Archives For Cord Cutting

Until recently, my 4th generation app-ified Apple TV hasn’t really been any more or less useful than my Roku 3 and Fire TV. And, for some, its launch without Apple’s rumored television service has been a significant disappointment.

However, I was recently turned on to Channels ($15) – a new app which streams live television from any HDHomeRun network tuner, So you can pipe both linear television and streaming services all through the same input and interface (although, as of yet, without universal Siri search). While this will naturally appeal to cord cutters with an antenna, those very same HDHomeRun OTA models now map clearQAM (for those with providers that still deliver, like FiOS) and, of course, there’s the HDHomeRun Prime for digital cable via CableCARD.

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Who are the cord cutters?

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2016 — 67 Comments

Amongst the festivities as Channel Master released Sling TV to DVR+ during CES, the over-the-air entertainment company shared some interesting market data.

After two years of success with DVR+ and building a strong customer base, we are pleased to be able to share some insights about our customers, their needs and habits. […] we think you may find some of these facts surprising because they are in contradiction to what many of us have been led to believe about cord cutters.

The most fascinating portion of the analysis indicates cord cutting isn’t all about broke millennials. And, as I’ve argued all along, the motivation to drop traditional subscription television doesn’t appear to be solely financial. Rather, it’s likely about perceived value.

Our customers skew toward Gen X and Boomers. While we have Millennial crossover, the majority of our customers are age 35 and up with significantly more disposable income than Millennials, and they still don’t want a pay-TV service.

Magnavox and Mediasonic are generally known as manufacturers of rudimentary digital VCRs, while TiVo and Tablo thought of as the providers of more full-featured over-the-air DVR solutions… saddled with a recurring fee. But, from CES, CNET has uncovered some significant updates to Magnavox’s line of digital video recorders, exceeding the similarly fee-free Channel Master DVR+ capabilities on several fronts.

The new trio of DVRs are expected by year-end, supposedly starting at $400 — and, once again, fee-free as the company has underwritten the responsive Rovi guide. Magnavox’s OTA tuner count will range from 1-6, with 500GB – 2TB of integrated storage… that can be expanded via USB drive. As with prior Magnavox models, these also include DVD-burning capabilities (which may also make them subject to Macrovision copy protection, according to CNET). Continue Reading…

Giving or getting a Roku this Christmas? The streaming pioneer has lined up an impressive array of free trials. Some of the more compelling offerings:

  • Hulu – 3 months free
  • HBO Now – 1 month free
  • Netflix – 1 month free
  • Showtime – 1 month free
  • CinemaNow – 3 movie rentals

hulu-trial

Some of the promos, like Netflix can be applied to (certain) existing accounts, whereas Hulu and HBO require new identities. But while the terms may slightly vary, the bottom line is you’re going to need to link up a Roku account with your credit card and remember to cancel any subscription before the trial is up. Unless you’re so enamored with the service you choose to carry on — which, of course, is their hope.

Having recently outfitted both our kitchen and guest bedroom with 32″ Roku TVs, I took advantage of the Hulu trial. Despite the commercial interruption, we thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Manhattan and are currently bingeing the Hulu-original Casual. We have until 1/16 to activate any of the others before the promotion period expires… and it sounds like I’ll want to catch up on new seasons of Showtime’s Homeland and The Affair.

HBO GO Confirmed For TiVo

Dave Zatz —  December 6, 2015 — 36 Comments

As we await the TiVo WWE app and long overdue Hulu refresh, a Google alert tripped several weeks back has seemingly confirmed HBO GO will also be on the docket. I’ve got no pretty marketing materials or photographic evidence to share with you, just an HBO GO config file … with 288 provider references to TiVo. And, thus far, Comcast won’t be blocking TiVo owners from accessing HBO GO. I expect Roamio, Mini, and Bolt hardware will partake whenever the time comes. A December announcement would be ideal, given the critical holiday shopping period. But, dependent upon where TiVo is in the development cycle, they could conceivably be holding back for a CES unveil.

tivo-hbogo

There’s no evidence yet of support for the cord cutter-centric HBO NOW streaming service and it appears release of an OTA-only Bolt is stalled. Yet I expect both to eventually turn up.

By way of The Donohue Report and Multichannel News, we seemingly learn that Slingbox will once again incorporate a tuner. While most folks hang a Slingbox off a DVR to meet their remote or mobile video needs, three prior models included tuners to placeshift unencrypted cable or over-the-air broadcasts. And it provided a real clean way to roll your own cloud TV service … long before “TV Anywhere” had entered the lexicon and cord cutting was a trend.

airtv

We first came across “AirTV” back in June and wondered if it might be some sort of Miracast solution. Given this new FCC-sourced “Slingbox OTA” label, it’s obviously something quite different. I doubt they’d incorporate DVR functionality given the additional complexity and expense, leaving those functions to the Echostar-produced Channel Master DVR+. As such, this really wouldn’t be a TiVo Bolt competitor. Pricing should be interesting — the new Slingbox M2 runs $200, but I’d think the sweet spot is closer to $150, even after dropping the mobile app fees (and adding ads to the experience).

Roku 4, For Real This Time

Dave Zatz —  October 6, 2015

After weeks of leaks, the Roku 4 finally breaks cover. As expected, new 4K and 801.11ac capabilities receive top billing, Also, not too shabby is the additional of optical output, unlike the majority of its streaming competition. And the mystery of that top port or sensor is finally solved. It’s neither. But, rather, a remote finder button used in conjunction with a small speaker grill on the back of an updated remote. To contain the upgraded tech, including a new quad core processor, the iconic Roku puck is no more — replaced with something that resembles a hotplate.

roku4-box

On the app side, Roku boasts more 4K content than others — beyond the requisite Amazon and Netflix, the HDCP 2.2 platform will also bring Vudu and M-Go at launch. But these app updates could end up replicating what one finds natively on their 4K televisions. And why it pains me that Roku didn’t sneak an OTA tuner or HDMI pass-thru into the larger chassis this time around. They’ve got a pleasant and efficient user interface (that already includes television support) and could keep non-DVR folks pinned to Input 1. Perhaps they disagree on the value of unifying that OTA linear and over-the-top content, like a TiVo or Xbox. Or maybe they’ve got some sort of non-compete in place with their television partners. Another missed opportunity is cleaning up that remote. Roku’s top tier streamer breaks the $100 threshold for the first time, clocking in at $130 – $30 more than the 4k Fire TV. I’d think this flagship model could easily do away with the spam buttons. And one reason why I may never upgrade from my 2014 Roku 3.

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Can’t wait until October 5th for your 4k Fire TV fix? Best Buy has already started lining shelves with Amazon’s new model, clocking in at the same $99 (and potentially cheaper than the incoming Roku 4). And while I didn’t partake (today), I’m far more interested in Amazon’s streamer knowing TiVo support is just around the corner.

FireTV4k

I assume many of us would prefer the HDMI dongle form factor in many situations. However, my experience with the Fire TV Stick wasn’t the greatest. Plus, beyond my Amazon-specific quirks, there’s really only so much you can cram into these sorts of gadgets before they melt and wireless reception will always be a concern. So, box it is — more power, more ports, and more clutter (unless you get tricky). Continue Reading…