hey everybody it’s Lon Seidman and we are
back with our cord cutting & cord shaving series where we look at ways you
can reduce the cost of bringing live television into your home we can still
use our cable company without their equipment so we can save on rental fees
or we can get rid of the cable company altogether and bring in over-the-air
content and one platform we haven’t spent a lot of time on recently is the
Apple TV platform and I just got done reviewing the new 4k box here and I
figured I would take a look at what some of the cord cutting and cord shaving
solutions are available on the Apple TV platform which we’re going to explore
today now I do want to mention in the interest of full disclosure that one of
the tuning devices that we use here in the house for all of this cord shaving
stuff is made by a company called silicon dust it’s called the HD home run
they are an occasional sponsor here on the channel they are not paying for this
review however I also want to let you know that we’re going to be looking at
an app called channels and they provided me some free codes to try out their app
here on both the Apple TV and on iOS devices and we’re also going to be
taking a look at Plex which we’ve talked about quite a bit in the past as well
and Plex is an occasional sponsor here on the channel too but they’re not
sponsoring this video so all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own
and no one has reviewed this content before it was uploaded and again this is
not a sponsored video I do suggest you check out a video I recently uploaded
about my entire setup so you can get a feel for the context of how all these
different devices work together specifically how the HD homerun tuners
work in a nutshell what I’ve got here on my network is an HD homerun Prime in
the closet I have a cable card connected into it for my cable company and it
brings in all of my cable TV content it makes it available to anything that’s
compatible including in this case the Apple TV and it works really well and I
got all of Comcast’s equipment out of the house and I talked a lot more about
that in that other video so we’re gonna kick things off with the first app of
the three we’re going to look at which is the channels app and this is
something we looked at a little while ago but they’ve made some additions to
it that I think are worth talking about so this costs $24.99 on the App Store it
works with your HD homerun and what you got here when you first load it up is
the on now guide which gives you a bunch of thumbnails here about what’s
currently on TV I know a lot of people want a channel guide a more traditional guide
and that’s one thing that they bring to the mix here is an actual channel guide
that you can scroll through like you might on your cable box this is a
patented thing they don’t own the patent to it but they’re clearly paying a
licensing fee to get at it so it’s a more of a traditional interface and what
you might have seen from some of the other things that we’ve looked at
recently here on the channel and it does seem to be working pretty nicely here
there’s also a version for iOS your iPad and your iPhone that version has a
similar interface to what you see here on the TV screen that version costs
$14.99 but you buy it once and it works on all of your devices so if you have
multiple Apple TVs in the house you spend 25 bucks to start it’ll work on
all the Apple TVs that you have and if you want to watch something on one of
these channels you just click the button here and tune to the live TV and you’re
off and running there’s also some time shifting you can do while watching live
TV so for example I can I hit the pause button here and kind of rewind to
earlier parts in the broadcast if I want to do that so out of the box a pretty
useful app here with a very very nice interface that feels very tightly
integrated with the rest of what you might encounter on your Apple TV really
slick I really nicely put together so nice filtering here too for narrowing
things down by HD or SD you can even set favorites on your HD homerun device
itself so that only the 5 or 6 channels you watch most often can appear on here
there’s also some search functionality and some other things too so all in a
really really nice interface here and definitely I think the best of the bunch
right now as far as what you can find on the Apple TV platform now what they’ve
also done though recently is added in a DVR feature and this DVR works a lot
like the other DVRs we’ve looked at over the last couple of months in that you
have to have something on your network to run the DVR software on in my case
I’m using my WD My cloud PR 2100 that’s the same device right now that’s running
my plex server as well as my HD homerun DVR server that we’re using on the
Android boxes and this is another piece of software to install but it
works in a very similar fashion so right now it’s installed on my device I’ll
show you some of the settings to it I can go over here to my past recordings
for example and if I want to load up Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood here I can
go ahead and just click watch and it will queue it up from the DVR server
running on that WD my cloud device works pretty similar to how you
see other things working you can fast-forward and rewind you can also dig
into that channel guide for example and set up things to record later so maybe I
want to watch I don’t know BBC World News later this evening I can click on
that future thing that’s coming up I can record it I also have the opportunity to
create a season pass so every new episode gets recorded and you have some
other options here as well to do some padding on the broadcast before they
start so a lot of the basic DVR features are here on this one they also have a
pretty neat way of allowing you to watch things while they’re still recording so
that’s something you can do of course on the HD homerun DVR natively you can do
it on here too so if I click on law & order it says hey you’re currently
recording it right now you want to watch where you are live or do you want to
watch the beginning of it while I record the end and I can of course watch the
recording here and you can see here this purple progress indicator gives me an
