HD Homerun Connect Duo - Not Bad at All


#1

While walking through Fry’s, I came across an HD Homerun Connect Duo for $89 (about a hundred bucks, after tax). Knew nothing about it, grabbed one and sped home. Comparing this experience with that of my Tablo, there is much good to be said about it, and gave me a reason to consider replacing my Tablo as my primary OTA / DVR appliance.

What I liked about it: Setup was EASY, (for me) much easier than my initial setup with Tablo. Worked equally well across all platforms (***Corrected to read Fire TV, Kodi, Android TV etc.). What I liked most: the fact that everything was Instant. Instant, on demand. One click of a channel button and you’ve got CHANNEL! No buffering, no waiting, none of the 2-5 second delay that I’ve grown accustomed to on my Tablo. This goes for Guide, Channel Switching, everything.

What I didn’t like: No Wifi option. HD Homerun requires hard wire to the router, which meant running about 50 feet of cable. One of the things I find most convenient on the Tablo, is that fact you can set it up anywhere in the home, anywhere you’ve got an antenna lead-in.

What I disliked most: the Live TV Guide and overall Interface. In my personal view and to my eye, it is awkward, clunky and horrible. There is a third-party Guide you can by for $25 (which I did), that gives you a fantastic, beautiful (conventional) Grid Guide, which I like a LOT, as much as the Tablo UI (which I’ve always loved).

What I really didn’t like: DVR option. Unlike Tablo, it’s not baked in & you can’t just buy or grab an inexpensive external hard drive & plug it in. You need to download a separate piece of software, make your PC (or some PC) a server, or spend an extra $200 - 400 on a good NAS and make that the server. Do all of this and then you can have DVR capabilities.

For the purposes of this learning experiment, I ordered an ACEPC AK1. It’s something I can stow easily, don’t mind having it on all day (and night) and costs less than an NAS:

My $89 box has now become a $300 solution and I’m still not completely happy with it. I’ve bought it, paid for it (for better or for worse), I own it. The DVR cost is only $35 a year, which I think is great, except that I’m doing all the heavy lifting.

I’ve been switching back and forth between my Tablo and the Homerun. The Tablo is familiar, easy & Excellent, and I think “This is great, leave well enough alone”. But when I switch back to the Homerun, I am excited by how FAST everything is (I do understand the reasons behind the difference here).

This is a difficult conundrum and these are just a few of the “Plus and Minus” I’ve experienced so far. I’m not stating one solution is better than the other, simply pointing out a few of my personal observations along the way. I don’t need to be flamed and told about how great Tablo is (I already know that), or why HD Homerun is crap (it’s not).

Incidentally, both Tuners scanned in the exact same channels, and on the same level of quality, clarity and degree of excellence.


#2

Always best to compare , when possible. My biggest hindrance (at the time) with HD Homerun was the need for a computer/NAS to utilize the DVR function and than no out of network viewing.


#3

Exactly! And I believe that’s one of the strongest benefits of Tablo. That for 90% people out there, the relief of being able to plug it in, plug in your hard drive & be done with it is a great one.


#4

Agreed. I understand the delay in tuning as well with Tablo and we watch so little live TV that I’m willing to accept it for all of the other positives.


#5

If you’re into Plex, you get a nicer DVR setup there… more friendly. Still a bit buggy, but pretty nice.


#6

Correct on both counts. Something I’m researching now. I had a plex setup several years ago, but couldn’t get up enough interest, spare time or practical use / reason to pursue it. I’m beginning to revisit it now.


#7

I’m in the same boat, I watch so little in real time. I probably record less than the average Tablo owner as well.


#8

I think you are right on point with this review. I truly believe if Tablo can figure out a way to have the video pass through and be decoded on the ATV itself like the other app does, then the Tablo is the hands down winner. The need to transcode everything when it isn’t needed on the target device is killing the user experience.


#9

“Apple” vs “Orange”. Tablo has a product that does this called Tablo Engine. The original Tablo device is a network streaming appliance and not a direct connect device. Streaming raw non-transcoded ATSC, while somewhat possible, is not going to be “good” as most end devices aren’t going to handle mpeg2-ts well. It’s just not really build for streaming (thus, there are other problems as well).

How come Netflix “does this”? It doesn’t. “Apple” vs “Grape”

Now… Tablo has figured out a way to deliver the surround sound stream (haven’t looked into the specifics), but I’m assuming it’s just tacking on the stream (??) to its transcoded video… but IMHO, the implementation, as an “all or nothing” type of deal, is less than ideal. It was done to put a “pin in it” and not necessarily handle the complexity of the dynamics with the end device.

IMHO, if you have “something” you believe “checks all your boxes”, use it.


#10

In the first post you indicate that it works equally as fast on ROKU, yet Silicone Dust indicates on their website that this will not work with Roku at all and I can find no Roku Channel for it?

In the FAQ it specifically calls out that that they chose not to work with Roku because they were wanting fast TV channel changes…

Since Tablo has indicated in previous threads that Roku is the largest streaming device used for Tablo, I really don’t see them ever being able to completely do away with a slight buffering delay as they encode it.

Additionally SD calls out that due to the large data size that you may have an issue using the connect in a large home with devices spread out over a large area, they recommend using the EXTEND model to counter that but of course the extend model does transcoding so you are back to the delay…

Not to say there isnt a market for what SD has provided, in fact, I have recommended it to a few people, just pointing out that the use case for the two is different.


#11

EXACTLY! Exactly!


#12

Good catch, meant Fire TV, Kodi, Android TV. I get so used to doing things Cross-platform between Roku and Fire TV & they’re my “default” / defacto standards. I edited / corrected verbiage in post, to reflect this.


#13

Agreed on all points. Between the two, looks like I’m leaning toward the Tablo as a daily driver and primary appliance. I’m new to this world, and everything is exciting to me. I’ve been buying up and experimenting with just about everything I stumble upon and this was all started by my Tablo purchase about a month or two ago.

Since then I’ve bought & experimented with an AIRTV box (which I love), a Skystream 2, the HD Homerun (and all the ancillary equipment along with it). Newest toy is a Channelmaster Stream +, which just arrived today … will unpack it later.


#14

Yeah, the key for me is the transcoding and end devices. I do have a decently powered desktop but I’m also a gamer so I don’t want to have transcoding happening in the evenings when I’m trying to game. Easiest solution to that is to have something else do the transcoding, hence the Tablo being my preferred option.

Plex DVR still isn’t as stable as Tablo in my opinion and even so, to get the same transcoding ability with 4 tuners actually costs more going the Plex route since you would have to get 2 2-tuner Extend units. I can get the same thing in a Tablo 4 tuner and only need one network run for it as well vs 2 for the separate extend units.

Plus, this setup lets me use my Shield TV as a Plex server and it’s a viable solution since I use Tablo Ripper to get the content onto the NAS my Plex setup uses and the Shield TV really just ends up being a bandwidth/routing cop to the devices and doesn’t have to do any heavy lifting transcoding.


#15

Not saying the device we all want won’t exist someday, but might be awhile.


#16

Using a Shield as a Plex server is an amazing and fantastic thing. Up until a few days ago I had NO idea. I bought a Shield at Best Buy a few weeks ago, when it showed up as a “Deal of the Day” for $140, bought it without a plan or strategy so it’s sitting unpacked in a closet, I’ll unpack it and maybe make a project of it sometime. Plex server on a shield. Wow.