Sunday, October 21, 2018

HDHomeRun Premium Streaming Cable TV Service is Compatible with MythTV

Silicondust's new service allows you to cut the cable cord while keeping a great group of cable channels using your internet connection with at least one HDHomeRun tuner.  The service is compatible with MythTV and other open-source software.  MythTV allows a home theater computer (HTPC) to be a networked digital video recorder (DVR).  Soon after HDHomeRun Premium TV became available, Silicondust confirmed that the video format is compatible with open-source software, and MythTV users began making it possible to watch and record the content.  More information about how to use the service with MythTV can be found at the MythTV Community Forum, and it will most likely eventually be in the MythTV Wiki.

More Pressure on Cable Companies to not Copy Protect Content

MythTV is compatible with encrypted channels from cable companies using a CableCARD tuner, but it is not compatible with the copy protection that some cable companies use on many of their channels.  Comcast generally encrypts all channels but generally does not copy protect channels other than premium channels such as HBO.  Other cable companies such as Spectrum and Frontier Fios have copy protection on many channels according to multiple sources.  HDHomeRun Premium TV is a viable alternative if your cable company has the highly restrictive copy protection that disallows it to be used with open-source software.

Channels Included

Just $34.99 per month gets you 45 channels in addition to the local channels you can get with an antenna.

HDHomeRun Premium TV Included Channels

Choosing MythTV or HDHomeRun DVR Service

An HTPC with MythTV is very versatile, but it can take time to set up and update as needed.   Choose MythTV if you want to maximize the savings or if you want a system that is highly configurable to your liking.  Silicondust's DVR service is currently $35 per year.  Choose this DVR service if you want to minimize the time it takes to set it up and keep it updated.  With MythTV, you will need a computer that needs to be powered on when needed to record or play a recording or live TV.  With Silicondust's DVR service, having a computer that needs to be on when a recording is scheduled is optional if you prefer network-attached storage.

Compatible HDHomeRun Tuners

Not all of Silicondust's tuners are compatible with HDHomeRun Premium TV.  The service requires an HDHomeRun CONNECT (HDHR-2US), HDHomeRun EXTEND (HDTC-2US), HDHomeRun DUO (HDHR5-2US) or an HDHomeRun QUATRO (HDHR5-4US).  

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Amazon Fire TV Recast Over the Air DVR

Bloomberg reported in August 2018 that Amazon was developing and would produce a DVR.  About a month later, Amazon confirmed the rumored DVR, and it is now available from Amazon.  Fire TV Recast is a DVR that lets you watch and record over-the-air TV at home or on-the-go with a Fire TV, Echo Show, or compatible mobile device—with no monthly fees.  Watch and record live sports, local news, late night shows, and other can’t miss TV from channels available through an HD antenna like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW.  The lower cost model can record up to 2 shows at once, with enough storage for up to 75 hours of HD programming.  With a compatible Alexa-enabled device, you can use your voice to search for shows, manage and schedule recordings, and help with other requests. Say things like “Alexa, open Channel Guide" or “Alexa, record Riverdale.”  Fire TV Recast delivers the most reliable video streams over Wi-Fi of any over-the-air DVR according to Amazon. The Fire TV Recast DVR is compatible with the other Fire TV devices described below.

Fire TV with Alexa Voice Remote


Fire TV with Alexa Voice Remote
The Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote is a streaming media player.  You can experience true-to-life picture quality in 4K Ultra HD and HDR.  It is 40% more powerful than the Fire TV Stick.  It supports Dolby Atmos audio—feel scenes come to life in three dimensions.  Access 500,000+ movies and TV episodes from popular channels and apps including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, NBC, and more.  Do more with Alexa—find and control content, play music, check movie showtimes, order a pizza, and more. Just press and ask using your Alexa Voice Remote or pair an Echo device for hands-free control.  Navigate millions of websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit with browsers like Silk and Firefox.  Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV episodes, plus ad-free listening to millions of songs with Prime Music.  No cable or satellite? No problem. Watch live TV and sports with subscriptions to Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV.

Fire TV Cube with Hands-Free Alexa


Fire TV Cube with Hands-Free Alexa
The Fire TV Cube is the first hands-free streaming media player with Alexa, delivering an all-in-one entertainment experience. From across the room, just ask Alexa to turn on the TV, dim the lights, and play what you want to watch.  With far-field voice recognition, eight microphones, and beamforming technology, Fire TV Cube hears you from any direction. Enjoy hands-free voice control of content—search, play, pause, fast forward, and more. Plus control the power and volume on your TV, sound bar, and A/V receiver as well as change live cable or satellite channels with just your voice.  Do more with Alexa. Fire TV Cube has a built-in speaker that lets you check the weather, listen to the news, control compatible smart home devices, and more—even with the TV off. Fire TV Cube is always getting smarter with new Alexa skills and voice functionality.  Experience true-to-life picture quality and sound with access to vivid 4K Ultra HD up to 60 fps, HDR, and the audio clarity of Dolby Atmos.  Enjoy unlimited access to tens of millions of songs with Amazon Music, starting at just $3.99/month.

Prime Video Channels



Amazon Prime and Prime Video members can purchase third-party channel subscriptions (like Showtime, Starz) and other streaming entertainment channels directly through Prime Video.  There are many other channels currently available.

Edited 9/20/2018: Updated product availability information

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cable TV's Sneaky Fees Article by Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports recently wrote an article about the high fees that Comcast and other cable companies are nontransparently adding to their customers' bills.  They are also collecting signatures if you would like to sign the petition.  The article is located at www.consumerreports.org/tv-service/cable-tv-sneaky-fees-what-the-fee.

The article fails to mention that you can save a considerable amount of money by using your own DVR instead of using the equipment available from your cable company.  The Consumer Reports article also incorrectly indicates that "you have to rent your cable box."  With very few exceptions, federal rules require that cable companies allow their customers to purchase their own cable box, DVR or HTPC.  The blog posts Save Money on Your Cable Bill by Using Your Own DVR and TiVo BOLT VOX vs. SiliconDust Prime 6 vs. Comcast DVR Price Comparison have more information about using your own DVR or home theater PC.