SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun networked tuners have been a boon to wire cutters for greater than a decade. Hook one as much as an over-the-air antenna, plug it into your router, and you may stream reside native-quality broadcast TV to different gadgets all through the home.
HDHomeRun now affords a technique to file these broadcasts instantly via its present apps. All you want is a media server—be it a PC, NAS box, or Nvidia Protect TV—and a $35-per-year subscription to the HDHomeRun DVR service. In principle, it’s the plug-and-play recording resolution that SiliconDust has lengthy been lacking.
Sadly, HDHomeRun DVR remains to be too tough to suggest, with an eyesore of an interface, sparse recording choices, restricted platform help, and a few confounding design selections. Whereas HDHomeRun’s remains to be a good way to start out constructing an over-the-air DVR, you’re significantly better off pairing it with third-party software program options similar to Plex, Emby, or Channels DVR.
Ups and downs with setup
HDHomeRun DVR works with all of SiliconDust’s present tuners. For over-the-air channels, you’ll want both the HDHomeRun Connect or Lengthen. The Join is available in dual-tuner ($100) or quad-tuner ($150) configurations, equivalent to the variety of channels you’ll be able to watch or file directly. The Lengthen is just out there with two tuners for $179, nevertheless it has a built-in transcoder that reduces the quantity of bandwidth and recording house you’ll want. For cable subscribers, the HDHomeRun Prime works with CableCARD to observe and file as much as three channels that aren’t copy-protected.
Putting in the tuner element is straightforward: Simply plug every part in, then scan for channels utilizing the corporate’s PC software program or setup website. You may watch reside TV via HDHomeRun’s free apps for Home windows, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fireplace TV, Xbox One, and iOS.
Getting the DVR half up and operating might be extra sophisticated. On a PC, the DVR tab enables you to join a subscription account and specify a recording folder. That’s easy sufficient, nevertheless it gained’t remind you to disable the pc’s sleep mode if you wish to keep away from lacking scheduled recordings. And whereas the DVR service works with network-attached storage (NAS) boxes, it doesn’t help recording to arduous drives plugged right into a router’s USB port, even once they’re mapped as networked drives on the PC.
For Nvidia Protect TV customers, organising HDHomeRun DVR is much more convoluted, requiring 13 faucets of the sport controller’s play/pause button to go to a hidden menu the place an “allow recording” possibility resides. (If you happen to don’t have a sport controller, it’s essential to as an alternative faucet the Protect distant’s quantity slider 26 occasions, a incontrovertible fact that isn’t documented on HDHomeRun’s instruction page.) HDHomeRun additionally requires 500GB of storage, ruling out USB thumb drives and SD playing cards.
There’s additionally one different main downside with utilizing the Nvidia Protect TV because the DVR engine: When the streaming field is asleep, different gadgets can’t entry recordings or schedule new ones. The one resolution—as famous in HDHomeRun’s forums—is to disable sleep mode within the Protect’s developer settings, which isn’t supreme from an influence consumption standpoint.
As soon as every part’s arrange, you should use any of HDHomerun’s apps to schedule and handle recordings. However that’s the place extra issues pile up.
Among the apps’ habits appears cryptic at first look. When setting a sequence recording, as an illustration, it’s unclear if the “At all times” possibility will save each episode, or simply ones that haven’t been recorded but. (A SiliconDust rep clarified that it’s the latter.) If you choose “Latest,” the DVR saves all episodes from the present season or the previous 90 days, however good luck deciphering this from the app itself.
Past these two choices, HDHomeRun doesn’t provide a lot flexibility. You may’t file a sequence from a selected channel or file solely a sure variety of latest episodes. And whereas HDHomeRun enables you to arrange buffer occasions for the start and finish of sequence recordings, there’s no technique to schedule guide time-based recordings.
The extra you poke across the interface, the extra annoyances you’ll run into. You may’t delete total sequence at a time, or have packages mechanically delete as storage fills up. You may prioritize the order of recordings, however there’s no technique to weed out scheduling conflicts that come up. The smartphone model of HDHomeRun makes use of the identical formatting as larger-screen variations, which implies all of the buttons are teeny. And whenever you wish to add buffer occasions to a recording from an Android system, it’s essential to manually sort within the quantity together with both an “s” (for seconds) or an “m” (for minutes).
HDHomeRun doesn’t help out-of-home streaming like different networked DVR options, and apps aren’t out there on Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast. (Apple TV customers can set up the third-party InstaTV app as an alternative, however that prices an additional $15.)
On high of all that, HDHomeRun’s apps are simply joyless to make use of, with a slime inexperienced colour scheme and not one of the animations or transitions that you just discover in different trendy streaming apps.
Stick with the
HDHomeRun DVR isn’t all unhealthy. The app’s “slice” menu, which helps you to browse the channel information alongside the right-hand aspect of the display, whereas unconventional, doesn’t decrease what you’re watching like a standard grid information would. There’s additionally a useful “Uncover” tab that helps you discover upcoming packages to file. And whereas the DVR interface isn’t fairly, there’s one thing to be stated for the density of data it places on the display.
Nonetheless, it’s arduous to consider any important motive to make use of HDHomeRun DVR over third-party options. Plex and Emby each provide extra polished interfaces, broader system help, out-of-home streaming, and a slew of different media middle options. The previous may even use an Nvidia Protect TV because the recording engine. For Apple TV customers, Channels DVR can also be a slick resolution with highly effective ad-skipping built-in. And whereas Tablo’s DVR can’t match the video and audio high quality of HDHomeRun, it’s simpler to arrange. Even HDHomeRun’s low subscription value of $35 per 12 months is negated by its lack of a lifetime service possibility, which each Plex and Tablo provide.
SiliconDust has been engaged on HDHomeRun DVR for greater than two years now, with in depth testing via a public beta program. It’s a bit discouraging that in spite of everything this time, the ensuing product is to date behind its rivals.