idea as to how much I have available to me to watch and then it’s going to keep
recording for the next 42 minutes or so until that show is over so you can jump
ahead and then when you get to where it’s live it’ll just start playing the
live broadcast as it continues to record us a lot of nice time shifting features
built into this a pretty fully functional DVR in my opinion and it
seems to be working pretty nicely here on the platform the DVR is not free it’s
an additional $8 a month that covers the cost of them bringing in this channel
guide information I would imagine some of the patent costs involved with that
are also part of that that’s something that costs these developers money to
provide to you and that is why you have to pay that fee the only other issue
that I’m encountering at the moment with this is that it doesn’t work on
platforms other than the Apple platform so the iPhone and the Apple TV and the
iPad for example are the only places where this DVR currently works although
they do have a web version that you can log into both on your network and
remotely to watch that content on any other device let me show you what that
looks like so here is the web version of their DVR and you can see we’ve got the
similar-looking guide here on the web page this will work on anything that has
a web browser and if I wanted to for example to tune into a channel here we
can go to the Weather Channel and then I’ll click on watch now and it will
start playing here this is coming over the network from my let me just turn the
volume down here for a second this is coming over the network from my
WD my cloud right now and the server that runs this DVR it works in a very
similar to way to what we’ve seen with Plex and that a can transcode video it’s
taking the large video it’s getting over the cable transmission and making it
smaller so if I’m off-site I can watch it at a more compressed and maybe lower
resolution in order to work with a cellular network for example so it’s
able to do all of that real-time transcoding and if you have a processor
on the device that’s running this server it can be a computer or a NAS vice
like I have as long as it’s compatible with quick sync which is an Intel
Hardware encoding technology it’s on many chips you’ll get hardware encoding
for this as well so they’ve really done a lot of nice work making this work here
of course you can go fullscreen with this if you want you can also stop that
you also have the ability to go back into your DVR recordings here and play
back stuff that you’ve already recorded so here’s that Daniel Tiger’s
neighborhood episode and I can of course click watch now and I’d be able to watch
that remotely and if you have the app running on your phone or on your tablet
you can access the server remotely through the app itself without having to
go through that web interface to get there so all your DVR recordings and all
your live TV can be transcoded on the fly through your computer or whatever
device you’re using to serve content out and you can watch it while you’re on the
road I did a test with it earlier I’ve got no signal down here in the basement
with my cellular provider but I did test it upstairs I was able to successfully
transcode a 1080i broadcast down the 720p at around 4 megabits per second and
was able to sustain a pretty decent signal throughout as I was watching
remotely without being on my local Wi-Fi pretty cool stuff and it looks like the
recording engine they had for this DVR is compatible with a number of different
platforms so Mac and Windows if you got an old laptop or something kicking
around you can also use docker if you’re into that Synology qnap WD My cloud
Netgear they’ve got a pretty substantial compatibility list here that I think
you’ll find something that you’ve got kicking around the house to run that DVR
server so all in the channels app here looks pretty nice nice slick interface
it really integrates nicely with the Apple TV platform as well as the iPhone
and iPad platforms too – a great app we’ve looked at it in the past and the DVR
looks like it’s maturing very nicely and working quite well one thing
I want to bring up and I bring this up on all the videos that we do is
something called DRM that your cable provider might put on your channels
where I am Comcast just puts the DRM on HBO and Showtime and some of the premium
networks but some folks have cable systems that lock down everything so even
though you’re paying for that cable subscription and getting the cable card
it still doesn’t work with this configuration because the channels are
marked as DRM and therefore don’t work with a lot of these platforms channels
does not yet support DRM content but they are promising to do so in the
future according to their FAQ so if you are dealing with DRM across your entire
cable system probably not going to work for you right now but it will work with
cable systems like mine that don’t DRM everything as well as over-the-air
broadcasts so the next app on our tour is the InstaTV app and this will work with
your HD home run to notice like the channels app did but it also works with
the HD homerun DVR that’s the same package we reviewed a number of times
here on the channel and what I use is my primary DVR here in the house so
although silicon dust at the moment doesn’t have a Native Client for their
devices or DVR instaTV will work with the silicon dust hardware and their DVR
software and again check out my prior videos to see more about that so I can
go through my recordings on here for example so I can play back this episode
of Nova that I’ve got here and it shows me all the different nova recordings
that i have stored i can load up extreme animal weapons here and then play it
back now you’ll notice here that it’s not playing in full-screen and the
reason it’s not playing in full-screen is because i haven’t unlocked full
screen playback for DVR recordings that cost fifteen dollars so the app is free
but this is the kind of functionality you’ll get with it after you pay the 15
bucks you can unlock for full screen playback and get it the app also runs on
the iphone and ipad but you do have to make a separate in-app purchase to get
full screen playback on those devices as well so let’s quit out of here real
quick and we’ll jump back to the rest of the interface here and oh what we can also do
