Cutting cable or satellite TV is becoming increasingly popular, and one way to do just that is to use a device such as SiliconDust's HDHomeRun. Watching TV over the web is good, but if the connection fails you have nothing to watch.
The HDHomeRun takes your over-the-air (OTA) TV channels and routes them through your local wireless network, so if the web part goes down you can still watch TV. And HDHomeRun supports Windows 10 with an official app.
Setup is easy
It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish to get your HDHomeRun up and functioning, and it only requires the contents of the box and your PC.
To show you just how easy we've got a full start-up guide for you linked below.
Official and universal
Chalk this one up as a win for Windows 10, because while Apple's iOS doesn't have an official app, Windows 10 does.
And it's universal.
Windows 10 Mobile users aren't left out in the cold, and they can download the same app for phones as well as PCs. The experience is the same ... but different. (More on that below.)
On a PC, it is great
The app is very simple, and all it really does is let you watch TV. How many channels you can view, and in what quality, will vary depending on where you are and how good your Wi-Fi network is.
YOu can watch TV windowed or full screen, it doesn't matter, and a click anywhere will bring up the channel bar. HDHomeRun uses the web to generate full programming information, so you can see thumbnails and what's currently playing at a glance.
To view what's on next, you click on the white arrow that presents itself when you hover your mouse over a channel. The box will expand, only for that channel, and give you the information you seek.
To see all the channels, you simply scroll and select. Closed captions and rudimentary sound options are present, but all-in-all it's a simplistic approach to viewing live television.
And it's brilliant. But it's not perfect.
On a phone, it's frustrating
The HDHomeRun app is universal, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's been designed with touch in mind. The basic app functions are identical to on PC, as is the picture quality. But there's one huge elephant in the room that makes it almost unusable at times.
It's hit or miss, and it's sometimes impossible to scroll through your list of channels. So you can't actually view anything beyond the first five channels unless you get lucky. It seems to respond occasionally, and then you have to keep going until it stops again.
Hopefully, this issue will get fixed, because everything except that about the HDHomeRun is first rate.
HDHomeRun doesn't only let you watch live TV. It can hook into a number of online platforms, such as Plex, to feed a DVR so you can record the same channels to watch offline at your leisure. None of this functionality is built into the official app, but it's yours to explore. (Stay tuned to Windows Central for more related posts.)
SiliconDust is also working on its own DVR for HDHomeRun, and you can try it out right now if you're willing to pay for a $60 subscription to get in on the early access trial. When properly launched, the service will only cost $30 a year, which is pretty reasonable.
The fact that iOS doesn't have an official app for HDHomeRun gives us a warm glow as we're looking into our TV through a Windows 10 machine. The device is solid, the setup is easy and the viewing app is basic, but well done and functional.
Or it is on a PC, at least.
The mobile app is currently the only negative to what's otherwise a very strong piece of cord-cutting equipment. Hopefully SiliconDust can fix the software sooner than later.
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.
Serious question... Does it have to connect directly (as in wired) to the router? Or can the OTA aerial be in a different room and it connect wirelessly? I ask because my current aerial and phone lines are in different rooms which would mean trailing a long cable from one to the other if needs be.
It doesn't need to be plugged directly into the router, though it doesn't have it's own WiFi. Best this would be one of those powerline things that have an Ethernet port on each end. You can even get ones with a power pass-through and since this needs power anyway...
Does it have to connect directly (as in wired) to the router?No, but cable TV streams are less compressed than, say Netflix streams, and because the connection is one-way, there's no server for the client to tell to slow down a bit. Translation: you really DO NOT want a 20 to 30 Mb/s firehose dumped into your wireless bandwidth every time you use the device. I have mine physically wired into my network using GigE.
What jdrch mentioned about bandwith is absolutely correct. A US OTA (ATSC) channel transport stream is just under 20 Mb/s. That's a continuous data rate, too, not just bursts. Take having potentially 2 of those (since the HDHomeruns are dual tuner devices) streaming to the router, and then maybe streaming back to devices, and you can not only saturating wifi, but even older 100Base-T wired networks. SiliconDust makes a transcoding tuner called the HDHomerun Extend that reduces the bandwidth need. More expensive, and it doesn't have built in wifi either so you'd have to connect it to a bridge of some sort if you wanted wifi (more $) but it would be more doable. I've never had an extend, but there's another OTA device (Tablo) that comes in 2 and 4 tuner models and has built-in DVR functionality if you add a USB hard drive. I've been using one of these in place of my old WMC setup and have been pretty happy with it; it has Xbox One and Win10 apps (though not Win10M). Anyway, it will transcode ATSC streams on the fly to reduce bandwith with a range of quality/bandwidth settings. But even then, it's recommended to hardwire it if possible. Short answer - with network tuners, you really want to hardwire if at all possible.
