Updated January 12 at 11:15am: Channel Master has given us updated information regarding Amazon Video and Netflix.
Channel Master is on hand at CES again, and we were fortunate enough to catch up with them to check out their forthcoming SMARTenna+ and STREAM+. We’ve talked about their previous product, the DVR+, numerous times in the past. The time has come to release a new model, and the STREAM+ has a long list of upgrades.
The Channel Master STREAM+ is a completely redesigned product from the company. The form factor is completely different. While it looks nice, some may dislike the fact that it won’t look like most of the other devices found in a typical A/V cabinet. It has two over-the-air (OTA) tuners built in. Rounding out the hardware, it has a quad-core processor, HDMI 2.0 port (with HDCP 2.2), 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11 AC wireless, USB 3.0, Bluetooth, and a MicroSD slot. This hardware is then put to use by Android TV (version 7). It’s all controlled by a basic remote control that also has voice search capabilities.
For those of you who may not have used an Android TV product for a while, it now has a built-in live TV app called Google Live Channels. It even has an integrated grid guide for channel programming data. Instead of creating their own TV and DVR solution they decided to use Google. That choice seems like a smart play to us. Google’s Live Channels app also pulls in guide data without requiring a subscription fee. Anything that is recorded with the device must be watched on it. There isn’t a solution for remotely watching recordings on separate devices. That may limit the appeal of the STREAM+ to cord cutters who only have one television. That’s still a pretty big market though.
The storage situation for the DVR gets a little interesting. Remember that MicroSD slot that it has? At launch that is the device they are touting for storing your TV recordings. Apparently inserting a MicroSD card is actually what initiates the DVR setup process. It supports up to 512 GB of storage. For some people that will be enough, especially given that it only has two tuners, but for many customers, they will need greatly increased storage capacity. When we spoke with Channel Master, they told us that their plan is to eventually support adding a larger external hard drive via the USB 3.0 port, but they still have a few bugs to work out with that feature.
Because the Channel Master STREAM+ is also an Android TV box you’ll be able to download and install most of the streaming apps you’d desire. YouTube
and Netflix are obviously there, along with plenty of paid TV options like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and others. The one notable exception is Amazon Video. It’s our understanding that currently, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV is still the only Android TV device to support Amazon’s streaming service. After originally publishing this article Channel Master informed us that at launch the STREAM+ won’t have Netflix or Amazon Video. They are discussing options with the stream video giants though. You’ll be able to enjoy most of those apps in 4k too, because the STREAM+ supports up to 4k60 video playback. Another standard feature of Android TV is that the device will work as a Chromecast target and integrate with Google Home.
The Channel Master STREAM+ is available for pre-order now. They are stating the $99 price is an introductory price, so if it sounds like the device for you, make sure to order soon. Orders placed now should ship in April.
For more discussion of this product, check out the latest episode of the Entertainment 2.0 podcast. We covered this, and many other new announcements, in our weekly entertainment technology show.