Archives For Cord Cutting


While TiVo has seemingly given up on Aereo branding and an OTA-only Bolt, they’ve clearly still got eyes on the cord cutting contingent… as a TiVo Mantis has just passed thru the FCC:

TThe TiVO Inc. model TCD84A000 (Mantis) is a network DVR that is designed to receive OTA broadcast video and transcodes and send it out as a network stream either wired or wireless. The EUT incorporates an 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac transceiver.

Based on the description and limited ports (of Ethernet and USB) in its 5″ x 5″ x 1.5″ enclosure, the Mantis is more a headless Tablo or HDHomeRun-esque solution than a traditional DVR… as it lacks video output. Given the “transcode” I’ll go ahead and assume TiVo is working on Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV clients vs forcing folks into a TiVo Mini. Whether or not DVR storage is integrated, vs the competition’s bring-your-own-drive, remains to be seen. As does tuner count (I’d guess dual) along with pricing and associated fees.

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One of the primary drawbacks of most streamers is a lack of live over-the-air television integration. Sure, you can switch inputs away from your television’s tuner. But wouldn’t a unified interface and guide be cool? Bonus if it comes with universal search. Roku and Terk once went down this path but failed to deliver and Amazon may be working on something. Into the current vacuum, enter: Channel Master’s new Digital TV Hub.This small, single tuner box’s secret is HDMI pass-thru, similar to Xbox One and original Google TV implementations … but with hopefully more interest and appreciation.

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As I revealed in April, Echostar and DISH Network are collaborating on an audacious plan to pipe the national television networks into Sling TV without the headache and expense of franchine licensing. “AirTV” repurposes Slingbox M1/M2 hardware with over-the-air (OTA) antenna capabilities to stream NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and other locals into the various Sling TV client applications.

From a draft Amazon listing:

With AirTV and an HD antenna, you can stream live local programming, news and your local sports anywhere in your home using the free Sling TV app and its integrated program guide. No paid contracts-just free local TV on any compatible device. And if you want more channels, you can subscribe to paid Sling TV packages-all from the same app.

  • You can watch AirTV from the Sling TV app on Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.
  • Compatible with antennas such as: Mohu Wine Gard RCA …and all others

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With Apple presenting Sling TV at WWDC this week, it’s safe to say their Apple TV television service remains on hold. Unfortunately, Sling TV still features a problematic interface and doesn’t provide access to “the locals” — like NBC and CBS. Further, while Sony’s PS Vue does include broadcast networks (in some regions) and a 28-day DVR, that service is currently limited to Playstation and Amazon Fire TV hardware. Well, today, Tablo has made good on their CES promise to deliver both live and recorded DVR television to Apple TV.

As a refresher, Tablo is something of a roll-your-own DVR. It’s a small headless box (starting at ~$200, plus service), featuring 2-4 tuners, that you attach a hard drive and an antenna to — with streamers like Roku, Fire TV, and Nvidia Shield delivering the video to your television. Of course, you can also view and manage Tablo from smartphones and tablets. Continue Reading…

To deflect the bad news, ahead of what sounds like a number of interesting reveals next week, after crunching the numbers Microsoft has announced their intention to pass on the messy, potentially limited but free Xbox One DVR functionality:

After careful consideration, we’ve decided to put development of DVR for Over-the-Air TV on hold to focus our attention on launching new, higher fan-requested gaming experiences across Xbox One and Windows 10. We’re always listening to fan feedback and we look forward to bringing more requested experiences on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live this year.


So, where does that leave us? Presumably, Xbox One live antenna television, via USB tuner, will carry on – including a 30-minute buffer and in-home streaming to iOS and Android devices. But those alluring recording capabilities, from multiple tuners will remain out of reach to this refocused gaming console. Fortunately, a pair of solid DVR alternatives exist in the headless Tablo and a resurrected TiVo Roamio OTA. HDHomeRun network tuners will soon also provide DVR options, in the form of software from manufacturer Silicon Dust and the developer behind Channels — although you’ll need a computer or NAS in the mix. Lastly, I wonder if Amazon might surprise us with something?

Amazon Fire TV Going OTA?

Dave Zatz —  June 3, 2016

fire-tv-2015-hd-antenna-bundleAs Rovi indicates TiVo could move away from retail hardware, it appears Amazon is preparing to offer over-the-air capabilities on Fire TV … which dovetails nicely with uncovered support to display live channels within the AFTV interface. The Fire TV would obviously need some sort of network tuner, a la HDHomeRun, or a USB accessory, like the Xbox One, to pull in the signal via antenna. Of course, most televisions offer similar tuning capabilities. But accessing all our video content from a single interface offers some benefit… especially given Amazon’s search and voice capabilities. Having said that, for many, OTA content without DVR recording capabilities is a non-starter. Could that, too, be on the docket via USB storage or a subscription cloud service? In any event, piping in antenna television locally, as Sling intends to do with AirTV, is an excellent way to round out the video experience without worrying about retransmission licensing challenges that plague Sony’s PS Vue and the MIA Apple TV streaming service.

Kevin Tofel just cut the cord. While he’s a good pal (having live-Tweeted each other’s weddings), what makes his “cable” television exodus a bit more fascinating is his technological background — including years of contributions to the TV-centric HDBeat and PVRWire (RIP) blogs. Heck, we even collaborated on a piece for PC Magazine (back in 2006, when it was paper) documenting how to cut the cord… possibly before that term even existed.

So what’s different in 2016? The content Kevin and his family appreciate, including premium channels and futbol, is now available “over-the-top” … on the hardware of his choosing … and without waiting around for the FCC to unlock the box.

I’m convinced we’ve reached a bit of a turning point in the industry that makes “cord cutting” more feasible for a wider range of people. […] We’re not completely “cutting the cord” but are instead using a different “cord” for television content. […] Frankly, I don’t see why I need to pay Verizon — or any other company — $600 a year to rent set-top boxes or have the ability to DVR content.

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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 26, 2016

A periodic roundup of relevant news…