This review was originally rejected by Amazon, the original
product found here;
this publication of the rejected Amazon has been reformatted for easier reading.
I have also rewritten the review along with an introduction
of what the device is & does for those unfamiliar with an antenna-to-LAN
along with details of known problems with the device as well as a step-by-step workaround to the lockout when affected by an internet-outage,
which includes the new screenshots I took for this publication outside of Amazon itself (scrapping the original screenshot submitted to Amazon).
This new review can be found farther down this page or you can click here to go directly to it.
Details about the follow-up review submitted to Amazon can be found here.
Looking for a device to be able to get local programming to my Shield TVs from my antenna (and having returned a couple of them prior to this purchase), I eventually decided to stick with the HDHomeRun after checking the KODI compatibility tuner list & found that HDHomeRun was 1 of 4 that was compatible with it. I spent a few months testing it before I decided I had enough information to write a review for it (including a workaround to the lack of functionality during an internet outage).
FUNCTIONAL APPS & SOFTWARE
The official apps & software for this device are the HDHomeRun app found on Google Play, as well as the PC software can be found on their official site. As already mentioned, I chose this device because I wanted a tuner compatible with the KODI app, so it's compatible here as well. Additionally, Shield TVs comes with a Live Channels app that is also capable of running it. VLC is also functional with it, however I recommend leaving this as a last resort (this is where the offline workaround is going to come in, discussed later).
The official app also has categories that you can choose to help filter what you may be looking for (such as New, Sports & Movies/Shows). Additionally, the guide has extended information (when you go into the apps options that will give you additional details about what you are watching within the window of the guides programming (even the episode number of a TV series, provided the guide information has the correct program; there has been a few cases where it had the wrong show listed, but I don't use this part of the app very often).
KNOWN APP ISSUES
As many have already stated in their reviews, HDHomeRun devices won't function normally in the case of an internet outage. The internet is only used for pulling guide information, but if the tuner is not able to pull that information from online, it's locks any app that has had it integrated into it that utilized guide information (not only the official app, but also the Live Channels & KODI apps), leading you to have to unplug the tuner from your network if you want to use those apps for anything other than what is running through the tuner.
Another problem that was noticed a shortly after I got the device was an update to the official app that rendered the favorites list partially unusable. Depending on the current active channel, channels in your list a number of channels away from it would not load the thumbnails of the programming on those channels, therefore not allowing you to load those channels from the favorites list (they could however get those channel to load if they used the full listing or filtered by the apps default groups).
OFFLINE TUNER FUNCTIONALITY
While the tuner won't work in most cases when there is no internet going to it, it is still possible to bypass the guide information & still load programming from the tuner in certain apps, this is where VLC comes in (see screenshots for details).
This same thing can be done on a PC, but takes several more steps as apposed to using an app that shows network listings like VLC on Shield TV or smartphones, screenshots with instructions have been provided to explain how to do this.
APP ISSUES CAUSED BY OS UPDATES
I did run into a problem for a while where after a system update on my Shield TV, the tuner was causing stuttering for what seemed like months; during this time I found that both the official app & the Live Channels app would stutter or disconnect from the stream, only recently this got fixed. During this time, I was sticking to using the KODI app to what programming as the OS updates on these devices mostly left KODI unaffected by the problems that other apps were experiencing. While this issue appears to be fixed currently, this is a problem that could come back after another system update. KODI's guide information may be simplistic (not showing images, but does give timelines for each program, similar to the timelines you would see on a Comcast cable service), I usually just accessed the recent channels (as seen in screenshot) for easy undisrupted access to them until fixed.
While the device is a good purchase if you have a device that can't get local programming (either due to lack of physical connections or having to wire a house to get a cable to the device you want to run it on), I would suggest you keep backup apps to run the programming in case there's an update that causes a problem in the official app (or other apps you may use to watch the programming through it), an OS update that breaks other apps you may use or you happen to want to use it during an internet outage. I am however going to advise AGAINST getting this device if you can't get it on a LAN that is going to allow internet to it.
