Tag Archives: cord cutting

Holiday Gift Guide for the Tech Enthusiast

Holiday Gift Guide for the Tech Enthusiast



The holiday season has officially begun and now millions of Americans are struggling to decide on what to get their loved ones for Christmas. Sometimes it’s easy because a gift just jumps out at you or because your loved one explicitly mentioned what they wanted.

 

Unfortunately many people lack the enthusiasm for Christmas that they had as children and consequently will usually say something like “I don’t care” when you ask what they want.

 

If you’re buying a gift for the techie in your life it can be even harder; especially if you’re not technologically inclined. There are so many gadgets and gizmos out there that it can be hard to know where to look, much less know what’s good or not.

 

To help you out this holiday season, here are some awesome websites to check out while you’re doing your shopping as well as some amazing gift ideas that are bound to thrill the technophile in your life. Let’s get started…

 

ThinkGeek.com

Within the heart of tech lover is an appreciation for all things nerdy. If you’re looking for a fun, quirky, and inexpensive gift for the techie in your life, it’s hard to do better than ThinkGeek.com.

 

Looking to invoke a little nostalgia? How about a Boba Fett Bath Robe topped off with some Doctor Who Slippers? Looking for a project to occupy the DIY junky in your life? Try out the Build Your Own Gramophone or 3D Printing Pen!

ThinkGeek Premium DIY Gramophone Kit

Premium DIY Gramophone Kit

 

If you want to spend under $100 and want to impress the tech fiend in the family, Think Geek is the place to go. There’s a little something for everyone; and who knows, you might wind up getting something for yourself!

 

Scientifics Online

Science and Technology go together like peanut butter and jelly. Scientifics Online is a great online resource for purchasing DIY (do-it-yourself) science kits; there’s a Robotics Kit, Levitating Lamps, and even a USB Powered Polygraph Kit!

 

One of the coolest things on there is the littleBits Open Source Electronics Module Kit. For as little as $99, you can start building small electronics or start integrating them into household objects like your shoes! If your loved ones enjoys electronics and DIY projects, this gift is perfect for them.

littleBits Open Source Base Kit

littleBits Open Source Base Kit

 

The price range for most Scientifics Online projects usually hovers over $100, so if you’re on a budget this might not be the place for you; but if you’re looking for some amazing and fun projects for the techie / serial DIYer in your life, Scientifics Online is perfect for your needs!

 

Roku Streaming Device

If you asked a tech enthusiast who the most despicable people in the world are, they would overwhelmingly respond with Comcast Executive; ranked slightly above ISIS militants.  The fact of the matter is if you follow technology, you know how severely limited we are by the giant cable companies and media conglomerates.

 

If your tech fiend family member hasn’t already, they probably have at least talked about getting rid of cable and “cutting the cord.” Why not be the hero of the holidays and help free your family from the tyranny of cable with a Roku streaming box?

Roku 3 Streaming Box

Roku 3 Streaming Device

 

With Roku, you can stream Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, and much more! Not only does Roku give you access to some of the latest and greatest television and film, but Roku also comes with thousands of niche web channels with millions of hours of content.

 

The best part is that Roku starts off as cheap as $50, so if you’re on a budget it won’t break the bank! Proceed with caution, however, if you’re not careful you might wind up buying a Roku for yourself instead!

 

Kano Computer Kit

The Kano Computer Kit is probably one of the coolest things on the market right now. Plenty of people talk about wanting to build a computer, but few ever do because it seems too complicated or expensive. The Kano computer kit solves both of these problems.

 

The Kano computer kit is a simple, easy to build, DIY computer that comes with simple and intuitive instructions. With little effort your tech-inclined loved one will be constructing a small and adaptable Raspberry Pi computer; and at $150 it’s not ridiculously expensive. If you’re looking for the perfect DIY Christmas gift, you just found it.

Kano Computer Kit

Kano Computer Kit

 

Finding the perfect Christmas gift for the technophile in your life isn’t as hard as it seems. All you need to do is know what to look for. Is it clever? Electronic? Can you build something with it? If you said yes to any of those, odds are they will love it. Remember, the most important kind of gift is one that comes from the heart. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on them, as long as it shows that you love them.

