A magazine devoted to free and cheap TV

The Channel Master Stream+ (Discontinued)

By Brian
Published 06/03/2018
 | Updated 04/13/2021

NOTE: This product has been discontinued.

Over the years, many cable-disablers have asked me to recommend a DVR (digital video recorder) that can be used to record free broadcast TV from an antenna. My pick is the Channel Master Stream+, which combines Android TV features with an antenna receiver and DVR. It is my recommended device for recording TV from an antenna when you have one TV. (For a whole-home recording solution, check out the Tablo.)

The Basics

The Stream+ records live broadcast TV from an antenna to an external USB hard drive or a micro SD card. It has a channel guide with no monthly fee that allows you to see up to two weeks in the future, and schedule recordings during that time.

It allows you to pause live TV and fast forward or rewind to the point where you started watching that channel. It has two tuners so you can watch one program while recording another. Oh, it also supports 4K HDR video, in case you have a TV that supports it.

The Stream+ has HDMI output only. It will NOT work with an older tube TV without an adapter.

What You Get

The Stream+ unit costs $149 direct from Channel Master. I purchased mine from them and received it in about a week or so.

In the package, you get the Stream+ unit, a compact plastic unit about the size of one of those extra-wide coffee mugs, a power adapter, remote control, and a quick start guide. The small size is beneficial to me because I can put it on my mantle (unlike the previous-generation DVR+).

The rear panel has digital audio out, coax antenna in, HDMI out, Ethernet, USB port, and 12V power. The side has a micro-SD card port.

Channel Master Stream+ rear panel
Channel Master Stream+ rear panel

Total Cost of Ownership

The Stream+ requires external storage, which is not included, to record video. It is compatible with standard USB computer hard drives. You might have one of these lying around, or you can buy these pretty cheaply these days.

You can also record to micro SD card, but that's a much more expensive media for a given size. I would stay away from that unless you really want a compact self-contained unit.

To get its channel guide data as well as access its Android TV features, the Stream+ has to be connected to the Internet. You can either plug it into your router using an Ethernet cable or configure it to use Wi-Fi. 

Finally, you’ll need an HDMI cable to connect from your Stream+ to your TV. So, the total cost of ownership if you don't already have a USB hard drive lying around is:

$149 (Stream+) + $60 (hard drive) + $10 (HDMI) = $219

Not bad, and a lot better than the previous generation which cost close to $400 total! And again, there is no subscription fee for the Stream+, unlike many other DVR competitors!

Setup

There is some setup involved, but it’s not too hard. You’ll need to connect your antenna to the Stream+, then connect your Stream+ to your TV. Finally, plug in the power adapter. You can plug in the hard drive later.

Configuration for the Stream+ was easy. I powered it on using the remote and went through the wizard-style steps. I selected the language and entered my zip code, then entered my Wi-Fi password and set up the remote to work with my TV (more on that below). When I did the channel scan, my Stream+ found a whopping 120 channels in the Los Angeles area with my Cable Cutter Aerowave antenna!

Watching Live TV

The picture quality on the Stream+ was excellent. There was basically no difference in HD picture quality when I watched it through the Stream+ vs. watching it using my Sony's tuner (i.e., with the antenna plugged directly into my TV instead of the Stream+).

The only exception was that when I watched some SD channels like the H&I channel, the picture was squished, narrower than it was supposed to be. I emailed Channel Master and they gave me a fix: press OK, then down arrow to go into the Google TV settings and change the size from "Normal" to "Wide".  That fixed it for all SD channels without affecting the HD ones!

Regarding the tuner, some channels that had occasional picture breakups on the Stream+ were solid on my Sony. It did a good job at finding channels though and found even more channels than my Sony did.

Pressing the “Guide” button on the remote brought up the channel guide, which was gorgeous. Scrolling up and down in the guide was snappy! Note that the guide does not require a subscription, unlike some other DVRs!

Channel Master Stream+ Channel Guide
Channel Master Stream+ Channel Guide provided by Google Live Channels at no cost

I verified that I was able to pause live TV, fast forward, and rewind to the point at which I had started watching that channel. These functions were very responsive. No hiccups or crashes. You can see the video speed up as you fast forward, which is good (unlike the Tablo, where you just see the time increment faster when viewing live TV, making it hard to know when to stop).

TiVo does have a small killer feature that I wish Stream+ had. When you fast forward to skip over commercials, and then you resume play, the TiVo will start playback of the video a few seconds BEFORE the point at which you pressed the play button. This is because you always overshoot by a bit. This would have been great to have on the Stream+.

The Stream+ powers on very fast, allowing you to start watching TV in under ten seconds, not bad!

