95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2012
Well, it's only been a couple of days that I have had this up and running. I am still learning some of its idiosyncrasies, but so far it's working fine for me. I got this box to replace my Dish HD DVR which was becoming too expensive for what I was watching on it. I am tending to spend more time watching Netflix streaming on my Roku player instead, so I thought I would save the $60 per month I was paying to Dish for stuff I hardly ever watch. This seems to fit the ticket nicely. It does the dual recording that I am used to and I can still watch either a pre-recorded event or watch live using my TV's tuner (but then I am stuck with watching commercials if I do that). So far I have not seen the lockups that others have mentioned, but then again it has only been a couple of days. The one time that I had issues was trying to see what the built-in Vudu was all about. It went into some endless loop of trying to connect to Vudu because my firewall was blocking it. After I opened up ports 13200 thru 13299, then the endless loop went away and Vudu functioned as I would expect for not having a Vudu account set up yet. The only reason I am giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is because the built-in dual tuner seems less sensitive than my built-in dual tuner on my old Dish receiver. My old Dish receiver could pull in all of the local channels including 2 weaker ones that I would watch from time to time. So far the CM-7400 has not been able to find those 2 weaker stations so that it can save them. My TV only finds one of those 2 weaker stations in addition to all of the stronger ones so I know I am right on the edge here in a fringe area. If the tuner had pulled in those 2 additional stations, I would have awarded the 5 stars. Set up was easy and I used all of my old Dish receiver connections (except for the satellite feed of course). I did do the firmware update right away before even trying to do much else. Right now I am using the free version of the guide and it seems to be adequate. So far, I am very happy with this DVR. The picture is nice and clear, as is the surround audio. I plan to do some antenna work to get those last 2 weak stations, and I will do an update once that happens or when things change if the CM-7400 starts to act up on me. But so far I would do this purchase again if given the choice.
It occurs to me that perhaps the way this box is used may influence whether people see problems with it or not. So just for the record, I am using it on a Wireless G network and off of an old-style broadcast antenna in my attic. I use the audio optical output direct to my sound system and use component cable to my TV. I have it set to 1080i. I use a Harmony remote instead of the one supplied.
UPDATE 2/8/12: It's been almost two weeks and still working pretty much flawlessly. But I was aware of all of the negative reviews and took some precautions which may have helped. First, I put it in a place with very good ventilation. Second, I added a set of rubber feet to the bottom that I scavenged from an old network hub to raise it up a bit to improve ventilation underneath. Third, last night, I just put in on a $15 laptop cooler that I bought for it and within just a little bit, the entire unit was running noticeably cooler. So even though I have not experienced the problems that others have, I feel better about my chances of continuing to have a good experience with this unit.
Update 2/20/12: Three weeks and still working like a champ. I have noticed only 2 fairly minor bugs that I have reported to ChannelMaster: 1) If you reboot the unit or rescan the channels, some channels that you have previously disabled may re-appear--simply disable them again. 2) If viewing a recording and it comes time for another scheduled recording to start, the next time you use the skip-forward or skip-back after the new recording has started it will do it from some other location other than from where you were viewing and you will not be able to get back to where you were viewing until you view something else, and then come back to the original program and start viewing from the beginning again and then fast forward to where you were. This last bug I have only seen 3 times and have hopes that ChannelMaster will fix both of the bugs in a future firmware release. I am not sorry that I have purchased this unit and would do it again at this point.
Update 3/7/12: It's been about five weeks now and things have still been working just fine other than the little bugs mentioned before. I did decide to buy the Premium Guide after my first 30 days of ownership since I knew I was going to keep the unit. The Premium Guide does add some nice things like more future data, whether the programs is a rerun or not, whether it is in HD, and it also solves a problem with the unit not stepping through the known channels while it is in standby to update the free version of the guide which leads to missed recordings sometimes simply because there was no guide data for that particular channel. By having the Premium Guide, data is always there and no recordings should be missed. For just about 96 cents a week, it seems worth it to me to have the added convenience. I still see the skip-forward and skip-back bug mentioned above from time to time, but that seems to get better for several days after I reboot the unit. Rebooting once or twice a week may be a good idea, and then removing the previously disabled channels again when they show up after the reboot which is no big deal.
Update 6/14/12: I have been holding off doing another update because I was waiting for the next firmware update. It finally was released a couple of days ago. The new release has its pluses and minuses because, from what I hear and read, it fixes the skip-forward and skip-back bug and the channel lineup saves properly now, but in my case it changed the tuner to lose two of my channels and their sub-channels. It appears to have changed the sensitivity of the tuner somewhat so that I needed to change my amplifier setting to get it to see the channels. But then when it sees those channels, other channels start to pixellate badly (note that I am in a fringe area). So I can't find a happy medium setting that gets all of the channels for me, so I am a bit disappointed in the firmware release. But overall, the unit still works fine for me and we continue to use it for its intended purpose. And we continue to save big bucks from pulling the plug on the satellite feed. This will most likely be my last update unless something major happens after this.
Update 2/11/12: This response from ChannelMaster was posted on one of the forum sites regarding the problems that some people were seeing:
Letter From Channel Master Regarding Channel Master TV
Dear Channel Master TV Users,
Channel Master TV has been the most exciting product launch for Channel Master in several years. It has been judged by the industry's top reviewers and voted best of 2012 by Electronic House Magazine. So we were surprised when we heard reports of heat related functionality problems and we immediately began investigating them. Here is what we have learned.
