If you are a true television aficionado, you probably already have a subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and perhaps Hulu. You are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of HBO’s online streaming service, so you can see what you have been missing with Game of Thrones. They are all nice services, however, none of them provide access to local programming. To access those, most people subscribe to cable or satellite, the problem is that paying for a package of channels that few people ever watch is a waste of money.
The Pros and the Con of Broadcast Television
Fortunately, thanks to the HD television broadcasts available in all but the most remote parts of the country, people can access local programming with nothing more than a digital antenna. The only problem with this is the lack of on-demand viewing. Busy people cannot plan their lives around the time a network chooses to air a program, so a solution was needed, thus the arrival of the Channel Master over the air DVR+.
What is an Over the Air DVR?
You’re probably familiar with the digital video recorders (DVR) supplied by cable and satellite companies, they are similar in function to the VCRs many of us grew up with. The main difference being that rather than record the image seen on the television, the DVR records the digital signal itself. In the case of cable and satellite providers, it’s only possible to record what arrives from the provider. In the case of an over the air DVR, the digital signal received by your digital antenna in interpreted and recorded by the Channel Master DVR+. You simply plug the antenna directly into the Channel Master and connect the DVR to your television
Besides being simple to use, the Channel Master offers a few additional features to set it apart from its competitors.
- Integrated program guide: The Channel Master features an integrated, on-screen program guide to make recording and watching easy. The guide is provided by the Rovi service and incorporates program data for all the major over the air services. The only thing required to use the program guide is an Internet connection.
- Vudu: Vudu is seamlessly integrated into the Channel Master and the company promises support for additional streaming services in the future. Now if they would only give us Netflix access as well.
- Dual tuner: This feature allows you to record shows on two channels simultaneously.
- Easy setup: Basic setup simply plug your digital antenna into the box, and connect your box to the television via HDMI (cable not included).
Unfortunately, few things are perfect and the Channel Master does have some shortcomings.
- It is possible to program the DVR to record an entire season, but there is no way to prevent it from recording reruns and only record new episodes.
- The DVR features an Ethernet port, but yu need to purchase a $40 dongle to add Wi-Fi.
- To use the 16GB model as a fully functional DVR, users must attach an external USB hard drive. The on-board 16GB drive only allows for a few hours of HD recording. However, the external USB option is a good feature as it allows you to use multiple storage drives interchangeably.
- The Channel Master over the air DVR is still a bit on the pricey side with the base 16GB model running around $250 and the 1TB version for about $400.
The Channel Master does what it promises to do and provides another tool for people who want to sever the cord binding them to a cable or satellite provider. This is a great addition to anyone that is already on satellite and struggles to make their old VCR record shows. However, I find that the machine is still a little too pricey for me, especially since you need to shell out a few extra bucks for a Wi-Fi dongle and a hard drive.