Channels, the popular Apple TV app for viewing and time-shifting live television, has arrived on the 3rd generation Amazon Fire TV. Paired up with an HDHomeRun, the Channels app lets you pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV. It also offers a full grid program guide, surround sound, and much more.
SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun networked tuners are great devices that allow you to access your over-the-air or cable TV channels from all sorts of devices, but if you’re not thrilled using their official Fire TV app, you now have a great alternative with the newly released Channels app by independent developers Aman Gupta and Jon Maddox. The app provides a beautiful interface to browse all of the content available to you.
A classic grid program guide in the app shows you what is on now and what will be on in the future. Content information, along with images, is displayed at the top of the guide. You can mark channels as favorites to easily browse only the channels you watch most.
Impressively, the app touts that it can tune into channels in less than 1 second, providing true channel surfing. It can pause live TV and provide rewind and fast forward functionality with around a 90-minute buffer. Pressing the right button skips ahead 30 seconds and pressing left jumps back 7 seconds, both of which are configurable. You can also bring up the timeline and scrub through the current program or press down to see what else is currently on.
The Channels app costs $24.99, which may seem like a lot to pay for a Fire TV app, but considering it’s a one-time price with no subscription fees, it’s pretty reasonable. The HDHomeRun and Tablo TV apps, two similar services, both require subscriptions for premium features that are present in the Channels app.
Unfortunately, the Channels app is only available for the pendent-style Fire TV 3. The app’s developers tell me it’s because the MPEG2 hardware decoder in older Fire TV and Fire TV Stick models cannot effectively deinterlace 1080i broadcasts, resulting in interlacing artifacts and a poor viewing experience. They tell me a recent software update added deinterlacing support to the Fire TV 3. If the same support comes to older Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks, they’ll consider releasing Channels to additional devices.
The Apple TV version of Channels supports a DVR feature that uses a local PC or NAS to store recordings. That feature is not yet available for the Fire TV but it will be coming soon. DVR support will cost $8 per month with no commitment. Channels is compatible with HDHomeRun models: PRIME, EXTEND, EXPAND, CONNECT, CONNECT DUO, and CONNECT QUATRO.