Prime Day: Free TV on Parade!

Amazon has discounted their Recast DVRs $100 for Prime Day.  If you are a Prime member, you can get the four tuner model for $179.99 or the two tuner model for $129.99.  I recommend the four tuner model for the tuners and additional storage — 150 hours vs 75.  As of this morning, you can get one 4K Fire TV Stick for $24.99 if you ask Alexa to show Prime Day deals.  Add an antenna and you have subscription free television for $200.

In Amazon Prime: Something for Everyone, I noted that Philo and Vue integrated into the Recast program guide.  Since, I have learned that Pluto integrates as well.  Pluto is FREE.  Install the Pluto app on your Fire TV device and the following channels will be added to your program guide (courtesy of The Daily Dot)…

New channels on Pluto TV
Paramount Movie Channel (75)
MTV Pluto TV (80)
MTV Guy Code (81)
MTV Teen (82)
MTV Dating (83)
The Hills MTV (84)
Comedy Central Pluto TV (86)
Comedy Central Stand-Up (87)
Spike Pluto TV (90)
Spike Outdoors (91)
BET on Pluto TV (93)
CMT Westerns (95)
Nick Pluto TV (97)
Nick Jr Pluto TV (98)

Pluto TV channels list: News
Today’s Top Story (105)
News 24/7 (108)
CBSN (109)
NBC News (110)
CNN (111)
Cheddar News (112)
The Young Turks (TYT) Network (116)
NewsmaxTV (121)
Top Stories by Newsy (127)
RT America (132)
Sky News (135)
Bloomberg TV (143)
Weather Nation (150)

Pluto TV channels list: Sports
Pluto TV Sports (201)
Fox Sports (202)
Major League Soccer (203)
Impact Wrestling (204)
Fight (205)
Combat World (206)
Stadium (207)
Surf Channel (209)
Sports News (213)
World Poker Tour (214)
Glory Kickboxing (215)
Lucha Libra Worldwide (217)
Big Sky Conference (230)

Pluto TV channels list: Movies
TV Spotlight
Pluto TV Movies (51)
Pluto TV Movies 2 (52)
TV Family (53)
Action Movies (54)
TV Comedy (55)
TV Drama (56)
Flicks of Fury (57)
TV Thrillers (58)
Horror 24/7 (59)
TV Documentaries (60)
TV Indies (61)
Classic Movies Channel (62)
TV Romance (63)
80s Rewind (65)
TV Cult Films (66)
Black Cinema (67)
TV Cine (69)
Pluto TV Cine Dos (70)
Gravitas Movies (71)
Paramount Movie Channel (75)

Pluto TV channels list: Comedy
Funny AF (250)
TV Sitcoms (255)
Stand-up TV (261)
MST3K (264)
RiffTrax (265)
FailArmy (267)
Cats 24/7 (268)
The Onion (269)
Cracked (272)
Pet Collective (273)

Pluto TV channels list: Geek + Gaming
The Feed (301)
Hive (304)
Anime All Day (322)
Anime All Ages (323)
MinecrafTV (325)
IGN (330)
CNET (333)
Geek & Sundry (336)
Nerdist (341)

Pluto TV channels list: Entertainment
Chassy (501)
Man Up (502)
Man Up Outdoors (503)
Crime Network (504)
The New Detectives (505)
Unsolved Mysteries (506)
Forensic Files (507)
Dog The Bounty Hunter (508)
TV Conspiracy (509)
TV Animals (510)
Cold Case Files (511)
Shout! Factory TV (512)
Buzzr (514)
Classic TV (515)
ConTV (516)
Live Music Replay (517)
Wipeout (518)
Kids TV (520)
After School Cartoons (526)
Classic Toons TV (531)
Awesomeness TV (534)
Nosey (536)
WHAT?! (542)
Revry (543)

Pluto TV channels list: Life + Style
TV Cars (600)
PeopleTV (602)
Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Uncensored (603)
Complex (604)
Wahlburgers (605)
TV Her (606)
TV Her Dramas (607)
Logo Puto TV (608)
TV Travel (610)
FrontDoor (615)
Adventure TV (619)
Food TV (621)
Faith TV (625)

Pluto TV channels list: Curiosity
Voyager Documentaries (635)
ScienceTV (636)
TV History (637)
DocuTV (638)
TV Biography (639)
Law and Crime (640)
NASA TV (643)

Pluto TV channels list: Miscellaneous (“Chill Out”)
Internet Gold (401)
Vibes (411)
Monstercat TV (418)
THC (420)
Eye Candy (426)
NatureVision (TV)
Slow TV (437)
4K TV (439)

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Tablo TV DVR vs Amazon Recast

UPDATE: It looks like the Recast uses about the same power as the Tablo TV DVR…

http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-fire-tv-recast-power-usage-while-idle-recording-and-streaming/

My friend Bill has just moved to New Hampshire and found an antenna on the roof of his new home.  He replaced the pre-amp and pulled in stations from Portland Maine, Boston, and Manchester New Hampshire.  I loaned him a TiVo Roamio and a Channel Master DVR+ so he could see how good broadcast television can be.  We have been been talking about Roku TVs as well as whole house DVRs like Amazon’s Recast and the Tablo TV DVR.