Recording

Next, it was time to plug in the hard drive to do some recording. I plugged in my old (10+-year-old) USB drive. The Stream+ asked if I wanted to format it, and I proceeded:

Connecting a USB drive to the Stream+
Connecting a USB drive to the Stream+

After this setup, you can go to any show in the channel guide and select it to record.  If it's a TV series, you have the option of recording the whole series or just one episode. This is fine, but the Tablo recording interface is nicer because it lets you search for TV shows and movies to record alphabetically instead of having to search for it chronologically in the channel guide. With the Stream+, you kind of have to know when the show will be airing, then you have to find it in the guide to select it to record. That could take a lot of scrolling forward.

The Tablo DVR has a much nicer "Netflix-style" grid showing the shows that you can record in the future, although there is a fee for that service.

Because the Stream+ remote does not have a record button, it's not immediately obvious is how to record the show you're currently watching. To do that, press the pause button, then cursor over to the red dot on the screen, which is the on-screen record button.

The Stream+ has two tuners so you can watch one show while recording another.

Some Recording Limitations

One thing that sports fans like to do to record a game, then start watching it part of the way through so they can fast-forward through the commercials. You can do that with the Stream+ if you manually start the recording, but you cannot watch a pre-programmed recording from the beginning while it is recording. This might be a show-stopper for some!

Note that the hard drive format is different from what your computer or laptop uses, so, unfortunately, you can’t just plug it into your computer and copy the video files to your computer.

Also, note that the Stream+ will only record from your broadcast TV antenna.  It won't record from its apps like Pluto TV.

The Remote

The remote control is intuitively and clearly laid out, with things generally where you expect them to be. The rubber buttons give a nice click when pressed.

Channel Master Stream+ Remote
Channel Master Stream+ Remote

It also controls your TV's power and volume. So, you turn on your TV and the Stream+ by pressing one button! The result is that you feel like you're just using a TV, not a TV plus a device attached to it.

The only thing I wish the remote had is a mute button. But, that's not a show-stopper for me.

Voice Search

Another cool feature of the Stream+ is voice search.  Hold the mic button down on the remote and you can speak into it and search for shows or movies. I found the accuracy of the speech recognition to be excellent. It did a great job of understanding what I was saying.

It searches through its Android apps for the show you've given it. That is fine, but it doesn't seem to search through the channel guide. For example, I know that Star Trek plays almost every day on broadcast TV in my area. When I tried to search for it, I got results from the Google Play store and YouTube for Star Trek, but no broadcast TV results. Kind of a bummer but still a very useful feature.

Other Features

The Stream+ offers Android TV functionality, so you can install other apps. It comes with YouTube (which I watch a lot). Some of the other apps that you can install include Sling TV, HBO Now and HBO Go, Pluto TV, Vimeo, and many of the networks' apps.

Stream+ Android apps
Stream+ Android apps

Glaringly absent are Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. For many, that will mean still having to use a Roku or other streamer (unless you side-load those apps; see the forums on how to do that - no promises on that working though).

Some people consider the lack of Netflix and Amazon to be showstoppers. But, you can easily get those with an inexpensive Roku.  The Stream+ is still worth the money for the recording capability alone!

The Stream+ also has Chromecast Built-In, so you can stream from some apps on your phone or from a Chrome browser in your computer to your TV. A nice touch!

The Bottom Line

The Channel Master Stream+ offers an integrated solution for viewing broadcast TV together with Internet-streamed TV from apps. The remote turns on your TV and controls its volume, and also has voice search.

The Stream+ has streaming apps but is missing Netflix and Hulu. You'll need a separate box like a Roku if you want those apps. Another downside is that you cannot watch a pre-programmed recorded show until the recording is done. That could be a bummer for sports fans who want to skip commercials. The way around that is to start the recording manually.

The Stream+ is a good solution if your household has one TV. You can get the Stream+ directly from Channel Master.

If you need a whole-home recording solution for multiple TVs, I recommend Tablo. It requires a Roku box for each TV, but you only need one Tablo for all the TVs in your home. As an added bonus, it's wireless, so no need to string up an antenna cable to your TVs!

I hope this article was helpful to you. Leave your questions or comments below! - Brian

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I test or research each product or service before endorsing. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. I own this site and the opinions expressed here are mine. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
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Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. 

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I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story!  Thanks! - Brian
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21 Comments
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JillJJ
JillJJ
5 months ago

Our remote quickly died. Does anyone know where to buy a replacement B526A for the CM-7600?

Brian
5 months ago
Reply to  JillJJ

Hi Jill,

I searched online and couldn't find it! Try calling Channel Master. Hope you can find it!

