SiliconDust simplifies DVR service with two new HDHomeRun devices that store and serve recordings

SiliconDust, makers of the HDHomeRun line of network tuners, have announced a pair of new DVR devices at CES 2019 that give the Amazon Fire TV Recast and Tablo DVRs a serious run for their money. The all-new HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is an all-in-one solution that combines a pair of over-the-air tuners with a 1 TB DVR hard drive for recordings. It merges all of SiliconDust’s existing OTA services and features into a single sleek device that will surely become the best first device to buy for anyone entering the HDHomeRun ecosystem of cord-cutting solutions, all while maintaining the flexibility that differentiates HDHomeRun from competing DVRs. For new or existing HDHomeRun users, SiliconDust has also announced the HDHomeRun SERVIO, which adds 2 TBs of DVR storage to any HDHomeRun setup, while simultaneously eliminating the need to have a PC or NAS as your DVR server.

SiliconDust has long sold both over-the-air and cable card network tuner boxes, under the HDHomeRun brand, which allow customers to stream channels from an HD antenna or cable subscription to all of their media players, Like Fire TVs, and connected devices, like smartphones. More recently, they added a DVR solution to the mix by providing software that could be installed on a PC or network attached storage (NAS) device, which served as the storage location for recordings. While the setup worked fine, it could be cumbersome to configure and required always keeping your PC on or investing in complicated NAS devices.

HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO (top) & HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (bottom)

The new HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is out to simplify everything into a single all-in-one device. I sat down with SiliconDust’s CEO Theodore Head at CES, who gave me an overview of the new devices. The HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO looks nearly identical to the existing HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, but is slightly wider and longer. It’s impressively tiny considering the majority of its size is taken up by a standard hard drive. Around back is a coax connection for an over-the-air antenna, a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port, and a power port.

Inside the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO are the same 2 tuners that you’d find in the HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, as well as a 1 TB spinning 2.5″ hard drive for storing DVR recordings. With the one new device, you can watch or record any 2 channels. No external device or software, other than something like a Fire TV to run the HDHomeRun app, is required to watch OTA channels and record content. The 1 TB drive is enough to store 150 hours of HD OTA video from an antenna or 1,000 hours of streaming video from one of the 45 cable channels included in the optional HDHomeRun Premium TV subscription service. The large storage capacity difference between the two content sources is due to OTA content being stored at full uncompressed MPEG-2 quality and streaming content being stored in the already compressed format that it arrives in.

HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (left) & HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO (right)

If 2 tuners aren’t enough, customers can simply add an additional HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, to gain 2 more tuners, or an HDHomeRun QUATRO, to gain for more tuners, to their setup. The system is very flexible and will automatically adapt to what ever devices are configured. Whether channels are being recorded through the tuners in the SCRIBE DUO or the regular DUO, they’ll automatically make their way to the SCRIBE DUO’s internal 1TB drive.

It’s even possible to add a second HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO to gain both another pair of tuners and another 1TB of storage space. SiliconDust’s solution stands out as being the most flexible DVR system, which can be tailored to each customer’s needs with additional hardware as necessary. Regardless of how many tuner devices or storage devices are added to one’s configuration, the software will automatically adapt to recognize the additional tuner availability and storage capacity.

HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (top) & HDHomeRun SERVIO (bottom)

If adding additional DVR storage is all that is needed, SiliconDust has also announced a second new device called the HDHomeRun SERVIO which has a 2 TB hard drive inside, but no tuners. The HDHomeRun SERVIO is identical in shape and size to the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO, but does not have a coax connection on the back, because there is no tuner inside. The SERVIO can be added as a companion tot he SCRIBE DUO to expand the setup to 3 TBs of total DVR storage that will hold 450 hours of OTA content or an astounding 3,000 hours of HDHomeRun Premium TV content.

The HDHomeRun SERVIO does not require an HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO, as it can be added as a companion to any existing HDHomeRun device to add DVR functionality with its 2 TBs of storage. HDHomeRun owners with only live tuner access and no recording capabilities can add the single HDHomeRun SERVIO to gain DVR capabilities, without needing to ever link up a PC or NAS. For customers who do already have a PC or NAS being used for DVR storage, the entire system is flexible enough to where you can continue using the PC or NAS for storage and added a SERVIO for additional storage. Essentially, any combination of tuner-only devices (like the existing line of HDHomeRun models), tuner+storage devices (like the new HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO), and storage only devices (like the new HDHomeRun SERVIO, PCs, or NASs) can be mixed and matched and it will all just work as expected.

