The Channels app for Fire TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and Fire TV Edition televisions has just received its biggest update since it first arrived in the Fire TV appstore earlier this year. The big new feature with this update is full support for the Channels DVR service that was previously only available on the Apple TV. This allows owners of HDHomeRun networked tuners to view and manage recordings of OTA antenna and digital cable channels directly from their Fire TV devices.
For those of you not familiar with the Channels app, it’s arguably the best way to view programming from an HDHomeRun networked tuner. An HDHomeRun is a small box that lets devices on your home network access your TV programming. If you have a cable subscription, you can get a cable card from your cable company and insert it into an HDHomeRun Prime to make all of your cable channels accessible to all of your devices. If you don’t have a cable subscription, you can connect an HD antenna to an HDHomeRun Connect and make all of your over-the-air channels accessible to all of your device. The Channels app is an interface to those HDHomeRUn channels that adds capabilities not available through the HDHomeRun app.
With just the Channels app, you can pause, rewind, and fast forward live channels streamed from an HDHomeRun. If you want to record those channels, you’ll need the Channels DVR service, which is what this update to the Channels app has added.
Channels DVR is an $8 per month service that is available in the US, UK, Canada, and Denmark. It works by installing a Channels DVR application on a computer or NAS, which is where your recordings will be stored. The DVR application can be installed on many different platforms including Windows and Mac computers, as well as Synology, QNAP, WD, Netgear, and Seagate NAS drives.
Once set up, the Channels DVR service allows you to schedule and manage recordings from any of your devices. It supports multiple tuners and lets multiple devices watching the same channel use only one tuner. It records in standard MPEG2 encoded .mpg files that can be viewed by any external player and also supports hardware transcoding. The DVR features a 21 day program guide with search that lets you easily configure records all airings of your favorite shows or just new airings.