help me choose: Silicon Dust HDHomerun/DVR vs. Channel Master DVR+

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Sill, Feb 21, 2016.

  1. Sill, Feb 21, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016

    Sill macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Right now, I have a cable/internet account costing $130/month. Download speeds average about 15Mbps according to Ookla. Includes HD DVR with about 1500 channels, and we watch 6 of them not counting the locals. Thats $1560/year with no upfront cost. Service has been great. I can drop the cable and get to the internet with the same speeds for just under $40.

    The current chain is an up to date Surfboard, going to old Airport Express (802.11g - I think), driving an AppleTV 3 and a late 2012 iMac.

    The goal is to duplicate - or better - the current experience and save money. I have an Amazon gift card worth $100 to use towards this.

    I've got two potential packages I'm looking at. I'm really looking forward to hearing some input on this stuff.


    ----------------

    option 1: HD HomeRun (requires updating most of the chain, opt. add NAS to avoid running iMac 24/7)

    hardware:

    - HDHomeRun $60 used eBay
    - aTV 4 $120 Radio Shack
    - Airport Extreme $200 new anywhere
    - Roku 2 $0 (bonus hardware included with 3 months SlingTV)
    - Channels app $25 app store
    - SD DVR $30 est (not final)
    - 1TB HD $50 (or $125 for MyCloud NAS drive - Amazon)
    - Leaf 50 antenna $70 (Best Buy in stock, Home Depot and Walmart by order)
    - Amazon gift card -$100


    Monthly costs:

    - internet service: $40
    - SlingTV $25 (includes Roku2)
    - TV Guide EPG subscription $5/month (est.)

    Up front hardware: $455 ($525 with NAS drive option)
    monthly costs: $70 (Sling/EPG/internet)

    monthly savings / annual savings / break even (including up front costs):

    $60 / $720 / 7.5 months (HD), 8.75 months (NAS option)

    Benefit: New aTV4, Roku2, Airport Extreme
    drawback : higher buy in cost, commitment to EPG subscription, multiple STB required, DVR release date unknown

    --------------


    option 2: Channel Master DVR+ (keeps current chain, HD instead of NAS, no monthly EPG charge)

    hardware:

    - Channel Master CM7500BDL3 bundle w/2 year warranty $329.81 (Amazon)
    - 1TB HD $50
    - Leaf 50 Antenna $70
    - Amazon gift card -$100

    Monthly costs:

    - internet service: $40
    - SlingTV $25


    Up front hardware: $349.81
    monthly costs: $65 (Sling/internet)


    monthly savings / annual savings / break even (including up front costs):

    $65 / $780 / 5.3 months

    Benefit: no EPG subscription, DVR+ acts as head end for 1TB HD (no NAS needed), SlingTV app, reuse existing chain
    drawback: old technology will need to be upgraded eventually
     
  2. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    Location:
    Torrance, CA
    #2
    Some of this is personal preference. Which includes what is a better experience worth? So not sure we can do much more then give our personal experience and preference which we have done to some degree.

    1. Do you only have 1 TV? Do you plan to have more then 1 TV in the future and how soon?

    2. Sling TV is a "single" stream application that will come out of your 15 Mbps Internet. I would not go with this for multiple reasons. I need more then 1 stream at a time (which you might have some problems with your 15 Mbps anyway) and I refuse (experience?) watching a lot of commercials. Sling TV does not offer a NO COMMERCIAL OPTION. And of course you can not use a DVR with the Sling TV Streams.

    3. Better Experience. I only want 1 box connected to my TV with only 1 remote. No more switching HDMI. I would not get both a Roku and Apple TV. I would determine a solution that did not require this.

    4. Your $130 Cost translate to 130 - 40 = 90 for TV. You say you are getting 1500 Channels. Who are you with and what plan are you on. How much of the cost is Hardware? I have never heard of any plan with 1500 Channels. I currently have FIOS with 385 Channels. I disabled all but 80 in my HDHomeRun Prime to I do not see a bunch of useless channels. My favorite list is 22 but my wife likes to watch channels I do not watch on her primary tv's.
    Another Example: My daughter is dropping Directv and switching to the cheapest Charter TV Package to go with her new setup with Apple TV and Channels App and a NAS DVR.
    They charge $50 for Internet alone and $50 for TV alone (after 1st year) but they charge $80 for both as a bundle. You may have to pay more for Internet without the TV Bundle. And this bundle is for 120 channels.
    My point is that she will pay an extra $30 for 120 channels and not dealing with Antennas and get much more channels then you are getting from Sling TV and your Antenna and you are only saying about $10 per month for TV Content.
    Sometimes if you review your Cable Package and go for the very cheapest TV Package and you have NO Hardware except for a CableCard (which requires a HDHomeRun Prime) you could be better off. But you may not save as much money but maybe you have a better less complicated experience. She will pay $2 per the CableCard. Keep in mind that based on your Provider you could have problem with DRM (TWC is the worst).

