Cable TV is something I have always taken for granted. Personally, i’ve had it since I was a little kid. Nickelodeon, MTV, ESPN, VHI, and later Comedy Central, USA, and TNT – a smorgasboard of TV delight, at my fingertips.
Well, Adulthood happened. Cable TV is expensive. My bill is north of $150 dollars a month, and I don’t have premium services or channels. The inner bean counter in me says “cut services, save money” while the leisure minded me says “well, that about sports and your shows”? Meanwhile, the harried parent in me says “SESAME STREET! DONT FORGET ABOUT SESAME STREET!” while running around with his hair on fire.
Enter the HD HOME RUN HDTC-2US!
This device takes an OTA (over the air, read: free as beer) signal and converts it to allow you to watch TV on a bevy of devices like your Windows PC, an Android Phone, or even an XBox 360. It also supports many applications for viewing like Windows Media Center, MythTV, and two of this guy’s favorites: XBMC (XBox Media Center and VLC)
For testing purposes, we used the HD Home Run box and a garden variety HDTV antenna from a big box store that cost approximately 15 dollars.
My test computer is an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge with 8GB of RAM and a Radeon R5 Discrete Video card – a common power level for most desktop machines today. Our display was a 23″ Dell HD Monitor that displays natively in 1920×1080 – which will allow us to really see if it is truly HD quality.
Opening the box yields the HD HomeRun Box (reminiscient of a cable modem in size and shape), a Cat 5 cable, and a power adapter. It also has simple instructions:
1. Connect Antenna
2. Connect Network Cable
3. Connect Power
4. Go to my.hdhomerun.com to setup.
Simple instructions are a plus. Personally, I work with computer hardware and software all day so setup for me is a breeze, but I asked my wife to review the instructions; and she noted that they seemed concise and easy to follow.
Help and FAQ options are robust for questions people may have for setting up the device. I had a brief issue with sound that the FAQ was quick to solve.
For test purposes, I ran the setup for Windows Media Center, which took about 5 minutes to do, and yielded a nice interface. WMC also allows you to record live tv or set recordings, which is nice if you had a DVR
Testing was done on a Sunday (Football!) so local HD channels were tested:
HD Video feeds were crisp and clear on display.
I also tested VLC out for lovers of platform agnostic software like myself, and found that I wasn’t able to get it setup (VLC hangs at discovery of the tuners).
Recorded video in HD usually weighs in at about 5 to 5.5GB per hour of HD video.
Something not present with the device are built in apps like Netflix and Hulu. While including them in the device would be nice, in this sense the device was not made to handle everything but to augment.
The HD HomeRun tuner is a capable and easy to use device that gives you options for cutting the cord. I loved the ease of setup and the wide compatibility but found myself wishing for an ability to be able to see streamed TV outside my home network (without employing a complex VPN solution).
If you are looking to break up with Cable TV and still have a need to record live TV, the HD HomeRun HDTC-2US is a great choice.
The SiliconDust HDTC-2US can be had at Amazon for just a shade under $150.00 at the time of this writing.
I want to thank Craig T for taking the time to review the HD Home Run for us! Cutting the cord can be quite a confusing and scary process, but with some pre planning, you can feel less of a disconnected viewer, and more of an empowered consumer! As far as some of the other specs go, the HD Home Run is a dual tuner device that is very robust! You don’t need to have a computer to make it work, as you can stream LIVE broadcast over the air digital television to your iOS device like iPads, iPhones and more! Don’t worry the android folks are covered as well. I initially asked Craig T to review the HD Home Run because he’s one of the most technical guys I know. If it’s gets his seal of approval I know it’s good! So good in fact, we’re working to secure him one of these devices permanently! Special thanks go out to Silicon Dust who graciously allowed us to review there product!