is see what’s on live TV so I can go scroll down for example back to the
weather channel here and play back the Weather Channel as it’s currently airing
and we’ll let that start going here and I do have the ability to do some
I’m shifting here so I can pause the show here and rewind a little bit
there’s a tiny little icon you have to navigate over to here to kind of zip
back into the recording and then you can rewind live TV if you want the interface
is not as intuitive as what you just saw on the channels app or HD homerun’s own
application for that matter but it does give you the ability to have a single
DVR system running on your network to be able to watch what you’re looking to
watch on here the one thing I don’t think this does as well though is
setting up recordings that are happening in the future so if I scroll down
through all this stuff here this is just the things that are currently on TV I
don’t believe there’s a way I can search for recording things later on so I
can play back recorded content I can watch live content but I can’t set up
new DVR recordings on here I’d have to do that on silicon dust’s own software
first I should also mention that the HD homerun DVR software does cost thirty
five dollars a year and that pays for all of your program guide information
and everything else to keep that software working and you’ll get updates
of course as they make them on there and the last option we’re going to look at
on this tour is Plex and of course we’ve talked about Plex quite a bit here on
the channel just about every month or so and if you have a Plex pass subscription
you will get access to live TV as well as their DVR feature now the Plex pass
costs about five bucks a month but you can also get an annual pass for $39.99
or do a lifetime pass for 149 dollars and never have to pay again
and then when you have a client that supports live TV or the DVR you’ll start
to see a live TV icon show up after you’ve configured the DVR on the Plex
side of things now Plex does require you to install a server I’ve covered all
this in the past so I’ll link to my big plex series so you can see exactly how
it works but just like what we saw with the channels app DVR Plex
runs on just about anything out there for a server too so I think you
shouldn’t have a problem finding something to act as your Plex server so
we’re gonna go over here into live TV and we’ll scroll back over to the
Weather Channel maybe what it does is it gives you a list of everything that’s
currently on the air I can click on the Weather Channel here it will then tune
in and start watching that what it does do is it runs all of the inbound TV
through the plex server first where it transcodes it and then puts it back out
on the network so it might be a little slower
than what you saw with the channels app or insta TV but generally things come up
right away and you can start watching TV on this thing now at the time that I’m
recording this video you cannot control the DVR recordings from the Apple TV
itself you have to load up a smartphone like a iPhone or an Android phone use
Plex through there to set up your recordings but after the show is done
airing you can go back and watch the show on your Apple TV here so I’ve got a
bunch of DVR recordings that I’ve made on it and I can play all of these back
whenever I want but you have to wait until the recording is done there is
some time shifting capability with this also on the live TV but it’s
disconnected from the recording so for example if we go back over here to the
Weather Channel what I can do is pause live TV while it’s airing and then
rewind in that broadcast but I can’t come back to this later or set it to
record while it’s on-air here so I can hit the pause button here it will start
queuing up whatever’s happening after that I can rewind and fast-forward but
once I leave this show and pick another one that little buffer it kept is gone
after that so if I had to choose one of these three right now as the best Apple
TV live TV and DVR experience I would have to say the channels app it will cost
you a little bit more than some of the other solutions we’ve looked at but it
is probably the most elegant in so far as how well it integrates with the Apple
TV the only downside to it is that it doesn’t work easily on other platforms
unless you pull up that web interface that I demonstrated earlier but if you
have an Apple TV and have an iPhone and an iPad and those are your primary
devices the experience is actually very good right now with channels they’ve
invested a lot of the money they’re making from these apps and their
services to make this a really mature platform and it’s come a long way since
I first started looking at it so I’m quite pleased with that now as
everything in this space goes we’ll probably see updates and things change
over time so we’ll probably revisit the Apple TV in a few months and see what
the state of everything is I’m sure Plex will start adding some additional
features in and we might see the same on insta TV too so there are options you’ve
got a bunch of them and there are a few things that I haven’t covered here on
the channel part of the problem that I have where I live is that I can’t get
anything over-the-air I have tried but I get like one channel
so it’s hard for me to review some of these other solutions that rely only on
over-the-air content what’s nice about the HD homerun is that it works the same
for cable as it does over-the-air so even though we were watching a
demonstration working off my cable system if you have one of the HD homerun
over-the-air antennas your experience would be exactly the same here so that’s
going to do it for the Apple TV overview let me know down in the comments below
if there are things that I missed that I should be looking at and also let me
know what over-the-air solutions you have found that work well with your
Apple TV as well this is Lon Seidman thanks for watching this channel is
brought to you by my patreon supporters including gold-level supporters the
black eyed and blues music hour podcast Chris Allegretta and Kalyan Kumar if you want
to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a
month head over to Lon.TV/patreon to learn
more and don’t forget to subscribe visit lon.TV/s

