Google’s Android TV has supported live channel viewing for a couple years now. The feature was mainly added for televisions that ship with Android TV as their main operating system, but it also works with set-top boxes, like the NVIDIA Shield TV, when teamed up with networked antenna tuners, like the HDHomeRun devices. SilconDust, the makers of HDHomeRun, have announced that they’ve worked with Google to support native DVR capabilities with Android TV’s live channels interface.
The new DVR feature allows the NVIDIA Shield TV and the Nexus Player to locally record content from an HDHomeRun CONNECT, EXTEND, or PRIME that exists on the same network. Content can be recorded to an external USB hard drive connected to the Android TV box. A minimum of 50GB is required, but a 500GB USB 3 drive is recommended.
If you have all the required hardware, and the latest Feb. 15 version of the Live Channels app, you’ll be able to record any live show and mark future shows to be recorded. If the Android TV box is asleep, it will automatically wake up to record scheduled shows.
There are several limitations in place at the moment that make this less than ideal, but it’s a nice start. Currently it only supports one networked tuner, and recordings can only be viewed on the same device that made the recording. Cable channels with DRM cannot be recorded, but it should work with all OTA channels. There is no option to pad recordings and the DVR does not recognize between recent and old airings.
While SiliconDust has collaborated with Google on this new feature, they advise customers to direct feedback and issues towards Google. This is likely because they have their own DVR solution, which is far more robust and feature rich, that works on many more devices, including the Amazon Fire TV through their recently updated app.
Due to its head start as a television operating system, Android TV has superior support for live channels and tuners than Amazon’s Fire TV operating system. Amazon’s announcement of Fire TV Edition televisions earlier this year does thankfully shows they’re moving towards this type of functionality. They have shown no indication of adding DVR functionality or of bringing tuner support to their set-top boxes, but hopefully this new feature from Google moves Amazon in that direction.