Archives For DVR

Long-time digital media developer Jon Maddox, who you may know as half the team behind the stellar Channels app and DVR software that maximizes HDHomeRun network tuner hardware, weighs in on the Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR competition:

Well this certainly came out of left field.

Silicon Dust just launched a television streaming service that commingles online, pay television programming with local, over-the-air broadcasts via their HDHomeRun network tuner hardware. And, yes, this includes DVR (!) using their native software or the superior 3rd party Channels software. It’s somewhat similar to Sling’s AirTV solution but pretty fully baked at launch and perhaps, more accessible – both conceptually and in terms of playback. The HDHomeRun Premium TV channel lineup includes 45 channels, such as ESPN, CNN, and HGTV, for $35/mo – and, like the others, no long-term contract is required. Early reports have raised 720p quality concerns and hard-coded timezones may become a viewing consideration, but one might assume these will be improved over time and that the convenience of everything in one place may outweigh these cons.

HDHomeRun Premium TV complements our existing LIVE OTA Cord Cutting TV solution with a package of premium must-watch shows and channels that you’d find on cable but at a fraction of the cost and without the commitment of an annual contract.

It’s the ultimate Cord Cutting Solution that offers the best of both worlds – great LIVE OTA and the best of premium cable channels without the Cable Subscription or set-top box rental!

Don’t look for Expensive and segmented a la Carte’ services trying to fill that programming void for different devices in different rooms after you Cut the Cord, enjoy HDHomeRun Premium TV on multiple devices at the same time around your home. Watch on your computer, tablet, phone and media devices, and watch live TV and premium content in every room of your house through one convenient interface.

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At long last, the Tablo OTA DVR can now optionally provide the frequently requested surround sound. The firmware update, rolling out in waves now, enables owners to toggle AC3 audio encoding… with a potentially significant caveat: not all Tablo clients are currently 5.1-capable. So while your Roku can pump out surround sound, if you also view your recordings on Xbox Once, you’ll be treated to a whole lot of silence. Tablo’s blog post breaks down their technical challenges, design decisions, and itemizes supported devices and scenarios.

We often jump on newly released gadgetry, as we’re wont to do, and my co-conspirator Adam Miarka just picked up the recently unveiled Tablo Dual Lite over-the-air DVR given his dissatisfaction with Plex DVR playback (as run from his Synology DS218+ NAS). The Tablo primarily records shows his toddler requires (hello Daniel Tiger and Ready Jet Go). While Tablo hasn’t yet provided a feature to offload recordings, Adam is running the community-produced Tablo Ripper from a Windows laptop to hoard move recordings from his smaller Tablo external drive to a Plex directory on the more capacious and aforementioned NAS. Tablo Ripper can be run as a service and does integrate with commercial skip software, but Adam’s keeping things simple by running on demand (and PBS doesn’t show a whole lotta commercials). From the NAS, Adam streams shows to his Apple TV Plex app and I suspect he’ll eventually get around to Plex iOS downloads for network-free mobile entertainment before the family heads out on their vacation.

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While core FiOS TV visuals have languished, amidst at least one possibly jettisoned reboot, they’ve continued to expand functionality … and introduced an Alexa skill just a few weeks back to enable DVR voice control.

With Fios TV and Amazon Alexa, you can enjoy easy, hands-free voice control over your TV. You can tell Alexa what you want to watch, search for TV shows, movies, and actors from the guide and Video On Demand catalog. Use your voice to pause, play, fast-forward, or rewind.

Alexa integration requires internet-connected Fios Multi-Room DVR Enhanced or Premium service and is compatible with all Echo devices including: Echo Plus, Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, or Echo Show.

Verizon may be new to Alexa, but they first implemented app-based voice control nearly two years ago – which isn’t as convenient as a somewhat ubiquitous and always-listening device. Initial FiOS skill reviews are mixed, as they often are at launch, but will hopefully improve over time. And, hey, at least they beat TiVo to market?

Beyond doubling down on cable television capabilities at CES, Silicon Dust also announced an upcoming cord cutter DVR. While the company has produced network tuners, basically forever, and been iterating on DVR software recently, the upcoming HDHomeRun Connect DUO+ is the first to merge both solutions within a single box, along with a hard drive. As such, the two-tuner Duo+ includes 250GB of storage, good for 60hrs of HD antenna recording. As opposed to TiVo or Channel Master, the Duo+ is more Tablo-like in that it’s a headless device that streams content through various platform apps, like Roku and Fire TV. Beyond claims of a mid-year release and reference to a DVR subscription fee (currently $35/yr), timing and pricing remain elusive.

Although TiVo may be moving on, Canadian startup Nuvyyo is doubling down on Tablo with a spiffy new network tuner. The Tablo Dual OTA DVR ($250) features a significantly smaller, redesigned fanless enclosure. But that’s not the real story here. By integrating 64GB of flash storage, all customers now start with up to 40 hours of antenna TV recording capacity. Combined with exclusive Best Buy retail availability, the company is clearly attempting to push this product into the mainstream. Beyond the aforementioned bundled storage, Tablo Dual features comparable internals to its predecessors (which will coexist) — Tablo continues to tune performance and expand the ecosystem of streaming apps capable of receiving both live and recorded over-the-air video. Plus owners can still simply expand storage via an external USB drive and cloud DVR options remain on the roadmap. To maximize the experience, most folks will want the $50/yr subscription for two weeks of guide data… which is a much more palatable number than what TiVo requires. While the ‘headless’ tuner doesn’t neatly fit into the traditional set-top DVR paradigm, like Channel Master’s solution, it certainly offers a more modern and flexible approach… that others like Channels (Apple TV) and Plex have (Android TV) similarly undertaken.