Video Review: SiliconDust's HDHomeRun FLEX 4K

Manufacturer & Model
SiliconDust HDHomeRun FLEX 4K
MSRP
199.99
Link
https://www.silicondust.com/product/hdhomerun-flex-4k/
Highlights
4 tuners, 2 with ATSC 3.0, strong signal strength, all tuners available to any connected device (streaming box, television, smartphone, tablet, gaming console or computer) on the same network, easy to setup and configure with the included software, or with third-party media server platforms.
Summary
SiliconDust is a US-based company that has been making OTA tuners since 2007. The HDHomeRun FLEX 4K is one of their newer models which adds ATSC 3.0 and 4K support on 2 of the 4 included tuners. Download the free HDHomeRun app to configure using any device on the same network to watch Live TV. Connect a USB hard drive and a $35/year subscription for an inexpensive OTA DVR setup. The ease of setup, included free software and apps, and stability of the product make them an attractive way to cut the cord.
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If you've read many of my posts, you already know that I'm a big PLEX user. I think it's a great platform which not only allows me to access my entire media library on all my devices whether I'm home or not, but it also serves as my DVR setup (using PLEX's LiveTV & DVR features requires a PLEX Pass subscription). Before you can use it for live tv, however, you need to connect a video source - in my case an antenna - to your computer. To do this, you need a tuner, or multiple tuners, which can be achieved by adding a PCI card to your server, or an external tuner like the HDHomeRun devices offered by SiliconDust.

A few years back, when I first setup my PLEX server, I was using a TiVo DVR for my antenna. It worked really well, and has a great interface, but it required an extra subscription fee each month, and I had to have a TiVo device on every display to access it. Switching over to the PLEX LiveTV & DVR system was a bit of a no-brainer, since I had already purchased the lifetime PLEX Pass. I initially tried a different tuner device, but it struggled to pull in all of the channels that the TiVo was able to grab, even connected to the same antenna through the same cable. So I swapped that tuner out for a HDHomeRun Connect Duo, a 2-tuner ATSC 1.0 device. It picked up all the channels the TiVo had been receiving, with higher signal strengths. Video quality is indistinguishable compared to our Samsung QLED's built-in tuner and our Sony TV's built-in tuner.

One note, as of the time of this writing, PLEX's LiveTV & DVR feature is not yet capable of utilizing the ATSC 3.0 tuners. Support has indicated that they are working on the compatibility, but are awaiting a certain licensing certification from Dolby for the audio decoding process, and they have no estimate of when the certification will be available. In the meantime, however, PLEX is still able to take advantage of all four tuners, but only in ATSC 1.0 quality. Not yet a concern for my use, since ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are not yet 4K, though I have noticed a drastic improvement in the audio quality on 3.0 vs 1.0 channels when using the HDHomeRun app.

Connecting these devices is a piece of cake, especially if your antenna and your home network are close together. The HDHomeRun devices need to be connected to the antenna, to power, and to your home network via ethernet. I recommend using at least CAT6 cable for anything carrying a video signal, to make sure you have enough bandwidth to avoid buffering. There are tuner alternatives that will connect to your home network via wifi, but these can struggle with buffering if you don't have a very fast network, or if there's a lot of wireless traffic going through your house. I'd only recommend this if you absolutely can't figure out a way to get your antenna signal close to your network router.

For a real look at just how easy the installation, setup and configuration of these devices is, I put together a short video - check it out below!



SiliconDust HDHomeRun FLEX 4K Specifications
  • Tuners: 4
  • Signal Compatibility: ATSC 3.0 (on 2 tuners), ATSC 1.0 (on all 4 tuners)
  • Cable Compatibility: ClearQAM US-cable (on 4 tuners)
  • Network Interface: 100 base TX high speed network
  • Size: 97x97x19mm (wxdxh)
  • Weight: 5oz (140g)
  • Warranty: 1 year
 

mechman

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I run the Connect Duo for live TV on my Plex and love it. Would you say it's worth the upgrade now or wait for ATSC 3.0 to be deployed? TBH I see station owners screwing this up just like they have in the past with ATSC 1.
 

thrillcat

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I run the Connect Duo for live TV on my Plex and love it. Would you say it's worth the upgrade now or wait for ATSC 3.0 to be deployed? TBH I see station owners screwing this up just like they have in the past with ATSC 1.
I upgraded for additional tuners. ATSC 3.0 is a bonus. And as of today, still not functional with PLEX. When I pull up the HDHomeRun app on my ATV4K, it takes a minute or so to really lock in audio sync with the image on ATSC 3.0 channels, but once it’s in sync there is a definite improvement in audio quality and imaging.
That said, if you don’t need additional tuners, it’s not an upgrade I’d do just for 3.0.
 

mechman

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Do they have 3.0 out there in Seattle yet?
 

thrillcat

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Do they have 3.0 out there in Seattle yet?
There is a broadcast on the 3.0 channels, but it’s basically a simulcast of the content on their 1.0 channels.
 
