HDHomerun Duo

When it comes to getting over-the-air content — a decidedly old-school way of transmitting video — onto your new-school TV, HDHomerun is one of the easiest ways to do it. You plug in an antenna, plug in some Ethernet cable, load up an app, and you're good to go.

But that doesn't mean you don't have to make a decision. There actually are four products in the HDHomerun family.

The question is which one's right for you.

Let's rap.

Our top pick: HDHomerun Connect Duo and Quatro ($99, $139)

These two HDHomerun boxes are basically the same. HDHomerun Duo (which runs $99) has two tuners inside. That means you can watch two channels at the same time. Quatro (which retails at $149) doubles that, so you can watch different channels on as many as four TVs at the same time.

So which one is right for you depends on how many devices you think you might be using simultaneously. If you think you might have more than a couple of TVs in use at the same time — or if you're going to throw a computer or tablet or phone into the mix — go ahead and pick up a Quatro.

I'd recommend just snagging a Quatro up front, especially if you have more than two TVs that you'll be using, even if you think you might not be using them at the same time.

HDHomerun Extend ($179)

This basically is an HDHomerun Duo, but with some extra hardware built in for transcoding the video stream.

What's transcoding and why does it matter? Duo and Quatro spit out video using the MPEG-2 standard. HDHomerun Extend converts that video stream to the H.264 standard before shooting it out to your devices.

To oversimplify things, MPEG-2 has better video quality — but it requires more bandwidth to get it. Streaming video in H.264 requires less bandwidth.

So if you've got an old network at home, Extend may be the way to go. But do keep in mind that there are only two tuners built into this box, and you'll be paying around $180 for your trouble. (At that price it might be worth just upgrading your network.)

HDHomerun Prime ($129)

This is where things get really interesting. (And admittedly it's not one with which I have any experience.) HDHomerun Prime ($129) has three tuners built in. But instead of using an OTA antenna to receive a signal, it uses a CableCard tied into a cable TV subscription.

As the name implies, it's a physical card that slides into a piece of hardware that lets it act a lot (but often not exactly) like the cable box you'd rent from a cable company. (If you're using TiVo, you might well be familiar with these CableCards.)

So slip a CableCard into a HDHomerun Prime and you can spit that cable TV service out to as many as three devices at once. It's not quite cutting the cord, but still very much wireless.

More boxes are on the way

That's a look at what you can currently purchase today. But SiliconDust has a couple more boxes coming out ... eventually.

HDHomerun Connect Duo+ will take the two-tuner format and add in a 250-gigabyte hard drive, which should make it a no-brainer for those who just have to have local DVR storage.

And HDHomerun Prime 6 will take the CableCard-capable Prime and double the number of tuners inside to 6, making it that much more powerful. It'll cost $199 when it's eventually released.



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The best over-the-air antennas

Who doesn't like free TV, right? And it turns out that in 2018 there's still plenty to watch — free and legal — if you've got a decent enough over-the-air antenna. For the cost of a decent meal at the Sizzler you can get an antenna that pulls in stations from dozens of miles away, piping free 1080i content straight into your TV.

All you have to do is pick the right one for you.

The best OTA antennas

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