Review: HDHomeRun DVR

HDHomeRun DVR

I have been following the development of the HDHomeRun DVR by SiliconDust, and i thought it was a good time to review the progress made. To date the kick starter campaign has received close to 4000 backers who have pledged $370k to see this project come to life. The concept is simple, a DVR which integrates with existing HDHomeRun devices (Prime, Connect, Extend), simple to setup, always on, and enables the viewing and recording of your full over-the-air and cable TV lineup using your home network. Both the record engine and client is compatible with multiple platforms, and the list is still growing, making the HDHomeRun platform one of the most flexible products for watching and recording live TV.

The DVR software is currently available to kick-starter backers who pledge $60, or can be purchased directly via the SiliconDust online shop. The community backed approach to the development of this product is valuable in that it helps steer the development of features that are truly desirable by the enthusiast cord-cutters, the die hard fan base that are desperately hanging onto their Windows Media Centre setup’s which are no longer supported by Microsoft, having recently been dropped from Windows 10.

I installed the record engine on my Synology NAS (see this post for a step-by-step guide), i’m using the HDHomeRun Connect as the tuner (see my review here), and i’m using the following client devices to access content from the HDHomeRun (Windows 10 PC, Windows 7 PC, Windows Phone, Kodi Home Theatre PC, PS3)

The Good:

  • ‘Discover’, a fresh approach on watching content, as apposed to channels. The concept of channels is irrelevant as the discover feature shows all content currently being aired, or scheduled in the next 24 hours. The content is categorised into Shows, Movies or Sports. It’s very similar to the Netflix or Kodi interface, displaying a thumbnail for each of the shows, or the DVD cover for movies.
  • Search, quickly find a show you want to watch using the search feature. Search is limited to show title only, you currently can’t search by actor, director or genre.
  • HDHomeRun (previously called ‘VIEW’) integration, easily manage and watch recordings from a number of clients on multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, Kodi)
  • Recording is very easy, click and forget. Playback of recorded programmes is categorised as per the content (Shows, Movies or Sports) and then grouped by title. Under each title will be a list of recorded episodes which can be sorted by episode number, date recorded or channel.
  • Setting up the recording engine is very simple as outlined in this post (step by step guide to install the HDHomeRun DVR on a Synology NAS). This simple setup process really distinguishes the HDHomeRun from the competition, making it a viable option for the less technical consumer market.

The Bad:

  • No traditional grid EPG. There is a now and next feature within the HDHomeRun client but this is only useful for the current channel you’re watching. Discover will show you whats on across all channels but it’s restrictive in the amount of information it can display on the page due to the graphical nature of the design. There is no option to see what’s on ‘at a glance’ this evening, without scrolling through the Discover page. I would prefer a text only channel grid in addition to the current Discover page.
  • Recording programmes can be a bit hit and miss. I found a number of partial recordings, where only half the film had been recorded and the other half missed (usually occurs when the film is split into two half’s either side of the evening news broadcast). I also find a couple of minutes at the start or end of the programme get cut off quite frequently, even when you set a modest buffer time with the recording. The latter could be attributed to changes in programming, delays due to live events overrunning, and the former can be said for any DVR.
  • Currently there is no search functionality for recorded programmes. It would be useful if certain information was displayed against each recording, like file size or duration for example, to easily identify incomplete/partial recordings.
  • Some basic functionality is currently missing, like the ability to schedule reminders to watch (not record) programmes aired later that day.
  • Channel Favourites only seem to be used when accessing the HDHomeRun via DLNA, the HDHomeRun applications don’t currently utilise them.
  • No way to remove adverts from recordings without 3rd party software such as MCEBuddy.
  • No support for DRM protected channels, currently.

NT. I’m reviewing this product while it is still under development, to see how it’s progressing, please keep in mind some of the negatives maybe features that haven’t yet been implemented.

If you want to support the kick-starter campaign yourself or just find out more you can do so here.

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