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Is There a DVR Without Monthly Fees?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (December 16, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to

Q.  I like my cable DVR and I've used TiVo and it's pretty cool, too. But the thing about DVRs that drives me crazy are the monthly fees. Is there a DVR that doesn't require a subscription or any kind of monthly fee? -- Paul, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Paul, I feel your pain. Some TV providers charge nearly $20 a month for the use of their Digital Video Recorder -- and you have to pay even more if you get more than one DVR in the house.

But I have good news. Channel Master, which has been manufacturing antennas for more than six decades, has just announced that it's launching a subscription-free DVR called DVR+. The suggested retail price will be $249.99 and the company is taking pre-orders now at its web site. (The company says it will ship in early January.)

There is a catch, however. The set-top will only record free 'over-the-air' programming that you can access with an antenna; that means the networks -- CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC -- and your other local channels.

There's another catch, too. The DVR+ will only record signals you can receive in your home. If you have trouble getting local channel signals with an antenna because you live in a rural area, or your home is blocked by trees or some other obstacle, the DVR+ may not be for you.

Here's how the DVR+ works: You connect the antenna cable to the back of the set-top (and an Ethernet cable goes to another back-of-the-box port for the Internet. No Wi-Fi support at launch, though; you'll have to get a wireless adapter to access your home network).

Once you make the connection -- and you are able to get those local signals -- the DVR+ will allow you to pause or rewind live TV up to one hour and its dual tuners permit you to record one show while watching another, or record two shows at the same time.

The set-top comes with 16GB of internal flash memory, which is not much; you might be able to save a few hours of programming. But Channel Master says you can store additional programming on a USB external hard drive, which is not included.

The DVR+ comes with an on-screen programming guide and you can access Vudu's streaming service with more streaming services coming later, Channel Master says. (
Internet connection required for guide data and Vudu.)

At $249 -- plus the cost of an antenna, and a wireless adapter and external hard drive (if you want those two items) -- the DVR+ can get expensive. But after the one-time cost, you can say bye-bye to those pesky monthly fees.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at or at 703-505-3064.

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