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The string cutter 2018 draws | TechHive



Consider 2018 as the eye of the storm for cutting cables. Although subscriptions to cable and satellite television continued their steady downward spiral, we have not seen many drastic changes in cable cutting hardware, software, or services.

Larger changes could come next year with new streaming services from Disney, AT & T. Apple and possibly NBC Universal along with upgraded live TV packages from Hulu and DirecTV Now. As we wait for the next wave of cable cutting, let's celebrate what has been, by and large, refining a year of refining our favorite cable cutting equipment and services. Here are the TechCive Awards for the third year of the string cutter:

Best new streaming hardware: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

  firetvstick4khero Jared Newman / IDG

After several years of middling hardware, Amazon Im In 2018, he yelled with the $ 50 Fire TV Stick 4K. For just $ 10 more than the standard Fire TV Stick, the 4K version is a superior device with significantly faster load times, wider 4K HDR video support and a new remote control that (finely) controls the TV's volume and power buttons contains. In the meantime, Amazon has equipped the Alexa Assistant with world-class voice controls that allow you to launch movies, shows, and live TV channels with the Fire TV remote control or intelligent echo speaker.

The Fire TV Stick 4K is still unavailable It's not as easy to use as Rokus Streamers, and some interface glitches are still present, but it's a much more interesting device overall, and it's worth it over the Fire TV Stick to buy, even if you do not have a 4K TV.

Best Live TV Streaming Service: YouTube TV

  youtubetv2 Jared Newman / TechHive

YouTube TV was launched in 2017 – and was voted "Best New Streaming Service" at last year's awards. But this year it got even better. In addition to the existing apps for Android TV, Samsung and LG Smart TVs, Xbox One and Chromecast Roku and Apple TV streamers were supported. Most channels have removed the restrictions on skipping DVR ads.

While the price rose to $ 40 a month (up from $ 35 a month at launch), this was a compromise for the addition of Turner networks, which was really helpful in completing the sports coverage of YouTube TV. All this makes the status of YouTube TV the best live TV streaming service for most people (with the exception of Fire TV users, as Amazon and Google still refuse to work together.)

Most Improved TV Streaming service: PlayStation Vue

  Playstation Vue 3 Sony

PlayStation Vue appeared to be a dead streaming service that ran earlier this year. He broke live support from local broadcasters and suffered uncertainty from the Sony leadership as the number of subscribers stagnated. In recent months, however, the live TV service from Sony seems to have recovered. He has more than doubled the number of local live channels, has achieved first-rate reliability, added new features to his apps, and is the first live TV service to integrate Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV home screens. All this came after . Vue beat out other live TV services in an industry-wide customer satisfaction survey. There's never been a better time to be a Vue subscriber, and again, you do not need a PlayStation console to get on board.

Best streaming service that has not raised prices: Philo

  Philohero Philo

The common belief in live TV streaming services is that they are all unprofitable. This explains why YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue have all raised prices this year. Amazon has also raised the price of prime subscriptions from $ 100 to $ 120 a year, and Netflix raised prices at the end of 2017, reflecting high spending on original and licensed content.

Meanwhile, Sports Streaming Package Philo continues to charge $ 16 a month for the basic package and $ 20 a month for an expanded lineup. The service even added new channels, such as The Hallmark Channel. The Philo experience has also improved. This year, new apps for Apple TV, Fire TV and Android TV as well as new features such as a grid for TV sets and support for multiple profiles have been developed. Maybe the real problem is that we pay far too much for sports and broadcasting networks.

Runner-up: Hulu, who has moved some live channels into a new entertainment add-on this year. but still $ 40 a month for live TV, $ 8 a month for on-demand shows and $ 12 a month for an ad-free on-demand service.

Best New Use of Over-the-Air Antenna: Tablo Dual Lite

  Tabloduallite Jared Newman / TechHive

Although Nuvyyo does not have the brand awareness of TiVo, Nuvyyo is still the DVR for the Most people with the Tablo Dual Lite. Tablo can not be connected directly to your TV, but broadcasts broadcast channels through your Wi-Fi router to the Tablo app on other devices such as Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV. This means you can set up Tablo with a single over-the-air antenna, wherever the reception is best, and then watch all your live channels and recordings from anywhere in the house. The Dual Lite is no different from previous Tablo models, but the new hardware offers better Wi-Fi connectivity and is priced at $ 140. If you choose a hard drive and a lifetime subscription, you can build a DVR for the whole house for just over $ 300.

Runner-up: Amazon's Fire TV Recast, which would likely be the winner if it worked with more than just Fire TV, iOS, and Android devices.

Most surprising embrace of cable cutting: AT & T

  directvnow4 Jared Newman / TechHive

The timing could not have been much worse when AT & T acquired Cliff in 2015. DirecTV and AT & T are seeking now for alternative solutions, as it no longer wants to offer new satellites. A new tripartite plan includes live TV streaming packages such as DirecTV Now and AT & T Watch, a new Android-based streaming box with built-in DirecTV service, and an upcoming Netflix style created by the acquisition of Time Warner by AT & T is driven forward. Maybe it was not intended, but AT & T has reached the time of cable cutting, and now there is no turning back.

Best new streaming TV feature: Roku "Featured Free"

  rokufeaturedfree Roku

While most streaming devices do their best to sell apps, subscriptions, and a la carte movies, Roku has doubled the ability to watch free broadcasts. This year, Roku added a new "Featured Free" section to the splash screen that displays the video-supported videos from apps like NBC, Fox, Sony Crackle, and Pluto TV. You can also use Roku's voice search to find free movies and shows. More free videos can be found in The Roku Channel. Roku is not altruistic – the company builds a television advertising business, but no other platform seeks to prevent you from paying more.

MVP: Cord-cutting: Amazon

  recasthome2 Jared Newman / IDG

2018 was a big year on the cable interface front for Amazon, not just because of it mentioned Fire TV Stick 4K. Amazon was also not afraid to try new things, like the Fire TV Recast (the most advanced over-the-air DVR ever) and the Fire TV Cube (Alexa's built-in hands-free streaming box).

Amazon's Smart TV program has been brought to life with cheap FireTV-powered devices from Insignia and Toshiba, and Amazon Channels continues to thrive by allowing Prime members to subscribe to services such as HBO and Showtime easy to tackle. (A study this year found that Amazon has used more than half of the direct subscriptions to premium TV channels.)

As a result of these efforts, Amazon offers what a complete, a la carte cable at next is coming. Cutting solution. With a Fire TV streamer or smart TV, local channels via Recast, and Amazon subscriptions, you get much less television than cable, mostly through a single billing system and interface. All this leads to a strong vision of how television should work in the aftermath of the cable.

Do you have a catch on my picks? E-mail me or call on Twitter .

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