 

Dave Kennedy is a long time cordcutter who became increasingly frustrated with the high cost of Cable TV and decided to make a stance. In 2011 he launched KilltheCableBill.com, a site dedicated to helping people save money through providing simple, cost-effective cable TV alternatives. Since then, David has helped 1,000s of people cancel their cable subscription while keeping the shows they love.



Mohu Newsletter Sign-Up Sweepstakes

Sign up for our newsletter & enter to win a Mohu HDTV antenna



Sweepstakes Overview

We’re giving away 10 of our top-rated indoor HDTV antennas starting today, December 10, 2014, through January 30, 2015. How do you enter? Just sign up for our cordcutting newsletter using the form below. You’ll be automatically entered into the random drawing to be one of our 10 winners. Plus, you can get bonus entries once you’ve signed up by sharing your entry with friends and family. For each person you refer to sign up for the newsletter as well, you’ll get 1 extra bonus entry.

 

Why sign up for our newsletter?

It’s your opportunity to be the first to find out about our latest promotions as well as exclusive first access to product news and announcements. Plus, you can get access to cordcutting and money-saving tips and info. Best of all? We’ll only email you when we’ve got something great to share, so don’t worry about us clogging your inbox.

 

Enter here



15 Dollar Gift Card off of 50 Dollar Purchase

Cordcutting Savings: Get Your $15 Gift Card



Did you sleep through Black Friday? Too busy catching up at work on Cyber Monday? Looking for another round of savings with the holidays fast-approaching? Rest easy. We want to give you a $15 gift card you can use on gomohu.com for any purchase of $50 or more.

 

Click below to claim your gift card and get shopping!



Quick tip: you’ll need to wait to input your Gift Card code once you’re in the checkout process prior to putting in your credit/debit card info (as opposed to putting it in the Promotional Codes box on your shopping cart). Here’s what you’ll look for when checking out:

Mohu Gift Card at Checkout

 

Enjoy these cordcutting savings through December 7, whether you’re ditching cable, looking for a plan B in case of outages, or wanting to give the gift of free TV to someone else this holiday season!



Overview of Open Source Media Centers

Cordcutter Guide to Open Source Media Centers



Open Source Media Centers: Finding the Media Center that fits with your lifestyle and preferences

 

When ditching cable, there is no better way to replace that content gap than by utilizing and growing your own media library along with your antenna. However, if you’re like me, you will often find that your media is spread out among multiple formats and file types. It can be very frustrating when you’re trying to watch your favorite movie, but can’t, because it’s on the wrong operating system. The solution to this problem is to use an open-source media center.

 

What is an open-source media center?

In short, an open-source media center is a free program that offers a platform for users to view their pictures, videos, and listen to audio files from one source. The media center essentially serves as a digital media library; a central hub through which all your media files go. Some open-source media centers help you organize your files, others enable cross-platform access, and the best ones do both.

 

Sometimes open-source media centers will offer premium subscriptions for extra features; while others may simply require you to register an account. Depending on your media needs, you may or may not need a premium service; it all depends on how serious you are about your digital entertainment.

 

Kodi Media Center (Formerly XBMC)

One of the most famous open-source media players is the Kodi Media Center, formerly known as XBMC (Xbox Media Center). Originally designed to work with the original Xbox, the Kodi Media Center quickly evolved into a cross-platform home media hub. Kodi is compatible with any video type and works with Windows, Linux, and Mac.

 

When uploading your media, Kodi will read the meta-data of each file and download relevant information, such as title name, description, and cover art. Kodi also sports the ability to watch television online, has a built in PVR (personal video recorder, essentially a DVR), a killer mobile app, and hundreds of different add-ons you can download. For a free media center, it’s hard to do better.

 

MediaPortal – Open Source Media Center

Kodi isn’t the only kid on the block. There are hundreds of other media centers out there; though not all are created equal. Founded by a former XBMC development team member, MediaPortal boasts a seamless in-home entertainment experience. Because it is specifically designed for Windows 7, 8, and some versions of Vista, MediaPortal lacks the cross platform-functionality that most people want. However, the tradeoff is increased performance speeds. Aside from its ability to support multiple TV cards, there isn’t anything that’s too special about MediaPortal besides a smooth performance. If you don’t like Kodi and you have Windows 7 or 8, you might want to give MediaPortal a try.

