By Darren Johnson
You may be seeing ads for the latest video game console and think your older console is obsolete. But try to think of that original Wii or PS3 in a different way – picture it as the cable box of the future.
You already know you can get Netflix through an older console, and, soon, other networks, like HBO, may be there. The key will be diversifying so that you also get live TV channels.
Bruce Springsteen wrote a while ago about there being “57 Channels and Nothing’s On.” Well, that problem even seems worse today, and the average cable TV bill is about $128 in the U.S. – not worth it!
This holiday season, consider these gadgets to help cut the cable cord.
Mohu Curve 50 HDTV Antenna — The past couple of years in my student media-use surveys, I have noticed that more students have moved to antenna TV. Until I tried this stylish Curve 50, I mostly chalked it up to the lousy economy. My bias was my own experience with antenna TV – very spotty, staticky and limited with some huge contraption on the roof. But the Curve 50 dispelled my bias. The FCC required broadcast TV stations to go digital a few years ago, and the result is, with this device about the size of a sheet of paper, you can pick up a bunch of channels crystal clear. I live pretty far from civilzation and got 18 channels with the Curve 50, including the major networks. And it was very easy to install. It is $90 on Amazon.com.
Aereo — Another service that will get you live TV is Aereo (go to aereo.com), provided you have Internet. They give you channels you would normally get via antenna, and a few more, along with the ability to record them. However, it is not available on Wii or PS3 yet, so you will be limited to watching this on devices. It’s $8 a month.
Seagate Wireless Plus — If you haven’t gotten one yet, you may want to acquire a wireless hard drive. You can just leave it on and broadcast to the various devices in your house, whether you are storing music, movie, photo files or whatever. You can download to it, too, saving space on your device. It is as easy to access as a wi-fi router. As well, you can take this drive with you, say on a plane, and connect to it from any device. We tested the 1 terabyte Seagate Wireless Plus and it worked flawlessly, reliably and quickly. It’s not cheap – about $200 on seagate.com – but for important files, I wouldn’t buy a lesser brand. As well, at 1TB, this should give you several years of usefulness.
Kindle Fire HDX — And what device should you use? I’m finally going to make a determination on the tablet wars. Recently, “60 Minutes” did an interview with Amazon owner Jeff Bezos where he stated that they sell their Kindles at a break-even price, hoping to make money on downloads. At about $230 on BestBuy.com, the Kindle Fire HDX is a much better deal than the iPad Mini ($300). I do love my full-sized iPad – I got it off the refurbished section of Apple.com for $300 a couple of years ago – but this Kindle seems just as sharp and bright, and the operating system is as easy as Apple’s. That said, the Kindle is still only 7 inches, and bigger models cost more, so you will have to examine the fine print to find the model right for your use (for example, if you need a lot of storage space for downloading). In general, for a 7-inch tablet, I’d go Kindle Fire HDX, but for a 9- or 10-inch tablet I’d first look for a possible Apple bargain.