HDHomeRun tuners make broadcast TV networks available on your home network. Paired with an external hard drive, HDHomeRun also servers as a DVR for over-the-air TV channels.
Two models, HDHomeRun Flex 4K and HDHomeRun Scribe 4K, support NextGen TV or ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.
- What is HDHomeRun?
- HDHomeRun Frequently Asked Questions
- Where to Buy HDHomeRun
What is HDHomeRun?
SiliconDust makes HDHomeRun tuners that stream local broadcast TV signals from a TV antenna across a home WiFi network.
So any screen in your household – a smartphone, tablet or PC – can stream live TV and recordings. It’s a powerful tool for cord-cutters who use TV antennas for local channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS.
The latest models of HDHomeRun are the FLEX, SCRIBE and plug-and-play DVR server called SERVIO. I have been reviewing and testing out HDHomeRun hardware since 2017, and currently own four units, including earlier models such as HDHomeRun Extend.
What channels can I get on HDHomeRun?
An HDHomeRun can get free over-the-air, HD channels, including the big four broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.
There are a variety of other local networks available for free on over-the-air channels such as local PBS affiliates and The CW Network. Sub-channels, including MeTV, GRIT and ionTV, are among other independently-owned TV stations that may be available in your area.
But first, you need to connect a TV antenna to a HDHomeRun and perform a channel scan. The setup process will differ if you are using HDHomeRun with Plex.
You need a Plex Pass subscription. And the setup needs to be done within the Plex server.
Comparing HDHomeRun models
The FLEX and SCRIBE come with either two or four TV tuners. Two tuner models are known as “Duo” units. Four turner models are called “Quatro”. The FLEX and SCRIBE models replaced HDHomeRun Connect tuners.
A Duo unit lets you watch or record live TV on up to two channels at once. Quatro FLEX and SCRIBE units double the number of channels you can watch live or record.
Back in 2020, SiliconDust released tuners with built-in ATSC 3.0 tuners for NextGen TV.
The 4K versions support both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0.
FLEX and SCRIBE 4K are both Quatro units, but have more than just four tuners to accommodate for ATSC 3.0.
The 4K units have four ATSC 1.0 tuners for the current standard of digital signals, and two ATSC 3.0 tuners. All of the latest HDHomeRun units have a USB port in the back for attaching an external hard drive for recordings.
How to Connect HDHomeRun to Multiple TVs
One of the biggest perks HDHomeRun offers is the ability to watch free over-the-air channels on multiple TVs.
By making over-the-air signals available on your home WiFi network, you can watch live TV on multiple TVs. You can watch your channels through the HDHomeRun app.
Setting up an HDHomeRun and scanning for channels is pretty simple.
- Connect the TV antenna cord to the F-connector port on the back of HDHomeRun instead of a TV
- Plug an Ethernet cord into a WiFi router and connect the other end to the back of the HDHomeRun Ethernet port
- Plug in the power adapter to the HDHomeRun unit
- Using a PC, go to http://hdhomerun.local/
- Under the menu, click on “Channel Lineup”
- Choose “Antenna” on the pulldown menu at the top of the screen
- Press the “Detect Channels” tab and let the channel scan run
- Add the HDHomeRun app to your PC, Smart TV or streaming device (e.g. Roku or Amazon Fire TV)
Once the channel scan is complete, you can start watching live TV on the HDHomeRun app.
Unlike other apps, you won’t need to activate the app with a username or password. The app will automatically pull in your live TV channels.
What is the HDHomeRun app?
HDHomeRun has its own app that you can use to watch live TV.
For $35 per year, you can also use HDHomeRun’s DVR service. But whether you pay for the subscription or not, you can always use the HDHomeRun app to watch live TV.
The channel guide for live TV runs on the right side of the screen, something the company calls “Slice View”. It shows you a list of channels that you can jump to in a single tap of your remote control or screen if you are using an iPhone or Android smartphone.
It’s pretty different from the old-school channel guide that you’d see on a cable box. All of the guide data, program images and show cards are licensed by Gracenote. So you are getting an up-to-the-minute channel guide.
The HDHomeRun app on Roku remains in beta. It’s not as feature-rich, and you need to set up on recordings on a PC or other device.
How do I add a DVR to HDHomeRun?
In years past, you needed to have either an always-on computer, or NAS (network attached storage) to operate as your server. Now, the latest HDHomeRun models can act as fully functional OTA DVR without an independent server. There are some slight differences among the models.
- HDHomeRun FLEX Duo or Quatro has a USB port for connecting an external hard drive for recordings
- HDHomeRun Flex 4K has the same functionality, but with two ATSC 3.0 tuners
- HDHomeRun SCRIBE has 1TB of internal hard drive space for recordings
- HDHomeRun SCRIBE 4K has the same internal hard drive, but with ATSC 3.0 tuners
- HDHomeRun SERVIO is a DVR server for older HDHomeRun models such as Connect and Extend. It has a 2TB hard drive, and works with all HDHomeRun tuners.