 

PLEX Media Server

Aside from Kodi, the next best free media center would have to be PLEX. Founded by a former member of XBMC (Kodi) development team as well, PLEX offers more or less the same features as Kodi, but it also has some awesome extra features. For $5 a month, $30 a year, or $75 for a lifetime subscription, you can get PLEX Pass, which allows you to upload your media to cloud storage and sync it to your device for offline play. This is an indispensable asset if you’re on a long road trip with the family or travel often for business. If you don’t have a large media library, this feature might make you reconsider expanding your collection.

 

MythTV

If you are the tinkering type, you might like MythTV. Originally created as a Linux only program, MythTV has slowly begun expanding into different operating systems (although it currently only supports Mac and Linux). It is possible to build a MythTV app for Windows, but as of right now, there is no official supported app. There are two MythTV apps, a front-end app and a back-end app. The back-end application essentially runs the “behind the scenes” stuff like scheduling the DVR to record and so on. The front-end application is basically just the user interface. Like I said earlier, this thing is really cool if you like to tinker with your tech and build your own system.

 

Aside from the split application, MythTV more or less does the basic functions that Kodi or PLEX would do. If you are a windows user or just someone who wants a simple experience, MythTV might not be a good idea.

 

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to open-source media centers, and there are certainly pros and cons to each choice. Really, it all boils down to your needs. If you have a huge library and hate tagging, maybe you should try Kodi. If you like to alter, adapt, and generally play around with soft/hardware, MythTV is your go-to app.

 

This comprehensive list of open source media centers is a great reference point, and you should try out as many as you like until you find the perfect one. What’s important is that you find the media center to fit your lifestyle and preferences. Regardless of which media center you pick, one thing is for sure: your digital entertainment experience will never be the same again.

 

Dave Kennedy is a long time cordcutter who became increasingly frustrated with the high cost of Cable TV and decided to make a stance. In 2011 he launched KilltheCableBill.com, a site dedicated to helping people save money through providing simple, cost-effective cable TV alternatives. Sine then, David has helped 1,000s of people cancel their cable subscription while keeping the shows they love.



10 of the Best PBS Shows You Can Watch for Free



Satisfying, interesting and fun, PBS broadcasts hundreds of  shows that entertain and educate, and all are free when using a HDTV antenna to capture over-the-air signals. 

 

PBS stations are non-profit and locally run. PBS member stations have quarterly membership drives to keep their programming on the air. Financial gifts by PBS members during these fundraising events are essential to the operation of  all local PBS stations.

 

The continued financial support of this broadcast network by the public has encouraged exponential growth of high quality programming for more than forty yearsPBS programming has been transformed over decades from a few local shows into programming schedules; specific to the viewer’s area, that include world news, music specials, documentaries, children’s programming and so much more!

 

Early Memory of PBS

 

I can remember being a little kid and watching Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street, broadcast over air on PBS (coincidentally, the show is celebrating its 45th anniversary today – find out when and where you can catch it and many more PBS Kids programming for free). Back then, my folks used a ‘rabbit ear’ antenna to get over-the-air TV, which meant that sometimes watching TV resulted in an impromptu yoga workout as I contorted myself to get the antenna adjusted just right to capture the signal.  

 

I still enjoy PBS, and get it for free over air, but thankfully I no longer have to worry about moving my over air antenna around to get a clear signal.  Now I use the Curve 50 Indoor HDTV Antenna to grab digital HD broadcasts, including the shows broadcast by PBS.  I save $100 a month not having cable TV, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a thing. 

 

With hundreds of shows that immerse viewers in subjects past and present, PBS has an outstanding number of shows that more than satisfy my intellectual curiosity and desire to be entertained.

 

If you haven’t looked at PBS recently, take a look!  It really is “TV worth watching.”

