The other day I posted about the Channel Master TV CM-7400 ATSC & clear QAM DVR, and given its features and $400 price tag I concluded that a $600 TiVo Premiere with lifetime was the better deal. Well, now we have more info and I think the TiVo is an even better deal than before. Dave Zatz dug up some information in the Channel Master Knowledge base:
14.) How can a DVR be free? Most DVR’s on the market today require a subscription fee in order for it to be functional.
Last Updated: 09/13/2011
DVR manufacturers and service providers are required to pay fees for the television guide data that is delivered to the box via the internet or a service provider network. This expense is passed on to the consumer as a monthly DVR fee. With Channel Master TV, basic television guide data is transmitted free-of-charge by the broadcaster and our device receives this info and appropriately inserts it into the on-screen guide. While this info is basic and all depends on what the broadcaster decides to send, it is free. This being said, there may be times that some channels will not broadcast program information or it may be limited, but again, there are no fees for this. If you desire additional program information, Channel Master TV will have a Premium Guide upgrade for a fee of $99.99 annually. The Premium Guide offers additional program information including a 7-day viewing and recording window.
So you have a choice – you can take your chances with the free guide data, which in many areas only goes out for maybe 12 hours and is often incomplete and unreliable – or you can pay $99.99 a year for a Premium Guide with richer data that goes out for 7 days. That’s on top of the $399.99 purchase price of the box.
Alternatively you could buy a $99.99 TiVo Premiere, which as I covered in my previous post has more features and functionality, and then take advantage of the $9.99/month antenna-only rate from TiVo. You can use the TiVo for *15* years before you’d pay as much as the CM-7400 over the same period. (400+(100*x) = 100 + (120*x)) Even better, buy the TiVo with lifetime for $600 and after two years you’re saving money over the CM-7400 and getting more for what you spent. And the TiVo’s guide goes out up to 14 days, in my experience 10-14 is normal.
I thought the TiVo was a better deal compared to the CM-7400 with the free data, just on features and usability, but if you’re going to pay for the Premium Guide I think you’d have to be crazy to pick the CM-7400 over the TiVo.
EDIT: Even Channel Master must’ve realized how much their pricing sucked. They’re dropped the data pricing from $99.99/year to $49.99/year. Not that it really changes my opinion. It may stretch out the break even point with TiVo a little, but I’d still recommend TiVo over the CM-7400, hands down.