PROS / With Channel Master, there is no monthly service fee and the user interface is easy to navigate.
CONS / There are no output connections.
VERDICT / While we wish the Channel Master DVR+ could access digital channels, it offers free, over-the-air channels and streaming movies through VUDU—a winning combination in our book.
Channel Master is one of the few DVRs on the market that is subscription free. By accessing free, over-the-air stations and integrating HD streaming movies through VUDU, Channel Master uses its resources to your advantage. It provides plenty of TV to watch and record.
Simultaneous recording is one of the best features of owning a DVR, and the Channel Master’s dual tuner allows you to record two channels at the same time, while watching a third. So it can essential perform three tasks at once. You get 16 GB of internal memory to record and store your shows on, which is a puny amount of space, especially when compared to the average DVR that comes with a cable subscription. It only allows for a couple hours of HD recording. However, you can easily connect an external hard drive to the USB port to dramatically increase your storage space.
Your saved content can then be accessed via the included remote control and Channel Master’s easy-to-use interface. You can pause, rewind and fast-forward. This DVR+ doesn’t require a monthly service fee. Once you’ve purchased the unit all of its features are available to you free of charge, though the external hard drive (if you want enough space to store your favorite shows) and antenna need to be purchased separately. Channel Master makes a SMARTenna omnidirectional digital antenna that works nicely with this device.
The streamlined, ultrathin design is as deep as the average DVR but takes up much less vertical space. On the downside, this design, while sleek, doesn’t allow for output connections unlike the DRV+’s predecessor.
The Channel Master DVR+ is compatible with both HD and SD TVs and accesses free channels, but it isn’t compatible with most cable providers and can’t access digital channels. On the plus side, you get free stations through the Channel Master DVR+. If you are happy with the selection of channels and apps, like YouTube, Picasa, Pandora and VUDU, available through this little this little box, it could allow you the freedom of cancelling your cable subscription. But if you want to replace your cable box and gain access to digital channels, the Channel Master DVR+ won’t let you do that. This DVR is compatible with both HD and SD TVs.
Digital channels are really the only thing the Channel Master can’t access. With the unit’s built-in VUDU interface, you can stream movies as well as over-the-air TV. VUDU’s interface can also be customized to include popular apps like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Both VUDU and Channel Master have easy-to-navigate UIs.
Channel Master offers its customers the standards in help and support: email, FAQs and a one-year warranty. Where it excels is in online support. On their website you can access software updates, technical forums, manuals and warranty information. If you have a problem with the DVR, we’d head to Channel Master’s website first.
Channel Master has done a great job in creating a product that doesn’t require any monthly fees and has many of the features we like in the best DVRs. This unit has the ability to record live TV simultaneously from two channels, while watching a third. It only has 16 GB of memory, but is easily attaches to external hard drive. It comes with VUDU, a program that allows you to access hundreds of streaming movies and upload Facebook and Twitter. The main reason it falls behind in our ratings is its inability to access digital channels and thereby replace your cable company’s DVR box.