42 thoughts on “Apple TV Cord Cutting Options: Channels DVR, InstaTV, and Plex – Cord Cutting Project Part 7”

  1. Hey Lon I was wondering if you'd ever play around with C-Band Set-top boxes?
    I've seen videos and guides (kinda) online that show you can get channels for free but none of the guides make me feel confident enough to attempt the project since it isn't cheap.

  2. Hey Lon thank you so much for your reviews I have found them very helpful for a number of projects.

    It would be great if you could review web browsing experiences in your device reviews, such as on the Apple TV or on the Nvidia shield. I would love to know what it is like to browse, stream video from sites that don't have an available app in a particular ecosystem etc. My wife uses our htpc all the time to casually browse for things in the living room. What would that be like on streaming boxes, with or without a wireless keyboard connected? We are looking to get away from HTPCs. Thanks again for the great content!

  3. I have a question about the hdhomerun prime. I know it has 3 tuners so I was wondering that if I buy a second hdhomerun prime would I get the 3 extra tuners and do I need a second Cablecard?
    right now I have a Ceton 6 tuner but I want to upgrade to windows 10.

  4. Lon – There is just no good ALL IN ONE channel system for a complete reasonable price. Especially for sports and especially in Canada.

  5. Plex is really ticking me off. It transcodes EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME even when I know it doesn't need to. I tell it to play a file directly, but it transcodes it anyway. The kicker is that it transcodes it to a HIGHER bitrate than the native file, which obviously causes stutters and crashes. Got a 720p mpeg2 DVR file recorded by Plex's own DVR that's running at 4 or 6mbps? Not anymore! Plex wants it to be at 20 no matter what. I have a Samsung smart TV, and it plays Plex mepg2 TV recordings instantly regardless of resolution or bitrate when I browse to the file via my QNAP box's DLNA server, but when I try to access that very same file through Plex, it chugs away for 15 seconds before playing, and then freezes whenever there's a lot of motion onscreen. This is 100% a Plex issue. Hardware transcoding is enabled in my server settings, but it shouldn't be doing it at all, damn it.

    Anybody else having this problem? They seem to be another modern company that's eschewed that silly antiquated notion of "direct customer support," 'cause I sure don't see a way to contact a help desk.

  6. Lon, I am a Tivo Bolt user. While I realize the cost can be a bit higher than some other solutions, I find it to be a highly functional, well designed system for eliminating Comcast/Xfinity equipment while at the same time improving functionality. I can find very little about the Bolt on your channel beyond one remote interview with a Tivo rep. I would love to see an in depth review of the newest Bolt Vox, or the older Bolt for that matter. Is there a reason you have for the most part avoided Tivo?

