Best DVRs for Cord-Cutters

The Newbies Guide to The Best DVRs

Nothing makes cord-cutting any better than an antenna to watch free live TV. Except for maybe a DVR which lets you record those live shows, skip through commercials and pause or rewind live TV.

When you paid your cable provider for your TV content, owning a DVR was easy. You would use the DVR provided by your cable or satellite TV provider and that was it.

Now that you cut the cord and are free from those expensive monthly fees, you can still own and enjoy all the same benefits a good DVR provides.

The top two things most people miss when cutting the cord are the clock on the cable box and the cable companies' DVR.

This guide can help you weed through a list DVR options and provide you with a solution that won't break the bank and still give the same features you once enjoyed when you were a cable TV subscriber.


   TiVo Roamio DVR

TiVo Roamio Best DVR for Cord-Cutters

When it comes to DVR companies there is none better than TiVo. They are like the Mercedes Benz of DVR manufacturers. They have the most polished software and hardware and they fit together to make the perfect DVR solution.

When you buy a TiVo DVR for your over the air antenna, you are getting the complete turnkey package. It is the easiest DVR to use because they have been building DVRs for many years and they have this technology down. Their software is super intuitive and their guide offers great search capabilities to help you find shows to record.

The TiVo Roamio is their model designed for cord-cutters and works directly with an antenna. It has built-in tuners so you basically use a coax splitter and feed up to four lines into your TiVo and record up to 4 shows at once.

This model comes with a "Lifetime" guide which is tied to the life of the box. This is the way to go because other TiVo models charge up to $15/month just for the TV guide service.

A TiVo Roamio will set you back $349 when on sale and is one of the more expensive options. But just like buying a Lexus, you get what you pay for and this model already includes a 1TB hard drive and a WiFi remote so there is nothing else to buy.

The Roamio also comes with apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Plex and many more. While it's no substitute for a Roku, Apple TV or Nvidia SHIELD it can still hold it's own and work well as a basic media streamer.

For one of the simplest and full-featured DVR that's easy to use and will remind you of your cable TV DVR, there is none better than the TiVo Roamio.

Buy a TiVo DVR


   Nuvyyo Tablo DVR

Tablo DVR for Cord-Cutters

Tablo is a DVR for those who are a bit more technically inclined. While not as easy to set up and use as a TiVo, it still can provide a nice solution for those who don't mind a little extra work.

Instead of attaching the Tablo DVR directly like you would a TiVo, it hooks to your Router or Switch by Ethernet and then streams content over your network to your choice of media streaming devices.

Tablo is made to also use with portable devices. So you can watch your recorded shows on your tablet or phone besides on Roku, Apple TV, and other media streamers.

With the 4 tuner Tablo, you get the basic box which will set you back about $240. Then you still need to buy an external hard drive to record your content.

Their newer Dual $249 model comes with 64GB of storage, but if recording more than a few HD shows, this will fill up quickly and you'll still need to buy an external drive.

If you plan on doing anything else other than manually recording your shows you will need to subscribe to the Tablo Guide.

Tablo comes with a 30/day complimentary guide. After that, it costs $4.99/month, $49.99/year or a one-time lifetime fee of $149.99. This also significantly adds to the price of this DVR.

Tablo may be great for watching your content on the go. But if you plan on watching most of your content from your TV we highly recommend you opt for either the TiVo Roamio or Channel Master DVR.

Buy a Tablo DVR


   Channel Master SREAM+ DVR

Channel Master Stream+ Best DVR for Cord-Cutters

The Channel Master Stream+ is not just a monthly fee free DVR, it is also a full-fledged Android box that has dual antenna inputs.

Of the three DVRs listed so far, the Stream+ at $149 is by far the most economical solution. Although, while it offers a full Android OS, it is not based on the fastest Android hardware available.

This model features a 4K HDR streaming quad-core ARM processor, 2GB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage. An external drive or NAS is a must, to hold your recorded media.

For watching TV it uses the Android Live Channels app, which is OK, but not nearly up to the level of what you would get with the TiVo or even the Tablo. In fact, as a DVR it is really rather basic.

The guide is provided by Android Live Channels and goes out to 14 days and is free. That's really the best part of this streamer. If you have an HDHomeRun Network Tuner, you can also use this app on any Android box you own.

One of the biggest drawback to the Live Channels app is you can't watch a show or movie while it's recording. This alone makes it not nearly as nice as the TiVo which lets you buffer a certain amount of the show, then zip through commercials while it's still recording.

But for a free guide, and lower cost hardware the Channel Master+ may be all the DVR that's needed for some.

Plus you have the added advantage of having access to the full Android App Store which makes this DVR more useful.

Bottom line, as a DVR the TiVo is still by far our number one choice, and the Stream+ still needs a lot of spit and polish to make it even remotely comparable. Yet if you don't mind being an early adopter, it may be worth keeping an eye on this to see if Channel Master provides it with some worthy updates to make it a lot better.

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