Channel Master DVR+ Updated With 1TB Internal Drive

Dave Zatz —  July 9, 2014 — 19 Comments

Channel Master has just updated their DVR+ line with a $400 model that houses a roomy 1TB internal drive - versus the original’s bring-your-own USB storage approach that requires more clutter, more complexity. We quite like the DVR+ and believe it’s a solid option for those seeking an over-the-air recorder and coming from VCR or new to DVR (whereas we suggest Tablo to our more geeky peers). The dual tuning DVR+ is super slim and super quiet, without a fan, and comes in cheaper than the competition. While the $200 TiVo Roamio may do more, with more polish, it also clocks in several hundred dollars more when considering the service fees. And, beyond Vudu, the fee-free Channel Master DVR+ intends to close the gap with several well-known audio and video apps in the pipeline “along with some other surprises for later this year.”

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19 responses to Channel Master DVR+ Updated With 1TB Internal Drive

  1. Good to see this progress. Someday when I cancel my cable TV service, this might be a viable option. Great if it adds a bunch of OTT services like Vudu but not a deal breaker. The potential deal-breaker is that I don’t see a way to access this remotely?

    I mean the base-model TiVo Roamio isn’t a Roamio at all since it doesn’t support TiVo Stream like capabilities though you can add those by buying a stream. Or you can hook it up to a Slingbox using the analog outputs.

    But there aren’t any analog outputs on the DVR+. I understand why of course, since the majority of their users don’t need them, and it would cost money, and take up space which is a problem given the slim profile. Etc. But is there any way to hook up a Slingbox to a HDMI output? Anybody?

  2. Yeah, right now no extenders or streaming. You can manually offload shows from the USB drive but probably too tedious and old school for us. They recommend the Slingbox 500 (with HDMI pass-thru) for streaming at the moment, but that’s a pricey upgrade at $300 MSRP.

  3. Dave,

    Do you have that unit, and does it still support an external drive? I’m just assuming here, but if they’re coming out with more apps that probably explains the need for more internal storage.

    Thanks

  4. Will those streaming options arrive in a calendar year or in a TiVo year?

  5. rr, I don’t physically possess this model, although I requested these photographs. :) I’ve fired off your question to Channel Master and will report back. Apps should be small and I doubt additional storage would be required on the existing unit, that it can all be handled on flash with the rest of the system software.

  6. Got the answer… At launch, plugging an external drive in will basically override the internal drive (which would of course defeat the purpose). They’re looking at the possibility of allowing both internal and external drives to be active simultaneously to expand storage or even allow moving of recording between drives. BUT it sounds as if there are a variety of factors at play in terms of DVR+ feature prioritization and technical challenges that may guide them away from this. So they’re thinking about it, but don’t make plans based on that functionality.

  7. The Slingbox 500 (which has the HDMI connection) would be the solution for streaming, but, as Dave pointed out, at a pretty high price. The good news is that one can easily connect to the DVR+ using the HDMI connection and through to your TV because OTA do NOT flag ANY of its content (as per court ruling the broadcasters choose not to challenge nor push get additional legislation passed: they just let it be), so there are no issues of programming not being allowed to stream, so analog outputs from the DVR+ to Sling really aren’t at all necessary. with the Slingbox 500, one can connect an ADDITIONAL device using the analog inputs (component for HD) and select and switch between the two remotely for viewing either device.

    I’d say cord cutters would want “whole home” type features such as being able to watch the DVR+ content in the bedroom before wanting the ability to stream. Here again, one can get the Mini for the TiVo Roamio to solve that problem. But, then again, cord cutters probably won’t even consider it because of the monthly or Lifetime fees.

    As per tech challenges for future upgrades or harmonious use of HDD: Channel Master DVR+ is made by Echostar, the same company that has and still makes the boxes for Dish (Charlie Ergen is Chairman of both Echostar and Dish). They have the tech and have models of Dish boxes that use the HDD as either direct to external HDD recording or external HDD as archive (moving over to watch from external HDD allowing internal HDD to record more content). I think the challenge is FINANCIAL because I would imagine Chanel Master would have to pay Echostar more for more features be it in the form of large payments adn/or licensing fees for each DVR. Echostar will pretty much make any DVR with whatever features a client wants provided they pay for it. Echostar is even willing to produce Hopper systems clones for MSO’s, if they want it and pay for it. Echostar already has Sling built into non-Dish box that was featured by Dave on this site, but I can’t recall. Anyway, point is Echostar isn’t the limiting factor; the client is.

