Channels app for live TV viewing through an HDHomeRun arrives on the Amazon Fire TV

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.

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13 comments
  1. Mark B says:

    Unless you are watching football 1080i on Fire Tv sticks or 1 or 2 is really not that big a deal. IMHO that’s kind of a lan excuse to block the app on anything but Fire TV 3. I watch 1080i content every single day on 2 different Fire TVs and it is definitely not some sort of deal breaker. If the dev has a problem with 1080i then he should have added a Bob deinterlacer to his app etc. it’s easy to do and requires little CPU. You can test this right now with a HDhometun and Kodi.

    I think the only advantage of this app is the Grid EPG. From what I understand Plex is adding that soonish and the native HDHomerun app is due for an update as well. So if the majority of you out there who don’t own Fire TV 3″s are disappointed by this, don’t be, there are cheaper options out there for Grid EPG coming very soon.

    • Ryan says:

      I have found the interlacing issue to go beyond sports. PBS is definitely the first thing that comes to mind. I just use the Samsung TV app to view channels through the HDHomerun and it does all sports and channels just fine.

      Either way this is good news but I wont be buying the app.

    • OG Charlie says:

      It’s not 1080i that’s the problem, it’s that earlier Fire TVs don’t have native MPEG2 support. So they can’t natively do smooth playback of raw HDHomeRun streams. There’s a model of HDHomeRun that can transcode the MPEG2 to h.264

    • Richard says:

      I agree Mark and can confirm that MrMC also does a perfect job of deinterlacing 1080i OTA content on my 1st gen fTV.

  2. Masterblaster says:

    $24.99 + $8 per month DVR monthly fee adds up quickly.
    With 30 months service fees and initial app fee, you could have bought an Nvidia Shield TV with free software and DVR support with the Live Channels app. But I guess if wanted to give it a try, tell us your experience.

    • Jon says:

      I also think the monthly fee is too much. I wouldnt use a cloud based DVR even if it was an option, but then at least I would feel as if I was getting something for my monthly fee. To have to use your own storage and pay a monthly fee is outrageous in my opinion. Maybe they could get away with selling a pro version of this app with DVR support for a bit more, but I really do not think they will get a tun of subscribers.

      Regardless I am very happy with Kodi and my HDHomerun setup, it works on all my devices(including a FTV 2), has DVR, and is free. I have one of the earlier model HDHomerun’s so I do not think it is compatible with the app even if I did want to try it.

  3. Bobo says:

    Just the HDHomeRun app works on old firetvs

  4. Kevin W says:

    I find that for watching football, either MrMC or InstaTV Pro work well versus the HDHomeRun app on my 1st and 2nd generation Fire TV. I purchased a MPEG2 license for the Raspberry Pi years ago, not sure why that isn’t an option for Amazon to include hardware decoding.

    I don’t use my DVR all that much (SiliconDust) and I find their implementation adequate from a guide standpoint. Nothing too compelling here at these prices. They must be coming from the Apple universe where it is all magic and pixie dust so $24.95 is a bargain.

  5. Dave says:

    Why would someone pay $8/mo to record tv shows on their own local hard drive? What is the justification for that monthly fee?

  6. Hoosiertech says:

    $8 month for cloud stored DVR might be somewhat acceptable but if I’m using my own Hard Drive that fee is way out of line. The whole idea of cord cutting is to get rid of monthly subscription fees.

  7. Brian says:

    Looks to only be worth it for Apple Tv users. Since it’s the only game in town. I know they have to pay a provider for listings but seems a bit high. The cost of the app may be figuring in the rights to use the conventional tv guide.

    App
    Channels = 24.95
    HdHomerun = Free
    Tablo Free
    Plex DVR = Free currently requires Plex Pass

    Listings
    Channels DVR = $8/month $96/year
    Tivo = 14.99/month 1 year commitment $149.99/year
    Tablo = 4.99/month 49.99/year 149.99/lifetime
    Plex Pass = 4.99/month 39.99/year 119.99/ lifetime
    HdHomerun DVR = $35
    Schedules Direct (Listings info only) = $6/2 month $25/year

  8. Edward says:

    Is this the ONLY Fire TV app that can pause live TV (w/o requiring a DVR service) on Homerun ota Live TV? If so, that might make it worth the cost.

  9. fred says:

    I stick with the unofficial Pvr for Kodi at $35 a year, looks similar

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