What is the Best Over-The-Air Antenna DVR?

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Channel Master TiVo Roamio OTA Tablo 2-Tuner TiVo Bolt
dvr_channelmaster_small dvr_tivoroamio_small dvr_tablo_small dvr_tivobolt_small

If you’re in the market for an over-the-air antenna DVR, then you have a number of choices. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages. We will be comparing these units in three categories:

  • Function
  • Cost
  • User Experience

Based on these criteria, for most people, I would recommend the TiVo Roamio OTA because of the following reasons:

  • The Tablo 2-Tuner has reports of freezing, connection issues, and crashing from users. If there weren’t all of these technical issues, then I would recommend the Tablo 2-Tuner because it has so much functionality, but the bugs reported have me withholding my recommendation.
  • The Channel Master lacks the built-in functionality of the TiVo Roamio OTA and does not have as good of a user experience as the TiVo Roamio OTA.
  • The TiVo Bolt is another good option, but it’s more expensive than the TiVo Roamio. With the TiVo Bolt, you are paying extra for the ability of the unit to also handle cable. If you’re thinking about switching back to cable TV, then you might consider getting the Bolt as insurance.
  • The Tivo Roamio OTA is close to the cheapest option available, but has the advantages listed above.

Below are tables that compare all four of these options in more detail to help you make an informed purchasing decision. Please leave comments if you have any questions and we will be happy to answer them!

Channel Master
dvr_channelmaster_small
TiVo Roamio OTA
dvr_tivoroamio_small
Tablo 2-Tuner
dvr_tablo_small

TiVo Bolt
dvr_tivobolt_small
Set-Up Cost For
One TV
$350
($300 unit bundle
+ $50 hard drive)
$400 $500
($200 unit bundle +
$50 hard drive +
$150 lifetime subscription
+ $50 Roku Stick)
$850
Top Reasons to Buy Provides for a DVR solution that plugs directly into TV and works well for its intended purpose (recording shows on an antenna and replaying them on a television). TiVo has best user experience of any DVR. Functionality of the Tablo DVR can be added to system with accessories. On paper, it’s the best solution with the most flexibility and most functionality of any option. This is because the Tablo device does not connect to any TV and instead is designed to stream content to other devices. The processor of the Bolt is faster than other DVRs, so responsiveness is improved. Has ability to output 4K. TiVo has best user experience of any DVR.
Top Reasons to Stay Away Has less features than other options. Not many streaming apps built into system (although there are plans to add more in the future) and does not support streaming recorded content to other devices. Must buy a whole new device for each TV. Must buy a Roku Stick ($50) in order to get Sling TV and a TiVo Stream ($140) to get content streamed to your computer or mobile devices. This adds $190 of expense to the total cost if you want to match the functionality of the Tablo 4-Tuner DVR. Has most technical issues of all options (which is why it has low Amazon customer reviews). When it works, it’s great. But there are bugs reported by people with crashing, freezing, and connection issues. Must buy into the TiVo ecosystem of devices (TiVo Minis and TiVo Streams) in order to gain additional functionality and add to extra televisions. The Bolt isn’t designed specifically for OTA antenna signals, so you pay extra for the cable capabilities built into the device.

 

Channel Masterdvr_channelmaster_small TiVo Roamio OTAdvr_tivoroamio_small Tablo 2-Tunerdvr_tablo_small TiVo Boltdvr_tivobolt_small
Set-Up Cost For
One TV
$350
($300 unit bundle
+ $50 hard drive)
$400 $500
($200 unit bundle +
$50 hard drive +
$150 lifetime subscription
+ $50 Roku Stick)
$850
Set-Up Cost For
Two TVs
$700
($300 unit bundle
+ $50 hard drive) x 2
$525
($400 Roamio Unit
+ $125 TiVo Mini)
$550
($200 unit bundle +
$50 hard drive +
$150 lifetime subscription
+ $50 Roku Stick x 2)
$925
($850 Bolt Unit
+ $125 TiVo Mini)
Set-Up Cost For
Three TVs
$1050
($300 unit bundle
+ $50 hard drive) x 3
$650
($400 Roamio Unit
+ $125 TiVo Mini x 2)
$600
($200 unit bundle +
$50 hard drive +
$150 lifetime subscription
+ $50 Roku Stick x 3)
$1050
($825 Bolt Unit
+ $125 TiVo Mini x 2)
Average Amazon Customer Review 4.3 out of 5.0 4.3 out of 5.0 3.6 out of 5.0 4.2 out of 5.0
Number of Tuners (i.e. how many shows you can record at once) 2 4 2 4
Top Resolution 1080p 1080p 1080p 4K
Need Device For Every Television? Yes Must buy TiVo Mini for each additional TV ($125). TiVo Mini can control main unit, stream from main unit, but cannot record or store shows. Must buy Roku Stick for each additional TV ($50). Roku Stick cannot record shows though and only streams content from main device. Must buy TiVo Mini for each additional TV ($125). TiVo Mini can control main unit, stream from main unit, but cannot record or store shows.

 

Channel Masterdvr_channelmaster_small TiVo Roamio OTAdvr_tablo_small Tablo 2-Tunerdvr_tivoroamio_small TiVo Boltdvr_tivobolt_small
Supports Netflix? No, but could buy
Roku Stick ($50)
Yes Yes Yes
Supports Amazon Prime? No, but could buy
Roku Stick ($50)
Yes Yes Yes
Supports Hulu? No, but could buy
Roku Stick ($50)
Yes Yes Yes
Supports HBO Go? No, but could buy
Roku Stick ($50)
Yes Yes Yes
Supports Sling TV? Yes No, but could buy
Roku Stick ($50)
Yes No, but could buy
Roku Stick ($50)
Stream media from Computer to TV? No, but could buy
Roku Stick ($50)
Yes Yes Yes
Stream Recorded Shows to Tablets & Cell Phones? Must buy Slingbox ($300) Must buy TiVo Stream ($140) Yes Yes
Stream Recorded Shows on Computer (at home)? Must buy Slingbox ($300) Must buy TiVo Stream ($140) Yes Yes
Stream Recorded Shows on Computer (outside of home)? Must buy Slingbox ($300) Must buy TiVo Stream ($140) Yes Yes
Works with Cable TV? No No No Yes
Remote Type IR (which means the remote must be in sight of unit to work) RF (which means that remote doesn’t need to be in sight of unit to work) IR (which means the remote must be in sight of unit to work) RF (which means that remote doesn’t need to be in sight of unit to work)



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