There are ways to record through other apps without having to pay for their paid service (which adds DVR functionality), but typically it requires an older device with enough space on them to record, something that newer Shield TVs do not offer. Personally, if I was going to record something from my antenna, I'd just use a VCR (TVs that are already wired with a direct connection from the antenna) or even my PC through a video capture device, so I don't really care much to be jumping through hoops to be recording programming that they want us to pay extra for.
Of course if you want a longer timespan on the guide & don't have a paid service (such as Cable or Satellite provider), the extended guide information might be a worthy reason to pay the subscriber fee, which throws in the DVR functions as a bonus if you have an external hard drive connected to the tuner.
Note that due to the decision that it would be better for
me to take new screenshots to allow for more detail in the new review,
the references to the original screenshot in the rejected review above are no longer relevant.
The response I got from Amazon was as follows:
Also note that this rejection came after 6 other accepted reviews earlier in the day:
Description & functionality
A SiliconDust HDHomeRun ATSC tuner is a device that allows you to translate a single from an antenna (used for over-the-air programming to a TV) to a digital signal that can be run over your LAN (personal network). The purpose of these devices is so you can receive that signal through apps to watch that programming on devices that otherwise would not have access to that programming. I personally purchased a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Flex Duo 2 tuner in early December of 2021 & spent almost 4 months testing the device before deciding I had enough details to write a review (not only testing for defects, but also a workaround to the problem many people had complained about the device being incompatible during an internet-outage). I submitted 7 reviews to Amazon on various purchases over the past several months on 3/25/2022, all were accepted except the review on this device (seen above, minus submitted screenshots), so I determined a review here would not only allow for better formatting & more details on existing issues (and the workaround to the inoperable state of the device during an internet-outage), but also allow for quicker updates to the review that wouldn't require having to pass through Amazon acceptance of those changes.
The device's official app is the HDHomeRun app (on Android devices, apps for other devices can be found on their official site), which allows receiving of the translated signal on Android media devices (such as a Shield TV, which is why I purchased this device) or an Android smart phone (such as the Samsung Galaxy S-series, which is what I use). Additionally, a PC is also able to receive programming through it by downloading the HDHomeRun software from the downloads page of their official site (this particular page took me a while to find it, originally trying to run it through VLC before I realized there was official PC software for the device).
I originally purchased this device after looking at (and returning) a couple other similar tuners that apparently did not work with my Shield TV, my purpose was to find a way to get a TV signal to the TV in my Dining Room/Kitchen without having to wires another coaxial cable down the wall that it's mounted on. I already used KODI for playing movies I had on my computer (a number of backed up movies I had in case the discs got damaged beyond repair), which is what lead me to digging around to find a way to do this (noticing KODI had the option to receive local programming, but not able to figure it out on my own, so I asked my buddy who originally talked me into purchasing my first Shield TV & using KODI for movies). After already having to return 2 of these devices due to incompatibility of the device with the Shield TV (or at least incompatible apps on the Shield TV, even if it did still work on my phone, which was the case on one of those returns), I decided to do my research on what would work specifically with KODI & found an article that listed specifically what tuners were compatible with their app by means of what tuner backends they supported, which ultimately is what made me decide the HDHomeRun tuner was going to be the way I was going to go (originally finding the 4 tuner device, but choosing to go with a 2 tuner device as I didn't expect I would need 4 at a time, especially when I already had 2 TVs hardwired to the antenna already).
This particular device I wanted to take my time in testing & making sure it was going to work for what I purchased it for. For the most part, it has worked well, but with some flaws that I expect could be fixed, especially since they weren't affecting the programming from the device until my newer-model Shield TV (commonly referred to as "the pipe") has a fairly large OS update that started causing the problems (for the most part still not affecting my Shield TV Pro that is still running Android OS version 9, the pipe now running 11, which was verified after authorizing my Twitch account through a 3rd-party Twitch app when the official app was crashing directly after startup).
Before I get into the known problems with HDHomeRun tuners, I'm first going to go over other apps & software that are compatible with the tuner.