Best,
Brian

Steve S
Steve S
1 year ago

I have stream+ and my TV Guide comes up with the categories on the left which takes up half the screen and the TV Guide on the right. How do I get rid of the categories left on the left so that only the TV Guide shows up? I've tried everything I could imagine. Thanks in advance.

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve S

Hmmm.. I don't know the answer to this. Anyone else out there have any luck with this?

George Laroche
George Laroche
1 year ago

Hi Brain. I must say I've been a totally satisfied user of ChannelMaster DVR+ for many years. I also have the Fire Box, which does all my streaming. I prefer the dynamic duo. However, I'm having an issue with the DVR+ The internet guide data is screwing up. Sometimes it does not get my series I have set for recording. When you look at the guide, it doesn't have the correct show listed and in some cases the show says "unknown", which you can then force the recording. This is an issue. I have read that if you turn of internet guide, you can just use the local guide. However then you don't have the option of "new episodes" or maybe loos other stuff. - Any help or options you can advise? I don't thin the new stream+ will be as nice.

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  George Laroche

Hi George,

Yeah, I really liked my DVR+ as well. I think it was a mistake of them to discontinue it.

I would try to email Channel Master about it. They have responded to me in the past when I contacted them.

Best,
Brian

Gail Dunning
Gail Dunning
1 year ago

I agree with what Brian says about the Stream +. It is a nice unit. ChannelMaster has an enormous amount of information and troubleshooting tips on their website. You can also ask questions.

What I don’t like:

I don’t get near the number of broadcast channels with the Stream + as I do running the cable directly into the tv. Fortunately I get the ones I really want, so that is not an issue for me, but might be for someone else.

I would not have purchased this had I known there was no mute button on the remote. Dealbreaker. I know someone on here commented something to the effect that people who need a mute button are “babies”. So be it.

While I was working on learning how the Stream + works, our Sony Bravia died. Now have an LG which does not seem to play nice with the Stream. Lots of problems in general, and I am extremely frustrated.

My question: is there anywhere to find live people who I would expect to pay who provide assistance in setting up and syncing remotes, describing and changing inputs etc. it looks to me that “The Geek Squad” at Best Buy might do some of that, but they want$149 to Plug it in and turn it on. I can’t imagine how much they would charge for personalized instruction.

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Gail Dunning

Hi Gail,

Thanks for your comments!

I don't know of such a service. I would recommend asking a friend, neighbor, or relative for assistance.

Best,
Brian

jsicuran
jsicuran
2 years ago

Can this unit stream the broadcast channels to another smartv, phone or tablet using an app, similar to HD Home RUN?

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  jsicuran

Hi jsicuran,

No, not that I know of. However, the Tablo can do that:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/tablo-dvr/

Best,
Brian

John Dithers
John Dithers
2 years ago

Have had the DVR+ for about 5 years now, had to replace the hard drive once. Unsure exactly why the HD went bad or corrupted, but it just wouldn't play anything stored. My best guess is too many recordings that exceeded it's capacity, thusly it wouldn't boot up. ??? Or it may have overheated over time, as I believe it never altogether shuts down or goes into sleep mode, the HD spins regardless as long as the DVR+ is plugged in. Resetting / erasing the HD didn't work, but the new HD installed quickly via menu settings & works fine. Otherwise, the DVR+ works sufficiently well enough to record & playback TV as Channel Master intended. I'm here checking on the Stream+ to see if I need to buy one ... nope, I'm fine with the DVR+. Both are the same to me except for the external HD necessary with the Stream+. The improvements I would like to see with a future model is the ability to export & save a rare program or two to a computer or burn to a DVD, where now the HDMI output severely limits viewing capabilities (I'm from the Windows Media Center world where options are near limitless). Very disappointed that at least RF, RCA, and S-Video outputs weren't included to universalize both models use. I also miss very dearly the ability to watch programs with sound at 2X speed. This feature or ability is why I'm hanging on with WMC until it goes kaput, with DVR+ use as secondary back-up (the DVR+ accounts for about 25% of my everyday recordings, usually being some old series or very disposable "one off" shows). Watching at 2X speed versus realtime, well, time is precious & irreplaceable. Most TV shows can be watched at 2X (or 1.5X speed, whatever it is) and still be intelligible. A speed control like YouTube has would be ideal, where both faster & slower speeds with sound can be made by the viewer. Has anyone successfully made WMC work on Win10? I have read of a French link with the steps on how to do this successfully, however, one must be able to read & understand French. Surprised someone hasn't marketed a disc or ap with WMC as add on ... perhaps it's the January 2020 program guide end date that deters this. The best I found is "epg123" (google it), but this might as well be in French ... where to start with it if not entirely computer savvy? This is where the DVR+ becomes a "failsafe" recorder ... with Microsoft abandoning WMC, leaving us TV / media center enthusiasts "left high & dry", out the hundreds if not thousands of dollars invested in the primary purpose & use of their WMC. Heck, if the FCC didn't change to digital signals, I'd just reconnect back to Beta, VHS, and/or 8mm recorders and go from there ... some that I still have are capable of 2X playback with sound even then, 15+ years ago. To me, TV recording is a necessity, surfing the internet is a novelty, both of which depend on how much "time you have to burn". As every age has it's era, I envision 2020 to begin very frustratingly, spoiled from WMC, will make-do with the DVR+ (being the best OTA alternative TV recorder available to date), and save money from buying anything otherwise, but waste time watching in realtime versus 2X. Can't win for nothing.