First and foremost, Channel Master TV was thoroughly tested in both real world and lab environments prior to the release of the product with no indication of temperature related functionality issues. We know that most DVR's will run warmer than standard set-top boxes without a hard disk drive and DVR capabilities. This is true for most cable and satellite DVR's. But some users have expressed their concern that the CM7400 is operating considerably warmer than they have experienced with other products. At the same time we continue to receive emails and calls from users saying that they are very happy with how the CM7400 performs and that it is the best option in its category. What can explain all of this?
We discovered early on that the timing we programmed to retrieve guide data was incorrect and would cause the CM7400 to lock-up while downloading the PSIP electronic program guide in certain markets. To fix this we adjusted the PSIP download timing to accommodate all markets regardless of when the PSIP data is received. On January 18, 2012 we released a software update that corrected this issue as well as added new features and other general enhancements.
After the software update we were pleased to hear from customers that the update had resolved the lock-up issues they had been experiencing. How does this relate to the temperature concern? Well unfortunately at this point many consumers were speculating that the lock-up issue was due to the temperature of the CM7400 and many users commented on this in product reviews, forums and blogs. This has left many users and potential users concerned about the temperature even though temperature had no influence on the lock-up issue. Through our testing we are still unable to reproduce issues related to temperature.
Channel Master has been committed to quality for over 60 years. For those who have had concerns, we apologize for any anxiety we may have caused. To stand behind our commitment to quality we will be extending the CM7400 warranty period to a full 1 year warranty from purchase date. In addition, we will continue to make software enhancements that will improve the overall functionality of the CM7400, including improved channel scanning performance, new advanced features and potentially new content partners.
Our future road map is focused on Channel Master TV, new innovation, and the future of television. With any new innovation there will be some bumps in the road but we want our customers to know that we are committed and strive to have the best quality and most innovative products.
As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your Channel Master TV unit to the retailer where you purchased it from for a full refund within the time frame specified in your retailer's standard return policy.
Thank you for your patience and support.
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2012
I often watch TV in a situation where there is no Internet available and I don't want to pay for cable or dish because I only care about watching OTA Network TV and other local TV stations. I get up early so I go to sleep early which requires a DVR to record any TV shows after 8:00 PM so that I can time shift them to watch at another time. Also, there are sometimes two shows on at the same time that I would like to watch so a multi tuner DVR is almost a necessity to get the most TV viewing enjoyment.
Initially I built an HTPC system based on MS MCE 2005. This system required Internet for the guide download so I set up a dial up server to connect to my broadband internet which I have at another location. The early MS Media Center was full of bugs and glitches and I could never get the dial up access to work for automatic guide downloading. I could connect the dial up manually so I downloaded the guide manually once a day. For two years I put up with this noisy (fans) glitch ridden nightmare beast of a DVR. Then along came the DTV PAL DVR from Dish Network. The PAL receives the EPG from the OTA TV stations. I was saved......it was the perfect solution for me. Once I upgraded the DTV PAL to F208 firmware the PAL performed nearly flawlessly for over three years. Then recently my PAL decided we weren't going to be friends anymore and became as unfriendly as my old HTPC. (I took this as a sign that my PAL was dying.) Since the DTV PAL DVR product is no longer supported there is no technical documentation to aid me in repairing it. So, I researched the possible replacements. Since a minimum of two tuners is a must have, there really are only three options: TIVO ($600), another HTPC with Windows 7 Media Center ($600) or the Channel Master CM7400 ($400). Even if there were a dual tuner DVD recorder I would rule that out (it's too reminiscent of VCRs and Tapes.
TIVO: My main issue with TIVO is that the lifetime subscription fee is tied to the life of the TIVO box and not my life. If the Box dies, I lose my subscription. Also, in my circumstance, TIVO would require access to the guide via dial up. TIVO claims to still support this but if they decide to drop this dial up access I would have no guide.
HTPC: I Love Windows 7 Media Center. Microsoft has finally nailed it (it only took them 6 years!). However, setting up an HTPC from a PC means adding tuners, a dial up modem and a remote. Plus I would have to do the dial up thing to my broadband to access the TV guide. I couldn't make that work before so I am not willing to risk $600 on a venture with such a big unknown. Besides, since this DVR is to be located in a bedroom, I don't want a bunch of equipment and cables cluttering up things.
CM7400: At first this appeared to be the answer but reading the reviews and the user guide turned me off. Then I decided to take the plunge because it is the best solution for me. I decided, after reading the latest statement from Channel Master, CM has its reputation at stake and will support this product. Also, some of the latest reviews of upgraded units were very favorable. The most attractive feature of the CM7400 is that it gets the EPG OTA from the TV stations....no internet required for the Guide. (Yet!)
The CM7400 is a nice looking, quiet, compact unit which is perfect for a bedroom installation. The initial set up was very easy except that the antenna input connector nut was loose. Had I not caught this the wires to the connector inside the unit may have twisted off. I was surprised that my unit came with software (firmware) version 18.104.22.168 when there is a 22.214.171.124 version and the latest version is 126.96.36.199. (Old inventory I suppose.) I didn't have access to the Internet when I was setting the device up so I went with the installed software version. After a few hours of testing the device I decided that based on the performance of this software revision the CM7400 was going back to Amazon. There were lock ups, unresponsive remote keys, incorrect function of remote keys and other erratic behavior all within the first hour of use. But, I wanted to try the latest software version before making any final judgment. Once I installed upgrade version 188.8.131.52 there was immediate noticeable improvement. Then I was able to evaluate this product with some hope that I would be happy with it. (BTW, all CM7400 firmware revisions appear to have the same name of, "firmware.bin" )
Attractive, quiet compact case
Easy set up
Sensitive tuners receive more stations than my TV tuner
Excellent Video quality and Sound/Video synching
Five speed REW and FF
Universal Remote allows operation of STB, TV and one other device
Single button Punch Through feature....Remote turns both STB and TV On or Off
Good set of features Live TV, FF, REW, Pause, Recording, Front USB Media Input
EPG over the air, no subscription fee just to get a guide
Able to scan for missing channels
Performs most functions well much of the time
Fair price considering it's a computer with two tuners, built-in remote & wireless
The Not so Good: (after latest software upgrade):
Remote: The Remote layout is not one of the best. The primary buttons for a DVR Remote are: OK, Left/Right Up/Down Arrows, Play, Stop, Pause, Replay, REW and FF. These are the buttons I use the most. This subset of buttons should be the easiest to access and use. The Arrow keys and OK key are laid out well but the others are a group of very small, close togther buttons that were intended for small fingers. The layout is not as good as the DTV PAL DVR Remote. I can't use it "by feel" I must have light to find the small buttons. The colored short cut keys are not labeled. The universal remote implementation does not work for "TV Input." I thought this would be a great feature because I usually have to fumble for the TV's remote to change the TV's input source. Pressing the Input key on the CM7400 Remote brings up the TV's Input menu but that's where it ends. There is no way to navigate the Input Source menu and select an Input....totally useless!
