Channel Master previously championed the now defunct EchoStar DTVPal DVR under their banner… and obviously found some success bringing digital VCR capabilities to the over-the-air crowd as they’re launching another fee-free DVR. The new Channel Master TV, aka CM-7400, primarily targets high def antenna broadcasts (although it’ll also tune clear QAM) with the added benefit of over-the-top Vudu content. No, not just Vudu video on demand. But, also, Walmart’s entire Vudu app platform that includes a variety of Internet-sourced content like Pandora and Twitter. Given Channel Master’s existing relationship with the people of Walmart, it’s probably not so surprising they’d strike a deal.
While I couldn’t make it into NYC for Pepcom’s holiday preview last night, Liliputing’s Brad Linder did. And snapped several photos for us. As you can see, the dual tuning, 320GB Channel Master TV is fairly compact and much more attractive than the DTVPal DVR it presumably replaces. Not only has the enclosure been redesigned, the UI looks quite different. In fact, the company rep tells Brad the new product isn’t affiliated with EchoStar.
Despite Channel Master’s new solution, Megazone still feels that the OTA-capable TiVo is a better value. Remember, TiVo is also targeting this demographic with a few recent promotions. Although MZ suggests cord cutters simply pick up a Premiere with Lifetime service for $600 over the $400 flat fee Channel Master TV. But, we need to know a little more about the CM-7400′s EPG and recording capabilities. The prior generation model was simply a glorified VCR, only recording by time slot – versus by program title, or new versus repeat, etc. For many folks a “digital VCR” is sufficient. But there’s obviously a better way. Also, the earlier unit sources guide data over-the-air. In my experience, the data was highly unreliable – both in terms of content and even being present. Not to mention, a limited amount of days covered. Without true DVR capabilities, accurate and significant guide data might not be much of a requirement. But these two things together might justify TiVo’s recurring fee or additional upfront cost for those that appreciate and understand the distinctions.
This market could be expanding further, though. And Boxee is one potential competitor who may be exploring the idea of integrating both over-the-top and over-the-air DVR capabilities to this space… Stay tuned?