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MagicSmoker
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Why can't Roku (et al.) incorporate a DVR?

Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:32 am

Is there some legal restriction against it? This seems to be a rather glaring omission in the market, as the cable company will gladly rent you a DVR that lets you skip through commercials and record any channel/show you have a subscription for, but both streaming services and hardware manufacturers seem to think it is okay to go back to the bad old days of broadcast TV where you had to be present at the appointed time to watch a show and/or sit through all the commercials (a common requirement for VOD - no FF'ing allowed). This situation is even more confounding to me since I can buy a DVR to record OTA signals - ie, free ones - and then skip through the commercials with impunity, while with streaming services I basically have to pay to watch commercials!?

Now I realize that some streaming services offer DVR functionality, but said functionality is entirely at the mercy of their terms of service and invariably cloud-based with capricious/one-size-fits-all specs or bizarre restrictions. If I want to record an entire season of Archer or The Expanse before watching it then I better not use PlayStation Vue as it only stores recordings for 28 days. If I don't want a show I thought was recorded to get substituted with a VOD version which then forces me to sit through commercials then I better not go with Youtube TV or Hulu Live (unless I pay the latter $15/mo, which is almost twice the monthly fee for Spectrum's DVR). Sling TV does appear to offer a DVR service I could live with, but they don't offer several channels that I routinely record shows on (Animal Planet, Science and Destination America).

So I went with Directv Now - despite it not having any DVR functionality and a very limited VOD selection - because it has all the channels I want and I get a $25/mo discount for being an AT&T wireless unlimited plan customer, but if that DVR they originally promised would be available in Fall of 2017 (ie - by now) doesn't show up by early 2018 then I guess I'll be putting my Roku Premiere+ on ebay and going back to bad old Spectrum.
 
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Basil
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Re: Why can't Roku (et al.) incorporate a DVR?

Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:58 am

Nobody said they can't. It's a decision to not. That's hardware, and ups the price. And, for services that include DVR functionality (Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, etc) that is unnecessary hardware functionality that is covered by services.

I've not needed a DVR. Whether or not I'm closer to typical or if you are closer to typical, I can't say. But, with the offerings of back episodes through Hulu (which is my "cable" service) or through apps authenticated through Hulu with Live TV, I don't see that I'll need a DVR. But that's my experience. 

If Roku thought a DVR would be a smart business venture -- meaning they'll make even more money -- then they'd do it. There's no technical reason that a streaming device can't include a DVR. See TiVo if you want one of those. They're great devices. They do DVR extremely well.
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MagicSmoker
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Re: Why can't Roku (et al.) incorporate a DVR?

Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:27 am

@Basil - thanks for the reply.

I know there isn't any technical reason why Roku (or frankly any other) streaming device couldn't incorporate a DVR (I'm an EE, so I really do know!), and I am well aware that adding such functionality would increase the retail price (and size) of the Roku dramatically, but I suspect my use case - and perspective on the economics - are not unusual. One application where a DVR is necessary is time-shifting a live program which is otherwise not available on VOD; two such pertinent examples (for me) are Fast Money and Options Action on CNBC. Firstly, I routinely work past 5P and these start at 5P and 5:30P, respectively; secondly, CNBC seems to have the highest ratio of commercials to actual programming of any network I've seen besides those home shopping channels, so the ability to ad skip is also highly valuable to me.

Hulu Live does have CNBC - so I should be able to record those two shows - but it is missing so many other channels I like that I don't find it a compelling value at $55/mo ($40 for the streaming + $15 for the DVR). As far as I know, no TIVO can record from a streaming source - it's either for OTA channels or requires a cable card and cable tv subscription (so would be a replacement for the cable providers DVR box).

There is something like the Avermedia ER310 which can record HDMI video, but my understanding is that copy-protection - which is a core technology of HDMI - is pretty much always enabled on streaming devices so recording the HDMI output from the Roku is a non-starter (besides, how would the Avermedia tell the Roku which app to load - ie, Directv Now - and what channel to select, time to record, etc.?).

At any rate, I just find it very peculiar that there is not a single streaming device on the market that doesn't include a hardware DVR. So far I like the Roku Premiere+ a lot more than my Fire TV Stick (despite I got the latter for $10 during the last Prime day sale) but all these devices seem to be a huge step backwards in functionality compared to the average cable TV set-top box.
 
trekkeriii
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Re: Why can't Roku (et al.) incorporate a DVR?

Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:30 pm

What you are describing is basically not possible because of licensing rules. Netflix and other VOD providers don't want you recording their videos. So, Roku really can't make a product that will do that since it would violate licensing rules. Internet Streaming and TV through cable are two totally different things in the eyes of the copyright holders. In addition Digital versus Analog, some digital cable channels won't even let you record via TiVo now (likely to reduce piracy).
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MagicSmoker
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Re: Why can't Roku (et al.) incorporate a DVR?

Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:35 am

@trekkeriii - that's what I suspected was the case; it just seemed like too obvious a product to not exist. Looks like I am going to give Sling a try since Directv Now might have an excellent selection of channels but is severely lacking in functionality (namely, 3 button presses to get to the guide; guide always reverts to all channels even if last selection was favorites only; no DVR [as of now, anyway]).

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