    These issues do get complicated when you change some of the parameters. Sometimes better to go 1 step at a time.
     
  3. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Very true. Still that is very good info to have. Some of the people reading and commenting might have ideas about replacing certain elements with higher performing and/or cheaper components, or know of a single element that will do the job of two or more.

    I have a 2 year old plasma with a stunning picture. I hope it lasts forever, or at least until HDR displays come out and reach a sane price point. I also have an older 1080i 30 inch CRT that sits in the attic but will most likely never get used again. I'll never have more than two TVs and I doubt I'll ever have more than one.

    You can DVR Sling on the Channel Master. It is incorporated into the EPG and works like any other channel group.

    I hear you about the remotes. Currently we have remotes for the TV, the DVR/cable, aTV3, Blu-ray, non wifi lights, and a ceiling fan. I'd really like to have one of the Logitechs to get rid of most of that.

    Its a BrightHouse plan. I don't have the bill in front of me, but its a package price anyway so I doubt there's a breakdown on that.

    Well I guess I'm being a goof, but I have no idea how many there really are in this package. The first few hundred are SD, then theres a couple hundred genre music channels, several hundred sports channels that I have no interest in, about a hundred premiums and another hundred VOD. Maybe another 300 of actual watchable stuff. Everything I've seen is in the 1200-1400 range and nothing repeats. And yet, there's nothing to watch. Like I said, we see maybe six channels worth anything out of all of it but the ala carte protection laws prevent us from just getting what we want. Even Sling sucks, because we're forced to subsidize sports and other channels we will never even flip past much less watch.

    We've talked about the different packages quite a bit, and it seems like nothing is going to serve us as well as getting out of cable tv. We've already confirmed we'll get at least our 15Mb downlink for $40. Depending on how fast FiOS moves out here we may see a little break on that.
    From what I've read most of Brighthouse went DRM about 4-5 years ago, so I don't know - would the cable card get past that, or does it just decode ClearQAM?


    Its never easy, is it.
     
  4. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    #4
    If you are for sure going with Sling TV then the Channels Master ability to Record it would be very important to me.

    DRM is a serious problem. They (SiliconDust and Channels) say they want to add support for DRM but that is going be be difficult and will take a while is my understanding. So if your Channels are pretty much all DRM (flagged) then that is a problem and I would not go the CableCard Route at this time. But ClearQAM is a bit different. It means it is NOT Encrypted so no need for a CableCard to decrypt the stream. DRM is not the same. It goes beyond Encryption in that you can not pass along the stream to a second device. This is why a TiVo is ok since it is connected to the TV. But the HDHomeRun is not connected to the TV so it has to pass along the stream to another device like the Apple TV which is connected to the TV. So in this case the Apple TV must also support the DRM. For TiVo the TiVo Mini connected to the other TV must also support the DRM from the Main TiVo. But my understand is the TiVo App on Amazon Fire TV does not support DRM so has a similar problem.

    Good Luck.
     
  5. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Mike, I really appreciate all the time you've put in helping me with this. Due to the questions and suggestions you've been posing I was able to get a better option put together. I think.

    I just got off the phone with BrightHouse. I couldn't find any info on the $40 pkg I was quoted so I figured I'd better follow up with them and see what's available before I start ordering crap. I also wanted to get more info on the CableCard so I could make a properly informed decision.

    I found out that for $60 out the door I can get Lightning internet with a single CableCard, and they said every single one of the non-premium channels is available on the card. I listed what we watched and the rep told me it was all available, no DRM. That only comes into play when we get to VOD/PPV and the new movies.

