18 Comments

Summary:

Mohu makes great TV antennas, but now, it wants to take on Roku & Co. and combine free TV with online video apps.

Remote-Box-TV-Add Channels

Mohu, best known for its Mohu Leaf TV antenna, is introducing a new device that combines over-the-air TV with online video services. The company will launch a Kickstarter campaign for its new Mohu Channels product early next week, offering early adopters a chance to get the device for as little as $79.

Mohu Channels is a small, 4.8-inch long and 2.6-inch wide adapter that connects to a Leaf or any other TV antenna and plugs into a TV through an HDMI cable. The device is based on a 1.5GHz ARM Dual Core Cortex A-9 processor, according to specs that popped up on Google this week . It has 802.11 a/b/g/n Wifi on board, but also features an Ethernet port – a good thing for folks that don’t have good Wi-Fi reception near their TV.

The Channels comes with a mini-sized backlit QWERTY keyboard as a remote control that features integrated RF and IR capabilities to use it as a regular TV remote control as well. The remote also offers motion control, so you’ll be able to use it as a Wiimote-like pointer device to select and launch apps and channels.

Full remote controls don’t necessarily make for the most user-friendly remotes, but Mohu seems like it’s justified going into that direction because it integrated a full web browser into the device, capable of viewing videos on a variety of websites.

The device also offers access to a number of apps from online video services, including Netflix and Hulu Plus — but unlike other streaming devices, it doesn’t present these in an app grid, but instead integrates them with a live channel guide, allowing users to switch from live TV straight to Netflix and back. It’s an interesting approach, and one that’s clearly geared towards a more mainstream audience used to cable boxes and their TV guides, as opposed to advanced cord cutters that only watch online video anyway.

  1. Excellent idea from Mohu. At least for those that want to watch live TV sans DVR capability. The integration of online services will help make switching back and forth painless. At least in theory. :-) Much cheaper than buying a Roku TV.

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  2. This is a really good idea. I use a Roku 3 with a cheap antenna. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to cable.

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  3. Not impressed, sounds like an OTT Chromecast with no DVR and a Channel Master style Apps integrated into the guide. Lame.

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  4. This is a nice starter system for non tech savvy cord cutters. If they could integrate DVR functionality and the ability to record to a hard drive, they could have a blockbuster on their hands! On the other hand, if they lack streaming apps, they will limit their market.
    Roku are you paying attention? You need to add an OTA tuner to your devices to stay competitive.

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    1. Right on Limboaz, see Channel Master’s DVR+, came out in December. Sounds like what your talking about.

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      1. I don’t think the channel master DVR+ has the premium streaming services. Most people hate switching between various devices to get the content they want, so if CM can integrate Netflix, Hulu, etc., into their device, they could have more mass appeal. Simplicity and choice are the key.

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        1. birminghamforsale Monday, March 3, 2014

          CM has Vudu and promises more to come. Mohu will be relying on Android apps and web sites for the OTT component, which of course, includes Netflix, Hulu, etc.. I have four Rokus and use Simple.tv to provide OTA through the Rokus without having to switch sources. Simple.tv provides both live and DVR functionality. Since Simple.tv has an Android app, that functionality will also be available for the Mohu Channels product. I assume the same will be true for Tablo when it finally ships. There’s your DVR capability.

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        2. birminghamforsale Monday, March 24, 2014

          I guess I don’t get this complaint. Many universal remotes will work with most TVs, DVD/BluRay players, and Rokus, so that switching sources doesn’t mean switching remotes. Add a Simple.TV (which is what I have), a Tablo, or a PC runnining Plex or MyMedia and you have your DVR. So, you can have all those devices and use only one remote. Really, how painful is it to switch devices when you use an universal remote.

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    2. birminghamforsale Monday, March 3, 2014

      They have all the streaming apps available for most Androids (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, PBS, etc.), plus web sites with support for both HTML5 and Flash.

      As to DVR, add a Simple.tv, for which an Android app is available, and you have whole planet DVR, including on your Mohu Channels and any other supported device. I picked up my Simple.tv off Woot! for $89 plus shipping (about $95 total), and that included a Lifetime Premier Subscription.

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  5. great idea — where is the kickstarter?