Compatible apps & software
The HDHomeRun app offers a fairly appealing interface, while fairly easy to navigate on a smartphone or tablet, it can be difficult to navigate on a media device (unless you have a device that gives you a mouse pointer on that device, otherwise you're navigating using the remote):
NOTE: Screenshots have been resized to fit the page better & may not display correctly on the page itself, clicking on them will show the full-sized image.
This main screen allows you to navigate the channels on the right side, extend a brief description of what's on that channel, filter channels by Favorites (a button at the bottom of this list allowing you to add & remove favorites, as well as block channels, which gets saved to the device itself), News, Sports & Movies/Shows (note that the official software does not offer these additional category filters) & change them at the click of a button (once highlighted on the right side). Additionally, the menu icon (on the bottom bar, just left of the channel bar). Will allow you to find other programs available to you, as well as additional information about each program, including season & episode on TV Shows:
Known problems with HDHomeRun app
Note however that this app is currently have 2 different problems, issues that came later after I got the device & started using it. The first issue was after an update to the app & after adding a couple more favorites, was that the app stopped loading the thumbnails for channels that were too far away from the active channel. In the screenshot below, you can that channel 2.1 is the active channel, however favorite channels 7.3 & below would not load the thumbnails & which also prevents you from loading those channels from your favorites list:
The second problem appears to have been caused by a very large update to the pipe model (only 5.4 GBs shared internal storage, currently running Android OS version 11), which causes the app to disconnect & stutter during playback, which lead me to using a different app that was compatible with the tuner until this issue could be fixed. While I had originally stated that this issue was fixed in my rejected review to Amazon, I found out a day after that review's submission that the issue was in fact still a problem (of course there was a webview update to the Shield TV early the next morning also, so it's possible it was fixed, but just got broken again). This particular issue doesn't appear to affect by Shield TV Pro (and older version with 2 USB ports & 12 GBs shared internal storage, but can't use SD Micro cards & still running Android OS version 9) is mostly unaffected by this issue (at least not to the severity that the pipe model is getting hit by it); I technically don't even need to use the tuner on the TV that is using the Shield TV Pro as this TV already has a coaxial cable from the antenna connected to it, however I sometimes use it if only to get access to a better guide than my TVs provide themselves on over-the-air programming. The official PC software also appears to be unaffected by this issue. While I don't watch this programming much on my phone (my primary phone being a Samsung Galaxy S9), I also have not noticed this problem while using the phone either.
Live Channels app
This is an app that comes standard on Shield TV devices, not available on smartphones as far as I'm aware, but has the ability to pull from other app & connected tuners (even if that connection is over wifi, which is what I was shooting for when I purchased this thing). While this app does not offer the option to access favorites you have saved to the device, it does list 2 different virtual tuners for the device (even though it's technically the same device), so what I've done personally is I'm using the TV Tuner setting to only list favorite channels.
Additionally, this app has the ability to record through it on it's own (without having to pay for their service to use an external drive attached to the HDHomeRun device), but it requires that you have an external drive attached with at least 50 GBs free on it, something that the newer pipe models are not capable of (not having USB drives on them), nor does it appear to recognize SD Micro cards that you may have in the device, so unless you have an older model of Shield TV (like the Shield TV Pro), you'll only have the option of full DVR functions if you are paying for the service that is required to use it through the device itself.
Known problems with the Live Channels app
Note that this app is also displaying the same problems with disconnects & sporadic dropping the programming like the official app is on the pipe model of Shield TV devices.
I've already mentioned KODI (which so far appears to be the best alternative, even if the guide is simplistic & not really visually appealing), but at least more dependable & stable when other apps are unable to stay connected or are having issues with their (more visually appealing) guides. In order to use the tuner on the KODI app, you will have to install the PVR HDHomeRun Client add-on in the KODI app:
Note that when I orginally submitted a screenshot of this screen to Amazon, I didn't realize that it showed an email address on the plugin; this may have played a part in the review getting rejected on Amazon, that particular detail has been censored in this screenshot.
Once the plugin is installed, you will have a few categories to open channels from in the KODI app:
Note that the images of the channel groups are generated when you first access the tuner & do have to be manually refreshed if you want to update them after new channels are added or if you add/remove favorite channels.