Screen presentations: Some CM7400 engineer seems to be in love with white text on black background. The small font white text on black background is almost illegible from twelve feet across the room on a 24 inch screen. Some people prefer this reversal but it irritates my eyes. (As a side note, I avoid websites that use white text on black)
User interface: Menu navigation is functional but awkward. Often it requires many steps and levels of pop-up menus to accomplish simple tasks. Also, the highlighting is often vague. From some menus you can't go to another menu by selecting another function from the Remote you must EXIT out of the current menu first. The user interface could be better implemented. (Take a hint from MS Windows 7 Media Center which is one of the most elegant user interfaces around) The user interface on the DTV PAL DVR is much simpler and more user friendly. (My Opinion)
Guide Navigation: I mentioned this above but this is a deal breaker for me. The guide is the key to enjoying the DVR experience. The CM7400 guide is difficult to read from across the room and the random severe delays in response to the remote's arrow keys while navigating the guide are more than an annoyance.
Information screen: The information screen which identifies the channel and program is a large black partially transparent banner that obscures the top third of the screen. This could have been a small transparent block in the corner. Usually, this banner appears for about 3 seconds after starting a recording playback or selecting a channel for live TV. Often though, it will remain on the screen for a minute or more. Once it would not disappear on its own and I had to turn off the device and back on to clear it.
Signal Strength Meter: This is a nice feature if it would work. The meter consists of a set of colored (Red, Yellow, & Green) bars that appear on the information screen as well as the channel scan screen. Either it doesn't work or I don't know how to read it. The color bars are always the same for every channel even for channels known to be weak.
Rewind and Fast Forward: The on screen indicator for REW or FF speed is tiny and difficult to see at any distance over a few feet. This might not be a problem if there weren't delays in response from the Remote. Quite often when I press REW or FF the timer indicator moves very slowly so I bump the button a couple of more times but see no change in speed. Then suddenly, the timer takes off and I have no idea which speed it is running at.
Erratic behavior: Often the CM7400 doesn't respond. This usually occurs when trying to navigate one of the many pop-up menus. Often, it just sits there when I press the Guide button or some other function button. If I fool around by pressing buttons on the remote, it will eventually snap out of its "daydreaming" but many times I have to "Exit" a menu and start over. Even then there can be a delay in response to the Exit button. Most noticeable are severe hesitations when navigating through the guide with the Arrow buttons but it is random. Often I can navigate the Guide just fine. There are often delays of up to a minute before getting a response. On several occasions I was watching a recorded show and it stopped with a message, "the Recorded Program has Ended." It hadn't ended. I had to go into the DVR menu, restart the program and FF to resume viewing. From then on it played in its entirety without further incident. Sometimes when Fast Forwarding through a commercial (none of us do that, right?) when I press the Play button to resume viewing the program, the fast forwarding just keeps on going. When I finally am able to stop it I try to REWind when suddenly it just stops and won't let me return to the point where I left off. The recovery for this is to restart the program from the beginning and FF to the last viewing point. This scenario has occurred at least three times within two weeks. On two occasions I have experienced a complete lock up with the only recovery of turning off the device and back on again. This hasn't occurred when viewing a live TV show or recorded show but when navigating the guide or a menu. (It may not have actually locked up but was just extremely slow to respond to the Remote.) One time I pressed the Remote's power button to turn on the CM7400 and it just sat there. I tried several times including pressing other buttons. I also pressed the STB button several times to make certain the Remote was in STB mode. Finally, I walked over and pressed the front panel Power button....still nothing. Then I held the front panel Power button for about 10 seconds and the CM7400 sprung to life with the green LED on and blinking. But that's all...the screen was still blank.
Next I unplugged the AC Adaptor from the CM7400 for about 30 seconds and then plugged it back in. The CM7400 booted up and then was OK (more or less!).
Deleting Recorded Programs: Rather than providing a confirmation step, when recordings are deleted they go into a trash bin. Recorded programs in the trash can be individually viewed, restored, or deleted permanently. The list of deleted files accumulates rapidly with normal use and begins to clutter things up. This list can be hidden but sometimes it appears when bringing up the DVR recorded programs list. The trash bin or recycle bin can be emptied with a delete all media function which also deletes any programs you might have wanted to keep. So far I see no easy way to just remove the files that are in the trash bin while leaving the undeleted files intact. I would prefer the confirmation step with the knowledge that the recording is permanently deleted. This may be different if choosing another option for saving programs other than "keep until no space." I didn't have time to try that.