  7. In other videos on Channels I've seen, when the Channels app is in the top row of the Apple TV homescreen it shows what's on now above. In this video, I'm not seeing that functionality Is it something that's still in the app, that you have just not enabled, or have they gotten rid of that?

  8. Hi Lon! I recently stumbled upon your channel and I've been binge watching all your videos. I love the way you review stuff and the objectivity you use to tackle every subject. You single handedly convinced my of getting an Nvidia Shield that's arriving this Wednesday. So, first of all, thanks for all your hard work!

    I'm currently running Plex Server on my PC and watching on the Plex Client that comes with my Samsung 4K TV (UN50KU6000). The App on the TV is really bad, at least for me, so I hope the Shield will improve my Plex experience (freezes, subtitles suddenly disappear, etc.)

    Now, I'd like to free my PC as my Server and use the Shield (16Gb) as a Server AND Client. Would that be a good idea?

    I've been reading that, at least as of right now, the Shield uses ONLY real internal storage (not adopted storage) to save all metadata, transcoding buffer, optimizations and stuff, so that's why I've read that even though you can do it, using the 16gb model as Server is not a good idea.
    My library is rather small, I currently use a a MyPassport 1Tb 3.0, and my Plex Media Server folder is 1.4gb, the Shield has more than enough space to handle that, so, still bad idea?

    Final question, let's say I use the Shield as a Server, would there be a noticeable difference between having my external hdd with all my media plugged directly into the back of the Shield OR having it plugged into my PC and having the Shield pointing to it to access all my media through the network? (everything will be hardwired).
    I'm asking this because I'd love to use the two usb ports on the back to:
    – Plug an old 320Gb external drive as adopted storage (also a Passport but 2.0!) for apps, small android games, etc.
    – Plug a wired Xbox360 controller on the other port.

    Sorry for the super long post, I'm trying to figure out the way to best achieve what I want given what I have and you are the best I've seen at this stuff.


    P.D.: Excuse my english, I'm from Argentina.

  9. if you can receive OTA 
    (over the air) by using an antenna, i want to share the deal i found on amazon; KORAMZI CB100 TV Converter box ATSC… $20.95. i bought it on internet friday and delivered it came to 22$ i can receive 100's of channels but i found 28 english speaking. the unit is not highly rated and i have not tried to record on a USB yet  but the 1080i is truly high def for tiger woods golfing or just local news. this is true cord cutting;

     no subscriptions, no temptations, just the cable connection to my computer and my indoor rabbit ears for this 20 dollar box and (it's only 3X4 inches) my 40" flat screen. sometimes people give glowing reviews about something but this box is highly ridiculed- i can only say i lost 20 dollars if it blows up on me. but i used to sell VCR'S in 1980 and instead of being the top of line JVC that sold for $1199 and weighed 80 pounds… i get a picture better than i have ever seen, remote control recording and small and light enough for the wind to blow it away. is it possible the deregulation of the internet will create more 'pay for' requirements for users? i don't know but i was just awarded 81 dollars for belonging to a class action suit against siris radio. i could bought almost 4 of these miracle boxes!

  10. I love your reviews, and made several purchase decisions based on them.
    So, older relative has been convinced by her kids, that she has to cut the cords, ditch cable tv, and keep a bit $ in her mattress. The biggest factor,.. it’s got to be entry level easy, and come back up after power internet outrage, as at 85 + she isn’t up to learning new stuff. We have been researching since before 2016 Christmas and had it narrowed down until last night, when a well respected competitor dropped the perfect device,.. Stream+ by Channelmaster. We immediately dropped a C-note on pre-order, ( their just discontinued dvr + was $250+), and feel optimistic that was the right decision. It should ship before February 2018, and then we may order a few more.

    Love your reviews !!!! Happy Holidays and may Missy Clause give you what you need.

  11. I enjoy your reviews.  Have you reviewed the Playstation VUE?  Really great system for completely cutting the cord.  Works perfect for our family and is now available on Apple TV

  12. @lon.tv , I love your channel! I have the Homerun and the Channels App. Is it possible to look at live tv remotely with it? I havent seen any straight forward answers about it.