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  6. That last sentence in the article got me a bit, “…as opposed to advanced cord cutters that only watch online video anyway.”

    I consider myself an advanced cord cutter, but I don’t watch online video only. We use a Mohu Leaf, Chromecast, Roku and other gaming devices for content.

    Anyhow, this device sounds interesting, another shot over the bow of cable companies.

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    1. That is a good cordcutter setup you have there Tom. Not sure if there are levels yet on cordcutters, but we are a growing group for sure.

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  7. I just read it again and noticed the part about integrating a full web browser, that’s a great idea.

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  8. The creation of this product doesn’t sound like a good use of Mohu’s time. I get OTA through my TV, to switch to the Chromecast requires 2 taps of a single button on the remote. It’s extremely easy and simple. If I want to look for something to watch on OTA, I have a powerful program guide app on my smartphone/tablet that is much quicker and easier to use than any on-screen guide. If you simply want to flip channels, the remote is sufficient. The idea that anyone wants to browse the web on their TV using a remote is laughable; it’s been done before and has always failed miserably. I also doubt that Mohu can improve on the Roku or Smart TV interface, much less the Chromecast interface.

    So at the end of the day, it’s extremely likely that this product will solve no problems nor improve any current solutions. The fact that they are including a keyboard on the remote is a pretty good indicator they are out of touch with the future of TV.

    If Mohu really wanted to create a useful addition to their antennas, they would create a relatively cheap box that live-transcoded OTA for immediate seamless delivery to connected devices like the Roku, Chromecast, smartphone, and tablet. This would make their antennas much more valuable to the consumer.

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  9. hulu and Netflix included……not likely.

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    1. birminghamforsale Monday, March 24, 2014

      You’ll have to pay the subscription, but apps for both are already available for Android. That’s what they are saying.

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  10. Just a tease. The real shake-up will be when one of these streambox players has the guts to include a memory chip or offer on demand specials that are longer than 2 minutes in duration. NBC on roku is a joke, you might as well watch youtube for your news. And the fox and espn apps on roku requires one to be a cable subscriber, so no “cord cutting” accomplished there!

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    1. birminghamforsale Monday, March 24, 2014

      Far from a tease. I use OTA and Rokus. No cable or satellite.

      I can get 28 unique channels OTA, including ABC, CBS, the CW, NBC, Fox, PBS, World, Create, Bounce, MeTV, Zuus, This TV, AccuWeather, Heartland, CBS Local Weather, Untamed Sports, ION, Qubo, My Network TV, ION Life, HSN, QVC, Shop, TBN, JCTV, the Church Channel, Enlace, and Smile of a Child. If I would get a roof antenna, I could probably pick up five more channels based on http://www.tvfools.com‘s database. That’s in a metro area that is just barely in the top 50 TV markets. I have every expectation that at least two new OTA networks will become available this year, bringing the total to 30 if I don’t add a roof antenna and 35 if I do.

      As far as streaming goes, with Netflix and Amazon I get literally tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes for less than $15/month combined (will be just over $16/month combined starting in 2015). With ESPN3 on WatchESPN (free through my ISP), I can watch tons of college football, basketball and other sports. With MLB.TV ($11/month), I can watch every regular season MLB games except for the one in whose market I live (not the team I regularly follow). Other subscription options include Hallmark’s Spirit Clips (with tons of full length TV and movies for $30/year) and Acorn TV (with tons of older BBC shows for $5/month). The NBA, NHL, and MLS also have subscription channels with live game coverage.

      Add to that free streaming channels (on-demand unless otherwise noted) for YouTube, BYU TV (live and on-demand), Ebru (live), the b/w (live) , History, PBS, PBS Kids, Smithsonian Channel, Crackle, Pop Flix Classic TV, Live Well Network, MHz Network (live and on-demand), BBC World (live), Al Jazeera (live), NHZ (live), France 24 (live), DW, CCTV, AMG TV (live), Portico, Popcorn Flix, NBC News, Fox News, CBS News, Weather Nation.

      And then there is music and other radio (all free except as noted), including Pandora, Spotify ($10/month). TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio, and Live 365.

      “Just a tease”? Either you haven’t explored the options available or you are a shill for the cable/satellite TV industry which can survive only by lying to people about far less expensive options.

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