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Channel Master TV Offers User-Friendly Broadcast, Internet TV Hybrid

I saw several stories this week on Channel Master TV, a single box that combines two tuners for receiving and recording off-air TV broadcasts. (You can watch one show while recording another.) The box includes a player for Internet video content, including access to "the most HD movies streaming on demand" from Vudu. It can use applications for social networking and photo sharing such as Picasa and Flickr, and it also has an electronic program guide and TV guide functions.

It seems that the guide is delivered via the Web, rather than using the off-air EPG. This could be helpful if the ClearQAM capability of the box is used to watch digital cable, which from personal experience, doesn't include an ATSC program guide.

The Channel Master TV (Model CM7400) can be ordered on Channel Master's Website for $399. A quick start guide is available on-line. The unit does not include an ordinary Web browser, so access to Web content is only available through applications on the box. Netflix is not available at this time.

The introduction of this box is a good sign that interest is increasing in off-air TV as a low-cost alternative to cable subscriptions, although some sort of high speed Internet connection, likely cable, will be needed to take advantage of the additional content and perhaps even to obtain a program guide.

If any readers have experience with this box, please let me know how it works.