Cheap & Easy

Ty for clarification. I edited original post. Im going purely off memory. I thought roku being underpowered is why they dont support it.

Regardless, roku=trash. Buy someone better.

Edit: from tmm1 long time ago.
"Unfortunately, Roku devices are too slow to both decode MPEG2 and deinterlace the video as well and cannot be useful as Channels clients."

I agree with @jake.joycelyn,

If you have an old computer or laptop laying around that's what to start with. Otherwise find a refurbished computer from a reputable vendor. It will probably had an SSD as the drive and you can use that for your OS. Then add a hard drive of the size you want.

My server runs on Windows 10 and I've had no issues with updates, even during the Olympics when I was recording close to 24x7. Windows found a quiet time to slip in an update. Channels uses very little CPU except for commercial skipping and it will use your video card for this if the computer has one. If you are know Linux then go that way, otherwise use Windows and be cozy.


If you go the Linux route and you are a windows user, I reccomend Mint Liunux. It's based off of Ubuntu but uses the more traditional windows experience. Best beginner Linux Distro I've found and I've stuck with it after many attempts to switch previously (SUSE, PCLInuxOS, Kubuntu, etc).

It's not that hard, but the one thing I will caution you, don't mess with default permissions. Channels can be installed fairly simply. Biggest thing is if you go with an external HDD, make sure you have it automounted when the computer starts, I have a horror story of frustration my first attempt to install Channels on a Linux box.

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Honestly if you are going to make the jump to Linux just go with Linux server and you will have the cleanest lightest weight server OS. Slight learning curve but nothing youtube can't cure... It's pretty much set and forget.. It's been months since I have had to ssh into it...

Slampman, i wish I could make the jump to a command line environment only. I need to immerse myself to do that and don't have the time, so a GUI Linux is my stepping stone.

Have some old, POS machine taking up dust in some closet somewhere? It will work beautifully!

Over a year in, home, remote, whatever, there is hardly a hiccup.

Also, you can also start with garbage and easily migrate over to better with time.

I use a Raspberry Pi 4. It’s a little technical to set up, but the tutorials online are well written, and it only takes about 20 minutes.

My Pi is in a closet upstairs hooked to Ethernet (same Pi also running HomeBridge, so it’s not totally dedicated to Channels) and never have any issues with streaming local or remote.

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Set up cost under £80 GBP. Channels DVR app installed on Firestick from appstore. Channels DVR Server app sideloaded to Android TV box. Best to connect broadband via ethernet though you can use WiFi. External hard drive connects via USB 2/3 to Android TV box.

SERVER (Amazon)
Android Tv Box T95 Android 10.0 Allwinner H616 Quadcore 2GB RAM 16GB ROM Support 6K 3D 1080P 2.4/5.0GHz WIFI BT5.0 10/100M Ethernet HDMI 2.0 H.265

HDD (Amazon)
WD 1 TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0

If you want it to be really simple use a shield tv. That’s what I have running the DVR. I can get up to 4 remote streams.

+1 for the Raspberry Pi 4. I set one up for my parents about 18 months ago using the Channels image and it's "just worked" in my experience. You are limited to 1 remote stream if I remember correctly. But even if you switch to something more powerful, it's an inexpensive way to evaluate the software.

IMO this recent issue disqualifies the Shield from remaining on the “really simple” list:

It also isn’t able to authenticate some TVE providers, like YouTube TV.

I would love to run this on a rPi. But isn’t there a transcoding horsepower issue with that class of devices, especially if you want remote streaming? Primary use case is to stream DVR and live TV to a remote residence that has fiber but no cable.

Is that one stream HD?

Yes the 9.0 issue makes it not so simple. I’m able to connect YouTube tv. I played with my friends account for a few days.


Using the YouTube TV app directly, or adding it as a TVE Provider for Channels DVR? Because if it's the latter, the devs say that's not supported.

I don’t know if I’d trust it for a full time remote use like you need, but it works fine for occasional remote streaming with great quality. Within the house, I’ve never had an issue with transcoding. I have Channels hooked to an HomeRun HD with antenna input. It is a RPi 4, so it is the current top of the line (I think…)

I have an rPi3 running Homebridge at my primary home. I could replace that with a top of the line 4 and move the 3 to the remote home for Homebridge only. So that’s an option…

When you say occasional streaming versus full-time, what differentiates the two? As long as I can get an HD stream that consistently looks great on a 75” TV, that’s all I need.

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I’ve never tried remote to a large TV. Just my phone and iPad.

My Pi4 has Channels, HomeBridge and PiHole all running 24/7 and I’ve never had a hiccup with any of them.


It's more of a question of bandwidth than proc power. As long as you have sufficient upstream at the source and sufficient downstream at the destination you can turn off transcoding and run the stream direct. I turn transcoding off on every device becuase I hate it. My cpu doenst budge at all when running multiple streams. I'm not on a Pi but it shouldn't make any difference. I guess I am old school and have always thought of the Pi as a science project and by the time you buy everything to set it up I could have bought a good used 5 year old PC that could blow it out of the water as far as processing power. Now where the Pi will suffer is commercial detection but if you arent in a hurry then you should be fine...


After a gut check, I decided to just go ahead and order the DS220+. It won’t fit in my entertainment cabinet, but there are other rooms with coax I can make work. The thing I cheaped out in is the storage. Rather than getting an SSD, I went for a classic HDD - the 4TB Seagate Ironwolf NAS HDD was $79 on Amazon, so I just pulled the trigger on that. The total cost is a little more expensive than I’d hope to spend, but Amazon is pretty good with returns.

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