You can still use the old server option of an always-on PC, or NAS for DVR storage if you are not connecting a SERVIO to an older HDHomeRun.
Managing recordings on HDHomeRun
To manage recordings under the HDHomeRun app, head down to the hamburger shaped icon on the bottom right hand of the screen.
On the Discovery tab, you can get a bird’s eye view of what’s on TV right now.The sub-categories are broken down into upcoming shows, movies and sports.
I like HDHomeRun’s format of showing upcoming shows because you can find out about shows and sporting events that you didn’t know were available for free with a TV antenna.
You don’t always have to rely on streaming services to watch a favorite TV show or even live sports.
NFL games, soccer matches, and MLB games that are part of the national broadcast schedule are available free with a TV antenna.
How Streaming OTA Works on HDHomeRun
Digital broadcasts deliver up to 720p and 1080i picture resolution. There are some cities now rolling out ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. This next generation of broadcast television is often referred to as NextGen TV.
It promises 4K HDR resolution. But only the FLEX 4K and Quatro 4K have ATSC tuners that support NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0).
The DUO and QUATRO models stream raw MPEG2 across your local network, so when you look at your TV, it’s bright and crisp. Most over-the-air stations still broadcast with MPEG2 encoding.
I have one TV in my house that’s just hooked up to a TV antenna. And I don’t think you would be able to tell the difference between streaming through an HDHomeRun app, and plugging a TV antenna in the back of your television.
What streaming devices support HDHomeRun?
Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV aren’t your only options for watching and recording local TV channels.
PCs running Windows 11, Windows 10, Xbox One and Xbox Series X are on the long list of compatible devices with HDHomeRun tuners.
The official HDHomeRun app supports Mac, Linux, Android, Android TV, Google TV and third-party software options. LG Smart TVs support the HDHomeRun app.
You can stream the HDHomeRun app on Android TV devices including the NVIDIA SHIELD TV.
- Windows 11 and 10 devices include: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Surface Tablet.
- Android TV/Google TV: NVIDIA SHIELD TV, Amazon Fire TV, Sony Smart TVs with Google TV, Android phones and Android tablets
- Apple: Apple desktops, Apple laptops, Apple iOS (like iPads) and Apple TV 4
HDHomeRun Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a number of other frequently asked questions among people considering a HDHomeRun as an OTA DVR solution.
Do I need cable TV to use HDHomeRun?
No. Most HDHomeRun tuners are designed for free over-the-air TV channels.
The exception is HDHomeRun PRIME. It is designed for cable TV users. Prime can replace a cable box and save you the rental fee, but you will need to rent a CableCARD from your cable provider.
Can I add a DVR service to HDHomeRun?
HDHomeRun OTA tuners support a number of third-party DVR services. They include Plex, Emby, Channels, Kodi and InstaTV (for Apple TV 4). Third-party DVR services that support HDHomeRun usually require a monthly fee.
How to download recordings from HDHomeRun
If you have a recording that you want to download to a PC, and move to another device, take these steps.
- Go to hdhomerun.local/ on a web browser
- Select “Recorded Files” on the menu
- Select the program you want to download
- Click on the specific episode or game
The download will appear in the Downloads folder in Windows 11 or Windows 10. The file name is play.mpeg so you will need to rename the file afterwards so it’s easier to identify.
Can you record streaming channels on HDHomeRun?
No. HDHomeRun does not record from streaming services. It only receives signals from local over-the-air broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS.
Does HDHomeRun use internet data?
Yes. HDHomeRun tuners need to be connected to the Internet, and will use your data to stream over-the-air signals across your home Wi-Fi network.
What was HDHomeRun Premium TV?
HDHomeRun Premium was a short-lived streaming service that existed between 2018 and 2019. A number of Hollywood studios sued the company that supplied SiliconDust with TV programming. As a result, SiliconDust decided to exit the pay TV business.
Where to Buy HDHomeRun
- HDHomeRun Flex DUO at Walmart
- HDHomeRun Flex QUATRO at Walmart
- HDHomeRun Flex 4K at Walmart
- HDHomeRun Scribe 4K at Walmart
- All HDHomeRun models at SiliconDust shop on eBay
- HDHomeRun Flex DUO at Amazon
- HDHomeRun Flex QUATRO at Amazon
- HDHomeRun Scribe QUATRO at Amazon
- HDHomeRun Flex 4K at Amazon
- HDHomeRun Scribe 4K at Amazon
This article was originally published June 25, 2022, and has been updated.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble