Electronics are an easy last-minute gift, and a great idea for anyone ready to cut the cable cord.
If there’s one topic that people can’t seem to get enough of, it’s cord-cutting.
The response to my cord-cutting articles is always big. It seems that readers either want to cut the cord, or they’ve cut the cord, or they’ve tried and failed and need some advice.
Telling the cable or satellite company you’re leaving is a big step, but hopefully you’ve done your homework.
If you have a cord-cutter in your home, or you know someone who’s considering it, here are a few items that will help make things go smoothly.
TCL 6-Series 55-inch Roku TV
What is it? The 6-Series is an LCD TV that is powered by the Roku operating system. It does a great job of bringing over-the-air signals, set-top boxes and Roku streaming apps together in one easy-to-use interface. TCL is an up-and-coming TV brand that’s garnering great reviews. The 6-Series Roku TV from TCL is the best I’ve found for under $1,000.
Who is it for? Cord-cutters, or anyone, in the market for a new 4K TV who’s not ready to spend a whole lot.
What does it cost? $649 for the 55-inch and $999 for the 65-inch TV
Where can I get it? Amazon and Best Buy; the Best Buy version lacks voice search on the remote control.
Note: If you like your current TV, you can buy a Roku box or stick and add the same streaming functionality.
Apple TV 4K
What is it? Apple’s latest streaming box. It connects your TV to the internet so you can stream from services like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others. If you have a 4K TV, make sure you have the latest version of the Apple TV so you get the most resolution from your TV set.
Who is it for? Anyone who wants to stream video from the internet, especially those who buy movies and TV series in iTunes. Apple TV is the only streaming box that lets you watch that content on your TV.
What does it cost? $179 for 32 GB of storage; $199 for 64 GB. Do yourself a favor and double your storage for $20 extra. You can also find the fourth-generation Apple TV for sale that displays 1080p HD content for $149.
Where can I get it? Apple stores, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
What is it? Amazon’s streaming device takes a smaller form with the Fire TV Stick 4K. It looks like a large flash drive that plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port. Connect it to your home Wi-Fi network and you’ll be ready to stream the latest content from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and live streaming services like Sling TV.
The Fire TV Stick 4K has a voice remote and it has Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant on board so you can ask Alexa to pause the video or tell you whether it’s going to rain tomorrow.
Who is it for? Cord-cutters and streamers who want an inexpensive option for streaming 4K video to their TVs.
What does it cost? $50, but watch for sales.
Where can I get it? Amazon, Target and Best Buy.
TiVo Bolt OTA
What is it? A digital video recorder that receives and records over-the-air signals from your digital antenna. The Bolt OTA also connects to the internet so you can stream from services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and others all from the same box. The Bolt OTA also works with Amazon’s Alexa for voice control. It has a 1 TB hard drive and can record up to four shows at once.
Who is it for? Cord-cutters who want to record their OTA (over the air) broadcast shows.
What does it cost? $250 plus a monthly fee for TiVo guide service at $7 per month, $70 per year or lifetime service for $250.
Where can I get it? Tivo.com or Best Buy.
HDHomeRun Connect Quatro
What is it? An over-the-air tuner and DVR that doesn’t connect directly to your TV. You place the HDHomeRun in your home wherever you can get a good antenna signal, then you connect your home’s network through Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Then you can watch up to four OTA shows at once on streaming devices and computers in your home or on the road. You can add a DVR option for $35 per year.
Who is it for? Cord-cutters who need to record and want to be able to access their shows from wherever they are.
What does it cost? $150. You’ll need to provide your own storage for the DVR. There is also a two-tuner version for $99.
Where can I get it? Amazon and Best Buy.
ClearStream Eclipse Amplified
What is it? A very highly rated over-the-air antenna designed to stick to a wall or window inside your home to receive free broadcast channels. You can use it with or without the included amplifier. Try it without first, but try the amp if you have signal strength issues. Moving it up or down or closer to a window can help.
Who is it for? Cord-cutters who need an indoor antenna.
What does it cost? $60 or less. Shop around.
Where can I get it? Antennasdirect.com, Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart.
Winegard Elite 7550 Long Range Outdoor VHF/UHF Antenna
What is it? A directional antenna for outdoor use. Point it toward the broadcast towers and it’ll bring in channels from up to 70 miles away. Also good for attic installations. The 7550 has a built-in digital amplifier to help lock in those distant signals.
Who is it for? Cord-cutters who need more than an indoor antenna.
What does it cost? $150.
Where can I get it? Winegard.com, Amazon and Home Depot.