Mohu’s Channels box lets you surf broadcast and streamed TV from one interface

Cord cutters are a relatively new breed of TV programming consumer. No longer willing to pay increasing costs for channels they don’t want, this rising populace is ditching their cable or satellite subscription in favor of a combination of local broadcasts and Internet-delivered TV from services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant. All they need is an HD antenna, an Internet connection and one of a growing list of smart devices loaded with the necessary apps. The trouble is, navigating to all the available content – switching between inputs and apps – is nothing like the channel surfing many of us are used to, which creates a sort of barrier to entry.  But what if there were a single device that bundled up broadcast TV and all of that online content  into an intuitive interface that felt just like the channel flipping we’re already used to? Enter Mohu’s Channels. 

Channels isn’t meant to be just a simple set-top box with the ability to tune into locally broadcast content through an antenna. Rather, the planned device aims to take those live broadcast feeds, add the full run of the Internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and combine them into a sleek interface with a guide-enabled, up and down channel configuration you can arrange in any order you choose.

Want channel 1 to be Netflix? No problem. Does channel 2 sound like a good spot for ABC? Do it up.

We sat down for an interview with Mohu CEO Mark Buff, and Chief Marketing Officer, Randy Drawas, to find out about their new Channels project, which is slated to hit Kickstarter early next week. The two broke the system down for us, outlining why they think it will be the next boon to cord cutters everywhere – and we have to say, they made a pretty compelling argument.

Want channel 1 to be Netflix? No problem. Does channel 2 sound like a good spot for your favorite local network affiliate? Do it up. And for channel 3, how about your knitting club’s official website? Yes, Channels can do that too.

Control of the system is handled by a backlit, motion-sensing remote with a full qwerty keyboard designed to let you type with your thumbs – you know, 21st century style. The remote is also programmable as a universal remote for your TV.

Setting your channel guide is done in three ways, starting with what Drawas described as a ‘smart’ channel scanner. The scanner lets you easily keep or toss broadcast channels, and reveals each channel’s signal strength both during the scan, and afterword. The guide also pulls metadata from each channel, letting you know what’s on, and what’s coming up for all local broadcasts, just like cable. Apps are acquired via the Google Play store, where you’ll find everything from Netflix to, well, basically every other service online. Once an app is downloaded, it auto-populates as your next channel, and can then be arranged in any order you choose.

But perhaps most interesting is the ability to seek out any site on the web and bookmark it as its own channel in the lineup. That feature allows your Channels setup to be extremely versatile, highly personal, and different from just about anything we’ve experienced before.

By now, the budget-savvy cord cutters are all probably wondering what this little setup might cost. The initial price is surprisingly reasonable, especially if you don’t yet own an antenna. At launch, the early bird special, which comes with just the Channels box and qwerty remote, is $79 for the first 200 pledges, and $89 after that. A combo pack with the Mohu Leaf 30 antenna (normally $40) will be $99 for the first 100, and $119 after that. And for those in the boonies, the box and an amplified Mohu 50 antenna ($70) will be $129 for the first 100, and $149 after words.

Of course, the success of Channels is entirely dependent on a system that works as intuitively as Mohu is promising. Drawas assured us the hardware is already done, while the software is still undergoing some “tweaks.” But in our short interview, both Buff and Drawas sounded confident that the device’s aims are not only do-able, but close to the final stages.

Mohu hopes to release Channels to the public in June 2014, at a price promised to be higher than what you’ll get through the Kickstarter campaign. The campaign has an end goal of $35,000. And given Mohu’s wide number of users already on board with the original Leaf antenna (which, full disclosure, includes this reporter) that should be an easy goal.

If you want in on Mohu’s vision of the ideal cord-cutting tool, you can make your pledge at Mohu’s Kickstarter project page starting early next week.

Product Review

Samsung's Galaxy Fold proves folding phones are the future

Samsung's Galaxy Fold is finally here -- it's the company's first foldable smartphone, with three screens, six cameras, and a dual-cell battery. What's it like to use? We spent some time with it to find out.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be tricky. To aid in your cord-cutting quest, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be tricky. To aid in your cord-cutting quest, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Puro’s kids headphones don’t just sound great, they help prevent hearing damage

Puro Sound Labs' PuroQuiet headphones are a pair of noise-canceling over-ears that are designed for young listeners, allowing them to jam out to their favorite tunes, but limiting volume to avoid long-term hearing damage.
Home Theater

Amazon’s free Spotify competitor is here. Just ask Alexa

Just ask Alexa to play your favorite song. Amazon has launched a free, ad-based music streaming service to compete with Spotify's free tier on its popular Echo devices, aiming to bolster subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our favorites, with all the features you want.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.

Walmart deal drops the price of the 55-inch TCL 4K Roku smart TV to just $338

Was last weekend's Game of Thrones streaming experience lacking? Look no further than this 55-inch TCL TV, which features built-in Roku functionality, and can be had at Walmart for just $338.

YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. What's changed, and should you subscribe?

Thanks to Google, YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. We explain what exactly a YouTube Premium subscription gets you, how much it costs, and break down if it's a good choice for you.
Product Review

Now that every speaker has Alexa, don't you want the best? Get the Sonos One

To compete in smart speaker space, Sonos could have just made a better-sounding Alexa speaker, but the company has a reputation to uphold, and went much further. Our Sonos One Review reveals how Sonos does Alexa better than Amazon.
Product Review

It sounds like a Sonos, but the Beam pulls one trick none of its siblings can

Sonos makes really good surround sound speakers for home theaters, but they’re expensive. A cheaper model with great sound would be a win. The Sonos Beam is that speaker, but were too many corners cut to make a more affordable product?