TechHive reviews Channels DVR: Much slicker solution than TiVo’s Roamio OTA that runs on Apple TV and iOS devices

“In some ways, Channels DVR is tough to recommend,” Jared Newman writes for TechHive. “The subscription cost is greater than other over-the-air DVR options, the hardware requirements are more stringent, and even some basic features — like conflict resolution — are absent.”

“Yet one feature manages to compensate for those weaknesses: With the press of a button, you can skip through entire commercial breaks in any recorded program,” Newman writes. “Only TiVo’s Roamio OTA offers similar ad-skipping powers, and Channels is a much slicker solution that runs on Apple TV and iOS devices rather than a clunky set-top box. Channels also excels at the little things, like loading live channels quickly, and preserving the full video and audio quality of broadcast TV.”

“Channels DVR runs on Apple TV (fourth-generation and higher) and iOS devices, with each app priced at $15. But those apps are only part of the equation,” Newman writes. “To capture live TV, Channels requires one of SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun networked tuners, which connect to a Wi-Fi router via ethernet cable for streaming video throughout the house. Beyond the tuner itself, you also need a device to record the videos, along with a hard drive that has ample storage.”

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“After installing the server software, a browser-based tool lets you scan for channels, specify a DVR storage location, and adjust advanced settings such as transcode quality and tuner priority. You can then manage recordings through iOS, Apple TV, or the web tool,” Newman writes. “After completing a recording, Channels DVR analyzes the video for commercial breaks, which then appear as dark lines in the video progress bar. By double-clicking the Apple TV remote’s fast forward button during a break, Channels jumps directly to the point where programming resumes.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Someday, if it ever comes, services like Sony’s PlayStation Vue will have all of the major networks available live (right now, most are On Demand-only) rendering such, let’s face it, cobbled-together solutions unnecessary for the most part. Almost everyone who inquires about cutting the cord wants to know how they can watch the Big Four networks live while also being able to pause and record them. But, for now, Channels seems promising as there’s no way to know if we’ll ever get to a nice, simple unified solution.

Check channel availability in you locale for Sony’s PlayStation Vue service (you can run the PlayStation Vue app on your Apple TV and on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch) here.

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  1. The Roamio isn’t TiVo’s newest model – the Bolt Plus is.

    I’ve been a TiVo user for close to a decade. Nothing else comes close. TiVo offers the most Apple-like user experience, and actually a far superior experience than my seldom-used Apple TV.

    Yes, TiVo costs more – you have to pay for TiVo service on top of your cable bill. But, all things considered, I’ll gladly pay a bit extra for a quality DVR that records 4K and doesn’t force me to use one of the horrible Comcast boxes. Best of all, TiVo allows me to hide all of the channels that I don’t want to see (standard def and Spanish channels among others) so they don’t appear in my guide or when even when channel surfing.

    As much as I love TiVo, I keep hoping that Apple will give me a reason to drop them one day. But until that time, I’ll gladly pay more for quality and enjoy my Tivo Bolt Plus and Tivo Minis.

  2. First all of the TiVo units have had skip commercials for many years not just the Roamio. Some of the major problems with Channels is that it requires a third party hardware. Channels does not support DTCP-IP enabling DRM decoding. Say for Instant who have a homerun unit with a cable card and over the air, you still need something to decode DRM channels. TiVo units support all DRM decoding . Another point is that DVR should be included with the purchase price. These third party software developers want to nickel and dime you to death charging you for every feature. When you purchase an app you should get everything. Charge a fair price for the product. Channels has a long way to come before you can compare it to a TiVo.

  3. “Almost everyone who inquires about cutting the cord wants to know how they can watch the Big Four networks live while also being able to pause and record them. ”

    Ummm….. My Tivo OTA Roamio does all that and much more for $300 max when I bought it, and that includes lifetime guide service, so no more monthly fees.

    if you get good reception with an Antenna and want to ditch cable, the Tivo will give you a great TV experience. Try and get a lifetime guide service. It’s a big expensive but at 14 months I hit breakeven so there is now additional cost anymore. Tivo and Netflix are a great combo. Add in free DVD’s from the public library and I don’t have time to watch all the stuff.

  4. Tivo OTA Roamio does all that in more, in one box, with no need to add equipment like tuners and storage.

    The Tivo has four tuners, FF, Rew, 30 minute buffer in case you are a bit late to watching your show, commercial skip for major network shows, multiple ways to record a show, Netflix, Amazon Video, Youtube and much more.

    Why mess around with a $15 app when you can get the whole enchilada with lifetime service for under $300 and not need to spend more or mess around with add-ons? What these guys offer is to little, to late.

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