 

 

10 Terrific PBS Series

 

 

1. Downton Abbey

 

I didn’t think I’d like this show, but after only a few episodes I was hooked!  Definitely worth watching if you enjoy a multi-faceted story line that spans generations and strings together historical moments.

 

Also check out the other Masterpiece series’ on PBS.

 

 

2. Antiques Roadshow

 

Ever wondered how much that old painting hanging in the spare bedroom is worth?

 

If you get started watching this program you’ll definitely be viewing your old stuff as a fresh source of income!  Look for the Antiques Roadshow tour to come to your area and see if you can get on the show.

 

 

3. FRONTLINE

 

Smart, in-depth reporting and edgy visuals are the backbone of this longstanding PBS news series. Focusing on issues related to Health, Technology, Science, Government and Social Issues, FRONTLINE delves deep and provides information that often leads to more questions.

 

4. NATURE

 

A beautifully done series that focus’ on the many aspects of our natural world and the animals that inhabit it. If you enjoy the Discovery Channel on cable, you’ll love this series on PBS.

 

 

5. NOVA

 

Hundreds of educational programs on topics ranging from Ancient Worlds to Technology, NOVA programs are often used by teachers to broaden their students understandings of specific topics.

 

http://youtu.be/a_dLlUnQa0c

 

6. American Experience

 

A historical series that gives the viewer insights into American history, often played out on the world stage. The American Experience is a unique adventure, filled with monumental achievements and horrific tragedies that continue to mold our nation to this day.

 

The Freedom Riders ,  Mount Rushmore, and the Civil War are a few of the shows that make up the American Experience. 

 

http://youtu.be/dHVOpuxjGyw

 

7. American Masters

 

This series celebrates arts and culture, showcasing performer biographies.  Musicians, actors, writers and visual artists come into focus through a new lens when viewing the video library of the American Masters.

 

 

8. PBS NEWSHOUR

 

An eclectic mix of topics are covered, all in a professional news format that is akin to 60 Minutes or a similar network program.  Each episode covers a topic or two in a way that provides the viewer with a new understanding.

 

 

9. Austin City Limits

 

Concerts in the comfort of your own home! Get front row seats to the best musical entertainment in HD with this concert series that showcases acts from all the major genres of music.

 

 

 

10. Great Performances

 

Where else are you going to enjoy Tony Bennett in concert with Lady Gaga?  Dance, drama, musical theater and opera performances are showcased in this fantastic series.

 

 

 

Andrea Polk hails from Oregon and is a wife, mother, writer, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, and more. She’s also the author of the Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV as well as the avid deal-seeker behind SavvySleuth.com, where she scours the web for the best online deals.

 



Simple Cord Cutting: “Where Can I Get More Programming?”



“Over-the-air HDTV is awesome, but the truth is, as a cord cutter sometimes you will yearn for more. The good news is that there’s a lot of low cost and free streaming media sources that can provide you with a plethora of viewing options.”

 

Streaming media (for those who don’t already know…) is programming that is sent via the internet to smart TVs, PCs, and streaming media devices.  It allows users to easily access paid streaming media services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, in addition to free streaming services like Crackle, Mohu One and Pluto TV.

 

Paid streaming media services come with a low subscription cost; usually paid monthly with a credit card on file. Some of these services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, give you a free trial of one week to one month.  Even when you subscribe for the low monthly fee to one of these paid streaming services, you can opt out at any time if the service isn’t for you.

 

Considering the high quality  services available, the ease of access to these services by multiple devices, and the significant savings by comparison to cable or satellite TV, supplementing your over-the-air TV with streaming media has never been more attractive.

 

Streaming Media Devices

Streaming devices are all the rage for cord cutters and non-cord cutters alike.  A good device will quickly guide you through a step by step process for easy setup, and provide you with an easy to understand interface for continued ease of use.   The devices access your wireless network and all you really have to do is enter your network’s password to gain access to streaming media services. Apps (programs used for various streaming media services) can be accessed with a click of a remote.

