CES 2017: Mohu Antenna Combines OTA and OTT in Wireless Device
Cord cutters know they can get over-the-air channels for free, but constantly switching TV inputs is a hassle. One company provides an elegant solution.
Over-the-air (OTA) video is a surprisingly hot topic at CES 2017: Tablo introduced a compact unit (more on that in an upcoming story) and Sling TV released the AirTV. Add to that the Mohu AirWave, which combines OTA and over-the-top (OTT) video in one wireless device, and provides it without a monthly fee.
This latest product from Raleigh, North Carolina-based Mohu attempts to solve a problem that cord cutters know well: The difficulty of getting local OTA stations, and the hassle of constantly changing TV inputs. The AirWave ($149) plugs into a power source, but communicates with the TV wirelessly. The company offers apps for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, and Chromecast that provide a wireless link to the antenna. When users open the AirWave app they see an electronic program guide (EPG) with all their local channels, including substations. That EPG data is free. That puts pressure on Tablo, which charges a monthly fee for its EPG.
"AirWave, we feel, is a device to deliver free TV everywhere. We're taking OTA and pairing it with OTT, and bringing it to every device in the home," says John Crabill, chief marketing officer.
This is the first version of the AirWave, and there's only a single tuner and no cloud DVR. Changes will come in version 2 this fall, Crabill notes, but it's a question of priorities which problem gets tackled first.
In a demo, the AirWave is pleasingly fast. The EPG is responsive and provides TV and movie information supplied by Gracenote.
The Mohu team is also showing off Untangle.tv at CES, a site it launched two weeks ago to guide people to cord-cutting solutions. Visitors enter their location, monthly cable bill total, and favorite shows, networks, and sports. Untangle.tv then shows them which products and services they could buy to get the same content, listing a mix of OTA and OTT services. It also shows how much they'd save every month by cancelling their pay TV service. Advice is tailored to the user's level of tech savvy.
Untangle.tv's advice is free and popular: The server crashed the day it launched after the Raleigh NBC affiliate gave it a mention.
"54 percent of Americans are considering cutting the cord. That's from a survey we did in 2016. This is how to cut the cord," Crabill says of Untangle.tv.
Two views of the Mohu AirWave
The dual tuners let viewers watch one show while recording another, but full functionality requires several add-ons.
With Tablo, owners can record over-the-air programming and stream it to any device, but the quality isn't always ideal.
The AirTV combines local and streaming channels in one convenient grid, and deserved more buzz than it got.
TV Everywhere is plagued by connection difficulties, while quality is improving on over-the-air digital subchannels. The home antenna is making a comeback.