Can't edit the above post, but wanted to clarify that the Tablo units do have built in wifi so you connect them wirelessly instead of hardwiring. But I'd still recommend hardwiring.
Any comment on the Xbox One app?
Run mine via Emby on Xbox One.
The real app isn't great then?
Its alright, does its' job and is the quickest option for changing channels etc. but not as good for guide and DVR functions.
I have the HDhomerun Prime which is the cable card version, I have had it for years originally for Windows Media Center. it works well, I have it on the PC, phone and Xbox, I am not a fan of the guide but its usable. as far as the comment on the phone its a little flaky to scroll the guide but using 2 fingers seems to work for me. Also I wish they could just tie into the built in one guide on the Xbox that would make it a must buy, you have their universal app but if the Xbox just treated it as a TV tuner it would be so much better. I am actually using Xbox Ones in 2 room as my cable box using this app and Plex .
No official app for iOS 😲
Why do we have another story on the same product written by the same author two days ago with no new information?
It's not the same article, large chunks of it are new content, he's gone into more detail about actual use now, before it was more of an intro.
I have no problem scrolling the list of channels on Lumia 950. You place your finger on the video, not the channel list, then scroll.
Yes, me too, and the picture is crystal clear on my 950. If only my 1520 hadn't died, the screen on that was amazing!
Does this work with a broad range of tuners like WMC or is it limited to one device? If it is limited to one device, after waiting all this time for MS to get their WMC replacement sorted out, it's going to annoy a whole load of customers (so the usual MS goal I suppose...). Really hoping they haven't decided to let us all down again.
You need a compatible app/application to receive the cast/control the tuner. HDhomerun have their own apps for some/most platforms, WMP works (kinda), Emby is UWP/iOS/Android/web, while Plex, XBMC etc. work with additional plug ins etc. Think WMC can be connected too. I've not tried this with WMC - I bought this with the specific purpose of trying to move beyond WMC... If that's what you're looking for - try this with Emby. It is a little slower to tune, but is still the only viable option I've found. Edit: If you're asking about multiple devices receiving - you can definitely use multiple devices concurrently, but I couldn't confirm whether two devices can watch the same stream (i.e. Two devices sharing one of the tuners while the second records or streams another).
Since it has no DVR, I'll stick with my Mediasonic Homeworx HW-150PVR. That has a USB port where you can connect storage for recording shows over the air. Only issue with it is a really clunky and hard to figure out at first user interface.
it has a DVR but you have to desigante a PC on your network for storage for that, then you can use the DVR from any PC, Phone or Xbox One on your network.
Yo Richard, one of the reasons I keep raising Emby is for this (and other reasons) - Full Live TV, PVR/DVR built in - perfect companion to this. Can recommend the HomerunHD, but (unfortunately) found it is much slower than using WMC with a tuner - #BringBackWMC etc.
Combine with plex DVR and it's awesome!
routes them through your local wireless networkThis is misleading. HDHomeRuns work on every LAN medium in existence. As long as the HDHR & the client are on the same LAN, it will work.
It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish to get your HDHomeRun up and functioning, and it only requires the contents of the box and your PC.Yeah if you're using the OTA model. If you're using the PRIME model for CATV, you'll have to set up installation appointment with your cable provider. The tech will provide, install, and activate the M-Card needed for it to work.
It'***** or miss, and it's sometimes impossible to scroll through your list of channels. So you can't actually view anything beyond the first five channels unless you get lucky. It seems to respond occasionally, and then you have to keep going until it stops again.Wow, on which phone model? I've had that problem on my GS5 and Shield K1 and thought it was just due to the hardware being slow.
Hopefully, this issue will get fixedWouldn't hold your breath. There was a time when SiliconDust released updates nearly monthly, but since they've focused on their DVR offering the main, free app(s) haven't been getting much love. For example, (DTCP-IP) protected playback on Android 7+ has been broken since the OS version was released, with no fix in sight.
This article made me revisit my old HDHomerun OTA dual tuner. It's one of the original white ones. I used it for years with WMC, but it was sitting idle (but still connected to network and antenna) for a while. I could have sworn that originally the HDHomerun app on Xbox and Win10 required their newer tuner models, but it turns out my old tuner is now compatible. And it looks like it's compatible with the Plex DVR, too I've been using a 4-tuner Tablo for some time. It's been working well, but every once in a while we run into a tuner conflict. Looks like I've got a couple of extra tuners to handle that now.
Might have to see if these tabloo units are available in the UK. Homerun is good, but personally finding it slow on the tuning and glitchy on some broadcasts.
My favorite solution for OTA is my AppleTV/MacMin/HDHomeRuns and the app Channels with the DVR option. Because of my location I have two antennas and two HDHomeRuns. The initial outlay was expensive, but eliminating cable it paid for itself quickly. With OTA I have a combined total of 115 channels (to be fair most are either shopping, religious or Spanish). I do not miss cable at all.
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