The Tablo team put together a really even handed comparison of the two devices here

Tablo TV DVR vs Amazon Recast

The bottom line (according to Tablo’s blog)…

  • Tablo is an open system supporting most streamers and services while Recast is a closed system designed to work with Amazon devices and services (see table below)
  • Some Tablo products have internal storage and all support external storage to 8TB while all Amazon devices have internal storage and none [currently] support external storage
  • Tablo supports six concurrent streams while the Recast supports two
  • A Tablo DVR includes basic guide and recording functionality, but you must purchase their premium service to match (and surpass) what is included with the Recast
  • Tablo (with the premium service) provides full out-of-home viewing and control while Recast is limited to mobile device playback
  • The Tablo DVR uses less power than the Recast due to streaming architecture

This table compares client compatibility…

That’s what Bill thinks, anyway.  I’m a little suspicious of the energy efficiency claims and Amazon has promised external storage will be available sometime after launch.

One of the devices missing from the table above is the Amazon Echo Show.  I open Plex on the Show to watch recorded programs.  It’s kind of a pain since you have to open the browser and type in the plex.tv url each time you want to watch something.  So far, I have not been able to get live tv from my Extends.  I really would like to watch live TV on my Shows, so this is a big plus for the Recast as far as I am concerned.

The Tablo TV DVR scales better since adding a second DVR does not require adding a second service (and you cannot add a second Recast at all).  You can attach up to 8TB of storage to a single Tablo TV DVR

Amazon only supports one Recast per account.  For me, that is very disappointing.  Amazon has really disappointed in consumer electronics from their phones to the Echos and now the Recast.  There is no reason to assume they will eventually get it right.

The comparison really does not address cost.  Cost is very important.  If you want an appliance with no monthly fees, the Recast wins.  The retail cost of a 500GB, two tuner Recast is $229.99 and will be $179.99 on Black Friday.  Use an Amazon credit card to pay and your OOP is $171.  The 1TB, four tuner model is $279.99/$219.99/$209.  The Tablo TV two tuner DVR is $139.99 BUT you will spend another $50 on a 1TB disk and you really need to shell out another $150 for all the features the Tablo blogger was talking about.  So, $340.  Get a refurb for $119.99 and you are still talking $320.  The Tablo TV four tuner DVR is $199.96 BUT you will spend another $50 on a 1TB disk and you really need to shell out another $150 for all the features the Tablo blogger was talking about.  So, $400.  You can get the older two tuner Tablo TV DVR for $89.99 which would end up costing $290.

So, Bill, if cost is not an issue, get the Tablo TV DVR.  It is simply the better DVR.  Go ahead and get the four tuner unit, spring for the Lifetime Service, and get a really big disk.  If you are not ready to throw $500 at a DVR, then get a Recast.  Don’t bother with the four tuner model because the box is not robust enough to support four tuners.

Bienvenue au New Hampshire!

PS To DLFL who asked…

What does [‘Don’t bother with the four tuner model because the box is not robust enough to support four tuners’] mean and what is the evidence to support that statement?

It means you are limited to two streams regardless of which model you purchase. Combined with the fact that you can only have one Recast per account (also from the ARFYou can register one Fire TV Recast per Amazon account), this is very limiting…

from Amazon’s Recast FAQ

How many programs can I record at once? Can I record a program while watching another live or recorded program?

With a 2-tuner Fire TV Recast, you can either:

  • Record up to 2 programs at once,
  • Watch up to 1 live and 1 recorded program on different devices, while recording another;
  • Watch up to 2 recorded programs on different devices, while recording 2 programs in the background; OR
  • Watch up to 2 live programs on different devices at once.

With a 4-tuner Fire TV Recast, you can either:

  • Record up to 4 programs at once;
  • Watch up to 1 live and 1 recorded program on different devices, while recording up to 3 other programs in the background;
  • Watch up to 2 recorded programs on different devices, while recording up to 4 programs in the background; OR
  • Watch up to 2 live programs on different devices at once while recording up to 2 other programs in the background.

from the Tablo Blog Post

  • On-the-fly transcoding requires A LOT of processing power, so every Recast device is limited to 2 concurrent viewing streams, regardless of whether you have a 2 or 4-tuner model

Who’s Naughty, Who’s Nice (Updated 11/22/2015)

Updated on 11/22/2015 to include $299.99 with Lifetime!  Scroll down to DVRs…

Black Friday is a great time to shop for the cord cutter in your life.  This year, there are a lot of promotions and a handful of new devices.   This post is a guide to what I consider the best buys at this moment.