  13. Hey Lon, or whomever wishes to answer:
    I have a question because I’m strictly Apple on everything that I own, or will own in the immediate future. I wish to drop some of my Comcast costs, but everything I see in these cord cutting videos involve some fairly high cost initiatives in hardware before you can even think about cutting out Comcast rental fees. Take my house for example: I have 4 rooms with televisions, so I rent one DVR main box along with three set-top boxes at around $60 in equipment when you include HD and modem rental fee at Comcast. However, if I make an attempt to go with cutting some of those costs like in your videos Lon, I have some pretty steep setup fees. In this video alone, I would have to purchase an HD HomeRun box like you have in your closet, an Apple TV (for each TV in the house, or some platform on each TV to run the software), then purchase the “Channels” app, or the purchase of the “Plex” app, the DVR service per month, plus some basic cable subscription anyway, a fairly expensive internet speed subscription, a NAS equipment for DVR, and then I’d have to repurchase this equipment all over again in maybe five years when it all becomes obsolete or just breaks from age.
    Now, with Comcast, I get ease of use, works across all my devices instantaneously, free new rental equipment if it breaks or becomes obsolete, DVR embedded within their box you rent, and content delivered through one software without fumbling around with all those other apps and interfaces. I’m not saying that Comcast is great. I actually hate Comcast to its core. However, these options that you advertise aren’t necessarily a cost savings in my opinion if I understand your method correctly. I think you are extremely knowledgeable and I may be missing something in my understanding, but I was hoping you could correct me if I’m wrong. An Apple TV itself is about $200 dollars and I would have to buy 4 of them to equal the same convenience factor that I’m getting from my $10 comcast rental for one room in my house; and that’s not including all the other equipment I would need in conjunction with the Apple TV for that live tv. Please send me feedback as I’m genuinely trying to understand my options. Thanks

  14. @lon I love this app and the hd homerun prime, however you never mention anything about drm… This is a little missleading to people who are new to these products. I have bought and installed the equipment to only be disappointed, nearly all the shows my family watch are drm protected! We cant watch anything, the weather channel is great but lets be honest it not very entertaining. Is there any support for drm to come out in the near future?

  15. I’ve been watching for some time and decided to get the HD Homerun Prime. I got everything I needed from cox cable and got it running after 2 days of going back and forth with cox. Now that I have all my channels listed on the homerun, I can watch DRM channels (90% of my channels) on my Apple TV. Any suggestions on what to do besides send everything back?

  16. I’m interested in this type of Apple TV based OTA cord-cutting setup. I’ve only got a single TV I want to use and I’ve already got a 4TB USB hard drive that I’d like to use as a DVR as well as a source for my existing library of movies and TV shows. Is there a similar solution that would let me use this, instead of having to buy a NAS?

  17. I live near the Jersey shore and have a clear shot into the NYC metro TV towers. Few months ago I cut the cord from Verizon, upgraded to GB Internet service and installed a modern antenna on the roof. I can get 48 channels captured by an HDHomerun dual tuner box that's controlled by my Plex server running on a Qnap NAS with a Celeron processor. So if you have any questions about how that works I can probably help you out.

  18. Slow down! You are rattling off shit like somebody on a 3 day meth high. We are watching this to dump the cable companies. We need steps to follow supported by reasons, not a running commmentary on what is capable. Give us: alternatives, hardware needed, costs, and how to acquire and install.

  19. Can you merge other TV Streaming services into the Channels app like Philo? I'm interested in using Philo in addition to HDHomerun Connect. Also, to confirm, the Channel Guide is free; just the DVR service is $8. Also, how to you add favorite channels do the Top Shelf?

  20. I am currently running Windows Media Center, and I think I've had it with the constant issues year to year, and now day to day. I need an alternative, and a friend of mine said he finally got rid of WMC for Apple TV and said it works really well. We are both Plex Pass subscribers, and he uses Plex for Live TV, but your really have me sold on Channels app. I currently pay a yearly fee of $24.99 for EPG123 to worrk properly, so a one-time buy sounds great to me!!!!

  21. How… in the hell… is a channel Guide an enforceable patent?

    Is it some random patent troll who patented a regular TV guide “to be used with iptv streams” and then tries to get people to pay the fees just to avoid a lawsuit?

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