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Wed, 09 Jan 2019 02:17:20 +0000

SiliconDust simplifies DVR service with two new HDHomeRun devices that store and serve recordings

SiliconDust, makers of the HDHomeRun line of network tuners, have announced a pair of new DVR devices at CES 2019 that give the Amazon Fire TV Recast and Tablo DVRs a serious run for their money. The all-new HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is an all-in-one solution that combines a pair of over-the-air tuners with a 1 TB DVR hard drive for recordings. It merges all of SiliconDust’s existing OTA services and features into a single sleek device that will surely become the best first device to buy for anyone entering the HDHomeRun ecosystem of cord-cutting solutions, all while maintaining the flexibility that differentiates HDHomeRun from competing DVRs. For new or existing HDHomeRun users, SiliconDust has also announced the HDHomeRun SERVIO, which adds 2 TBs of DVR storage to any HDHomeRun setup, while simultaneously eliminating the need to have a PC or NAS as your DVR server.

SiliconDust has long sold both over-the-air and cable card network tuner boxes, under the HDHomeRun brand, which allow customers to stream channels from an HD antenna or cable subscription to all of their media players, Like Fire TVs, and connected devices, like smartphones. More recently, they added a DVR solution to the mix by providing software that could be installed on a PC or network attached storage (NAS) device, which served as the storage location for recordings. While the setup worked fine, it could be cumbersome to configure and required always keeping your PC on or investing in complicated NAS devices.

HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO (top) & HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (bottom)

The new HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is out to simplify everything into a single all-in-one device. I sat down with SiliconDust’s CEO Theodore Head at CES, who gave me an overview of the new devices. The HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO looks nearly identical to the existing HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, but is slightly wider and longer. It’s impressively tiny considering the majority of its size is taken up by a standard hard drive. Around back is a coax connection for an over-the-air antenna, a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port, and a power port.

Inside the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO are the same 2 tuners that you’d find in the HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, as well as a 1 TB spinning 2.5″ hard drive for storing DVR recordings. With the one new device, you can watch or record any 2 channels. No external device or software, other than something like a Fire TV to run the HDHomeRun app, is required to watch OTA channels and record content. The 1 TB drive is enough to store 150 hours of HD OTA video from an antenna or 1,000 hours of streaming video from one of the 45 cable channels included in the optional HDHomeRun Premium TV subscription service. The large storage capacity difference between the two content sources is due to OTA content being stored at full uncompressed MPEG-2 quality and streaming content being stored in the already compressed format that it arrives in.

HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (left) & HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO (right)

If 2 tuners aren’t enough, customers can simply add an additional HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, to gain 2 more tuners, or an HDHomeRun QUATRO, to gain for more tuners, to their setup. The system is very flexible and will automatically adapt to what ever devices are configured. Whether channels are being recorded through the tuners in the SCRIBE DUO or the regular DUO, they’ll automatically make their way to the SCRIBE DUO’s internal 1TB drive.

It’s even possible to add a second HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO to gain both another pair of tuners and another 1TB of storage space. SiliconDust’s solution stands out as being the most flexible DVR system, which can be tailored to each customer’s needs with additional hardware as necessary. Regardless of how many tuner devices or storage devices are added to one’s configuration, the software will automatically adapt to recognize the additional tuner availability and storage capacity.

HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (top) & HDHomeRun SERVIO (bottom)

If adding additional DVR storage is all that is needed, SiliconDust has also announced a second new device called the HDHomeRun SERVIO which has a 2 TB hard drive inside, but no tuners. The HDHomeRun SERVIO is identical in shape and size to the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO, but does not have a coax connection on the back, because there is no tuner inside. The SERVIO can be added as a companion tot he SCRIBE DUO to expand the setup to 3 TBs of total DVR storage that will hold 450 hours of OTA content or an astounding 3,000 hours of HDHomeRun Premium TV content.

The HDHomeRun SERVIO does not require an HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO, as it can be added as a companion to any existing HDHomeRun device to add DVR functionality with its 2 TBs of storage. HDHomeRun owners with only live tuner access and no recording capabilities can add the single HDHomeRun SERVIO to gain DVR capabilities, without needing to ever link up a PC or NAS. For customers who do already have a PC or NAS being used for DVR storage, the entire system is flexible enough to where you can continue using the PC or NAS for storage and added a SERVIO for additional storage. Essentially, any combination of tuner-only devices (like the existing line of HDHomeRun models), tuner+storage devices (like the new HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO), and storage only devices (like the new HDHomeRun SERVIO, PCs, or NASs) can be mixed and matched and it will all just work as expected.

HDHomeRun SERVIO (left), HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (middle), & HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, (right)

Just as with HDHomeRun’s existing DVR solution, which uses a PC or NAS, running a DVR setup with either of the new devices being announced will require a subscription to HDHomeRun’s DVR service. This service costs $35 per year, which pays for things like program guide data, but SiliconDust is including a free year with the purchase of either new DVR device. If you buy both new devices, or multiples of either one, the free years of DVR service will stack together so that you receive the full free benefit. For customers who are already subscribed to the DVR service, buying any of the new devices will also stack on top of your existing subscription to extend it by a year.

The HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO, which includes 2 tuners, 1 TB of DVR storage, and 1 free year of DVR service will cost $199 and the HDHomeRun SERVIO, which includes no tuners, 2 TB of DVR storage and 1 free year of DVR service will cost $149. Remember, the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is fully functional on its own for watching and recording, but the HDHomeRun SERVIO is strictly an add-on device that requires the presence of any of SiliconDust’s other HDHomeRun models for the SERVIO to act as a DVR. Both devices are already in production and are expected to be released in April with pre-orders starting in March.

Compared to the Amazon Fire TV Recast, other than being a fraction of the size, the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is $30 less expensive than the base Recast model and includes twice the storage, which is an impressively great value. If you were to insist on 4 tuners, things aren’t as good for SiliconDust’s solution. You would need an HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO and an HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, which would cost $20 more than the 4 tuner Fire TV Recast model. Both solutions offer 1 TB of storage. Also keep in mind that the Fire TV Recast does not require a subscription, whereas the HDHomeRun DVRs require a $35 annual subscript after the first included free year ends.

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