Everyone has different needs and my want was for a decent replacement for DirectTV and their DVR service and appliance. My wife and I are avid content viewers. She and my daughter wanted to be able to watch and record local Network content (ABC, FOX, etc), as well as get some of their special channels (Animal Planet, Hallmark, Nat Geo).
I wanted ease of use and very high definition video and sound. I decided to pay up front and build the best home system I could since I would be saving thousands a year by getting rid of DirectTV. All Hardware is 4K capable including HDMI cables so I wanted APPs to match the HW.
For local OTA channels, I have a quality roof antenna and HDHOMERUN Dual and Quad tuners giving us 6 turners connected to our home Network.
Our home Network is solid with decent speed. My DVR Hardware and Streaming device is an Android base, Nvidia Shield Pro. The device has two USB-C ports for fast data transfer and I have two 2-Terabyte Solid State drives connected for DVR storage.
The Nvidia Shield came with PLEX DVR so I began our cord cutting experience with PLEX as our DVR service. After one year I grew to hate PLEX. It never came close to the DirectTV DVR service. They have no direct customer service (everything is forum base) and you see many issues and complaints with no comments from PLEX. I am not a Network Engineer but have basic knowledge. It seemed PLEX was made for, and required very high technical skills but even when it worked it wasn’t reliable. PLEX would release an update and the App would again stop working.
I begin researching DVR Servers again, both HW and App based solutions. All solutions had draw backs. Most HW solutions didn’t meet my video/audio requirements and still required a costly subscription service.
I had been using the Channels App to view OTA content for the past year. The guide was basic and occasionally would only show a few hours forward but it worked and was free.
Now to the Channels DVR Server review. I have been using the App and DVR Service for over two months now and once I was past the installation process, it has been flawless. Please understand that I say flawless as compared to the DirectTV DVR service and coming from a year of misery with PLEX.
I have both HDHOMERUN tuners and Philo (Live streaming Service provider similar to Hulu but ~ $15 a month cheaper) connected to Channels DVR Server. I am using Philo’s TV Everywhere capabilities to have most of the Philo’s channels added to the Channels DVR guide.
This allows me to see all my OTA channels and almost all live TV channels from Philo on my CHANNELS DVR guide, which allows me to watch and RECORD channels like Discovery, Science, AMC, Animal Planet, National Geographic and many more.
Channels DVR Server, with the HDHOMERUN tuners and using TV Everywhere using Philo has really duplicated my DirectTV experience.
I was paying ~$130/month for DirectTV (~$1500/year).
Channels DVR Server yearly subscription- $80. Philo monthly subscription- $20 ($240/year). I do have Amazon Prime but I pay for this for free and quick shipping but we stream a lot. This cost ~120/year but I don’t include this in my cord cutting cost as I’ve paid for it for years before leaving DirectTV. I also have access to Netflix through my daughter’s account, so my total annual cost to leave DirectTV is $320 ($440 if you include my Prime cost). It will take me another few months to recover the Hardware cost, as I replace our TV, (65” top of the line 4K) A/V Receiver (4K), two HDHOMERUN tuners, 2x - SSD. Nvidia Shield Pro and all cables.
Last note, PLEX tried to provide services way beyond content viewing and DVR services which is why I believe the App was so complex and unreliable. Channels DVR Server, although may never replace a top of the line TIVO box plus subscription service, or DirectTV or Comcast DVR Service and appliances, it it so very close for significantly less cost. I couldn’t be happier and hope they do not go down the same road as PLEX trying build a platform that provides more than content viewing and recording. It’s other capabilities like commercial skip are all add-on pluses.
I read another reviewer complaint about the Commercial Skip button not spelling out the entire words. This type of issue IMO, are nits. I love this App and Service.