Once you enter one of the channel groups, you are greated with a guide of everything in that group, not as visually appealing as the other 2 apps, but more informative as upcoming shows per channel (closer to what you would see over a cable service):
You might notice however that the channel numbers here are listed incorrectly, ION should actually be 16.1 where I live, so while KODI can be more informative, you have to kind of ignore the channels numbers as they won't match what you would get over a television connected directly to the TV (or any other apps apparently).
After clicking on one of the programs, you'll get a little more information about the program before switching to it:
Unlike the other 2 apps, this appears to be the only one that has mostly been unaffected by the disconnecting issue & sporadic program dropping that started happening after the system updates to the Shield TV (pipe model).
Internet outage workaround
VLC is an app & program that I found works not only on both Android media devices & smartphones, but also on the PC (however it is a bit more complicated to do on PC). VLC does not have a guide of what is on each channel, but because the lockup of the device (causing a lockup of any app that pulls guide information from it, leading you to have to disconnect the tuner from your network if you want to load those apps during an internet-outage) is caused by no internet going to the device during an outage, the beauty in using VLC (when you have to) is that you can use it as a workaround to still allow use of the tuner even if your internet is currently down. The apps on smartphones & media devices make this very simple, all you have to do is Browse to Local Network and the device will show in that list (along with any other media servers or shared storage you may have running over your network, the HDHomeRun tuner sticking out like a sore thumb, so you can't miss it):
Once you've accessed the device itself, it will have 2 folders, one being all enabled channels (ones you haven't blocked on the device) & the other being just what you have favorited on the device):
A few things to note when you are looking at or attempt to load one of these channels:
The channels are sorted by the first number in the channel, not taking into account the length of the channel number itself. this means that channels are going to go through 10-19 before you get to channel 1, then channel 20-29 before you get to channel 2 (and so on).
During an internet outage, you are only going to see the channel numbers (not the channel names).
No longer relevant bullet regarding Play Next list removed on 8/9/2022 after a change that stopped it from happening
While this listing may not be pretty & it doesn't utilize a guide to tell you what's on each channel, the fact that VLC does not load guide information is why the app can still be loaded even if the tuner is still connected to the network during an internet outage & still allows use of the tuner even if it's locking out all other apps that provide more desirable functions. Long story short, still being able to watch channels you enjoy watching without a guide is an acceptable tradeoff to not being able to use the tuner all in an internet outage & I've just given any reader of this article steps on how to do it (unfortunately this isn't something that is going to show in the Amazon reviews because they rejected the review prior, I won't be attempting to submit anything outside of minor information to Amazon on this device again, it will be up to those looking for a resolution to that problem to find the article (if the follow-up review gets rejected also, nobody on Amazon looking at reviews is even going to know there is a workaround to the issue unless they are searching search engines for a way to fix/mitigate the issue.
As I stated before, this workaround is also possible on PC, however a bit more complicated, so I'll also be going over the steps on how to do it here as well:
1. First open your Windows Explorer & locate the HDHomeRun device in your Network. Once you find it, highlight it (clicking on it should do it), right-click on it, then click on View device webpage.
2. Click on Channel Lineup in your web browser.
3. Fine the channel you want to load, right-click on the channel number, then Copy Link (do not click on the link).
Note that like VLC, the channels names won't show during an
internet outage, but the numbers still should.
Note that you can set your favorite & blocked channels here as well, the stars being favorites, while the crosses are blocked channels.
4. Open your preferred video streaming software, paste the copied URL into the URL field for the video, then click on Play.
Note that while I am recommending VLC, Windows Media Player has been confirmed to work with this workaround also, just doesn't appear to work as well as VLC does (less performance & appears to struggle with the stream more).
UPDATE: I noticed another bug towards the end of September of 2022 that caused the guide to not show when using the HDHomeRun app; while this issue was originally noticed on my Shield TV devices (both the newer pipe model & the older Pro model), this would make navigating the app nearly impossible if done by channel (perhaps still possible through it's extended guide, but my experience with this is that many times it lists programming not currently running, more for the purpose of setting up recording through it). Of course if you had other apps that were capable of pulling programming from the tuner, you could easily get around this (I mainly use the HDHomeRun app when I'm looking for certain programming outside of my favorites or not sure what is on that I would want to watch, many time using the News category late at night when what I normally watch isn't on).
