Let’s Talk About It

Just wanted to let everyone know I have created forums for FreeTVForMe.  I you want to talk about cord cutting, hardware, reception, or just about anything else, please visit the forums…



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.

Time for a TiVo?

If you follow this blog, you know that I have a thing for DVRs.  When we left Comcast, we bought five EchoStar DVRs.  These provided us with an excellent grid style channel guide, pause, rewind, fast forward, and record DVR functions, and an endless supply of ondemand programming.  I would have bought TiVos, but five of the DTVPals cost less than two TiVos with lifetime.  On Black Friday 2014, I purchased three DVR+s.  TiVos were attractive, but I paid just a little more for three DVR+s than it would have cost for a TiVo and a Mini.

Today, I learned that TiVo is offering their OTA Roamio with lifetime service for $299.99.  This is about the same price as a DVR+ with a 1t disk.  I bought two.  You should too!  This is the best DVR and now it sells for the best price.


$189 Open Box Special on CM DVR+

On their facebook page, via twitter, and in a targeted email, Channel Master has announced that it will sell off a limited stock of open box DVR+s at $189 beginning Monday March 30 at 8:00 am PST (11:00 am EST)…

 Folks, we never do this, but you’ve been asking for discounts and we’ve got a great one for you! Starting Monday morning, click the ad on our home page to get an Open Box DVR+ for just $189!
Some of these have been gently used for media reviews and demonstration events, some have never been used at all. Tested and certified, full warranty, free shipping. These won’t last!

I bought three of these on BF to replace (awesome) aging DTVPal DVRs. This is the best OTA DVR not named TiVo. I chose this over the TiVo because…

1) one year warranty vs 90 days for TiVo (can’t spend $500 on a device with 90 day warranty)
2) completely untethered (TiVo requires internet or phone connection)
3) price

This is a great set top box for cord cutters. First, it has a very nice channel guide. The thing most people miss when they lose their cable box is the guide. The DVR is very good. Two very good tuners capture shows by name and by time. (I like to record blocks of sitcoms that play when I am at work to watch when I get up in the morning.) Playback controls are excellent — you can rewind, pause, fast forward all with preview (i.e., you can see where you are in the show as you rewind and fast forward.) These last two features are not available on simple/tablo alternatives. External storage makes it easy to swap out disks. This is very important because there is a free DVR Lister program which will let you download files from the usb disk to a PC where they can be converted to mp4 and played back on a media server. While the DVR+ uses an enhanced guide while connected to the internet, it used OTA data to build a guide when not connected. This is huge because it means your DVR+ will continue to function if Rovi pulls the plug (as it did with the DTVPal OTA guide) or Channel Master stops supporting the DVR+ for any reason. OR is you have to be off the grid for any reason — you can use this DVR when dry camping or when your power and internet are lost.

The DVR+ has some streaming capability. It can stream Vudu (movies), Pandora (music), and YouTube. Beginning next month, Channel Master will be streaming other programming to the DVR+. This programming will be more like traditional television than ondemand alternatives. Still very little information available.

I highly recommend this DVR. This is the second best ever price for the DVR+ and, though these are open box, they carry a full warranty.

Happy streaming!

How to Build a Roku Channel $0.00

Just spotted a Kindle book called How to Build a Roku Channel by Gary VenRooy.  It’s 125 pages and was published in November.  I haven’t had a chance to test his methodology, but I have gone through the book and it is thorough and detailed.  I plan to use the book to create a channel then review the book here.  I’m posting this for those who cannot wait or simply want to download the book while it is free.