ALF Tanner
ALF Tanner
2 years ago

From another review here: https://www.techhive.com/article/3279889/channel-master-stream-review.html
"The Stream+ also does not let you start watching a recording while it’s still in progress. That means you can’t set the DVR for a primetime show, then tune in 15 minutes later to skip all the commercials."

This is a deal breaker for me. If I want to watch a football game, I usually start watch about an hour after it starts, and then I can skip all the advertisement and time outs and catch up to the game somewhere near the end.

There does not seem to be a feature to tell it to record for a certain amount of time after the show is supposed to be over, for example when a sporting event goes into overtime and runs over the scheduled time.

I do not see anywhere that you can set the device to record based on a search string. Say you want to record any occurrences of your favorite college team. With a search string, you can tell the device to always record any show with your college team's name, whether it be basketball, football, etc.

One last complaint is that it does not look like this device lets you set up manual recordings. For whatever reason, you sometimes need to just tell a device a channel, a date, and a time to record. Old fashion VCRs allowed this, but on this device, I do not think it is possible.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  ALF Tanner

Hi,

Thanks for pointing out these shortcomings! I'll double check on my unit and update the article and let you know what I find out!!

Best,
Brian

Kim
Kim
2 years ago

Great review! Any suggestions for more than two tuners? There is half an hour in my week where three shows are on at once! I cannot pick one to cut from my list! That (and lack of search feature) were the only downsides I could find on this DVR. Thanks!

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Kim

Hi Kim,

Thanks! Try the Tablo Quad:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/tablo-dvr/

Best,
Brian

Angie
Angie
2 years ago

Brian, thank you for this detailed review. We have had dvr+ for 4 yrs and watched a dozen you tube videos trying to decide whether to upgrade. Our only hesitation is your comment about voice search being limited to apps and the missing Amazon but we have fire box so can continue to watch there. Tx again.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Angie

Hi Angie,
Thanks for your comments! Yeah, if you have Amazon Fire TV, then the shortcomings of the Stream+ apps won't matter. Just wondering, though, why do you want to upgrade from the DVR+? (i.e., what feature do you want that it doesn't have).
Thanks,
Brian

capitalmale
capitalmale
2 years ago

Does this records while the TV is off? I see you can record the show one is watching, or a program on another channel. I am interested in recording programs that are broadcast while I am sleeping.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  capitalmale

Hi Capitalmale,

Yes, absolutely! It will record while the TV is off.

Best,
Brian

Doggiemama5
3 years ago

one more question. whats your thoughts on the CM Smart antenna? https://www.channelmaster.com/SMARTenna_Indoor_TV_Antenna_s/368.htm

Doggiemama5
3 years ago

Hi Brain, So CM did away with the DVR+ completely? WOW that surprises me.I love mine. I dont like the original remote for it and I should replace it. I am not sure I am quite on board with this gadget you are showing yet. I am going to guess...the steam+ doesnt have a hardrive in it and so it is less likely to fail meaning less warranty callbacks.. if the hardrive does fail then you are screwed in the DVR+. With the steam+ I guess the advantage to this is...you supplying your own hardrive and if it fails, you can replace it since it is external. Am I understanding that right? The DVR+ doesnt show Netflix either. I manually access it through my smart TV along with amazon, Hulu etc.... I do not have Roku hooked up to my smart TV. You speak of the squished look. I found that on certain channels on my TV , i get that effect. I think it could be the channel itself. You may want to check that out. I am hooked up to my DVR+ so it may be thru it as well. I love the look of the menu you are showing above. The scanning for a show(search the right channel and the right time) is the same as the DVR+. it was also that way using ATT Uverse..LOL So it sounds like its alot like the DVR+ but with added features minus a hardrive. Did I sum that up about right? Also doesnt the Tablo charge you a monthly fee? You have not mentioned that. Thanks!

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