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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TiVo Roamio OTA *with Lifetime* back in stock for $300

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TiVo Mini On Sale for $69.99

Dave Zatz —  January 14, 2016

Woot’s clearing reburb first generation TiVo Minis, once again, for a compelling $70. As a refresher, the TiVo Mini extends a TiVo Premiere, Roamio, or Bolt to another TV in the same home – both live television and DVR recordings, carried via Ethernet or MoCA. And the primary, noticeable distinction of this original TiVo Mini, vs the current model (MSRP $130), is inclusion of an IR remote. So you can’t easily hide the extender inside a cabinet, as you can with the RF remote capabilities that ship with v2.

tivo-mini

(Thanks Greg P!)

Apple TV To Enable App Folders

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2016

Given the 3000 “channels” Roku boasts, you’d think the streaming pioneer would provide some sort of sensible organizational structure. Sadly, many owners (such as myself) are left with an unwieldy scrolling grid of providers. Yeah, we can rearrange app placement within the grid.. but there’s no way to isolate by category or viewer. And it’s not like this is a new concept as WDTV brought way more robust presentation, including tabs and folders, to the television… about three years ago.

Well, the “new” Apple TV is poised to leapfrog Roku (and Amazon) when they release tvOS 9.2 in the coming weeks. Beyond a new (and improved) podcast app and Bluetooth keyboard support, Apple will port a variant of their rudimentary mobile OS foldering feature to the big screen.

While I can’t speak to actual folder usage (as the feature is in developer beta), given Apple TV remote control fussiness, advanced app management may not be the most comfortable to implement. Yet, I’m highly confident it’ll be worth the effort and look forward to getting organized on my brand-spanking-new unit. Continue Reading…

Who are the cord cutters?

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2016

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…

Yeah, we’ve been tracking the Internet of Shit. But bizarro “Internet of Things” really hit fever pitch this week at CES, where everything is connected — including this camera-equipped fridge for those times when actually opening the door is just too much effort. Just because we can wire something up doesn’t mean we should. And I’m fairly confident the market will prove folks are looking for meaningful solutions that add value and reduce effort (without breaking the bank). Pretty sure a disposable Bluetooth smartphone-linked pregnancy test isn’t what Al Gore had in mind.

first-response-bluetooth

DISH has owned CES in recent years with spectacular product reveals… and 2016 sees that trend continue with massive upgrades to their flagship DVR (that I first caught wind of back in September). The 3rd generation Hopper carries forward integrated Slingbox capabilities and (limited) commercial skip, as they introduce 4k support and jump to 16 tuners. Sixteen! DISH isn’t kidding when they declare “channel conflict eliminated” as this surely provides enough to handle all your satellite units during an evening of heavy recording plus some remote streaming.

Hopper_3_with_Voice_Remote

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