HDHomeRun Scribe Quatro and Servio review: Great video quality, but clunky software

For cord-cutters, setting up an over-the-air DVR that delivers the best possible picture quality on multiple televisions has never been easy or cheap. That leaves a wide-open opportunity for Silicon Dust’s HDHomeRun Scribe DVR and its sibling, the HDHomeRun Servio.

TiVo’s Bolt OTA, for instance, requires pricey add-on boxes to watch on multiple televisions, while such roll-your-own solutions as Plex DVR and Channels DVR require cobbling together TV tuners and server hardware from disparate vendors. Networked tuners such as the Tablo Quad, meanwhile, typically don’t play over-the-air channels in their native broadcast quality, limiting their appeal to videophiles.

SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun Scribe and Servio DVRs finally check the right cost and quality boxes, recording over-the-air channels at full quality and streaming the video to other devices (including Roku players, Fire TV Sticks, and more) connected to TVs throughout the home. The hardware is also reasonably priced, starting at $200 for everything but the antenna, as is the DVR service at $35 per year, with one year of service included. Setup is simple to boot.

hdhomerunscribeserviohero Jared Newman / IDG

SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun Scribe (left) has an antenna input, while its Servio (right) does not.

The drawback, as always, is HDHomeRun’s software, which has improved over the last 18 months, but is still harder to work with and has fewer features than other over-the-air DVRs. Whether the Scribe and Servio are right for you depend on how much of that clunkiness you’re willing to tolerate.

HDHomeRun DVR: Scribe vs. Servio

Unlike HDHomeRun’s Connect and Extend tuners, the HDHomeRun Scribe doesn’t require you to supply your own storage or server hardware. Instead, the recording engine, TV tuner, and 1TB of storage are all built into one box. You need only provide an over-the-air antenna, which can be an indoor or outdoor model.

Setup is practically plug-and-play as well. After screwing in an antenna, plugging in the power adapter, and connecting the box to your router with an ethernet cable, you can visit the my.hdhomerun website to finish the setup. SiliconDust sells two versions of the Scribe: The $200 Duo can play and/or record up to two channels at a time, and the $250 Quatro can play and/or record up to four channels simulltaneously.

hdhomerunsetup Jared Newman / IDG

Once everything’s plugged in, you only need to visit my.hdhomerun.com to run a channel scan.

Compared to the Scribe, the $150 HDHomeRun Servio is more of an upgrade for folks who already own a separate HDHomeRun Connect or Extend tuner. As such, it includes the recording engine and 1TB of storage, but there’s no provision to plug in an antenna because it doesn’t host a tuner.

Unlike a TiVo or cable DVR, HDHomeRun does not output video directly to your television. Once you’ve set up the hardware, you must stream live and recorded TV to the HDHomeRun app, which is available for Amazon Fire TV devices, Android TV, Roku players and many smart TVs, Xbox One consoles, Windows, iOS, and Android mobile. The most notable omissions here are Apple TV, Chromecast, LG WebOS TVs, and Samsung smart TVs.