The Android TV ecosystem currently consists of the SHIELD and some other things no one buys. There may soon be another Android TV device worth picking up. The Stream+ from Channel Master is up for pre-order, and it ships later this month. This is an Android TV box, but it also has built-in dual TV tuners and DVR functionality.
Sling TV offers a compelling value for cord cutters who want to stream cable television channels without paying the hefty prices. One of its weaknesses was its all-live setup, which it addressed with the Cloud DVR "First Look" program. Initially limited to Fire devices, the company has now expanded access to the service to Android and Roku players.
If you've been itching to DVR the live TV that you get via your OTA broadcast or cable card receiver on an Android TV box, then I've got some great news for you. Google has partnered with SiliconDust, creators of HDHomeRun, to bring you just that. If you have an Nvidia SHIELD or Nexus Player and a current-generation model of an HDHR, then you can get to recording and saving live TV.
While Sling TV makes a pretty compelling offering for those who want to ditch expensive conventional television service, its all-live setup is something of a bummer - recording has become so ingrained in the premium TV mindset that it's hard to give up. The company is rectifying that shortcoming with Cloud DVR, a (wait for it) DVR service that uses cloud storage to hold recorded TV episodes and other content. It's in closed beta right now - prospective users can sign up and cross their fingers at this address.
Google sells fiber Internet access and television service through the Google Fiber brand. Yeah, you might have forgotten that, since the rollout process is about as fast as continental drift, and even if you live in the US odds are overwhelming that you don't have access to it. Google also makes set-top box software called Android TV... which you might also have forgotten, since it's still pretty limited in terms of actual users. Fiber started in 2012, with Android TV starting in 2014, so they've never been running the same software, but they're getting a little closer now.
tinyCam recently made the big leap to version six dot oh, dragging along a new icon and material design. On the functionality front, we saw the introduction of 24/7 background video recording. This allowed users to keep recording long after they've switched their attention to another app.
With version 6.2, the developer has added in an internal web server that lets users record video on one device and remotely access them from another. For someone who already has multiple Android phones and tablets lying around, this is a cheap way to make an NVR.
This may be the primary new feature, but the lengthy changelogs include a few other noteworthy additions.
The people who brought you HDHomeRun, a set of cable tuners that allow you to watch television on devices other than your base TV, are now close to bringing a DVR to market. With over $100,000 pledged on Kickstarter, they have now reached their funding goal to release this new, more practical product.
Previous HDHomeRun products simply allowed you to stream whatever was on your TV live to other devices, like Android tablets or game consoles, on your home network. This limited the potential of the products since many people are happy to sit in front of a particular TV if they are free when a program airs.
You don't have to know what DVR is to recognize the name TiVo, the company that became synonymous with the word. The company's products have allowed users to return to previous shows and watch them on their own schedule since long before Netflix and Hulu came around to help people cut the cord.
The TiVo Android app has grown a little dated over the years, but the company has invested some time rebuilding the software from the ground up. It's not material—it actually looks more like something from the Honeycomb era—but it's a nice sign of life after years of growing stagnant.
AT&T U-Verse customers can use the Android companion app to watch live channels on a phone or tablet, turn their handset into a TV remote, and manage DVR. The user interface hasn't looked particularly holo over the last several years, but after the latest updates, it now looks kind of ready for KitKat just in time for everything else to go material. Hey, at least it's something.
If you've used U-Verse on a tablet before, then this interface probably won't look particularly new. While AT&T has provided fresh screenshots on both Play Store pages, the tablet UI has looked this way since over the summer.
With so many ways to catch up on your favorite shows, sitting down when a cable network wants you to and putting up with dozens of ads doesn't sound particularly compelling. But if you record that stuff to get back to later, then it's not so bad (VCRs taught us that). There are multiple ways to go about this, but right now you can get a Simple.TV DVR with a lifetime subscription for $99 on Woot. That's a discount of $250.
SiliconDust's Simple.TV app will let you watch those shows on your mobile device (with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone all supported) or stream them to something larger, say a Chromecast, Roku, or Apple TV.