If you are not familiar with the Channel Master DVR + its an Over the Air Digital Video Recorder you connect to a digital antennae to view and record television channels.
It does this all without the need of a paid subscription service. We recently got our hands on one and tested it out. We found that not only was it easy to setup but is also easy to use. The DVR itself is the smallest DVR we have ever tested.
It is very thin and compact but at the same time feels very sturdy due to the metal casing.
The box is only about 1/2 inch tall and roughly 13 x 11 inches in size. The front of the box has the IR Receiver, Status LED and power/reset button. The backside has all the connections needed for external devices, network, input and outputs. As you see above it only comes with an HDMI output. This should not be a problem though because we are talking about an HD TV experience and all HD TV's come with HDMI support.
You do need to have an OTA antennae. You don't have to use any special one but Channel Master does manufacture several different ones that work great with the DVR+.
In our tests we used their SMARTenna which comes with a table top stand for indoor use and a mounting bracket for use. In our tests we used the antennae indoors and it worked fine but you can mount it outside or even in your attic if needed.
Installation is very quick and easy. Simple connect your antennae to the input and the HDMI cable to the DVR + and your TV. You don't even need to connect an ethernet cable to get going.
Once you fire up the Channel Master DVR+ for the first time it takes you through 5 basic steps to gather the information needed. You use the included remote control to set everything up Step one is selecting the language and country.
Step 2 is a scan of available channels
After the above reminder to make sure you have connected it properly the DVR+ will scan for available channels.
As you can see in our case it found 59 total channels
The next step is really not even a setup step. It's a reminder that you can access VUDU if you are connected to the internet.
Step 5 is setting up the Zip code, and time settings. This too is also done using the included remote control. You first enter your zipcode and time zone
Then you are shown the date and time so you can check if correct.
If correct then you select continue and you are done.
Select Finish and you are ready to watch and record TV. That's all there is to it. If you are wondering about picture quality a lot depends on your reception but here are a couple of screen shots to give you an idea.
This is a screen shot with the closed captioning turned on. Yes, it is included in the DVR+ you do not need to turn on CC on your TV.
Here is an example with the channel info at the bottom.
As you can see both are very sharp, crisp images. Also, if you are wondering if the Channel Master DVR+ is compatible with the Slingbox, yes it is.
All screen shots shown above were taken using the DVR+ connected to a Slingbox 500 and the SlingPlayer program.
The Slingplayer also already comes with an included remote control setup with the remote shown below Next up in part two of our review....
Setting up the network connectivity, external hard drive support and recordings. In the mean time check out the basic specifications.
System • Advanced System on Chip (SOC) • DRAM: 1,024MB • Storage/Memory: 16GB Flash
Tuners • 2 ATSC Tuners
Audio/Video • Video Resolutions: 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i • MPEG-4 part 10 high profile L4.0 video decoder • HDTV output: SD & HDTV Decode • Aspect Ratio: 16:9, 4:3 • Audio: Dolby Digital Plus & PCM Audio Support
Front Panel • User dimmable bi-color power/status LED • Wide range IR sensor • Power/Standby button
Rear Panel • Tuner Input Connector – 75ohm Female F-Type • 2 x USB – 2.0 host ports – Type A • HDMI – 1.3a port (with HDCP 1.3) • Mini TOSLINK – S/PDIF (Optical) • RJ45 - 10/100Base – T Ethernet Port • 3.5mm jack (TRS) – IR Extension Port
Remote Control • Supports IR extender • Built-in remote code database
Channel Master website: http://www.channelmaster.com/