One trick veteran cord-cutters have long employed is a tried and true over-the-air antenna, which plucks all those free broadcast channels out of the sky and pipes them into your home. But one antenna going into just one television leaves out every other device on which you routinely watch TV. That's where HDHomeRun comes in. You plug in an antenna, plug the HDHomeRun box into your network via Ethernet, then watch on just about any device you have. The question, then is which HDHomeRun box is best for you.
- The full smash: HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro
- The best tuner: HDHomeRun Connect Quatro
- The standalone DVR: HDHomeRun Servio
- 2 tuners, 1 DVR: HDHomeRun Scribe Duo
- Two tuners: HDHomeRun Connect Duo
- Low bandwidth: HDHomeRun Extend
- Coming eventually: HDHomeRun Prime 6
This is the whole enchilada. Four tuners. A 1-terabyte hard drive. Zero regrets. Well, except for the price, perhaps — it's hefty. But this gets you a great OTA streaming box and DVR in a single package — something we've wanted from HDHomeRun for the longest time.
If all you need is a really good OTA tuner that lets you share that sweet free TV across most of your devices — at home, or even away from your network via Plex — this is the box to get. It's got four tuners which probably will cover all your needs. But if not you can daisy-chain multiple boxes.
This is HDHomeRun's standalone DVR box, with 2 terabytes of storage. If you've already got an HDHomeRun box and don't need additional tuners, this is what you'll want, as it'll work with those existing devices. Or if you've got one of the new Scribe boxes, you can add a Servio to increase your storage.
If you know that you can get by with just two tuners — which allow you to watch and record two things at once, and watch on up to two devices at once — then this is the box for you. You'll get 1 terabyte of storage along with those two tuners but can always augment that with a Servio box if you need to.
This is the most basic version of the current generation of HDHomeRun Connect boxes. It has just two tuners, which is half as many as the Quatro. That means you'll max out by watching over-the-air TV on two devices at one time, though you could add a second Duo (or even a Quatro or Scribe) if you want to do things that way.
If for whatever reason your home network just isn't up to snuff and you just have to transcode to h.264 to make use of that lower bandwidth, this is the box for you. Otherwise, you'll be better off with one of the other boxes.
Choose wisely ...
There's really no wrong choice here. It's mostly a matter of how many devices you might want to watch OTA TV on at any one given time. If, say, you know you'll be using HDHomeRun while you're entertaining in a large home with lots of TVs, or with folks also watching on their phones or tablets at the same time, then perhaps a Quatro is the way to go. Or if you're flying solo, then perhaps a Duo will get things done.
The other question is whether you'll want some easy recording capability. You can still use network-attached storage (NAS) and a Plex account to record, but the new Scribe and Servio boxes are all-in-one solutions that should make saving your favorite broadcast shows so much easier.
The one caveat to all this comes into play if you're using Roku. Because most of the HDHomeRun boxes stream the native MPEG-2 streams (which means more bandwidth is needed on your home network because there's less compression), they don't play nicely with Roku devices. That's just a thing.
One last thing to note: If you snag a Scribe or Servio box, you get a year's worth of free DVR service. (Which costs $35 annually otherwise.)
Beyond that? Pick the HDHomeRun box that's best for you. Or combine them! You can plug multiples into your system to watch all the things.
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