Tablo Dual

Tivo vs Tablo vs Channel Master vs Plex – The Ultimate OTA DVR Guide

A note from Luke: Today we take a look at 4 different DVR options for antennas. There are hundreds of DVR software and services out there. So many that we could never build a chart to include all of them so we picked the top 4 DVRs according to our readers. One other option a lot of people in the comments asked about was the HDHomeRun. You can find our full review of the HDHomeRun HERE.

Here is Jessica’s guide to OTA DVRs:

Watching live TV with an antenna is part of most cord cutting setups. Free access to live TV can’t be beat, but it does eliminate a major benefit of streaming services – watching your favorite shows whenever you want. OTA (over the air) DVRs offer a solution.  Below, we’re comparing four of the best OTA DVRs on the market.

TiVo Roamio Vox Tablo Dual Channel Master Stream+

Plex Pass

Cost $399.97 $139.99 or$179.99 $149 $119.99
Storage 1TB 64GB* External Storage Required External Storage Required
Tuners 4 2 or 4 2 External Tuner Required
Stream to Mobile Yes Yes No Yes
Built-in Wifi Yes Yes Yes n/a

*Can be expanded with an external storage device.

TiVo Roamio Vox

Cost: $399.97

When it comes to customer and industry pro reviews, TiVo is often referred to as the best OTA DVR for the widest audience of cord cutters. So what makes this device so great?

There’s a lot to love about the TiVo Roamio. For starters, TiVo is a known and trusted brand with a name that many customers will recognize. The company has built a solid reputation and fan base, thanks to a user-friendly interface on each device. TiVo has worked to make the viewer experience as simple as possible, and it all happens from the smart remote. Use it to easily switch from live TV to your favorite streaming services to recorded programs. A voice control button makes it even easier to get to where you want to go.

Every device has its drawbacks. For the TiVo Roamio, the price tag of the device is at the top of that list. If you can get past the cost, you’ll also want to consider convenience. If you plan to record and watch shows in more than one room, you’ll need to purchase TiVo Mini Vox for each additional TV.

*Note the TiVo Bolt DVR for antnenas is currently not listed on the Tivo website. So we are reviewing the Tivo Roamio VOX the TV DVR currently listed on TiVo.com in their antenna area.

Tablo Dual

Cost: $179.99

Coming in with a more manageable price tag and no shortage of features is the Tablo Dual. (Even more manageable if you are willing to ditch the internal hard drive with the Tablo Dual Lite for just $139.99)

The major draw of this device is that it connects to your network, rather than a single TV. That means you’ll be able to use the Tablo service throughout your home and on a range of devices. Watch your recorded content on any devices connected to the network, including phones, laptops, tablets, and TVs. You can also watch your recorded content when you’re away from home with the Tablo apps.

If you’re looking for a less expensive version of the Tablo Dual, it does exist. The caveat is that you’ll lose the 64GB of storage. Those devices need to be connected to an external drive where you can store your saved recordings. You can also find a 4 tuner version of the Tablo DVR if you want to record 4 shows at once. If you want to have access to the Tablo Guide, be prepared to pay an extra monthly fee of $4.99/month for the service.

Channel Master Stream+

Cost: $149.00

With a lower price point and the promise of impressive features, Channel Master is making a name for itself as strong competition for TiVo.

The company got into the OTA DVR space with the DVR+ device. While that option had solid reviews from users, Channel Master made a few big changes when developing the Stream+. For starters, the device is smaller and simplified. With Google Chromecast built in, the Stream+ acts as both a streaming device and a DVR. That could be a game changer for those who want to simplify their set up.

While there’s a lot to love about the new device from Channel Master, the Stream+ is still new and might take some time to become a fully functional option. One complaint is with the channel guide, which only shows a couple of hours of upcoming programming, unlike other guides that show 14 days in advance. Others say that they’re dealing with slow reaction times between the bluetooth remote and the device.

Plex Pass

Cost: $119.99

A slightly different approach to the OTA DVR process is one that most cord cutters will already be fairly comfortable with. Let’s look at how you can record live TV with a Plex Pass subscription.

For cord cutters who are already using Plex to watch live and streaming TV, using the service as an OTA DVR might make sense. Recording live TV will require a Plex Pass subscription, which can be paid for monthly, annually, or with a one time payment for a lifetime pass. After signing up, downloading the Plex Media Server, and connecting your equipment, you can start searching for local channels and setting up your live TV hub to suit your needs. Your recordings can be accessed from any Plex compatible devices, making it easy to watch TV at home or on the go.

Using the streaming service rather than a device for recording over the air programming will require a little more effort. You’ll need to have an antenna to have access to your channels, along with a tuner, and a set-up box or computer to save your recordings. Once you have your equipment set up, the actual service can be difficult to navigate as well, if you aren’t familiar with using Plex.

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