Lost Recordings: I lost two one hour recordings. When each recording was played, after about five minutes into the program it would stop with the message, "the Recording has Ended." There was nothing I could do to recover it. This could have been due to a temporary loss of signal. This is a weak point for some DVRs. If the signal is lost it just stops recording. If that's the case, I think the DVR should at least indicate such instead of indicating that the one hour recording was indeed recorded. I would rather see a message in the recorded program list stating that the recording was terminated due do loss of signal.
Heat: (Only mentioning this because others have) The case does get warm but that may be a good thing because it means the internal components are dissipating heat. The key factor in reliability is that no individual electronic component approaches its maximum operating temperature rating. The case temperature is not necessarily an indicator that any component is in danger. The case actually aids in preventing internal heat build-up by transferring heat to the ambient air around it. If the case were too hot the product would not be UL Listed.
After just two weeks of use I have decided to return this product to Amazon for a refund. This is only the second product I have ever returned due to poor performance. The level of frustration when using this product is just too high.
Even though I really like what this product could be, I would not recommend this product in its current evolution. People with broadband access have the other options, TIVO and Microsoft's Windows 7 Media Center to name two. (Microsoft's Premium Guide is currently free by the way.) Presently, there is no adequate non fee DVR for use with free OTA TV. We either have to pay a subscription fee and/or Internet access fee. The CM7400 is all we've got and unfortunately, we really don't have it yet.
The no fee aspect was the primary attractor to the CM7400 for me. I just wish the CM7400 had met my performance expectations. I'm amazed that several reviewers have given this product a great review with claims of no issues at all. I'm not using the device in any unusual manner at all and I have no problem routinely experiencing performance issues. My girlfriend absolutely could not use this product.
There are many things I like about this product but I don't think the added complication of the broadband Internet link is necessary. The CM7400 is touted as a no fee device intended for the "antenna TV viewing set." So why add wireless? I think Channel Master may have missed the target. Since antenna TV viewers aren't willing to pay for Cable TV or Dish, many of us are probably not willing to pay for broadband Internet either. The niche product that is needed is a dual tuner OTA DVR that gets its EPG from the OTA TV stations or better yet a free premium guide via a free dial up link. That is the product I want and I believe many other antenna TV viewers want this as well. The question to ask ourselves is, "if I have broadband Internet then what does the CM7400 offer over TIVO or a PC with Windows 7 Media Center?" Keep in mind that the latter two offer premium guides with no additional fees if one purchases a lifetime subscription from TIVO. I think the CM7400 has the potential to be the product that is the right product for many. I'm just not willing to be a beta tester waiting for this product to be truly release ready. Some of my concerns probably won't be addressed anyway unless many other users have the same concerns. I fear this product will go the way of the DTV PAL DVR and become just another niche product that didn't make it.
Channel Master is a reputable company but their expertise is RF electronics, not digital electronics. I am reasonably certain the CM7400 design is contracted out. I am also reasonably certain the design contractor is Entone who based the CM7400 design on their Amulet 300/500 DVR product. Check it out at entone.com.
Based on that, Channel Master may be the victim just as much as the consumer. Channel Master is the marketer of this product and needs to listen to its customers and put the necessary pressure on the design firm to clean this product up.
Channel Master was handed the DTV PAL DVR when Dish Network dumped it. If only CM and Entone had taken their lead from the DTV PAL DVR we might have a great product.
The solution to my problem is easy. All I have to do is to accept that I have to pay to watch free OTA TV! I miss my "PAL!"
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
I had previously purchased a Channel Master 7000 and was very satisfied with it, even with it's limited feature set. So wanting to get rid of my HTPC and it's associated maintenance, I ordered a CM7400. I think Channel Master pushed this out way too early. It seems buggy, I've had one lock up and a picture freeze. The remote has less features on it than the 7000 did! The DVR menus are functional, but clunky and sometimes not very intuitive. It can be sluggish at times in responding and can take multiple remote presses to operate. It also runs a little hot.
On the plus side, reception is good. When playing back a recording it looks very good and rarely glitches. Getting to a recording can be problematic at times, especially manual recordings (they just show up as a bunch of 'manual recording' entries, no program names).
I give it two stars because it does tune in channels well and does a good quality recording. But for $400, I want better functionality and a finished product. This one's going back to Amazon.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
I Pre-ordered the 7400 directly from Channel Master. I was looking for a subscription free option for ATSC over the air progamming. After more than 90 days, I finally received the product and I couldn't have been more disappointed. Setup was easy but soon ran onto problems. After just a very short time the unit froze, and was completely unresponsive. I had to reboot the unit by holding in the power button. This happened several times the first night I played with the unit. The very next day I contacted Channelmaster support - their response was there is a known problem with processing the OTA programming guide - and they were temporarily offering their premium guide (Internet based) as a work around. I was told that tech support would contact me with the temporary premium account - but after several return calls and email messages - no account was provided. The unit is virtually useless in its present state. I don't know if it's related to the OTA guide issue - but the unit also rebooted twice on its own. The first time it was in the middle of recording a show and the second time I witnesses it rebooting when I was simply watching a live show. After more than a week with no solution - I sent the unit back. Perhaps if you are paying for the premium guide you won't have the same experience - now I will be looking at alternatives.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2012
New lower level of performance.
Well here we go again. I have installed the latest software update version 1.0.97. In the last week the unit froze up three times. When this happens the clock is frozen at the wrong time, the power button is red and the unit does not record the scheduled program. When you press the power button nothing happens. The only way to turn on the machine is to unplug it so it resets. It appears that your new update has taken this unit to a new lower level of performance.
I have installed the latest software and this unit is still not ready for prime time.
I have installed the latest software update version 1.0.97. The fast forward function and the guide navigation appears to be a little better but some of my main complaints were not addressed.
