I’ll never forget being mocked as a kid for the massive TV antenna perched upon our roof. The presence of such, of course, did a much better job of broadcasting our home’s lack of cable TV than it ever did of receiving channels. I’ll also never forget my dad proudly tearing it down while the cable technician was still wiring our home for thirteen glorious channels of Gilligan’s Island reruns and that newfangled MTV channel.
Oy, how times have changed. Cable subscribers are abandoning ship in droves, and although a good many of those former subscribers are migrating to even newer-fangled streaming online sources, a good chunk of them (the ones who still enjoy actually watching TV on a TV) are returning to the tried-and-true antenna, which, oddly enough, looks better than cable ever did.
But what about the DVR and on-the-fly pausing, rewinding, and fast-forwarding that cable got us hooked on? Channel Master has an app for that. Well, a lot of apps, actually, all built into its new Channel Master TV.
Channel Master TV comes equipped with a 320 gigabyte hard drive, allowing you to store up to 35 hours of over-the-air HD content, and up to 150 hours of standard-def via satellite. The box will come with all the same time-shifting capabilities you’re used to, and even includes a free program guide. In addition, Channel Master has partnered with VUDU to ensure that you’re never left wanting for a movie to watch.
I had the chance to check out the Channel Master TV at a super clandestine meeting at CEDIA last week, and there’s plenty to love about it. For one, the video quality is darn-near flawless with over-the-air content. The free program guide is a weensy bit lacking for someone like me who likes to look at a couple of weeks’ worth of content at a time, but Channel Master is also offering a deluxe program guide (on par with what you’d get from TiVo) for $99 a year.
The coolest thing about the Channel Master TV in my book? I don’t have to sift through fifty channels of the sports to find something worth watching. The downside, as I see it? No Discovery Channel. Then again, given the access to VUDU Apps, there’s still plenty of Discovery Channel content to be had for free, on top of access to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and special content from CNN, NOVA, MTV, and oodles of other providers. There’s also a handy front-mounted USB port so you can hook up your wireless keyboard for browsing all this content.
The Channel Master TV will be available in November for $399, and while that sounds like a chunk of change, consider the $80 a month you won’t be paying for cable. You’ll still need broadband internet connection for the over-the-top content (the device comes equipped with three 802.11n antennae on the back, along with an ethernet port), though, and a DTV-capable antenna is required. (I’m sure Channel Master would be happy to sell you one if you don’t have one already.)
Channel Master TV