Channels DVR - Plex Media Server - Tablo Comparison

I thought I would share my experiences cutting the cord and finding the best non-cable-satellite TV experience. I started this journey about a year ago, and have since used the Tablo Quad, Plex Media Server, and Channels DVR (in that order). For others that may be considering ditching cable, here is what I found.

Channels DVR

While I’ve only used Channels DVR for a very limited time, it is already my favorite. The TV Everywhere integration is a game changer. It allows me to combine my OTA Antenna (local channels), with another source (such as Philo) and integrates it all into a seamless guide and user experience. The developers are active in the community and seem to listen to their customers. Just a great all-around experience and one that should continue to improve with time.


-TV Everywhere Integration

-Active Developers

-Non-Destructive Commercial Skip

-High Quality Recordings

-Very efficient (not a resource hog)

-Well thought-out design (season passes with priority, tuner priority, etc.)


-HDHomeRun tuners only

-No lifetime subscription option

-Requires hardware and tuner investment


-Does not work well with Roku Clients

-No Autoplay (1.21.20 - Now in Beta on Apple TV) :slight_smile:

Plex Media Server

Plex provides the most granular control of all of the systems I’ve used. Especially when combined with the 3rd party program MCEBuddy. The guide is good, and Plex is by far the best at organizing media. For someone who needs full control over every aspect, Plex is a good option. In fact, I will probably continue to use Plex for my media even after moving to Channels.


-Very flexible and polished

-Great client streaming support (Roku, Apple, Android, Windows FireTV)

-Great tuner support (many different options)


-Monthly or lifetime subscription options

-Requires hardware and tuner investment


-No TV Everywhere Integration

-Destructive Commercial Skip

-More complex initial setup/configuration


The Tablo is the system I’ve used the longest. It is a great option for someone who wants something that is as close to plug-and-play as possible. Just connect your antenna and internet, install the app on your streaming client, and you can be up and running in no-time.


-Easy to install

-Intuitive guide and menu system

-Non-destructive commercial skip


-Monthly or lifetime subscription options

-No additional external hardware or tuners required


-No TV Everywhere Integration

-No ability to add tuners (you have to purchase a new full unit)

-All content is transcoded to H.264 which can affect picture qualify

-No AutoPlay

-No Season Pass Priority

I know there are a few other options out there, but these are the only ones I’ve had experience with. If I had to start from scratch again, I would go with Channels DVR without question. In my opinion, it is significantly better than the other options. I may add Plex into the mix to support my Roku devices, but only because I don’t want to change all of them out.


Pretty solid review. I too have used the 3 above but I also am coming from a TiVo so I had to find the best solution to get the wife OK with moving away from it. Channels has most boxes checked. If the commercial skip was more accurate my wife wouldn't care but the commercial skip doesn't seem to work the best at all times.

I agree with you that Channels checks the most boxes. I've found the Channels comskip to be similar with the other options I have tried, but I suppose everyone's experience may be different (depending on the content they watch). At least it isn't a destructive comskip like Plex, that just isn't a good option unless it were perfect all the time every time.

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Yep Plex's implementation of commercial skip is just plain out dumb. No idea who thought that was a good idea.


I have used Emby for many years.....found it far better, powerful, nice looking and intuitive than Plex or even WMC. Never heard of Tablo.

But since Channels DVR has TVE, something i had no idea was a thing that existed....I wish it had been a thing years ago, would have dumped my cable long ago. Had to retire my Emby sever for Live TV/DVR use cause most my channels are from TVE now. Emby only cost me $50 for a life time license btw.