Let’s start with the ‘no brainers’…

  1. The Roku SE is selling for $25 at Kohls, Best Buy, and Walmart.  This Roku has a slower processor than the current Roku 2/3 models which are slower than the new Roku 4, but it has standard RCA composite out for older televisions.  Great stocking stuffer.  The composite cable is not included, but get one on ebay for $0.99 shipped!  Roku has great apps for Vudu, the Simple DVR, and the TabloTV DVR.
  2. Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is $25 at Best Buy, K-mart, and Staples.  It’s faster than the Roku SE and supports a voice remote.  Two features make it a no brainer.  Captive portal makes it easier to use hotel wifi with the Fire TV Stick.  Kodi support plus FireStarter allows the FTV Stick to easily slip in and out of a slick Media Center mode with virtually unlimited programming.
  3. Fire TV is $75 at Best Buy and Staples.  That’s about half the price of the new Apple and Roku streamers.  With wired or wireless game controllers, the Fire TV is a terrific, inexpensive video game console that also happens to be an awesome streamer.  The new model is more powerful, adds 4k support, Alexa integration, and 801.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, for better Wi-Fi video streaming.

Walmart is going to have the 1st gen Chromecast for $20.  Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, and Costco will all have the 2nd gen Chromecast at two for $50.

My favorite DVR is steeply discounted on Black Friday and you do not have to leave home to get one.  Channel Master’s DVR+ will be on sale for $199 from 4-8 am Pacific Time on Black Friday.  (That’s 7-11 am for those of us on the east coast.)  That’s a pretty good deal.  Buy a pair for $299.  That’s a GREAT deal!

You will need to buy a disk for these, but 1 t usb disks are going for $50 these days, so you can shelve a $200 DVR with no monthly fees.  While the DVR+ is primarily an OTA DVR (which requires no internet or phone connection), plugging in to the internet enables additional features like an Enhanced Program Guide and Linear OTT or Channel Master TV (CMTV).  The enhanced program guide extends the length of the guide from a few days to a couple weeks while adding additional information.  CMTV streams media from the internet to your television continuously.  In other words, words select a CMTV station and watch television continuously until you change the channel.

I like Bloomberg TV, ABC News, WeatherNation TV, Biz TV, WGN TV, The Hunt Channel, Foody TV, Outdoor Cooking Channel, VevoTV-hits, RT Television, RT Documentaries, and Catholic TV (I’m not Catholic, but I enjoy some of the programming).  WeatherNation TV, on the other hand, is great when the weather is on my mind. I actually seek out that channel regularly.  They have recently added some new channels. I will be paying attention to DRTV (Doctor TV). I’ve stopped for a movie or a show on Backlight TV a few times. Got caught up in that. Stream Shift TV has been running a video called Blokes TV which is a bunch of Aussies riding dirt bikes across Southeast Asia, eating ‘happy pizzas’, and hanging out in strip joints. (It’s more entertaining than it should be.) Rivals is a good channel — when something is on. I have watched a couple college football games on Rivals. TWIT TV is terrific background noise.

The DVR+ is the DVR built for cord cutters and is worthy of your consideration next Friday.

Amazon has updated their listing for a TiVo Roamio OTA indicating it will be in stock on 11/26/2015 and can be pre-ordered now.  The Roamio/OTA is my wife’s favorite DVR.  We don’t love the TiVo ‘paradigm’, but do like that it streams Amazon Instant Video/Prime, Vudu, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, and Plex.  It’s truly a single box solution for OTA first cord cutters.  At $299.99 with four tuners and a 500g disk, it is actually less expensive than the DVR+.  If you want to have a TiVo in a second or third room, you can buy a TiVo Mini for ~$130 or less.  The mini shares tuners and disk with a four/six tuner TiVo.

My caution is that TiVo makes their money on monthly and annual fees.  These Lifetime offers are fleeting and often prohibitively expensive.  If you get a single DVR and a couple Minis, you may feel compelled to replace a broken fee-free TiVo with one which has a monthly or annual fee.  I recommend you buy at least two for this reason.

If you cannot decide between a TiVo and a DVR+, post a comment below and we can figure things out together.  (I have three Roamios and three DVR+s.)

$67 Prime

Today from 12:00 a.m., ET, through 11:59 p.m., PT, Amazon is offering a year of Prime to new subscribers for $67.  That’s 1/3 off their regular $99 price!   Prime offers…

  • FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items
  • Unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs
  • Instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video
  • Free unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive
  • Read free books each month through Kindle First and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

Just in time for Christmas shopping…and streaming.

TiVo Roamio/OTA + Three Minis $515

The Roamio/OTA deal is not new, but combined with the TCDA92000 Woot, this represents the BEST DEAL EVER for a house full of TiVos.  TiVo is the only box a cord cutter needs — one box, one remote, no changing inputs. It streams Amazon Instant Video/Prime, Vudu, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, and Plex. It is a whole house solution. You can watch things recorded on one DVR on any other DVR or mini in the house. The Minis work as advertised. They make good use of the four tuners per DVR. The recording is very smart with season/one pass.

Great way to fill your home with TiVos.  Get the Roamio/OTA with Lifetime from TiVo for $299.99 and add three Minis from Woot for $215.  The Minis are factory refurbished, but carry the same 90 day warranty as the new units.  They require no monthly fees.  This is the original Mini, so the remote layout is different than the Roamio/OTT and there is no RF support, so you will need to point the remote at the Mini to change the channel.

TiVoTom is hanging out on the Woot to answer your questions.