When you break free from cable TV, it means having to give your DVR (Digital Video Recorder) back to your cable company. The good news is that cord cutters have many excellent options to choose from when replacing their old cable company’s DVR. Many of these new DVRs offer more, and better, features than your old one.
There is an upfront cost to buying a DVR, however, if you consider the fact that your cable company is charging you approximately $10 per month to rent their DVR, you realize you will be saving $120 every year in DVR fees when you cancel cable! So, don’t let the startup cost of purchasing a new DVR scare you away.
Why even get a DVR? Many of the most watched shows are on networks like Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC — all of which offer a free, over-the-air HD option for most Americans. With a DVR, you can record your favorite shows, or catch a quick replay of an amazing catch during a football game. DVRs are a great way to cancel cable and still get all the content you want to watch.
There are currently three big names in the DVR world for Cord Cutters: Tablo, TiVo, and Channel Master. They each have pros and cons, so choosing the best one for you really depends on what you’re hoping to get from your DVR.
Here is a quick overview of each brand:
Tablo DVRs are first-rate, especially if you travel frequently. Their premium subscription service offers you the ability to connect your laptop or tablet to your home Tablo DVR and remotely watch live or recorded content. This ability to take your home TV with you as you travel really makes the Tablo stand out.
Tablo also works as a great whole home DVR, but you do need a streaming box like Roku, or Fire TV, to access your content throughout the house.
* Streams your content to any Roku or Fire TV in your house
* Streams your content to any connected laptop or tablet around the world
* Supports external hard drives for recording shows
* Must have an external hard drive to record shows
* No pass-through to your TV requires you have a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, AppleTV (which uses AirPlay from an iPad), or a Chromecast dongle (casting from an Android device or Chrome browser)
Why buy a Tablo DVR?
If you want all your streaming apps and TV on one device through a Roku, Fire TV, Android TV, etc., the Tablo may be the DVR for you. There is no need to switch sources between devices because live TV, and your streamed content, will come through one device.
TiVo is kind of the granddaddy of DVRs. Many current DVRs are built off technology and user interfaces that TiVo pioneered. If you want a DVR that is very similar to the one your old cable provider supplied, a TiVo is the DVR for you.
* Great user interface
* Easy to use with excellent features
* Can stream to other rooms in the house
* Monthly fee or high life-time bill
Why buy a TiVo DVR?
If you want something simple and familiar to use, a TiVo may be the right device for you.
Most DVRs require a monthly subscription if you want more than a day or two of channel guide information. If you are looking for something that is 100% free after you buy it, the Channel Master is the DVR for you. With no monthly fees, and built in streaming apps like YouTube, the Channel Master is a great DVR for cord cutting.
* No subscription fee with 14 days of free channel information
* No additional device needed
* Supports several streaming services
* Netflix and other popular streaming servers are not supported
Why buy a Channel Master DVR?
If your main priority is a DVR that offers a channel guide without charging an additional monthly fee, or life-time subscription, the Channel Master may be the DVR for you.
All of the DVRs we’ve covered here are good. Chances are, one of the three we’ve talked about already stands out for you, making the decision of which one to get that much easier.
Whatever the case, the thing to remember is that cable and satellite TV don’t have the lock on ease of use or convenience. With your own DVR recording shows and saving them for viewing later when you have time, you get to cut the cord but keep the convenience.