tablo_dvr

Our 2017 DVR Buyer’s Guide For Cord Cutters


Watching TV, Watching, Living Room, Domestic Life, SmilingOver-the-air TV is an inexpensive way to get tens of thousands of hours of great entertainment every year, but without a DVR you will likely miss out on much of it.

I find with my DVR I can build up a huge library of great shows that can be hard to find on many streaming services. Shows such as “Stargate SG1” and the classic “Chips.”

Not sure what you can get from an antenna? Check out AntennaRecommendations.com. All you have to do is enter your address or your zip code to find out what you can get for free with an antenna. (Using an address will give far more accurate information.)

So here is our 2017 DVR buyer’s guide for cord cutters:

Tablo DVRs

Tablo DVRs have become a leader in over-the-air DVRs. The Tablo DVR is built just for over-the-air TV from the ground up.

The Devices

Tablo offers three DVRs and a USB Tuner. You can find a 2 tuner and a 4 tuner DVR allowing you to record multiple shows at once. There is also a new Tablo DVR with a built-in hard drive called the Tablo DUAL.

All Tablo DVRs let you add an external hard drive allowing you to record more over-the-air TV.

What makes Tablo DVRs stand out for cord cutters?

The main thing that makes the Tablo DVR stand out is its ability to stream your antenna to a wide range of streaming players including Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV. They even work with LG WebOS 2.0 and 3.0 along with iOS and Android phones/tablets.

That means you can have one antenna and stream it to every TV in your house. No need to run wires throughout your house or buy different antennas for each TV.

The other thing that helps the Tablo DVR stand out is the ability to access your DVR outside of your house on phones/tablets and laptops, allowing you to watch both recorded and live TV from your antenna no matter where you are.

What are the cons?

The Tablo line of DVRs do not connect directly to your TV. There is no remote because you need to use a streaming player such as Roku or Android TV to stream it to. Now if you really want it plugged directly to your streaming player you can get a USB stick to attach to a Nvidia shield. You can learn more about that HERE.

Tivo DVRs

The Devices

The Tivo BOLT 500 GB is the newest over-the-air DVR sold by Tivo. It comes with a 500GB hard drive allowing you to record 75 hours of HD programming or up to four shows at once.

What makes Tivo BOLT stand out?

If you loved your cable DVR, you will be right at home with the Tivo BOLT. A smooth and easy-to-use experience for new cord cutters.

What are the cons?

The main con here is the lack of streaming outside of your house. Also if you want to watch your Tivo DVR on multiple TVs you will need to buy a Tivo Mini Box for each TV you want to watch your DVR on.

Channel Master

The Channel Master DVR+ is a great option for someone who wants a cable-like DVR without any monthly bills.

The Device

The Channel Master DVR+ lets you record over-the-air TV and has streaming apps for many popular services such as WatchESPN, Sling TV, and YouTube.

What makes the Channel Master stand out?

Unlike other DVRs for your antenna, there are no monthly bills. Other DVRs offer a free option to use them, but they hide some features behind a subscription pay wall. The Channel Master DVR is 100% free after you buy it.

What are the cons?

The main con of the Channel Master DVR+ is the lack of streaming. You need a DVR for each TV in your house. There is no option to stream it outside of your house.

Plex DVR

The Plex DVR is not a physical DVR but rather software you can add to a PC or some Android TV devices such as Android TV. Combined with a USB tuner or HD Home Run and you can record your shows.

The Software

With a Plex Pass subscription and a USB tuner you can turn your home media service into a DVR. This allows you to record to your hard drives and access it on any device that has a Plex app.

What makes Plex DVR stand out?

If you like having control over your DVR, Plex DVR is a great service. You can build your own DVR or use a service such as Nvidia Shield as your DVR.

What are the cons?

While this is a great service for people who are comfortable building and running a media server, it may confuse others. Highly recommended the Plex DVR for moderate to advanced users.

Well there you go, my top four DVRs for cord cutters.

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  • aj152

    Just a side note, I bought a Tablo 2 months ago with 2 tuners and returned it in less than 5 days, the HD quality was awful, even with the the highest quality option in a wired network, but video compression is just not good.

    • Rucknrun

      The lack of 5.1 sound bothers me too.

  • Rucknrun

    The Plex DVR with the Silicon Dust tuners are pretty awesome. I just cancelled my Tablo membership.

    • Todd

      I have both your setup and the Tablo, and I agree with you that Plex with HDHomeRun is awesome. That said, having a guide like the one that Tablo uses was the only way I could get my wife to cut the cord. Since it’s what we’re used to, the guide helps us easily record what we want.

      • Rucknrun

        My parents come over to watch my daughter. They will have no idea how to use it. I agree it is not perfect in that regards.

  • rljnc1500

    I’m not sure but I think you can stream with the Tivo bolt outside your network.

  • rljnc1500

    Yes I am using the Plex DVR and find it as a good solution, users should know this is still in beta, so they are still working on issues and making it better.

    • Rucknrun

      It is early. Works well too. I have an automatic process that removes commercials and compresses the files. It is hard to beat.

  • spike mike

    actually the TiVo bolt let’s you watch your live tv anywhere. The tivo app you can watch live and even your recorded shows from any android or iOs gadget.

    • Rucknrun

      Can you watch it on other tv’s? I thought you had to buy one of those Tivo Mini’s.

      • spike mike

        Yes, you need a mini or Amazon fire tv box, it has the app.

        • mau47

          Did they add live tv to the Fire TV app? Last I used it a few months ago it was pretty bare bones and only let you watch recordings, not anything live.

          • spike mike

            not 100% as I have the minis. I’ll give it a try with one of my fire boxes and see. I know on the app you can watch live, I’m assuming (shouldn’t) that the apk on the firetv is similar. I’ll check.

      • spike mike

        Also with the Tivo you can have “skip” commercials with one click (primetime, main shows only). That’s pretty awesome. And with the quick-play feature I can watch a whole baseball game in short time.
        don’t get me wrong, I’ve had everything, firetv, roku, tablo, chromecast, all in a quest to have the perfect answer..

        • Rucknrun

          I do like watching sports later to save time. You can rip through football games quickly.

        • Rucknrun

          I agree the more choices the better. Tivo is the best in class.

  • Pebo Bryson

    Its good to know I’m not the only one DVR’ing CHIPS. lol

  • Karl Childers

    “Channels” for Apple TV now has a DVR component as well.

  • Bill Eastman

    Using AndroidTV (Nexus Player, Mi Box, Nvidea Shield and FireTV Stick and box you can bring them with you and cpnnrct tp the hotels TV Zto watch your Tablo.

  • Amber Mink

    This article is what I have been searching for. New cordcutter and have been trying to figure out the best configuration for my home. We realized we need a DVR. Thank you.