Mohu's AirWave is a wireless antenna for cord cutters

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,585   +124
Staff member

From the pioneering work of placeshifting specialist Sling Media and streaming video providers Netflix and Hulu to the unbundling of premium channels, the emergence of over-the-top services like PlayStation Vue and Sling TV as well as the many devices that deliver those experiences, the impact that modern technology has had on traditional cable and broadcasting over the last decade can be felt industry-wide.

It goes without saying, then, that cutting the cord has never been as convenient as it is today. It’s not perfect, however, as one issue that is still known to cause grief has to do with pulling in those free airwaves from local broadcasters.

You’ll of course need an antenna to do so but that’s not necessarily the hard part. Instead, finding the optimal spot for your indoor antenna that’s both free from obstructions (thus resulting in optimal signal quality) and within a reasonable range of your television can easily turn people off to the idea. After all, who wants coaxial cable draped across the room to the antenna by the window?

It’s an issue that Mohu, makers of the popular Leaf over-the-air (OTA) antenna, is addressing head-on at CES.

The new Mohu AirWave is a wireless antenna that you can set up anywhere in your house like near that window where you get the best reception. The device then wirelessly streams the OTA signal to the Mohu TV app on a compatible media streaming device (think Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices as well as Android and iOS devices and on the web) using Wi-Fi.

Mohu says it combines live, local channels with streaming video in a cable-like program guide, complete with program descriptions and the ability to select favorite channels. You can even look ahead to view the next 14 days of upcoming programming and utilize ClearPix, a proprietary pixilation reduction technology that Mohu says automatically adjusts to improve image reception of OTA broadcasts. There are no subscriptions or fees to worry with, we’re told.

The idea of bringing OTA content into the OTT work is very similar to what Dish’s upcoming AirTV Player does although with that device, you have to supply your own wired antenna.

I’ve reached out to Mohu regarding a few questions I came up with; specifically, is there a DVR component planned? Can you stream content away from the home or are you limited to your local Wi-Fi network (I suspect the latter scenario is the case)? What sort of lag will the system introduce versus watching live with a regular antenna? I’ll update this article accordingly when I hear back.

Free, OTA local channels are a key component of a well-rounded cord cutting plan and shouldn’t be discredited. You may run into some hassle and one-time expenses up front but it is well worth the effort to gain access to local channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS.

The Mohu AirWave wireless antenna goes on sale this spring exclusively at Best Buy priced at $149.99.

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j05hh

Posts: 189   +57
Local Fox would not come in clear with the Mohu leaf which I replaced a week later with ClearStream. The money you spend on the antenna, netflix, hulu, amazon prime ( not saying you need all 3 )and a streaming device you might as well stick with a TV subscription which has no contracts. I currently have Dish Network Flex plan. $40 a month for the channels I want! There are other alternatives now... slingtv, playstation vue, and now Directv Now.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,410   +3,486
Local Fox would not come in clear with the Mohu leaf which I replaced a week later with ClearStream. The money you spend on the antenna, netflix, hulu, amazon prime ( not saying you need all 3 )and a streaming device you might as well stick with a TV subscription which has no contracts. I currently have Dish Network Flex plan. $40 a month for the channels I want! There are other alternatives now... slingtv, playstation vue, and now Directv Now.
Is that $40/mo with or without internet service? I'll assume it is without.

I get Netflix for $10/mo + a subscription to a weekly show through iTunes for my wife for $4/mo + commercial Hulu for free through Bing points. My total is $14/mo. I dropped Dish/Satellite 3 years ago now. I was paying $87/mo for that. I'll reduce my current savings by $6/mo because I was getting Prime for about a year, too. So, in that time I've saved $67/mo - for the sake of argument. For three years at that rate, it comes out to $2,412.00 which is well over the cost of my HTPC, 2, HD-HomeRun+ tuners, a fairly decent sized antenna in my attic, and a very good antenna amplifier http://kitztech.com/ which is probably the best on the market.

Savings will add up over time.

And one thing - that $40/mo will climb over the years because the service is, basically, DishNetwork. As a former Dish customer, I can say that price increases became common.

I cringe when I hear about "solutions" such as this "Antenna." As far as I am concerned, antennas like this will try to market themselves like they are the next best thing since perforated toilet paper, but the problem is really the ATSC 1.0 standard currently used in the US.

The ATSC committee is nearly finished with the new standard, ATSC 3.0. Unfortunately, it is not backward compatible to ATSC 1.0, and this may hamper adoption in the US; however, the promises are great such as mobile TV reception even when the receiver is in a tunnel and 4K and higher resolutions without having to upgrade the standard - again. Mobile reception in a tunnel was demonstrated during a recent trial period. In the long run ATSC 3.0 promises great improvements in reception and has been tested in real life to determine that it already delivers on those promises.

ATSC 1.0 had similar promises, but did not deliver on those promises mostly because it is digital TV that relies on old analog transmission principles which are susceptible to multipath reception problems. So even in areas like mine where there are several near-by OTA stations that are quite powerful, reception can be basically crap no matter what lengths you go to. This also happens near Boston and likely other areas that I do not know about. I tried a small, hard-wired antenna in a window, and even the moderately sized antenna on a rotator in my attic did not perform much better. It is not the equipment I use, it is ATSC 1.0 and its analog schema. The amplifier that I added vastly improved my reception, but there are still hiccups.

Once ATSC 3.0 goes live in the US, reception problems will disappear, and distant station reception will likely also vastly improve meaning 10s of channels minimum for even small market areas.

Personally, if anyone out there wants to do something similar to what this "Antenna" provides, then I would recommend a do-it-yourself approach starting with HD HomeRun tuners that can be networked from anywhere - even over WiFi. You could then set up a cheap server somewhere on your network, and run the server side of Media Portal - something with no more power than an Athlon 5350 would likely work fine as a server. I run an A10-7850K but it is both server and client. That gives you DVR capability, limited in part only to the number of tuners you have. I say "in part" because if you want to record two or three programs at the same time that are on a sub channel of the same channel, you only need one tuner to do that. Recording programs at the same time from different main channels requires separate tuners to do so.

Once that is set up, anyone can run multiple Media Portal Client installations on other PCs - meaning you can watch live or recorded TV from those PCs.

With this type of solution, you are not locked to one vendor. It is a custom solution that you can implement yourself and thus you have complete control over it.
 
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Mugsy

Posts: 671   +117
Users of free OTA TV via antenna (like myself) aren't interested in paying a monthly subscription fee just to use a "wireless" antenna.

I went to OTA HD back in January of 2004 and it has saved me well over $10,000 in cable bills. There is already a service in my area called "Airbox" to get some premium channels OTA via decoder box with monthly subscription fee, so what Mohu is proposing isn't totally new.

The wireless antenna device MUST work on a standard TV without Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Roku device if they expect to sell any. :(
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,984   +2,432
" After all, who wants coaxial cable draped across the room to the antenna by the window"

Well, here's the thing, most people mounting a rooftop antenna are going to run the cable THROUGH THE WALL. It's been standard practice for a long time.

Same thing you do with dish antennas. Most houses already have external coax jacks wired up for external service of some kind.
 
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