All posts tagged Roamio

Mohu Channels

Mohu Channels

From Multichannel News yesterday:

Mohu Channels Lets Users Watch OTA, Stream, Surf; Device Combines Content Types Into a Single Custom Guide


“Mohu, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based maker of over-the-air HD antennae, has officially launched its Mohu Channels front-end device enabling users to manage OTA broadcast, Web-based and streaming content from a single screen.

“Mohu Channels, consisting of a small Mohu Channels Tuner and a handheld keyboard that functions as a remote control, allows users to create custom TV guides combining the three types of content, eliminating the need to switch between various input devices connected to the TV.”

The TiVo Roamio DVR series just discussed lets you add subscription content providers Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus, but not free Crackle, Plex and Media Browser (we currently use a Roku box to access the latter three. Plex and Media Browser serve your own movie/TV/music content from a PC.) The Roamio’s new OnePass feature makes it possible to see the shows you select from paid providers listed alongside your DVR-recorded shows, which is a big step forward in integrating the cord-cutting TV experience.

Mohu Channels also accommodates Netflix and Hulu Plus, though not Amazon. But it can handle Crackle, Plex and Media Browser, since they are available as free Android apps (Channels is Android-based, like a phone or tablet). If Channels offered Amazon as well, which is likely being negotiated, it would become an even stronger contender by possibly eliminating the need for another set-top box.

Over-the-air TV channels are integrated into Channels’ program guide. Any app in the Google Play store can be a channel. Even websites can be given their own channel.

(Case in point of how a website as channel could be valuable to the cord-cutter: this page has a live 24-hour free stream of CNN. This one has same for msnbc. The unique Channels remote with motion control air mouse should make the navigation to go full screen on the video feel natural.)

What does Channels lack? A DVR capability. My wife records the daytime “General Hospital” on our TiVo Roamio OTA and frequently runs it back to review what she missed while cooking, talking on the phone, etc. That would seem to be a problem for us with Channels.


3/25/2015: Get Channels for $99: use coupon code SASCHANNELS at checkout.

To partially address it, Channels runs a constant buffer of 30 minutes on OTA content, facilitating easy pause and replay of shows watched in more or less real time. Hulu Plus could mostly replace a DVR for current network shows.

But we have found watching GH or any other show in her frequent replay style on Hulu Plus via Roku box a trying experience (I found Hulu Plus trying due to its buggy Roku app, clumsy user interface, and poor organization. And the unskippable commercials.)

But if you use Hulu Plus as a way to watch time-shifted series TV (and many people do), Mohu Channels could work for you in just about every way.

And important for the cord-cutter, there is no monthly fee, unlike TiVo.

TiVo Roamio OTA

TiVo Roamio OTA. Click to enlarge.

We cut the TV cable a week ago.

(See Cord-cutting status report #1 for our previous cord-cutting actions.)

I had paid attention to how Gaye watches TV in the den, her usual hangout. The main thing she needed was ease in recording, viewing, and instant-replaying network series such as General Hospital, The Bachelor, Modern Family, etc.

A TiVo Roamio OTA 4-tuner DVR did the trick (OTA = over the air). After experiencing the snappy and intuitive user interface for a few days, she asked when we were cutting the cable. I turned in the cable DVR/tuner box a few days later. The WAF is strong!

Another key to success was the TiVo “Peanut” remote. It’s compact, logically laid out and uncluttered. It uses RF (radio frequency) rather than infrared, so you don’t need to aim. It includes buttons for your TV Power, Volume, and Input. There is a 30-second-ahead button and an 8-second-back button for getting through commercials quickly, or rewatching a particular scene.

Setup was easy, though it took 20 minutes or so.

The Program Guide is visually similar to the one on our old cable DVR. But it can also display the data in other useful styles. For example, your favorite channels alone can be displayed, which is helpful when you are looking for shows to record. Program data is downloaded by the TiVo via either wifi or Ethernet connection.

“Season Pass”“OnePass” is the TiVo term for series recording. It offers more options than the cable box did, and they are better organized.

Recorded TV series episodes are grouped in folders by series name. You can display Movies or Sports or Kids or News and Business. There is also a large selection of other categories such as HD, Comedy, Drama, Documentary, Sci-Fi, etc., which can be selected singly or multiply.

The Roamio OTA has 500 GB storage for recorded shows. You can plug in an eSATA external hard drive for extra storage if you wish.

The free TiVo smartphone app shows you what’s on to watch or record, and gives you a second remote.

The cord-cutter’s rub: the Roamio OTA exacts a $15/mo charge for program data and updates. But I find it easy to rationalize:

The cable company charged $12/mo for DVR service. In order to get DVR service, we also had to add “Advanced TV” for $3/mo extra. There’s the $15. That doesn’t even include $8.50/mo for the cable DVR/tuner.

If you were aiming to replace broadcast TV recording with Hulu Plus, you would pay $8/mo. Hulu Plus forces you to watch repetitive commercials, has a poor user interface, and rewinds awkwardly at best. It’s worth $7/mo more not to endure that.

I am a cost-averse cord-cutter, but there is the ideal (no monthly cost), and there is the practical. Windows Media Center via Raspberry Pi works well for me in our theater room, and costs nothing per month, but complex setups can and do have issues occasionally. Microsoft’s commitment to WMC is tepid. I like to tinker, Gaye doesn’t. TiVo is like a reliable car with good cup holders. WMC/Pi might break down and require a change of spark plugs or tires while on the road.

I have the setup I like, she has the setup she likes. Peaceful coexistence at minimal cost.

More to come.