 

I have several streaming media devices which provide my family with an incredible amount of streaming entertainment for very little money. My devices include a Roku 3, Apple TV, a Blu-ray player with apps, a smart LED HDTV and PCs with XBMC (now known as Kodi) software.

cord cutting

 

All of these devices work well for streaming media, but the Roku 3 is the simplest to setup and use. I like it because it provides me with quick access to my favorite streaming media content from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus. For those who don’t mind a challenge with great rewards,  consider adding  XBMC software to your PC. XBMC can provide you with live TV from various countries including live sports programming. Check out this video on how to install, configure, and customize an XBMC setup, which I found to be very helpful to me when setting up XBMC on my PCs:

 

Free Streaming Media Services

Not all streaming media has a fee attached to it. Some really great content is actually free!  Here are some of my favorite sources.

 Cord Cutting

  • Mohu One - Integrated into Mohu Channels.
  • Pluto TV - Setup is easy to use and offers excellent programming choices.
  • Crackle - Movies and more movies, for free.
  • YouTube - Incredible resource!
  • VeVo  - Awesome source for the latest music videos.
  • Hulu (not Hulu Plus which is a paid service) – older movies and documentaries.

 

There are a lot of ways you can enhance your cord cutting with streaming media.   To enjoy the experience, make sure you have a strong high speed wireless internet connection and a streaming media device with the apps you want installed. If you aren’t afraid to try, internet based media sources can truly give you more programming than you ever had with cable or satellite TV, at a fraction of the cost.

 

Andrea Polk hails from Oregon and is a wife, mother, writer, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, and more. She’s also the author of the Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV as well as the avid deal-seeker behind SavvySleuth.com, where she scours the web for the best online deals.



Cordcutting Cliff Notes: Cut the Cord and Keep Your Shows



Cordcutting Cliff Notes
One of the most common e-mails I get is from people who love the idea of cord cutting, but for one reason or another just can bring themselves to do it. I hear it all the time: “Well I just don’t know how to do it”; “It’s too complicated”; or “But I don’t want to miss TV Show X.” I agree, cord cutting seems hard if you are new to the concept; and no one wants to lose their favorite show just to save a couple of dollars.

 

First, let me start by saying you will save more than just a few dollars. What would you do with an extra $600 in your pocket? Second, it is a myth that you have to give up your favorite television shows in order to ditch cable. Finally, cutting the cord is much simpler than it seems.

 

In order for you to be free from the tyrannical clutch of cable & satellite companies, there are a few things you will need to purchase. They are: OTA Antenna, Streaming Device, Streaming Services and OTA DVRs. If you don’t know what some of those things are, don’t worry, we’re going to explain each and every item on this list and how to go about getting each one.

 

Over-the-Air (OTA) Antennas

What is an OTA antenna? Ever since 2009, network television stations have been broadcasting their signal digitally; the old style of antenna cannot pick up those signals but OTA antennas can. With an OTA antenna you can watch network television (ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, FOX, and more) in HD for free.

 

Basically, an OTA antenna is the rabbit ears of the future. You may be asking why you need an OTA antenna when you can just stream all the shows you want; and that’s a fair question. Sometimes we forget how many of our favorite shows are on network television; not to mention local new, sporting events, and live specials that wouldn’t be available for streaming. Besides, sometimes it’s just nice to flip on the TV and watch whatever’s on.

 

There are thousands of different models to choose from when it comes to OTA antennas. Most run in the $30 to $60 range. Personally, I have always loved the company Mohu and their antennas. Mohu Antennas were designed by former US military engineers, and are simply the best antennas on the market.

 

To figure out what model will work best for you I suggest using a tool like AntennaWeb (or Mohu’s zip code channel finder). This site will graphically show you what channels you could get, how far away the broadcast towers are, and from which direction the signal would be coming from – using your home address. Once you get this all mapped out, your next step is to figure out which antenna will work best for you. To do this I suggest using Mohu’s product pages to review the different Mohu antennas available: Metro, Leaf 30, Leaf 50, Curve 30, Curve 50, and Sky 60.

 

Shop Mohu Indoor HDTV Antennas
Shop Mohu Indoor & Outdoor HDTV Antennas

 

Streaming Devices

Now let’s take a look at streaming devices. A streaming device does exactly what it sounds like; it streams movies and television from the internet into your television. That’s it. There are a lot of different kinds of streaming devices out there on the market; even some DVD players have the ability to stream Netflix and YouTube.
Continue reading



Simple Cord Cutting: “How Do You Cut the Cord with Mohu?”



