The Channel Master CM-7400 HD DVR: Finally what we’ve been waiting for?

Why is it so hard to get a simple replacement for a VCR? It wasn’t that long ago that if you saw something you liked, you popped in a tape and pressed “Record.” Today’s DVRs are excellent but really there are two choices: go with your cable or satellite company’s DVR or use something like TiVo which carries a $9.99 per month premium.

There are plenty of people out there who use antennas and just want a simple way to record without a monthly fee. Yet, it’s been hard to find a product for cord-cutters. It’s partly because both cable DVRs and TiVos are so cheap to get. These products can be $100 or less. Of course you make that up with a monthly fee that is as high as $30 for some cable companies. That’s a lot to ask of someone who just wants to timeshift The Tonight Show or catch up on reruns of How I Met Your Mother without paying for Netflix or Hulu Plus.

For some people, their lives just don’t revolve around TV. Go figure.

That’s the point of the Channel Master CM-7400 HD DVR. For a low price, you get a device that lets you schedule recordings by time, gives you some basic guide data, and lets you hold on to 35 hours of HD content or about 150 hours of SD content. For a lot of people that’s plenty. The CM-7400 gets its guide data using PSIP, meaning that depending on what your local channels provide, you may get up to a week of guide data. Still, you are better off using an online service like or to help you find programming. You can schedule programs by time and date, just like a VCR.

The CM-7400 gives you the ability to pull in all the over-the-air antenna channels that the cable and satellite companies ignore. This means you could have upwards of 70 channels for free, including your local networks, special interest programming and educational programming. You can also record cable TV content provided that your cable company uses the “Clear QAM” method of broadcasting. In other words, if the channels are available by connecting your TV straight to the cable, you will be able to record them. This rules out premium channels and some other content; check with your cable provider.

Remember, there is no monthly fee for the CM-7400, so while it may not have every bell and whistle found on other DVRs, it’s not costing you a lot of money either.

The CM-7400 is actually a pretty advanced little box. You can connect it to the internet either wired or wirelessly, and use Pandora and Vudu. Vudu is a service that lets you rent individual movies as you would like, with no monthly fee. Think of it as a redbox that’s already installed on your DVR. Connecting to the internet may take a little patience if you aren’t familiar with home networking, but if you set up your own router, or if you know the password to connect to it, really it’s not that hard.

Not only that, Channel Master gives you a little clock on the front of the device, something people have gotten accustomed to with their cable boxes and VCRs.

The biggest thing that people will notice on this device is the price. It’s true, it’s not as low as just getting a DVR from your cable or satellite provider. However, if you pay $30 a month to your cable company for a DVR this will pay for itself really quickly. If it lets you fire the cable company and go antenna-only… it will pay for itself in just a few months and then you’re home free.

We have been waiting for a long time to offer you a solid, basic DVR that works with antenna service and doesn’t require cable or a monthly fee. The Channel Master CM-7400 is a perfect fit for that.

Interested in more information? Click here to download the Spec Sheet or click here to download the Quick Start Guide.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.