HDHomeRun SERVIO (left), HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO (middle), & HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, (right)

Just as with HDHomeRun’s existing DVR solution, which uses a PC or NAS, running a DVR setup with either of the new devices being announced will require a subscription to HDHomeRun’s DVR service. This service costs $35 per year, which pays for things like program guide data, but SiliconDust is including a free year with the purchase of either new DVR device. If you buy both new devices, or multiples of either one, the free years of DVR service will stack together so that you receive the full free benefit. For customers who are already subscribed to the DVR service, buying any of the new devices will also stack on top of your existing subscription to extend it by a year.

The HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO, which includes 2 tuners, 1 TB of DVR storage, and 1 free year of DVR service will cost $199 and the HDHomeRun SERVIO, which includes no tuners, 2 TB of DVR storage and 1 free year of DVR service will cost $149. Remember, the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is fully functional on its own for watching and recording, but the HDHomeRun SERVIO is strictly an add-on device that requires the presence of any of SiliconDust’s other HDHomeRun models for the SERVIO to act as a DVR. Both devices are already in production and are expected to be released in April with pre-orders starting in March.

Compared to the Amazon Fire TV Recast, other than being a fraction of the size, the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO is $30 less expensive than the base Recast model and includes twice the storage, which is an impressively great value. If you were to insist on 4 tuners, things aren’t as good for SiliconDust’s solution. You would need an HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO and an HDHomeRun CONNECT DUO, which would cost $20 more than the 4 tuner Fire TV Recast model. Both solutions offer 1 TB of storage. Also keep in mind that the Fire TV Recast does not require a subscription, whereas the HDHomeRun DVRs require a $35 annual subscript after the first included free year ends.

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27 comments
  1. InIrons says:

    Wow impressed with the Servio from what is mentioned in the article, would be nice to not have to run my workstation server but I have to have remote access. Looking forward to what Silicondust comes out with.

  2. Calvin says:

    I’d be interested in this OTA solution if there was Roku support. Without that it’s a big no for me.

    • Michael says:

      Silicon Dust hardware is used via it’s FREE HDHomeRun app or the Channels App or even the Plex App on newer AppleTV, FireTV or Roku streaming devices. It’s also functional on personal computers and mobile devices. Oddly I found the article does not mention the fact that Silicon Dust makes a 4 tuner product called the Connect Quatro. I have 3 of those connected to my antenna, have set up my own computer to act as DVR and use a USB 8 Terabyte drive to record shows. I also am a subscriber to their premium cable shows. The best part is the guide for over the air and cable channels are in one interface.

      • Scott says:

        Having only the one interface/DVR is the key advantage compared to Recast.Its very simple and convenient if you also pay for their streaming service combined with OTA. Until Amazon offers a streaming package this combo will be hard to beat IMO

  3. garysb007 says:

    The “Catch” is the 1 year DVR service is “Free”…which means next 7 years will cost….What?….Surprise Surprise Surprise!

  4. Michael Bullerdick says:

    It’s interesting this article makes no mention of the 4 tuner (Connect Quatro) Silicon Dust sells. I have a total of 3 of those for an aggregate of 12 tuners for over the air and subscribed cable channels. I use my own 8 terabyte USB 3 drive ($129 on sale at a wholesale club) connected to a Mac to DVR MPEG2 format broadcasts. (I recorded a boatload of Christmas shows and have offloaded those to another drive until the season arrives this year.)
    We use Apple and Android mobile and streaming devices including Amazon Fire, AppleTV, and Roku. I tested the interface of all to please hesitant household members. The free HDHomeRun app is available on most devices. Plex, Channels App and even Emby are other apps allowing you to view content from OTA and premium HDHomerun content.
    As for DVR side, $35 A YEAR for the guide and huge flexibility where to store DVR content beats out other DVR services. Those services want to charge $9 a month but have size or retention limits. Having the DVR content stored on your local network is also a plus as money hungry internet providers don’t always have reasonably priced unlimited plans or charge more of a premium. DVR content that is remote is still streaming especially if one does not configure an over the air antenna for local stations.
    All of that said, options are different in every market. One has to find what works and get the best bang for the buck. I always start off conversations to say, don’t cut the cord until you know and have test driven your options first. Get an antenna for truly FREE TV…see what reliable signals you get on at least one TV with that antenna both day and night, in all kinds of weather. Augment the antenna with a premium package of your choice for the number of TVs and people in your household. Know that features and access to them work in a way slightly different from your old TV providers. After viewing something, be sure to exit an app to make sure you don’t continue to stream internet content or use bandwidth on your own local network. Hardwire devices as much as possible. Wi-FI and Bluetooth, along with home smart power meters, do emit radiation.