1 - When you set two programs to record at the same time and you are watching a program that you recorded earlier, at the time the two programs start to record you loose all control of the remote functions for five minutes. If you happen to be using fast forward through a commercial when the recordings kick in you can't stop the fast forward for five minutes. Then you have to back track to view the part of the program that was fast forwarded through. Also the program you are watching freezes, jerks.
2 - The program guide still does not download until you turn the machine on making it useless when on vacation. My other DVR's download the program guide when the machine is turned off making it possible to record all instances of the program in the future. You can't do that with this machine.
3 - The clock feature is lost when recording programs forcing me to sit with a watch in my hand so that i can stop the program we are watching before new programs start to record. (See item 1 above) We shut down the program we are watching just before the new programs start to record because we know we will loose control of the machine for five minutes once the new recordings start.
I notified tech support about these problems the day the new software came out and it is now two weeks later with no reply from them. Apparently if you give their products a well deserved bad review tech support decides not to respond to you. Once again my advice is to not purchase this unit. They should have fixed the hardware and software before they put it on the market. I think this is a low quality product and if you purchase it you are likely to end up hating it as I do.
Because tech support has decided not to respond to me I think I shall update this article every few weeks.
If you are a heavy user of the DVR you will end up hating this unit.
I have been viewing OTA (over the air, antenna) TV for the past 42 years and I have 3 years experience using OTA DVR's. When the digital switch happened we purchased 2 - DTV-PAL DVR's made by the Dish Network. We had no problems with either unit and became very heavy users of the DVR. Two months ago we decided to purchase another DVR and when we went back to Dish they no longer sell DVR's for OTA. The only unit available was the Channel Master TV CM 7400 HD DVR so we purchased one and have been regretting it ever since. The list of problems seems to be endless so I will list a few that I have shared with tech support:
1 - We have the problem of the program guides non stop scrolling. It's as if the down and right arrow is stuck in the engage mode. Trying to select a station to record is like hitting a small number on a spinning wheel with a dart. I need help as the DVR is useless the way it is now. I have already gone through the long process of restoring the factory default so I don't see the purpose of doing that again. Also the DVR doesn't want to turn off. I turn it off it comes back on and it did this three times before it stayed off. I think this was caused by the unit overheating. It always runs very hot. They said to return the unit for replacement if it continued.
2 - This time it is not recording a program that was set up to record every instance of the program every day. When I checked the program guide there was a yellow exclamation point in the box of the program to be recorded. When I tried to manually record the program from the guide input it would not record. I tried to record this way six or eight times with no result. Lastly I tried to record the program using the red button on the remote with the same result. The purpose of a DVR is to record a program when I am not here but I can't even get it to record when I am here. This problem was caused by no information being in the program guide at the time of recording. If you leave the unit off because it overheats then it does not download the program guide and you get no recording. The program guide that they offer you is one day at a time. If you turn off your machine and go on vacation it will record the first day and no more because the machine does not download the new program guide unless you turn it on every day. For about $50.00 a year they offer to sell you a 14 day program. That works if you only go on vacation for 14 days but on the 15th day and beyond you loose your recordings. You also may not want to pay an annual fee for a product that does not work well.
3 - I had set up four programs to record, two at 8:00 and two at 9:00. At 7:55 we sat down to watch a program that we recorded earlier. At 8:00 when the two programs started to record the program that we were watching started to go nuts. It would stop and start over and over creating a jerky, pixel filled screen with missing audio. When I tried to stop the program we were watching I was not able to do so. None of the commands on the remote would work and this continued for about 5 minutes. Suddenly the earlier commands that I had given started to work on their own and the program stopped. After I restarted the program the picture was ok but when I hit fast forward through the commercials most of the picture on the screen was black and the time bar at the bottom did not work. I had to guess when the commercial was over. While we were watching another program that was recorded earlier at 9:00 when the next recording started the above described actions started all over again. Five more minutes of non responsive jerky, pixel filled, sound distorted viewing. I spent two hours regretting the purchase of this product. This cannot be the way the product was designed to work. There has to be something wrong with this unit. I did return the unit to Amazon and we received a replacement DVR and after installing it and recreating the above actions the problem was the same. It appears that this unit does not have the ability to play smoothly while recording two different channels and since this is the second unit with this issue I assume this problem exists in all the units. During fast forward no matter how many times I would press the button it would advance only one or two seconds at a time. During playback it was jerky, stopping and starting so much that you could not understand what was being said. This is a continuous ongoing problem and the only way I have been able to get around it is to watch the clock and stop the playback of the program we are watching just before the programs are set to record and go back to playback about 5 minutes later. At least once a night I forget to stop it in time and I sit there cussing out the machine for 5 minutes as it freezes.
4 - We had something new happen this week. Two Sunday's ago we recorded Masterpiece Theater part 1 and decided not to watch it until we recorded part 2 this week. All last week while watching our recorded programs I noticed that the Masterpiece Theater recording was there. I recorded part 2 this week and we sat down to watch them last night and part 1 was missing. I know I didn't erase it and my wife said she did not erase it so I hit the green button to view erased programs and it was not there either. This is the longest we have left a program on the DVR. At no time was the hard drive less than 75% empty. Any idea where our program went? Tech support response: Well I will tell you this has also been brought up before. No way to recover the missing recordings.
