Not An Easy Comparison.
Updated On 08/25/16.
After you cut the cord to the cable company one of the first things you’re going to realize is that your ability to see your program schedule has gone the way of the dodo. You’re also probably going to find out that the DVR you bought from the cable or Satellite Company may or may not continue to function. So how do you solve this problem? At this point in time your two most prominent options are the Channel Master DVR+ or the TiVo Roamio.
The primary difference between the two is the fact that one is a machine (Channel Master DVR+) that has a one-time charge to buy it and the other (Tivo Roamio and Bolt) are cheaper but the Bolts have a subscription fee that is attached to get full functionality.The Roamio OTA is a one time charge for the machine with no subscription charge. In the next few paragraphs we will try to clear up any confusion between the two and give you a good idea of how you might like to proceed.
The Channel Master product comes in two versions. The first version is a box that contains 16 GB of memory, a dual tuner, a remote, wireless Internet adapter, 12 foot HDMI cable and an IR extender. The trick here with this first model is that you will have to buy your own hard drive for it which will add approximately $59 to its cost for a Western Digital 1 TB passport drive. The included 16 GB of memory is barely enough to record two hours of HD programming and will soon make you very cranky. The second product in Channel Masters line is basically the same as the first except now it has a 1 TB drive built-in but you will have to add the USB Wi-Fi adapter, HDMI cable and IR extender separately. These models sell for $199 and 299 respectively.
TiVo on the other hand comes in a ready to go package that already has the ability to record 75 hours and 150 (Tivo Roamio OTA and Tivo Bolt 1 TB) hours of HD programming capability. In order to get full expanded usefulness from the TiVo Bolt units though you will be required to have a broadband Internet connection and pay $15 a month subscription fee. The three models of TiVo are priced at $399, $169 and $299 respectively.
To get a clear comparison check out the chart below.
Channel Master/TiVo Comparison Chart
The bottom line from the chart above is that TiVo has many more features than the Channel Master version and even with the $15 month fee TiVo Bolt it is hard to beat. Now if both the TiVo and the channel Master products were the same with the only difference being the subscription fee then Channel Master would be a no-brainer.
To bring it down to strictly a dollars and cents equation a bottom of the line TiVo Bolt costs $169 and has a 500 GB drive. The channel Master is $199 plus but requires the addition of a $59 1TB passport hard drive for a total out of pocket cost of $258. This makes a difference of $89 and that difference will provide you with nearly 6 months of a TiVo subscription before you reach parity in price with the Channel Master.
The choice is up to you but I would definitely take a real close look at the TiVo DVRs which appear to be a much better deal unless you do not have a broadband connection.