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thrillcat

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Just keep in mind that sending a 3.0 signal doesn’t mean it's 4K at this point. I was hopeful that Seattle would at least send out an actual 4K signal of the Olympics coverage, or the Super Bowl, but no.
 
Last edited:

mechman

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Just keep in mind that sending a 3.0 signal doesn’t mean mischief at this point. I was hopeful that Seattle would at least send out an actual 4K signal of the Olympics coverage, or the Super Bowl, but no.
Yeah that’s what I figured. They’re just using the equipment but sending the old 1.0 signal. I don’t think the stations are under any requirements to upgrade things to a better signal like they were with 1.0.

I haven’t done any reading on this but I’m curious as to whether or not they (the stations) can bastardize it like they did with 1.0. If they can, there’s just no hope for OTA. I get something like 50 channels OTA and all but about 4 are complete garbage quality-wise. The majority are sub channels with 480p signals. Some seem like it’s someone broadcasting using a VCR with a very old tape of shows.
 

thrillcat

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They still have those?
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Yeah that’s what I figured. They’re just using the equipment but sending the old 1.0 signal. I don’t think the stations are under any requirements to upgrade things to a better signal like they were with 1.0.

I haven’t done any reading on this but I’m curious as to whether or not they (the stations) can bastardize it like they did with 1.0. If they can, there’s just no hope for OTA. I get something like 50 channels OTA and all but about 4 are complete garbage quality-wise. The majority are sub channels with 480p signals. Some seem like it’s someone broadcasting using a VCR with a very old tape of shows.
It's a bit of a mixed bag here. I'm still an OTA fan, just for the primary channels. Every time I'm at a hotel or somewhere with cable/satellite, I realize I made the right decision to stop paying for it 15 years ago. It's just trash. Springsteen was right. We watch more AppleTV+ and HBOMax than anything these days, it seems. Not even much on Netflix, to be honest. We have a handful of things we record on the DVR. I've got it set to record the entire series of some older classics like Happy Days, Hogan's Heroes, Frasier, and a few others. We watch the local news and a couple other things. Oh, and the Wheel. Can't miss the Wheel.
 

mechman

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Oh my! My mother would love you! Lol
 

Todd Anderson

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Great job on this, Travis!
 

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I have been using a HD Homerun Prime for years with cable TV (Verizon Wash DC region). I am running linux (Ubuntu 20.04) and use Kodi as my video and sound server. The Kodi add on for the various Homerun devices works quit well and also lets one record (dvr/pvr) if they have payed $35/yr for the extended program guide. I tried using the Connect for broadcast but I live in a dark hole when it comes to over the air reception. Note that Verizon does have several 4k cable channels mainly for sporting events that works well with my system. I don't know the specifics on the signal that I am getting.

50922


Home theater (Speakers: cbt36k, Amp:Emotiva XPA4, Subwoofers: Dayton Audio 18" Reference Series HO Subwoofer and Cabinet Bundle, Amps:Dayton Audio SPA1000 1000W Plate Amplifier, Projector:Optima UHZ65, DAC: Minidsp OpenDRC-DA8 spdif coax input)
 

thrillcat

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Emotiva UPA-500
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Sony UBP-X800
Front Speakers
Triad Bronze InWall/4 LCR
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Triad Bronze InWall/4 LCR
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Triad Bronze OnWall/4 LCR
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SVS PB2000
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Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 8000
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JVC DLA X790R, Samsung & Sony 4K panels
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SeymourAV Proscenium 124” diagonal 2.40:1
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They still have those?
Other Equipment
ProJect Debut Carbon Turntable (2-channel system), Hana EL cart, Cambridge Audio Phono Stage, Cary Audio Preamp
Anyone looking into this might want to be aware of this. Note that it is currently speculation, but could be a factor in the future. Time will tell.

 
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