  5. Len Mullen says:

    Hope this hardware is better than the dual channel DVR they made for Real Simple Software…

  6. Charlie says:

    Hopefully the new device isn’t a tiny, fly-weight, of particularly unimpressive physical design like the some of the newer ones.

  7. tim says:

    where is the HD HomeRun Prime !?!?!?!?

    • InIrons says:

      I beleive you can connect the Prime to the Servio and use that as DVR.
      Not sure yet, but I can use my HDHomeRun Prime with every client software (except HDHomeRun Premium TV which is an addon) that uses HDHomeRun Tuners so I would think it would work.

  8. Mike says:

    I don’t really see the point of DVR’s anymore. Practically any show is available for streaming anytime you want to see it. I use Cinema HD, Morph TV, TV Zion, everythings there. Why should I record it?

  9. AR says:

    i have never in all my years seen a company THIS bad at marketing
    “give fire TV recast a run for it’s money” LOL yeah right no alexa
    support and still can not make heads or tails out of any of their crap

    no thank you , the only way this is good is if you want to use a cable card but if you are a cable cutter then what is the point anyways

    none of their products make any sense especially since the release of the recast ,why anyone would want this complicated garbage with paid subscription apps is beyond me

    their only marketing is through Lon Sideman and all it does is get people to see what a horrible confusing product lineup they offer,
    Amazon does ZERO marketing for the recast and yet i am still much more interested in that

    not sure i even care about a DVR really i just like that i can control my TV with alexa , the only thing on antenna worth watching is local news and that is all

    i like that i can have one antenna for all TV’s too besides that , meh
    if recast drops below $150 i will probably get one,the only thing i would ever need to DVR is local news everything else i can get through APK’s and more organized
    the only benefit is alexa control and being able to use one good roof/outdoor antenna and not needing to run coax to all my TV’s for it

    and SD does not have one of those things (alexa)

    are the homerun boxes the only products they sell? because if so then i can not see how they stay in business

  10. Kevin says:

    Any word on pricing or release date for the new products?

  11. Bobby says:

    No grid guide. No thank you. I love Silicon Dusts products, but no proper grid guide is a non starter for me personally.

  12. Brian says:

    Any idea how the Servio will work with the HDHomerun Extend which has an h.264 hardware transcoder built in? Will it record the smaller h.264 file instead of the Mpeg-2 stream?

  13. badbob001 says:

    I suspect the recast is much larger because it has more hardware to recode the video to h264, which is important since the recast also lets you view content away from home. I don’t think SD’s DVR service supports remote viewing.

    I would be more excited if they added a device to do realtime h265 encoding and streaming. I guess they can call it Decodio.

    Looks like SD’s products are converging to a unified flat square design. Anyone else think they would look great if painted different colors and placed sideways between bookends?

  14. Mark B says:

    And yet they still have the worst GUI of any DVR out there. My wife refuses to use it and I don’t blame her. Where”s the Normal Grid guide SD that everyone else has???

    • Lonster says:

      So use Plex or Kodi or Emby or Channels instead. I agree, SD’s front end software is not that exciting, fortunately it’s easy enough to for third parties to come up with better alternatives.

  15. gtstephenson@gmail.com says:

    I’m using the cable + cable card version of the tuner. I have a Synology NAS installed for the Silicon Dust program and for video. We watch recorded video via four Amazon Fire TV systems.
    I for one do not like the standard SD program guide. Worst feature is that programs set to record do NOT display run time or end time. I’m a sports nut. Missing the end of a good football game or tennis match really sucks.
    To deal with the program guide issue some enterprising individuals have created a proper grid guide that runs inside KODI. So one must do some cutting and pasting to make all that work on the Amazon Fire TV (because they don’t allow root access) but there is an image available that has all the appropriate adjustments pre-made.
    I use KODI when I want to add programs to record. I then go back to the Amazon Fire TV version of the viewer. I like the controls and is very responsive. Further, I can stop watching a show in the middle and go to another TV and the Fire TV opens to the exact place where I stopped watching.

    I would dump cable altogether and watch OTA shows but there are certain cable channels that my family reall want to see. (And I really don’t like the antenna atop my house).

    What’s next for SD? I would like them to design a box that could store certain shows that stream to the Fire TV.

    Good job Silicon Dust. Keep making improvements in your tuners.

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