    This changes things tremendously. Now I don't need an antenna, I don't need Sling. As it stands:

    option 3: HD HomeRun

    hardware:

    - HDHomeRun Dual $60 used eBay
    - aTV 4 $120 Radio Shack
    - Airport Extreme $200 new anywhere
    - Channels $25 app store
    - SD DVR $30 est (not final)
    - $125 for MyCloud NAS drive - Amazon
    - Amazon gift card - deduct $100

    Up front hardware total: $460 after $100 gift card

    Monthly costs:

    - internet service: $60 (internet plus one Cable Card, additional cards $2/month)


    monthly savings / annual savings / break even (including up front costs):

    $70/ $840 / 6.5 months

    Now I'm just going to shop for price on the components and I should be done. :cool:
     
  6. d21mike, Feb 21, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016

    d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    #6
    You need the Prime if you want a CableCard. Also, if you want just ClearQAM and DVR get the Connect instead of the Dual (old).

    This is the HDHomeRun Prime on Amazon for $114.99. I recommend the Prime with CableCard since you get all of the Channels in your subscription (no Premium like HBO). And you get 3 Turners. The Connect (new version of Dual) only gives you 2 turners and only access to OTA or CleanQAM (which is mainly the OTA Channels). I do subscript to HBO Now via iTunes as a separate App on the Apple TV 4. Much like Netflix and Hulu.

    http://www.amazon.com/SiliconDust-H...id=1456089568&sr=8-1&keywords=hdhomerun+prime
     
  7. DebbieFL33, Feb 21, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016

    DebbieFL33 macrumors regular

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    #7
    Some other thoughts:

    SD DVR is $60 currently, which covers Beta and 1 year subscription upon release. It may go down to $30 for just the guide data, but that is dependent on SD Release Candidate (RC) date and SD pricing for the guide subscription at the time of public release. Public release is currently slated 30 days after RC. SD could change pricing at anytime. No guarantees on future pricing, could be lower or higher. Also, there is currently no published date for RC, hence no date for public release.

    You have to have the SD DVR to utilize any recording features with the Channels app. Otherwise on Channels, you would only be able to watch live all non DRM channels from the CC Prime (per Mike's suggestion) via the ATV4.

    I just purchased SD DVR today and I've only used the Channels app features (with the SD DVR record engine) so far. Awesome, however Channels integration is dependent on the SD DVR, hence currently, they can only progress as SD progresses.

    There are additional features in the SD DVR which I will be testing later. The developers of Channels app are very responsive and I'm sure will have updates as fast as SD can provide functionality in the record engine. Channels app is the best in the app store, bar none. I purchased app before the SD DVR integration even though we hardly ever watch "TV" live. Bought SD DVR based solely on the integration by the Channels app devs.

    Your intended hardware acquisitions will put you on the same level as Mike and me, for your project. We both have macs also, but all will work as intended if you are in the windows world.

    Your biggest stumbling block might be the SD DVR guide. Not a problem for me nor Mike, however many Beta users on SD DVR have vehemently demanded a traditional "grid guide". And some users have dropped out due to the lack of a grid guide. Grid is not possible due to SD'S guide provider of choice. There are licensing/patent issues and SD went with a different provider than the one who holds the patents to a grid guide.

    I urge you to investigate the guide/recording aspect further, to ensure that you will be satisfied with your final choice.

    Also, be aware if you use Amazon Prime video, there is no app for that on the ATV4, and I doubt there will be an app in the near to distant future. I use AirPlay from iOS, it works great.

    Personally, I am thrilled with the progression of the Channels app and the ATV4. And from what l've read on the SD forums, I will be able to use the SD DVR to meet my needs. Remember though, it is still a Beta project.
     
  8. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 14, 2014
    #8
    Thanks for the link.
    I was under the impression that you needed a Cable Card for each tuner but I don't see anything in the docs about that.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 21, 2016 ---
    If you can point me to any sources I can investigate, I would appreciate it. I personally have no need for any of the DVR features, but my girlfriend is very adamant about having a DVR app that works as well as the various hardware DVRs we've had from the cable company.

    No worries about that. I tried Prime video for a couple of hours and found nothing on it to interest me that I couldn't find elsewhere for better terms.

    Again, if you can provide any links I can search through to find out more about current Channels/SD DVR functionality and where it might be going, that would be helpful.
     
  9. d21mike, Feb 21, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016

    d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    #9
  10. DebbieFL33 macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2015
    #10
    Silicondust.com >Support>Forums. Lots of good info. Some extracts below.
    Also, check out Lon Seidman's videos on YouTube re: HDHomeRun Prime, SD DVR, WDMyCloud, etc.
    You might see a grid guide, but these were early concepts. NO grid guide.