  8. So they’re thinking about it, but don’t make plans based on that functionality.

    I’ve replaced my S3 drive a dozen times due to failures. I’d just assume buy the lower end model, but there is that market that wont buy w/o a built-in drive. At least if the internal drive goes TU you got a fallback right now without opening the unit. Let’s hope it becomes a setting if they’re looking to change this behavior or it might shorten the lifespan of the unit unintentionally.

  9. Another box depending on free could be gone at any time guide data. I’ll just keep
    paying my money to Tivo. OTT apps in DVR is rapidly becoming an obosolete idea, Streaming boxes do it better and give more flexibility.

  10. I would love to see some side by side testing of a number of OTA DVRs including this one. The reality is that unlike the tuners in a cable DVR the tuners in OTA DVRs very greatly and if they don’t work well everything else becomes irrelevant. For those lucky people who live in a great reception area it becomes less of an issue but for many of us reception is a big deal. The last channel master DVR CM 7400 reportedly had poor tuners, I would say the same for the TiVo Premiere and HD HomeRun model I have (HDHR3). My Roamio has very good tuners and for this to be a viable alternative it would also have to have very good tuners. At $400 unless a person only has 1 TV and is good with 2 tuners this really isn’t much (any?) cheaper than a Roamio/mini/hard drive up grade setup.

  11. The DVR+ has a better tuner than my Vizio TV. Haven’t compared it to my mothballed 2-tuner Premiere (which has a lesser tuner compared to Roamio).

  12. Is the rest of the hardware the same? Do the drive-less models have SATA connectors for plugging in your own internal drive?

  13. Thanks @Dave & @HarryKerryJr,

    Sounds like the Slingbox 500 would be viable here, if as you say pricey. I guess I just assumed the HDMI would be problematic but you’re right HKJ that it wouldn’t be a problem with OTA signals.

    You’re correct Dave that they need a whole home solution. Of course with cord cutters being a cheap bunch there might not be enough uptake to justify the development. Most of those interested in this might just hook it up to one TV in the family room or whatever and be done.

  14. The video for this new model briefly shows a screen with multiple cable channels – animal planet, bbc america, etc.

    How does the DVR+ access those channels?

    Is it a future feature (streamed over the internet from Dish?)

  15. “I’ve replaced my S3 drive a dozen times due to failures.”

    How did you manage that particular feat? Seems at the very far end of the bell curve, IMHO.

    Not using A/V rated drives? Electricity supply driven by ferrets on treadmills?

  16. How did you manage that particular feat? Seems at the very far end of the bell curve, IMHO.

    A dozen might be a slight exaggeration, but yes, there were a couple black drives early on. It made the box a good bit faster but with serious penalty :) The A/V drives did last longer, but I’d still have issues. I’d have issues like GC never finishing or having complete guide data but warnings its ran out. Might have been corrupted databases, but to be safe I normally just replaced the drive rather than re-imaging.

    The time it takes the S3 to load program guide data, perform indexing and GC puts it a higher risk of an inopportune reboot corrupting stuff. Its normal for mine to take 8-10 hours just for GC to complete.

  17. Bill, The cable channels you are seeing are probably for the VUDU app. You will pay for each show.

    For those wanting streaming check out Tablo. It does have a $5/month or $150/life. It looks interesting but you will need another device such as a Roku or tablet to access the content that you record.

  18. Original S3 drives are nearly 10 years old now.

    I’ve had one fail & so replaced that drive plus the drive in my other S3 OLED (both drives scavenged from spare Premieres).

  19. Dave,
    the “At launch, plugging an external drive in will basically override the internal drive ” info is not correct.
    Trust old EE, I did the check, soldered all missing components/parts. FW up to 103R doesn’t see/use the internal drive, alone or with external [USB].
    So there is a question by that: what FW version in the “DVR++” model ?

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