“Cord cutting requires you to decide you want to save money, to commit to making a lifestyle change and to be willing to try something new.”

 

Cord cutting isn’t complicated, however some people are afraid to try to cut the cord because of the false assumption that you need to be technically savvy to get the job done (among other reasons).  The truth is, if you can read simple directions and aren’t afraid to make a small effort to dial in the channels at your location, practically anyone can get free TV using an HDTV antenna.

 

It’s not expensive or difficult to cut the cord. Any initial costs associated with purchasing an over-the-air antenna are quickly recouped in the first month of savings earned after the first month free from cable or satellite TV.

Simple Cord Cutting: How Over Air TV Works

How Over Air TV Works

 

Digital Drives the Signal

 

To grab free over-the-air TV signals and view television broadcasts on your TV, you need the right equipment.  This doesn’t mean you have to rush out and buy hundreds of dollars worth of new stuff, but it does mean that what you use must be able to capture and descramble digital over air TV signals.

 

Cord cutting requires that you have a TV that’s digital-ready. The TV you use to view over-the-air TV broadcasts needs to have a digital tuner inside or attached to it. Digital tuners are what decipher digital over-the-air TV broadcasts.  If you have a newer, flat TV, it most likely has a digital tuner already built into it. However if you view TV programming on an older box-type set, you’ll need a digital converter box.

 

Digital converter boxes are cheap, starting at about $30, and act as an external digital tuner for older TVs. They allow you to view digital TV signals on your older TV without having to buy a new LED, LCD or Plasma TV with the digital tuner inside.

 

 

Over-The-Air HDTV Antennas

 

Digital HDTV over-the-air antennas can be indoor or outdoor, as long as the range of the antenna you are using is adequate for your location.

 

Select one indoor HDTV antenna for each TV in your household you want to receive over air TV.  Make sure the TV broadcast towers in your area are within range of your chosen antenna.

 

For example, if the  local TV towers are all within 30 miles of your location, you would be able to purchase an antenna with a range of 30 miles to receive the TV signals broadcast over air in your area. The Leaf 30 HDTV Indoor Antenna is ideal.

 

I use two Mohu Leaf 50 antennas to cut the cord because the furthest TV towers broadcasting in my area are over 40 miles away.  One Mohu 50 antenna is connected to my smart TV in the living room, and the other is connected to a 24” LED monitor that’s connected to my PC.  The monitor has a built-in digital tuner, so when I’m not using the monitor for work I can watch TV via a connected Mohu antenna.

 

Alternatively you may use a splitter to share a single over air antenna’s signal with other TVs in your home.  This is a bit more complicated as it means more cables and an antenna that’s best installed in the attic or on your roof.

 

The Jolt 4-Way Antenna Amplifier by Mohu allows up to four televisions to share the over air signals from a single Mohu Sky 60 HDTV Attic / Outdoor Antenna. It’s a great option for large households on a budget to enjoy free over-the-air TV.

 

Cut the Cord

 

I love Mohu antennas for their ease of use and performance. When using a Mohu antenna to cut the cord, remember these tips for easy installation and use of your HDTV antenna.

1.  Easy step-by-step directions are included with each antenna. Read them prior to setup and use.

 

2. Placement of the antenna is key to successful over air reception. Try several locations. Higher is usually better.

 

3.  Scan for channels using your TV’s remote and make sure the input is set to ‘Air’ to pick up over-the-air TV broadcasts.

 

4.  If you have questions, remember you can always check out the Mohu FAQs, their Forum or contact Mohu Support.

 

Over-the-air TV gives you all the latest network programming in HD and it’s easy to obtain with the right Mohu HDTV antenna. Cut the cord with Mohu and start saving money today!

 

Andrea Polk hails from Oregon and is a wife, mother, writer, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, and more. She’s also the author of the Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV as well as the avid deal-seeker behind SavvySleuth.com, where she scours the web for the best online deals.