    Grid/Channel Guide Thread - 22 pages (hopefully you can glean some info from this one, really have to sift thru.
    https://www.silicondust.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=119&t=28936

    Channels App (Original)
    https://www.silicondust.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=125&t=28426

    Channels App (DVR Beta)
    https://www.silicondust.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=125&t=32498

    Channels website
    http://getchannels.com
    --- Post Merged, Feb 21, 2016 ---
    Additionally, if you turn in STB & just get CableCard (CC) for the Prime from BrightHouse, be aware you cannot use VOD/PPV with CC.
     
  11. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #11
    One note - ClearQAM is becoming extinct, so don't count on having it around long. Most cable providers are eliminating this and encrypting everything as they make the push to all digital lineups.
     
  12. DebbieFL33 macrumors regular

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    #12
    Excellent point.

    In the early days, I was using a dual (earlier version of Connect). Still works, but on provider change to digital, they started encryption also. So I had to get a Prime. OTA was lacking in our area.
     
  13. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 14, 2014
    #13

    According to the rep at the cable company, everything is clear here, with the exception of VOD/PPV and the usual pay channels like Max, HBO, Showtime. I specifically asked if the digital lineup was open and he said it was. No fight, no attempt to sell me on keeping their box. He said it would work and seemed very cooperative.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 23, 2016 ---

    Thanks very much for the links Debbie. I won't have the chance to give them a thorough read until the weekend due to my work schedule, but I'll report back after I check it all out.
     
  14. DebbieFL33 macrumors regular

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    #14
    Your use of "everything is clear" is a bit ambiguous...

    HDHR Prime uses a cable card and decodes cable feed encrypted transmissions. HDHR Connect is used for ClearQam, either from cable feed (in the clear) or OTA. Channel Master is ClearQam. See fhall1 comment above re ClearQam.

    DRM isn't encryption, it a level above and other requirements need to be met to view/record.
     
  15. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    allow me to be clearer then...

    All the non-pay channels were non-DRM, and would be displayed by any CableCard capable box when it was outfitted with the card provisioned by my carrier. I would of course lose access to PPV/VOD, their channel guide, and anything else proprietary to their box.
     
  16. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #16
    Not sure what cable company you have, but I wouldn't count on ClearQAM lasting a long time. Time Warner has had HD CleaQAM in my area for years (although you'd have to re-scan channels every once in a while because they had a habit of moving them around). But in June our area is going "all digital, encrypted" - so bye-bye ClearQAM.
     
  17. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17

    I've heard that from other posts here, so before I get the card I'll see what their plans are. Personally, I don't care much for any of the channels, I just want to keep the peace in my house. I'd be happy with just the net.
     
  18. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 14, 2014
    #18
    Here's what I've done so far, for those who are interested:

    Our DVR quit working, so we decided to go all in. I picked up a Mohu Leaf 50, an Apple Airport Extreme 2015, Apple TV 4, an Arris cable modem, and an RG6 toolkit. With the antenna on the second floor, I'm picking up over 60 channels. No DVR, but such is life. Maybe at some point I'll get either the Channelmaster or some SD gear but right now we're happy with how this has worked out. The ATV4 is running Netflix and Hulu for us, and we're eagerly awaiting Sling.

    Our cable bill is gone, and since we have our own modem the total cost is down below $55 per month.
     
  19. archer75 macrumors 65816

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  20. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    I think Tablo is neat, but after shelling out over $400 for all this gear, I'm going to wait a bit for the money we save to build up. Plus the Tablo app isn't out yet for Apple TV. True we could get a Roku (which is free with a 3 month Sling subscription), but I don't want to get into yet another ecosystem.
     
  21. archer75, Apr 23, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016

    archer75 macrumors 65816

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    #21
    It's not really another ecosystem. There's nothing to buy within the roku. At least nothing that locks you into the device itself. And the roku gives you more apps while staying app agnostic. Of course not having an apple tv app is a deal killer.
    Personally I don't own an apple tv and won't buy anything that I feel locks me in to something. Which means amazon tv is out for sure. Using roku's, chromecasts, xbox's and an android tv currently. Nvidia shield tv on my main home theater screen. Rokus are the main devices on the other tv's. Chromecasts just fill in the blanks but don't get much use.
    Plex allows me to watch my local content on every device. Anything I don't get via streaming I can get with sonarr. At this point I have everything pretty automated, streamlined and seamless. At this point the antenna doesn't get as much work as it used to.

