Kicking out cable requires planning and preparation to really enjoy the effort. Part of this planning entails recording OTA (Over The Air) content at the time of broadcast. Viewing recorded content makes the most out of time spent watching the glowing rectangle. Given this, it’s logical that the DVR is an essential for every Cord Cutters toolbox.
The Channel Master CM 7400 is a DVR that’s up to the task of recording TV, in addition to a few other tricks. With dual ATSC Tuners, a QAM Tuner and a dual channel DVR, this unit has more ways to ingest and present 6Mhz of video bandwidth than you can shake a stick at. Want to record two games at once, no problem. Want to watch a recorded show while recording two more, you got it! Pause, rewind and record live TV, it’s all snap with the CM 7400.
So What’s in the box?
Ok, this is not your typical un-boxing, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to list out the box contents and a few surprises. Channel Master has set itself apart here, and deservers a few bonus points. I won’t give it away…you figure out what the **surprise** is!
- Channel Master CM-7400 DVR Tuner extravaganza
- User Guide and Quick Start Guide
- Universal Infra Red Remote
- AC Adapter
- AA Batteries
- **Composite and Stereo Cable**
- **RF Coaxial Cable**
- **HDMI Cable**
When is the last time you’ve seen cables, especially HDMI, included in a product like this? Good job Channel Master. I’ve always considered it a “FAIL” when manufacturers retail a product costing hundreds of dollars and can’t seem to include a required 10 dollar cable. We’re looking at you HP…
Network connectivity for the CM 7400 is established via wired or wireless connection. The wireless connection is achieved thru the array of antenna integrated across the back of the device. The DVR can be connected to most types of wireless networks including 802.11 b, g and n. If you’re fortunate enough to have an actual physical network connection in/around your media center, the wired RJ-45 connection will be your preferred method for network and internet connection.
Video and Audio Connections
Video and audio connections include HDMI, Digital Audio, Stereo Audio, RCA component and composite video, RF loop thru output and RF Antenna/QAM input. While HDMI is sure to be the most commonly used format, having the composite video could be very handy for specific applications, like side jacking a Sling Box into the system. I’m glad they included a QAM tuner, even though I don’t imagine it’s a widely used function. Those with broadband cable internet service may see unencrypted QAM signaling on the cable line. If your cable provider is sending QAM in the clear, you can use the DVR to tune and record those programs. If not, your relinquished to the to most outstanding quality of all, that pure uncompressed OTA content received with your HD antenna.
The CM-7400 uses a setup wizard to walk you thru configuration of network connections, finding channels on your antenna or cable, and video settings. The process is quick and painless, taking less than 5 minutes from start to finish, depending on your area. The receiver is quiet sensitive, finding more channels with reliable signal than my LG TV using the integrated ATSC tuner. There’s just no more to say here…plug it up and start using it!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention heat here. Once installed, I noticed this unit runs hot. Probably 20 degrees warmer than my Marantz receiver. Channel Master has addressed this directly, stating it’s ok, not to worry. Frankly, I’m not surprised. With the amount of electronics crammed into this little box, and the lack of a fan, high temperatures are expected. Channel Master is standing behind the product with a full 1 year warranty. Moving along…
Capacity of the internal 320GB hard drive works out to about 35 hours of HD recording and up to 150 hours of SD recording. While this time could vary depending on content type and encoding used, the storage provided has been more than adequate to keep pace with our viewing habits. Multiple users are reporting that the internal hard drive can be replaced with a larger “off the shelf” drive, thereby increasing the internal storage capacity with the twist of a few screws (and the new drive of course). The USB port allows for connection of an external USB drive, from which you can play recorded content, and update the firmware. Additionally, there is significant discussion surrounding the use of the e-Sata port for expansion storage space, however reports on success are varied and and have yet to be addressed by the manufacturer.
The programming guide, or EPG in geek speak, is a big feature of the unit. Using the PSIP standard (Program and System Information Protocol), you are able to view meta data including program title, time to air and play time, all from information received in the actual MPEG stream received from broadcast stations. The guide of this unit is the object of much consternation given that the forward looking capability is only several days, not weeks in advance like cable or satellite boxes. Channel Master must have anticipated this as they’ve capitalized on a premium EPG service that runs $49.99 a year and offers 14 days of program guide listings, and enhanced search functionality, in addition to a few other use nuances. While the Premium guide ads some nice value, we’ve found the subscription free EPG to work plenty well enough to keep hands out of pocketbook. Especially since there is always the option of using the DVR like a traditional VCR and configuring time/date based recordings for shows scheduled weeks out.
Over The Top Streaming Content
VUDU is a OTT (Over the Top) content streaming service that boast more HD title films than any other provider. The CM-7400 has integrated VUDU directly into the hardware. Simply launch the app, choose your move, and begin streaming full 1080p HD movies directly to your TV. You will want to make sure your internet connection is up for the job here, or you may experience some buffering.
The VUDU service is available without a monthly contract and, and the movies are typically priced similar to other services in the market (iTunes/Netflix/Amazon Prime). The quality of content viewed thru the VUDU service is outstanding. Full HD 1080p with Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 Surround sound leaves little to nothing to complain about.
At roughly $350.00, the CM-7400 is by no means a small investment. However, I feel that when balanced with the value it brings to the table in making quality recordings of broadcast HDTV, dual internal tuners and the integrated Electronic Program Guide, these things add up to making this unit an invaluable tool for a guy determined to Kick Out Cable. I’d love to hear about your experience with DRV’s, VUDU and recording HD tv. Please leave a note in the comment section below.