, Vudu, Prime, and HBO Go were all I used. I could sit down at my TV with one remote and just go. If I happened to leave the device on a different input from playing Blu-rays, then that input button was there for me. Pick up one remote and have access to everything I need to use that device (TV Power, Volume, and Input). The same thing held true for my Blu-ray player remote. With the need for more apps an the terrible TiVo platform, I am not relegated to trying to add a 3rd remote to the mix. Since until recent none had put an input button on the remote, I tried to keep to 3 remotes by using the TV platforms. I have a Samsung TV and a TCL Roku. The Samsung lacks apps and requires regular restarts. The TCL requires regular restarts. So much for that idea.
So far I have generally been frustrated by the overly minimalist approach to the remotes. If I were to design a remote right now, it would have at least the following buttons: TV power, TV volume up/down, TV mute, TV input, directional pad, select, play/pause, ff, rew, back, home, 4 colors, voice, channel/page up/down. There are a ton more that would be useful for traditional STB replacement, but I understand the want to drop some of that.
My search for the right streaming device is closely tied to my search for a replacement for traditional cable.
The most obvious choice to me is Youtube TV. Its lineup is nearly equivalent to the base package (not the cut down packages) and its price is reasonable. I tried it and the wife didn’t like the lack of control that you have over anything DVR related. For example, there was no way to see when you had a new recording. After that, the only real option is AT&T TV, which the base plan is equivalent to the cut down traditional plans. To make it equal to YTTV, you have to go to the next plan and add the DVR service (which is for some odd reason super limited at 25 episodes and only 90 days). That is an extra $25 a month over YTTV for similar service.
That lead me down the road to Channels DVR. There is so much that I like about it and so much that I don’t. In the don’ts are the massive expense of it. Realistically, you will spend $500 to $1000 on hardware for it (tuners, dvr server/storage/nas). Don’t forget your service fees for both it and your cable/streaming service to go with it.
I haven’t figured out why several companies haven’t been able to put together an identical streaming product to traditional cable. (I am sure it has to do with licensing.) It just seems like it is the obvious evolution. Cable providers could migrate all their users to it over time and free up all that bandwidth for internet services. The closest thing to it that I saw was the MobiTV platform (now owned by Xperi, although is it completely defunct and only patent now). The AT&T TV now seems similar as well (they even have an Android TV box with a respectable remote). It even has all the tiers. YTTV is a close enough alternative.
Getting back to the steamer part of this. I currently have a Roku TV, Roku Streamer, Onn Android TV streamer, TiVo Stream 4k, and a Samsung TV (main). If I want to keep Channels DVR around, I have to go with either the Onn or TS4k. If I go with something that is generally available like YTTV, then I would probably go with Roku as it somehow just seems simpler to use. I am trying to simplify my life. The problem with it is no TV Input button. I might well wind up with the Android TVs anyway… Seems silly over such a simple functionality.
AD FREE TV recordings via Channels DVR Server & a HDHomeRun Prime 3.
AD FREE TV streaming media apps: Hulu, Prime, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Vudu.
My steaming weapon choice: NVidia Shield Pro w/1TB SSD.
#1: Key reason is the home screen layout. There are no device promo(s) anywhere on the home screen. Row 1 has my apps, row 2 has list of recently recorded shows aka my DVR List while row 3 has what is currently live on my favorite channels. All the other rows have what each streaming app is promoting. No Fire TV / Google TV agendas here.
#2: I run the Channels DVR Server on the NVidia, thus I only have ONE device / one remote for enjoying all my TV viewing.
As do others, I too have all streaming media devices as well as a TiVo Edge & a Smart TV. And I have Channels DVR Servers also running on a i5 PC and a Raspberry PI 4. A Harmony Hub remote accesses/controls all the devices.
BTW: here are my top 5 Enjoy My TV priorities / agendas:
1) Cinematic TV experience with the TV’s size matching our viewing distance
2) 5.1 surround sound with DSP sound enhancements (Yamaha V685)
3) AD FREE TV except while watching NFL football – go Tom Brady!
4) One UX for visualizing / accessing all the content we prefer to watch
5) Single backlit remote control for my spouse and Harmony remote for me
TMI: I have an extensive spreadsheet captures of my evals of 10’s of streaming media apps X 9 steaming media devices X ton’s of eval factors. One example: best ‘live tv’ app is AT&T TV on a Roku.
The Channels app on both an AppleTV 4K and a TiVo Stream 4K can play the ATSC 3.0 channels. However, there is no guide data at this time, at least in the Portland market.
Josh, Channels upfront investment could be high. Or not. Depends what gear you already have or what you choose to purchase, like your “server” could be an existing PC… or an inexpensive Pi. The cheapest and simplest way to OTA DVR is probably Amazon Recast – which should be seeing a decent Prime Day discount soon. But I lean on Channels because I’m still with cable and would want to avoid the Fire TV lock-in.
Ben, thanks for explaining Channels guide data limitation for ATSC 3.0. I’ll ping them on it. I think if you just use Channels live app, Silicon Dusts guide data is used. But if you move up to DVR, it’s Channels provider or tier or something. Will clarify.
I can only speak for Portland, which is one of ~30 markets where ATSC 3.0 is currently live, but support for those channels is much better than it was back at the end of the summer when the HDHomeRun QUATRO 4K (now named FLEX 4K) started shipping. Between firmware updates to the QUATRO and backend updates to Channels DVR, the 3.0 channels have become much more reliable. At first, there was no audio support at all in some markets. In Portland, it’s been a roller coaster as channels have changed transmitters and performed other testing, but it seems pretty stable now.
I am no expert though, and the SiliconDust forum for ATSC 3.0 has a lot more info. If it’s something someone here might be interested in exploring, I recommend going there and searching for your market so that you know what issues you might experience. And, if you are someone who is in the market for an OTA tuner like an HDHomeRun, getting the 4K version makes way more sense now than it did at first because, due to firmware updates, it now handles scanning for and separating the 3.0 channels from the 1.0 channels much better than at launch.
A minor point, but the HDHomeRun FLEX 4K has “Recording Engine” functionality and a USB port that the QUATRO 4K doesn’t. Thus it supports recording to an external USB hard drive.
Thanks for the ideas. I am struggling with going super cheap with something like the Raspberry Pi due to its limited transcoding. For right now, I am running on my desktop (which is not idea for usage patterns). To test things out I am temporarily paying Locast for locals and using my Verizon TVe for everything else. I am using a hard drive that I use for backups temporarily. I figure I will spend $100-$400 on the server. $100-$200 on the hard disks. $200 on a HDHR Flex 4k. $100 on streamers (as my original ones were Roku). In reality, I wish it was a little more of a fixed solution, but it is the only one that integrates with TVe like I want.
Honestly, I should probably just suck it up and deal with either YTTV or pay for AT&T TV (hopefully it runs well on the side). The problem with those is the limited recording storage time. I would still probably run Channels DVR on the side for certain permanent recordings. Then I would want the HDHR to be able to get all of my locals and I just went in a circle…
Get Roku 4k Ultra.
Simple interface. you can turn some menu functions off for customizing.
Best remote. tactile buttons, tv volume control. remote finder. private listining.
I would have chosen the Roku Ultra if the Channels DVR client ran on it. It’s half the price of my Apple TV boxes.
Maybe Fancy Bits will change their mind but I’ve already made the investment.
My Tivos have been replaced with Apple TV and we primarily use the Tablo OTA app Pluto TV, and Netflix.
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