Happy Friday Cord Cutters!
First, a heads-up that Cord Cutting This Week will be going on a short hiatus, but we'll be back with fresh news on July 6th. In the meantime, we hope you have a happy and safe Independence Day/Canada Day!
Now, on to this week's news... The Amazon Fire TV Cube has started shipping and the expert reviews are out. We've read them all and you can check out the highlights below.
We've also got early details on AT&T's new streaming service, an important tip for folks using or considering an OTA TV antenna, what's new on Netflix, this week's must-see OTA TV and more!
As always, if someone you know is interested in cutting the cord on cable or satellite, please forward our newsletter, or use the handy share buttons at the top of this email.
OK... now let's get to it!
REVIEWS: Experts Iffy on Voice-Enabled Amazon Fire TV Cube
Two weeks ago Amazon announced pre-orders for the new Amazon Fire TV Cube, which began shipping yesterday.
Early expert reviews are a bit mixed, mostly around Amazon's 'voice first, remote second' controls...
Specifically the lack of physical volume buttons.
And while asking Alexa to turn the TV on or to switch inputs is pretty cool, and Amazon has added the concept of 'numbered menu' voice selections to avoid voice command errors or confusion, reviewers say it's still slower and clunkier to navigate in this way than with a traditional remote.
However, head-to-head vs. the previous Fire TV 3 dongle, the device performs reasonably well and certainly has better integration with voice controls if that floats your boat. CordCuttersNews.com has an unboxing and quick demo here.
For those of you with a Tablo OTA DVR, the Amazon Fire TV Cube's software is not yet fully compatible with Tablo but this is something we are working together to resolve ASAP. Stay tuned for updates.
If you've picked one up, let us know how you like it via Facebook or Twitter.
NEWS: Post Merger with Time Warner, AT&T Launches 'Just Watch'
It's been another big week for AT&T. As promised during the Justice Department's review of its merger with Time Warner, the company has launched a new streaming service called 'Just Watch' which will go live next week.
The company is planning to offer the service for free to a subset of subscribers with newly announced 'unlimited plans', and for everyone else at a bargain price of $15. Sounds cool, but as with most things, if it sounds too good to be true... It might just be.
What hasn't been confirmed yet whether 'Just Watch' will also be 'zero rated' for AT&T subscribers - a practice whereby accessing content on the service does not count against that customer's data usage.
With the end of Net Neutrality, AT&T is free to use this tactic to help them gain market share vs. competing services. In fact, this week a California lawmaker with ties to AT&T helped gut the State's bill that would restore Net Neutrality protections and prevent these types of anti-consumer shenanigans.
FAQ: What You Need to Know About Antennas & OTA TV Frequencies
While most TV antennas on the market are designed to capture both OTA TV frequencies (VHF & UHF), some antennas – especially certain ‘flat’ indoor models – are optimized primarily to capture UHF channels.
If you're in the market for a TV antenna, or if you’re having trouble receiving one or two channels even though you’re close to your local broadcast towers, head over to the Tablo blog to learn more about OTA TV frequencies and how they can impact what channels you receive.
STREAMING: What's New on Netflix in July
Alongside all of the free TV you can watch with an antenna, check out our picks for great shows and movies on Netflix for you to enjoy in July:
- Netflix originals Orange is the New Black, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and Last Chance U return with new seasons
- Stand-up comedy fans can check out new specials from Bo Burnham, Jim Jefferies, Kevin Hart, and Iliza Shlesinger
- Rainy day? Curl up on the couch with a great movie like Finding Neverland, the original Jurassic Park trilogy, Blue Valentine, or The Boondock Saints
- The kids won't want to miss The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, and the Disney movie Bolt
- Canadians can also check out the excellent films A River Runs Through It, American Graffiti, I, Tonya, as well as the latest seasons of Better Call Saul and Suits
WHAT'S ON: Must-See OTA TV
Along with continuing coverage of the FIFA World Cup of Soccer, there's lots great TV coming to you FREE with an antenna this week including:
- Season 5 of The Great British Baking Show premieres - June 22 @ 9:00 p.m. on PBS
- Season 5 of the Morse-inspired detective series Endeavour premieres - June 24 @ 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS
- Magic reality show Penn & Teller: Fool Us also returns for season 5 - June 25 @ 8:00 p.m. ET on CW
- Drama Salvation returns for season 2 - June 25 @ 9:00 p.m. ET on CBS/Global
- Summer guilty pleasure Big Brother season 20 premieres - June 27 @ 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS/Global
CANADIAN CORNER: Sony Shuttering Crackle in Canada
Canadian cord cutters will soon lose access to the free streaming service Crackle. Its parent company Sony is shutting Crackle down as of June 28th.
However, its limited content catalog is very likely moving to one of Bell Media's newly announced ad-supported streaming services called CTV Movies and CTV Vault.
The kicker? CTV Movies and CTV Vault (as well as services for drama, sci-fi, comedy and lifestyle programming) are for 'authenticated subscribers' (aka people who pay for cable or satellite TV). So unless you're able to 'borrow' a password, you won't be able to log in.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of Cord Cutting This Week!
If you know someone who may be interested in cutting the cord on cable or satellite, please feel free to forward this newsletter to them or use the handy share buttons at the top of this email. Make sure to ask them to sign up as well!