5 - I also want to comment on a few more things that I am not happy with. This unit does not have an antenna pass through. Every VCR that I have ever owned had an antenna pass through. I think it was shortsighted of Channel Master to create a $400 unit and not include an antenna pass through. I should not have to split (and degrade) the signal before it gets to the DVR and TV in order to watch another program on TV while recording two programs on the DVR. I also think that for a machine that is this expensive I should be able to get more than one day's guide without having to pay for it. The remote control has a terrible layout. All of the most used buttons are at the very top of the controller, not color coated, small and close together. After using this for two months I still have to look at the buttons in order to make a correct selection. Lately for some reason a number of the recordings have stopped recording before the program was over forcing us to search the internet to view the rest of the program. I can't recall one day that we have not had a problem.
Wrap up - If I could give this unit 0 stars I would. It has been nothing but trouble from the beginning. It does run hot, it does freeze up and it does not record programs well. I can't recall viewing one recorded program that didn't have a problem. And there has been lots of disappointment over programs that were not recorded as setup. My advice is to not - repeat - not purchase this unit. Wait for competition to come up with a better product or pay the monthly fee with Tivo. Tech support has promised that these problems would be fixed with a new software update but I am doubtful. I am one of those people who read all the bad reviews and still thought it would not happen to me. Don't make the same mistake. If future software updates do fix the problem then I will come back and update this review. If there are no updates assume I am very unhappy with this product.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
1. My wife and I bought the Channel Master 7400 because we canceled Cable TV and wanted to be able to record Network TV shows, stop, start, pause and rewind shows we watch, just like we did with our Cable TV DVR.
We got tired of paying over $100 a month for cable TV when we only watch Network TV shows, other then that we rent movies and stream Netflex and Hulu Plus through our Blu Ray Player and Roku players.
2. We installed a large TV antenna in our attic, we get all major network TV and many minor stations, even 24 hour weather stations all in Beautiful HDTV through our new TV attic antenna and its all free!
A lot of people do not realize that HDTV is FREE, Cable and satellite companies make it sound like they are giving you something special but HDTV is free over the air with an antenna! In fact HDTV is the only TV signal broadcast by TV stations and its all free to you, if you can get the stations with an antenna.
3. All I can say is THANK YOU Channel Master! The Channel Master 7400 does its job exactly as we hoped it would.
In fact my wife was REALLY impressed, she was kind of skeptical about this whole venture of cutting cable and getting this device.
We have been now using this unit for one straight month and we have not had one issue with it.
Let me say right here my wife who was very skeptical absolutely loves the Channel Master.
IT can record 2 TV shows at one time and we can even watch a third show! The DVR works flawlessly, it is MUCH more responsive then my cable company DVR ever was. It stops, starts, rewinds, pauses at lightening quick speeds.
It's operation has been flawless! Set up was so simple a child could do it, the unit itself is a tasteful, beautiful compact unit.
4. When I first set it up, I took it out of the box, hooked it up to my TV and my wireless router seamlessly connected without a problem, it scanned for my local network TV stations, again, no problem.
It gets all the same TV channels as my Panasonic Veira TV is able to get.
5. The 7400 does EVERYTHING it is supposed to do and we can not be more happy with it. On top of everything else, the reason we selected the Channel Master 7400 over another brand was I did not want to pay $20. a month for a program guide to find out what was on local network TV!
Talk about excessive charge. With the channel master we do not have to subscribe to a service in order to use my DVR. Its the only one on the market that does all the above things and does not hold you to paying for a subscription.
On top of that, it will take information that the local stations broadcast and seamlessly populate a Beautiful Free Program Guide for you. From that guide you can set recordings. However, keep in mind if your local TV stations dont broadcast TV guide information you will have none, this is not Channel Masters Fault!
(The stations in our area are pretty good)
Channel Master 7400 takes whatever free information is broadcast by your local TV station and puts it in a beautiful guide, however not all TV stations broadcast or broadcast their information in a timely manner.
It is then up to you, if you want to pay for a premium program guide at a cost of $50. a year.
I was fully prepared to pay for one and one day I may try it out for fun but as of right now, we are enjoying the unit and the free TV guide information we do not feel the need yet. Again, the best part is that we have the option to pay for one or not pay for one, the only other company that makes a machine like this forces you to pay for one.
Finally - I was inspired to write this review because I would hate to see someone who, like my family, cut the cable TV and wanted a DVR that works exactly or better then a cable TV DVR to not buy this unit because of some bad reviews in here. Again, keep in mind we only now use a attic TV antenna, we no longer pay for TV! This unit works perfect for that purpose. I do see some complaints are more out of lack of knowledge on what the machine does. Also I do understand that people with a problem are more likely to post a review and why we felt the need to give our experience.
A. Free program guide, let me say right here, the channel master does NOT have a free program guide, what the Channel Master does is give you a FREE program guide using the free information broadcast by your local stations. So if the free guide is not what you expect, you can do one or two things,
1. Complain to your local network stations and ask why they are not broadcasting current program information. (seems a little silly to blame the Channel Master)
2. Subscribe to a pay program guide for $50. a year. But the bottom line, is the Channel Master will work with or without a subscription plan, so I can choose and do as I wish. I am not forced into it as a condition to have a DVR for my TV.
B. Gosh, I hear these comments about "HEAT" and I just do not understand all the comments on it.
I read comments like its SO HOT I can't even touch it and you can cook and egg on it and all kinds of heat comments. All I can say, not true. (it seems more like mass hysteria)
Peoples perception of "hot" is different from person to person. I suggest, if you are concerned you ask that person doing the review to measure the temperature of the surface of the unit, then determine for yourself if it is to hot.
I DID measure the temperature, MANY times, what even I thought was very warm isnt even that warm.
The case of the unit runs Approx. 22 degrees above room temperature, that is HARDLY hot. I trust that the engineers fully know what the temperature is that the unit runs at, gosh the thing only uses 35 watts of power when it is on and a temperature of 20 degrees warmer then the room is not going to burn anyone.