The best way I found to fix this issue was to Force Stop the app, then to Clear Cache, after which you start the app back up. This won't always work on the first try, having to restart it a few times on one of my Shield TV devices before it actually fixed the issue. It's expected that an update may have caused this issue that didn't correctly migrate the guide information from installations of the app prior to that update. The plus side is that it's not necessary to Clear Data on the app to fix it or to uninstall & reinstall, it's appears to just be a hiccup caused by an update that wasn't properly coded to migrate older data from installation prior to that update.
Review last updated 9/24/2022
New Amazon Review
Originally, I had considered just not submitting a follow-up review to Amazon after the previously rejected attempt, dropping comments on questions in the listing for the device regarding some of the issues I had stated in my previous review. On 8/9/20222, I decided to rewrite the review submission to Amazon, which surprisingly got accepted (despite the additional of details I expected would have caused it to get rejected again) quicker than any other review I've seen submitted to possibly any other site (easily in under 2 minutes, if not under 1). The details of that review (considering they got accepted, I have a backup if it gets removed later), can be found here. Somehow I expect the mention of the previously rejected review, the republication of those details to another site, the fact that they aren't allowing me to mention this site on Amazon (even on my own profile) & the fact that they lost helpful details from the Amazon version as a result of the rejection could be why it got accepted so quickly.
One thing to reiterate however is the fact that Amazon will not allow mention of this site on their site. Before submitting that new review, I attempted to try something with my own profile (knowing for years that the link to this site on my profile was not showing publicly). What I attempted to point out was that profile was owned by the webmater & owner of this site ("owner & webmaster of WonderGamer.net"), which immediately resulted in those details getting hidden from the profile with an email notice stating that something submitted to my profile was against their ToS:
Because of the immediate confirmation that I was not going to be able to provide any means of finding useful information that had been removed from Amazon reviews as a result of previous rejections (that would probably be sought out through mention of those omitted details from the Amazon version of the review), I changed the mention on my profile to "owner & webmater of [a site they won't allow me to mention here]". Of course this leaves users that would want those details to have to seek out the site themselves & with some of the most popular search engines (not particularly by myself, especially not from the viewpoint of a webmaster, but based on polls of popularity) not indexing the site (or at least not the majority of it), these are details that Amazon is keeping from those users, as they may not be able to find it through other means (seems the best results I've found that might lead them to this site usually revolve around my Steam profile, provided they know what to search for & those details typically aren't given, so it's up to their imagination to fill in the blanks & find the site on their own).
One final thing I attempted was to change the site URL to my Twitch channel, which again remained unviewable to the public. At this point I decided if they aren't going allow links to this site or any of my other online profiles, I might as well remove some of the other information on my profile, including my YouTube channel (which seems was never viewable publicly anyways) & my location (perhaps the only additional information I had submitted to my profile that ever did show publicly, outside of the username itself & most of the accepted reviews submitted to Amazon); at this point I intend on leaving that information blank (not just set to private) until I can otherwise determine that Amazon has had a change in perspective regarding this site or my other online profiles.
One other thing to note is that when I came back to check on this review, I noticed the email screenshots regarding the review's previous rejection were not accessible (I half-expect there may be other pages that have the same issue under the same expected reason). There is the slim possibility I may have just forgotten to upload them, however I make it a habit to check reviews after they are published or updated to make sure everything looks correct, so I more suspect Amazon may have been able to get those images removed by complaining to my host. For now, I'm giving the benefit of doubt that I could have just possibly forgot to upload them, however I'm made a note about it's removal both in my site's development logs & copied it to the server to keep track of whether it happens again, at which point I may have to publish a review (and possibly a boycott) of Amazon itself (which shouldn't be any surprise I will be canceling my Prime membership immediately thereafter if this is the case).