ChannelMaster sent us a package that included their brand new Stream+ Media Player and OTA DVR and their (separately purchased) FLATenna 35. The Stream+ is a streaming media player and OTA DVR that works with all TV antennas on the market today. It offers an on-screen TV guide and allows users to pause, rewind and record live TV with no subscription fees. It is built on the Android TV™ platform, which also provides access to the Google Play™ store for installation of other TV-enabled apps.
The Stream+ comes with the streaming/DVR device itself, a power cord and a remote. It did not come with an HDMI cord, coaxial cord, SD card or an antenna. I was lucky enough to have those cables laying around, so I could continue with the installation. The device is very slick looking and would fit in nicely on anyone’s TV stand.
The FLATenna 35 is a separate purchase, and a very sturdy device that performed about as well as the Mohu or NoCable antennas I’ve tested in the same area. This version was not amplified, so I was not able to get a few of the hard-to-get channels in my area like ABC & CW.
Oddly enough, the FLATenna 35 also didn’t come with a coaxial cable. Most antennas available do come with one, but I can see why they may have thought a cable wasn’t necessary: every home is unique in setup. For example, while a 4ft coaxial cable may work in one home, another may need a 18ft length. Cable length was one of the harder decisions NoCable needed to make when putting together our own antennas. We initially decided on 10ft, then had to change to 12ft when some customers complained about needing longer. However, I am certain that the 12ft length is way too much for about half our customers, resulting in a “bundle” of cable that is left unused.
The Stream+ has a built-in digital tuner and TV guide. It also has a setup wizard takes full advantage of both to make an error-proof way of installing the antenna and scanning for channels.
The integrated TV guide only needs your zip code for setup, and after the channel scan is complete, it hides any channels you don’t receive. There are no subscription fees to using it’s TV guide.
Having the ability to “record” live TV is crucial to some potential cord cutters, and this device makes it easy to do.
It has DVR buttons and capabilities built into the TV guide, but you need to purchase a microSD card or an external USB 3.0 hard drive. As-is, this device has no storage device to save the shows to. Both types of storage can be a little pricy if you get quality brands, but in general, it uses about 6GB to 8GB for a 1 hour recording of HD (High Definition) content.
Once you’ve bought the appropriate hardware, there are no subscription fees.
One thing to note: The Stream+ is not “whole home” DVR capable. Only the TV connected directly to the Stream+ can watch any DVR’d content.
The Stream+ has many of the same issues that plague other Android TV systems. First, a Google sign in is required to download apps and many apps are not preinstalled or available.
After confirming with ChannelMaster, I confirmed that Netflix, DirecTV Now and Amazon Prime are not available at this time. This is because those particular platforms need to “certify” the Stream+ before their apps are available. ChannelMaster reassured me that this is close to happening, and that there are “unofficial” ways to sideload these apps onto the device. I am not sure how this is done, but I found this article that explains it.
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