    Luckily we have FIOS internet here and they don't charge for a modem. Cost is $39.99/month for 30/30. It's too bad so many areas lock you into one cable company only.
     
  22. jdag macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Similar route I went about 18 months ago, and zero complaints. I've already saved $1,400ish, considering the new hardware I bought, and would not go back. I now have an AppleTV4 on 3 different TVs, and my son uses a Roku Stick in his room. So each TV has exactly 1 box/remote. Super streamlined and simple. And extensible by simply adding a streaming box to a TV if I ever needed another.

    I did add a Tablo to the mix, so I am getting live and DVR capabilities. I use the Plex app to watch Tablo currently (my son uses the native Tablo/Roku app), but could also access via an iPhone and AirPlay to the TV. I am very anxiously awaiting the Tablo/AppleTV4 app, which should be out "this Spring".

    I am also watching the HDHomeRun/Channels app closely. Once they add DVR capabilities, it might leapfrog Tablo. It certainly looks slick/fast.

    In any event, for a cord-cutter, the setup I have works exceptionally well. When people ask about it, they often cringe because of the upfront cost ($400-$1,000 depending on what you have already) and the "newness" of the way to watch TV. It is certainly different than picking up the cable remote and channel surfing.
     
  23. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Doesn't relying on Android devices "lock you in"? Unless I missed something, even using a Chromecast requires getting Chrome, going to their site to "set up" the stick, etc.

    Here it was a matter of economy of scale, not the typical lock you might find with a condo HOA agreement or whatever. I live in an area that was once pretty far outside town, so up until about 10 years ago the only option was OTA and/or a customer-owned TVRO setup. Internet was limited to DSL. Brighthouse showed up and made everything better, but they were the only ones who made the effort so in effect we were tied to them. Now that "civilization" is encroaching, we expect FiOS at some point, sooner more than later.
     
  24. archer75, Apr 24, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016

    archer75 macrumors 65816

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    #24
    No. You don't need chrome, though if you did it's available on everything. You don't need an android phone either. You need the Chromecast app but it's available on any device. And you can cast from any device. But to use airplay requires apple only devices. If you purchase content on iTunes you then need apple tv to stream to. If I purchase content from Google I can use non Android devices to stream to. Much more freedom. I did consider an apple tv but it doesn't give me anything I care about over my roku 3's and doesn't support the latest technology like my nvidia shield, 24fps, 4k, HDR and h.265.

    Though by ecosystem and being locked in I refer to purchasing content or using services from a provider that can only be used on devices from that provider. Buying video from apple really limits you. Buying from google much less so. There's nothing on a roku to lock you in. And buying or renting something from vudu doesn't as it's available on everything as well.
    Google cast, roku and android tv are now being built into smart tv's giving you even more options.
    Though I don't purchase content from any of them. Bluray rips for me.

    No one device gets you all the content available. It often takes several to achieve that(a roku and a chromecast cover just about everything). Something to consider when cutting the cord.
     
  25. Sill thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Our cable remote was so poorly thought out that it was like using Windows 3.1; any change including simply shouting at the TV was a welcome change. The remote which goes to our Sony receiver was only marginally better, like getting stuck with a pin is better than getting stuck with a nail. I was really happy to find that the ATV remote could take over volume control on the Sony. Unfortunately, I can't take advantage of the system-wide power on/off capability of the Siri remote because of the way I have my AV equipment power routed, or I could get rid of the panel remote too.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 24, 2016 ---
    Odd, I was looking at the Chromecast write-ups and multiple mentions were made of needing Chrome.

    It appears that your use case differs from mine as widely as your equipment choices. You're in that large group that for prefers to use portable devices for media streaming. For my own personal use, I just can't see what the benefit would be to doing that. Until the ATV4 app is released we're stuck doing it with Sling for the time being, but its a battery hog and it ties up the iPad. You also use Plex, which I have vowed to stay away from due to bad experiences.

    Same here, all my movies are rips. Nothing beats physical media. I'm going to avoid Smart TVs though.

    I'm curious - what does a Roku lack that you would need a Chromecast to fill in?
     

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