Plex Media Server gains a DVR feature, starting with HDHomeRun tuners

Windows Media Center DVR holdouts: Plex wants to be your modern replacement.

Creating your own whole-home DVR system is about to get a lot simpler, thanks to Plex.

Plex Media Server users can now record live TV with either an antenna or a CableCARD using SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun tuners. They can then stream those recordings to phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, set-top boxes, and smart TVs. The feature is currently in beta for Plex Pass subscribers.

Here’s how it works: If you have an over-the-air antenna, you can plug it into either an HDHomeRun Connect or HDHomeRun Extend tuner, which then connects to your router over ethernet. Cable subscribers can also record non-DRM CableCARD channels using an HDHomeRun Prime tuner.

Once connected, Plex’s Media Server software will recognize the tuner and download local program guide data, so you can schedule recordings on an individual or series basis. You can use Plex’s client apps to stream recordings over your local Wi-Fi network or remotely over the internet.

plexdvrdiscover

“This feature has been requested for a long, long time. It’s one of our top-requested features,” says Jason Williams, Plex’s director of product and growth. “It also fits with some of the stuff we’re really trying to do for the future of Plex.”

Although it’s technically in beta, Plex has managed to pack a fair amount of features into this initial release. Through Plex’s web interface, you can prioritize recordings, set buffer times, and get notified of conflicts based on the number of tuners you have. An experimental feature for HDHomeRun Connect tuners also transcodes while the recording is in progress, provided your PC or NAS box is powerful enough. Plex’s apps support offline viewing as well, and you can sync recordings to cloud storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox for when your home server isn’t available.

plexdvrconflict

The most obvious use case here is for desktop-PC and NAS-box owners who want to roll their own DVR solutions, either with over-the-air broadcasts or CableCARD channels. While Windows Media Center was a solid option in the past, it’s no longer supported by Microsoft in Windows 10, and current alternatives are a major hassle to set up. Besides, Media Center’s “extender” system relies on aging hardware for streaming to other televisions around the house.

But Plex will also support recording onto the Nvidia Shield Android TV, as part of the company’s push to be less PC dependent. Once you’ve set up the HDHomeRun tuner, you can have a single set-top box that plays recordings on your television and streams them to other devices.

plexagenda

That’s not to say Plex is the only answer. SiliconDust is working on its own DVR software for HDHomeRun tuners, which is currently in an “early access” preview. Like Plex, it will support recording onto both PCs and Nvidia’s Shield Android TV. (It will not, however, support out-of-home viewing the wayPlex does.)

Over time, though, Plex plans to support more than just HDHomeRun tuners. Plex will work with some partners directly, Williams says, but companies such as Hauppauge and Elgato will be able to add support on their own. In the long term, the Plex community could be allowed to build device support as well, though Williams didn’t give a timeline for any of these developments.

“We had a pretty large intersection of Plex users who also use HomeRun devices, so it was low-hanging fruit,” Williams says.

If there’s one major missing piece from Plex’s DVR solution right now, it’s the ability to time-shift watching live TV. Without making any firm commitments, Williams says Plex is looking into it. “You could imagine that at this point, 90 percent of the work is done with the components that are already built,” he says.

As for pricing, the DVR service requires a Plex Pass, which costs $4.99 per month, $40 per year, or $150 for a lifetime membership. TV program guide data costs money, after all, and while Williams says DVR will be available for non-subscribers in the future, it’ll likely be in a limited trial capacity or have recording limitations.

We’ll have a deeper dive into Plex’s DVR solution soon.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags cord cutting

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

TechHive (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?