Channel Master is giving cord-cutters an easy way to get guide data for free broadcast channels with its latest tuner box.
The sub-$100 box hooks up to an antenna, and then outputs to a TV over HDMI. Users can then view a channel guide for over-the-air channels, showing the current and next three programs.
Keep in mind that you don’t need Channel Master’s box to watch antenna broadcasts. Most modern TVs have a tuner and antenna input built in. Some even provide basic data about the current broadcast. The Channel Master box is just a bit better at displaying show descriptions and upcoming programs.
Still, in terms of features, it’s a major step down from Channel Master’s DVR+ boxes, which can record live TV, provide two weeks’ worth of guide data, and stream Internet video apps. The new box doesn’t connect to the Internet at all; it’s basically a way for people to supplement an existing media streamer, such as Apple TV or Roku, with free over-the-air channels. (To that end, it includes a secondary HDMI input, so users can switch to their streaming player without reaching for the TV remote.)
Channel Master hasn’t finalized a price for the box, or even given it a proper name yet. The company is also considering whether to bundle a flat-panel antenna—normally $10—with the product. It should all get sorted out by March, when Channel Master intends to start shipping the device.