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Mohu’s Channels fulfills ‘dream machine’ promise to cord cutters, ships today

Mohu has rounded the final corner to the release of its much-anticipated Channels device, which will ship to Kickstarter backers starting today. Designed as a “cord-cutters dream machine,” Channels is a simple tuner that, when combined with an HDTV antenna, allows users to turn virtually any form of content or media into a “channel,” from Netflix to PBS. It’s essentially the marriage of Internet video and broadcast TV in one customizable interface, modeled after a traditional cable box.

Updated 6/25/2014 by Ryan Waniata: This story has been updated to announce the official release of Mohu’s Channels to Kickstarter backers, as well as additional “stretch goal,” Mohu One

After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, Mohu will be adding a bundle of extra options to the already versatile device, including over-the-air time-shifting, local file playback, control from an iOS or Android device to add to its QWERTY keyboard remote, and 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound pass through. In addition, Mohu recently announced a brand new feature called Mohu One, a free “Web TV channel guide” that will curate online video clips from a wide variety of sources across the Web.

The new features resulted from “stretch goals” that Mohu implemented during the Kickstarter funding period between late February and early April. Many of these stretch goals were initially suggestions from project backers themselves. It appears Mohu One will be available immediately, but the other additions are being touted as “Future backer-requested updates,” so we’ll have to wait and see if they arrive with the device when it releases to the public at large in the third quarter this year.

Channels allows its user to create a customized “mash-up of streaming apps, websites and broadcast TV” — which is accessed through a single input, not one for each source. Therefore, Mohu’s device is positioned as a direct competitor to both streaming devices like Roku, and Amazon’s Fire TV, as well as more OTA-focused (over the air) products like Tablo, and Simple TV. And the new Mohu One feature pits Channels directly against the short-form video curation service from the co-creators of TiVo, Qplay – only in a much more versatile package.

Once the system is fully loaded, users will also be able to pause any broadcast channel for up to 30 minutes and fast-forward through advertisements, or “side-load” their own movies through Channels’ dedicated Movie Channel — be it via USB device or media server. Pricing hasn’t been announced for general release, but the system cost between $79-$149 for Kickstarter backers, with a variety of available combo packages with Mohu’s HDTV antennae.

We have a Channels device on order for ourselves, so we’ll soon be able to let you know if the device is as simple and powerful as promised. If Mohu really can successfully bridge the gap between all of these services, consumers (especially cord-cutters) might not even have to pick one side or the other; they might just go with Channels.