Again, I just do not see why anyone would think it is hot. So a room with a temperature of 70 degrees means the box will be 90 degrees +/- 3 degrees. I mean, this is an electrical device, but even then, only uses 35 watts.
C. There is one comment by someone else in here about maybe an issue with up converting. The average person will not even know what that means. But what it does mean is if you set the machine to send a higher quality signal to your TV then is being broadcast it might not look as good then if you just left the machine set at its default setting of 720 which by the way is a terrific stunning picture. The only reason I am not counting this as a "slight" issue is simple because I am not sure a machine should be able to up convert in the same way a disc player does and if so, it was never marketed to me to do so, so I leave it at the setting it was shipped at because many stations broadcast in different resolutions, also like the secondary channels, so by leaving it set the way it is shipped all your bases are covered and you will have one heck of a beautiful picture and OUTSTANDING recordings.
I truly hope this helps someone thinking about this terrific device make a decision. I do not in any way work for this company or know any at Channel Master. Im just a family person who wants to post a review on this great device, a device that no one else in this country makes.
It really does everything it is supposed to do and it does it very well. I honestly can not find any fault with it and I think that is one heck of a strong statement. The cool thing is, you can try it out for yourself, if you dont like it, just return it.
In the meantime, I no longer pay a cable tv company to watch TV and I am saving over $100. a month and get a better HDTV picture.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2012
A brief bit of background: I live in SF bay area in the middle of nowhere about 40 miles from nearest HDTV broadcast antenna clusters. After the HDTV broadcast transition (and after my huge roof analog antenna blew down in a storm), I began to experiment in receiving free OTA HD TV as a challenge. After some iterations and research on sites like TVfool, I built a successful and cheap system using the new generation of HD antenna (Clearstream "figure-eight" design, purchased at Costco), combined with a low-noise high-gain mast-mounted preamp (Channel Master Titan2, from Fry's). Even with >100ft of coax after the antenna/preamp combination, I was impressed with the results after carefully aligning the antenna based on the TVfool simulations, receiving 43 HD stations including all major networks using a built in HDTV tuner. All of my neighbors who have TV have satellite, and they can't even get the local SF channels due to programming restrictions.
Long looking for a way to DVR OTA broadcasts, and knowing about the older CM7000, I was happy to see the CM7400 appear. Plus I was very happy with the design and performance of the CM7777 preamp cited above. Because the Amazon price was same as list price and I wanted it before Christmas, I purchased it at local Fry's. There were 4 new boxes when I went, and I bought one. To install I diverted the coax that normally went to the TV and hooked it directly to the CM7400, without any splitters. Installation was fast and channel scan acquired 42 channels (I'm not sure what the 1 missing channel was compared to my TV but it was not anything major). Also I was impressed with the free guide it acquired over the air plus the ability to scan quickly through channels with program info in the top bar on the screen without changing channels (both of these features are missing from my TV). The guide seemed to be populated over at least 24 hours and sometimes longer if the unit stayed on and alive long enough (see below). DVR functions and pause-play on live TV worked great (again when the unit stayed alive). Picture quality was as good as I saw with the raw TV signal with minor exceptions noted below.
So, I give 1 star (vs. zero stars) for the functionality demonstrated above. Unfortunately the unit suffers from serious problems that make it essentially worthless for its stated use. I immediately noticed the high heat levels from the unit but saw other reviews which mentioned this. I also updated to the latest firmware without event. The unit worked great for a day or so. Then, I noticed various instabilities and intermittent problems. The symptoms were always that I would come back after some time, turn on the unit from standby, and then see no reception on all the programmed channels. However, the menus would all be active and the unit was responsive to the remote -- just no video. To fix this I had to do one of 2 things. The easiest was to chose the soft reboot option from the menu (which doesn't clear to factory settings). In some cases, after this reboot, the reception would come back and all would be OK for a while, but it would inevitably fail again. In some cases, a soft reboot would not cure the problem. The only thing that would work was to physically unplug (remove power from) the unit, wait some hours (in some cases overnight) and then on restart it would work again. Obviously this made using it to make reliable timed DVR recordings very sketchy, and also compromised live TV if it needed to be put through a reboot or power-off cycle. My guess is that the overheating problem is coupled to this problem, since sometimes a cool-down period was necessary to restart it. By the way, this is all going on in the middle of winter when environmental temperatures are quite cool, and with the unit having plenty of ventilation from all sides.
Some minor problems I noticed: (1) audio/video out-of-sync issues but they seemed minor and would be intermittent; (2) scrolling animations (common on newscasts) flashed and looked bad on 1080p and other settings, but were best on 1080i; (3) sometimes unresponsive remote; (4) poor code selection for using the remote as universal remote for other equipment.
If this unit had done what it was built for, I would have been happy to keep it and use it with the free OTA guide. However, its performance rendered it useless and a waste of money, so I returned it. When I went back to Fry's, besides mine, there were 3 other boxes on the shelf -- all returned like mine! I can only speculate on the reasons. [An aside: when I returned it I complained it was defective and probably overheats, but the first thing the guy did was print out a price sticker with 5% markdown and stick it on the box so it could be sold again].
Before returning, I looked for more firmware updates in the hope that CM would recognize this as serious problem and fix it quickly, but nothing materialized. I didn't want to waste the time nor money waiting. I am now thinking of turning to HTPC recording and using an network-compatible device like SiliconDust to distribute live signals, and a cheap device like WD TV to watch DVR recordings.
Conclusion: stay away from the CM7400 unless you hear the problems listed above and which other people are having are fixed for good.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2012
UPDATE #2 1/19/2012:
The more I used the unit, it started crashing and freezing all the time. I patiently waited for the new software upgrade (Updated: 01/18/2012) and suddenly it was working perfectly. I spoke to a tech and he said it's not the box getting very warm that is the issue, but rather the software, and so far that seems to be correct.
