Stream+ - View / Record local TV and stream internet TV

Some of us may be disappointed to discover that the fancy new TV that we bought for a good price during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season cannot receive free television broadcasts over the air with an antenna. Many of the most popular cable or dish TV channels are also broadcast channels that are available for free with an antenna. Those include the major networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, as well as CW, MeTV, ION, Grit, Comet, Bounce, ThisTV, Daystar, and many more.

Until recently all TVs could be connected to an antenna and receive free news and other programming from local TV stations. If it could not receive TV stations, it was just a monitor. Now anything with a screen might be advertised in the TV section and even be called a TV – especially if it is capable of streaming programs from the internet as in “Smart TV.”

If you happened to purchase one of the “TVs” that is missing a built in tuner or antenna input, you can purchase an external tuner that connects to an HDMI input on your “TV” for as little as $40 or $50. Some of those tuners can even record a few hours of TV shows for later viewing with the addition of a USB memory stick. The downside is that you will have another box connected to your TV / Monitor and another remote to keep up with.

If you like the idea of having one box and one remote that performs several different functions, you should consider the Stream+ by Channel Master - the first device I know of that integrates free over the air local TV viewing, streaming, and a DVR that can record weeks or months of TV broadcast shows from an antenna. The remote can even turn your TV on or off and control the volume.

  Stream+ TV guide
The Stream+ sells for over $100, but may be on sale during the holidays for $100 or less. The remote is included, but the following accessories are not included;
  1. Like most video devices, an HDMI cable must be purchased to connect it to your TV.
  2. To receive free over the air TV, you must connect it to an antenna.
  3. To use it as a DVR, you must connect it to an external hard drive (1 to 2 TB recommended). The DVR only records over the air broadcast channels.
  4. To stream video, you must have internet service (wired or WiFi.)

The Stream+ is powered by Android TV which includes many streaming services (apps). Some well-known services not available (on this device anyway) include Netflix, Amazon Prime, and iTunes. Oddly Amazon Prime is available on Android phones, but not on Android TV. However, here is a possible work-around.

Stream+ has Chromecast built in, so you can find and play content on your phone, tablet, or computer and cast it to the Stream+ if you prefer watching on a bigger screen. The Chromecast app is available for Android and iOS (Apple) devices as well as the Chrome browser on any computer – Windows, Linux, Mac, and Chromebook. Some Chromecasts may not be the best quality.

The Stream+ remote is pretty basic with a built in microphone and a mic button that functions the same as the mic icon for other Android devices. However, many apps are not voice enabled. Your Android phone or tablet can function as a remote with the added functionality of using your device's on-screen keyboard.

DVR / Program Guide
The Stream+ can pause live TV and record up to two local TV shows at once while also streaming. It is easy to select shows to record from the program guide up to two days in advance. You can choose to record a single show, all episodes of a show on this channel, or all episodes on any channel. Although the guide for local channels shows programming for only two days, it is aware of programming a month in advance. If you choose to record a series, and then look to see what is scheduled to record, you will see a month's worth of recordings.

Online Streaming:
Roku probably leads the pack with the most available apps, but there are plenty available on the Stream+ as you can see from this partial list;

ABC, BBC America, Bloomberg TV, CBC News, CBS Sports, CNBC, CNN go, Disney Now, Dove Channel, ESPN, Food Network, Fox News, Fox Now, Fox Sports Go, FX Now, Google Play music & TV, HBO Go, HBO Now, HGTV, Hulu, Kids Click, MLB At Bat, NASA TV, NBA, NBC, NBC News, NFL, Nick for Android TV, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and other audio, PBS Kids, PBS Video, Pluto, Pure Flix, Showtime, Sling TV, Snagfilms, Starz, TBN, The Weather Network, Travel Channel, Tubi, Up Faith and Family, Watch TBS, Watch TNT, You Tube, YouTube Kids for Android TV.

Bold = completely free (usually contains commercials). These apps are not channels, but rather most have many (hundreds or perhaps thousands of) TV shows and movies. Some of them have live streams to watch like traditional TV channels, but most content is on demand so that you can watch complete shows when you are ready.

YouTube is known for their free content, but they also have live channels including sports and a DVR function for a price. Many cable / dish channels are available cheaper from streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu, Sling TV, and others.

Setup and use:
If you already have an Android device, setting up the Stream+ is very easy, but not quite as easy as just setting your phone on top of the device. Without an Android device, you have to enter your Google credetials using the remote to select letters from an on-screen keyboard. Once you get it set up, it is very easy to use.