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HDHomeRun DVR is a slick and simple way to record TV on Windows

HDHomeRun
HDHomeRun

In a recent post on the best DVRs for Windows users, a number of comments brought up the HDHomeRun option. As a happy HDHomeRun customer, somehow this product had completely escaped my attention.

Thanks to the Windows Central community and the good people at SiliconDust, we're now taking a proper look at it. It's simply known as the HDHomeRun DVR, and it's probably the easiest DVR to use if you already have a HDHomeRun (opens in new tab) tuner.

Setup ... or lack thereof

HDHomeRun

When you sign up to the DVR service you're emailed a link and an activation code. Essentially you just link your DVR account to your hardware and then everything works. There's a dedicated install app that takes the place of the regular HDHomeRun setup, but it's basically the exact same thing with added DVR settings.

If your HDHomeRun is already configured, all you need to do is point the program to a location to save recordings and hit finish. You can either record to a PC or to a network-attached storage (NAS) drive. The rest can be done within the Windows 10 app that you use to view live content.

It also works within the other official apps available for Mac, Android, and Android TV. You only need to install the main setup program once on one PC.

Recording shows

HDHomeRun

The DVR functionality is enabled within the same HDHomeRun app you've already been using. There are some new bits for you to explore and a shiny red record button that presents itself in the live TV window.

One of the benefits you get with the DVR subscription over just using the free HDHomeRun app is a 14-day guide that allows you to browse further into the future and set up your recordings and season-pass recordings ahead of time.

The Discover tab gives you a highly visual interface to browse what's on right now and what's up next, and then break it down further into TV, movies, and sports.

HDHomeRun

To set a recording, you select the show or movie you want and then you're given the times it's available to record from. Not only do you have control over what you're recording, but also when, which is a neat tool to have to maximize the use of the two tuners.

If you're watching something live that you like the look of, you have one-touch access to record it by hitting the big red button on the bottom bar.

It's important to note that while the DVR works with the HDHomeRun Prime, DRM-protected channels that can be viewed may still be excluded at this time from recordings.

DVR playback

HDHomeRun

When you've recorded shows, you'll be able to watch them back in any of the HDHomeRun client apps on your supported devices. They're handily displayed under the recordings tab and since you're streaming over the same local network as you use to watch live TV, performance is good.

Recordings are only as good as the channels you receive, but if you're getting a good signal you'll get great recordings. I recorded some samples from HD channels and was very pleased with the results.

What's also excellent in the HDHomeRun DVR is how well fast-forward works. On some other services, fast-forward can leave buffering, but not so here. For all intents and purposes, it's just like watching content on an actual DVR box under your TV.

Bottom line

HDHomeRun

For $35 a year (at least for now), the HDHomeRun DVR represents excellent value. The price will go up eventually, but it's still in development and you're getting a great deal on jumping into the early access. It's already a polished product that's insanely simple to use.

There's next to no setup if you're already using an HDHomeRun tuner (opens in new tab) on your network, and it's as close to plug-and-play as you'll get.

If you're already using something else, such as Plex DVR, you're probably not going to benefit much from switching. Especially if you're already using a service you pay for. But if all you want is a low-cost, easy-to-use DVR system for your home network, give this one a look.

See at SiliconDust

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

21 Comments
  • Still using HDHR tuners with WMC 8 running in a VM. Xbox 360 as an extender.
    No $35 fee.
  • Does you 360 have a relatively dark picture? Mine has gotten a very dark picture with very poor contrast. I wonder if its just mine or if I get another that it will fix it.
  • How do you connect the Xbox to tour TV?
    I would be surprised if HDMI darkened the picture.
    If you use Component, I would check the cables.
    Try resetting the picture to defaults if necessary.
  • How do you connect the Xbox to tour TV?
    I would be surprised if HDMI darkened the picture.
    If you use Component, I would check the cables.
    Try resetting the picture to defaults if necessary.
  • I'd suggest looking into Plex. It can handle local content, as well as live TV streams AND DVR.
  • Do you have drm protected channels working in your vm?
  • VM shouldn't make a difference.
    I do not do cable, so I haven't ever been able to test if DRM content is recordable.
  • Thanks i have seen issues reported a long time ago of play ready for DRM not working on vm of media center, that's why i asked 🙃
  • I got in on the Kickstarter a while back when Media Center was discontinued. A bit of a bumpy start, but I'm very happy with it now. I have the record engine running on a Synology NAS and can view my recordings on the XBox, Desktops, Surface Tablets, Android phone, etc. Sadly, I never could get the Windows Phone app to work even though its a W10 UWP app. 
  • Dos this tuner work outside the UK, such as Australia?
  • Best to check out their website but I believe Australia is supported. Not all of their products will, but I think the Connect is pretty widely available at least.
  • Cool, where does the guide you pay subscription for come from?
    Is it from the signal or does silicon do their own editing?
  • Silicon Dust had their chance to implement a proper DVR - I think they've failed.  For the amount of time they've been working on this, the current product is really lacking.  When I had last used it , the interface was funky, time shifting was not supported, crashed all the time, heck installing the DVR component itself is a comlete pain in the arse. Now that Plex has introduced their own OTA DVR, there is zero reason to use Silicon Dusts DVR.  The Plex implementation still needs work, but they've just started, and I am more confident in the Plex devs delivering a better product than Silicon Dust ever will.  Plex now is at a point where I no longer have to weep because of the loss of Windows Media Center and its a great replacement for it. Silicon Dust makes great hardware and should stick to that.  The only thing I will continue to use from Silicon Dust are their Live Viewer plugins, until Plex implements it properly in their server.
  • Anyone using the universal app been able to go full screen? Prior to the app going to the Windows store I was able to go "full" screen where only the feed would show. The universal app has a top and bottom border and shows the windows task bar. Anyone got it to go full screen?
  • Yes, full screen works for me. You have to click on the icon with two squares on it, on the bottom toolbar.
  • Thank you very much. I was not looking at that. 
  • i need some thing with an hdmi in for my BeinSports box
  • Still love Media Center on Windows 7, but its days are definitely numbered. I will most likely use Silicon Dust option when I do need to (with Win10), but for now Windows Media Center is a great experience and free.
  • Why are you running it on Windows7 instead of 8.1.
    The improved backend stuff in 8.1 would definitely improve your experience in hardware and things like intel clearvideo, HDMI A/V.
  • My experience with Media Center in Win 8 was terrible.  I forget the exact issues, but I know I could not use it.  And I had to purchase the add on a second time when I reset the computer.  Windows 7 works great for me aside from occassionally hanging up for a minute or two when opening the guide.  
  • I had the add on issue too when Windows 8.1 came out.
    If your key doesn't work, you phone MS and they issue a new one free. Since then if i reset factory settings in Settings App, it keeps the activation.
    Try 8.1, it's the better system even visually... Lockscreen is better, UEFI etc.