Some enhancements I noticed:
- Displayed `rec' when recording
- No feeze-ups or crashes
- Programming conflicts were more accurate and comprehensible and intuitive.
- Everything is now working the way I would expect it to
I might still have an issue with manual program scheduling, but will update that when I have a chance to test it.
- I did have to reboot the system one time when it "got stuck" but it rebooted correctly.
- I found where you can manually deselect channels you do not want to see, even in the free online program guide.
So far I have not had any issues with this unit - my first DVR (Digital Video Recorder) of any sort. I did update the software immediately, so maybe that is why I have not had any issues as compared to the other reviews.
- Set up was fast and simple. It scanned all channels perfectly and found my wireless network correctly
- Turns a boring over-the-air TV viewing set up into a cable-like viewing experience by adding program name, program content, the time and other information
- The free program guide covers a few hours to a few days and is not always complete or accurate, (maybe about 80 percent complete) but that is due to the TV stations that send out the digital broadcast and since it is free I am not complaining, and I can look on TVGuide.com if I feel the need to fill in any blanks. So it can truly work like a one-time-fee-and-that's-it-deal. If you want the more accurate and 2 week program guide it costs $50 per year.
- VUDU was a nice addition and it looks as if with my slower DSL speed I can watch older films for low one-time fees, (no subscriptions or monthly fees required). VUDU works via the internet for me with a wireless network and if I wanted to watch 3D films I'd need a faster DSL speed and a 3D TV of course. VUDU also has many other things that are free, like video podcasts, weather, social media interface and more.
- The recording of programs is very simple, I could figure it all out without reading the easy instruction guide, and it worked flawlessly, playing back a beautiful High Definition picture.
- This is the only way to currently record over the air High Def. television. I have been waiting for Blu Ray recorders, but after a few years they still seem unavailable or take way too long to burn (hours), so this is the next best alternative. However it seems you can't keep the recordings forever or transfer them. There is a USB port, so maybe I am not correct about this.
It also lets you rewind or pause live TV, for example if you wanted to write down a phone number, or hear what someone said again.
- I can't seem to delete unwanted channels, but that is not a big issue since there are only about 60 over-the-air channels currently available in my area. But as that number increases it would be a good feature to be able to eliminate unwanted channels, which can come in an easy-to-update software upgrade that Channel Master could provide.
- I have only used it for a few days, so if more cons come up, I will update this review as well as the rating.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
I pre-ordered a CM-7400 DVR on December 2, 2011 and received it on the 27th following its release by Channel Master. After its easy installation and initial setup (including a software update download) the unit performed just as I expected to do.
Almost immediately I noticed the high temperature at which the unit operated, even in the standby mode. As several other reviewers have noted, the bottom is so hot that I was not able to touch it with my hands for more than 2 or 3 seconds. This in spite of the unit being on an open shelf, was not close to any heat source and had plenty of air flow. I sent Channel Master Tech Support an e-mail asking about it on 12/30/2011. To date (1/10/2012) I have received no answer. I continued to use the CM-7400 thinking that the high temperature was a "feature" that I had to live with.
However, a few days after sending the e-mail the unit suddenly locked. The DVR did not respond to any command from the remote controller or manipulation of the controls on the front of the unit. I was only able to power-cycle (re-boot) using the power button in the front of the DVR. That unlocked the unit but only for a few minutes and then it locked up again and again. In some cases I noticed that the unit self-rebooted but went back to a locked state after a few minutes. I also noticed occasional picture flickering (when it was working). On 1/9/2012 I called Channel Master Tech Support twice, leaving voice messages. I was unable to reach a person at their site and did not I receive a call back (promised response time is one day). I also called their parent company (PCT International) in Mesa, AZ and there was no answer whatsoever.
As an aside, I noticed that in the Channel Master troubleshooting-by-symptoms website for the CM-7000PAL (the CM-7400 predecessor, I think) the overheating and locking problems are recognized. They indicate that overheating will cause the unit to malfunction: one solution is to make certain that the air flow, etc. is adequate. For the lockup they recommend to power down the unit overnight (not possible for the CM-7400 unless it is unplugged). If all this fails "please contact us ...for additional assistance". Easy to say, hard to do!
I believe that there is a design flaw and/or a fabrication problem that makes the CM-7400 overheat and lockup. I wanted this product to work and I have been waiting for an over-the-air DVR for a long time. For the short time the CM-7400 worked, it performed as advertised and the unit delivered its promise. However, it was short-lived. I believe Channel Master fell on its sword somewhere along the line between design and production for this particular DVR. I am sending this product back to Amazon for a refund.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2011
I agree and have had the same problems with the customers below. We used to have tivo before comcasr went all digital. At that time we sold the tivo and bought the cm7000 and still have it. The cm7000 is limited but works well by allowing us to record over the air in indianapolis.
Very excited over this new dvr and even emailed channel master every week to see when the ship date was.
To the point, this device is going back after just 2 short days. And i really wanted it to work.
Has a usb port that can play some files such as mkv. However we have a wdtv which does it better.
The new system is closer to tivos now, and has a season pass option and better search field.
However the cons are greater:
Like others have said, the unit runs very hot....and all the time.
Freezes, freezes, and yep freezes. There are tines you press the arrow key once (or any button) and the unit will freezes for 20 seconds.
Will only have vudu and not netflix or amazon...however i knew this going in.
Wifi does not see our network, regardless of anthing we do.
I really wanted this device, but now i see why it got delayed after november. The rushed this before christmas and it just is too buggy.
I will keep the cm7000.