This week on TechHive: Revisiting the TiVo Stream 4K

  Jared Newman  |  April 29, 2022  | Read online

These days, it’s rare to feel like a streaming device is fully on your side.

Roku players, Fire TV devices, and Android TV streamers all seem more concerned with pushing their own content or throwing ads in your face than helping you make the most of your streaming services. Smart TVs from companies like Samsung and LG aren’t much better.

That’s why I’m starting to think the TiVo Stream 4K doesn’t get enough credit. Of all the streaming devices I’ve used, this $40 dongle does the best job of sorting through streaming services.

While it seemed like a proof of concept when it launched two years ago, TiVo has since made several major improvements to the device’s universal streaming guide, which lets you browse across services like HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and Hulu from a single menu. It’s worth another look if you want a streaming device that helps make sense of all your TV subscriptions. Read the full column on TechHive.

Weekly rewind

Cable giants team up: Comcast and Charter have announced a joint streaming platform to take on the likes of Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. The two companies plan to work together on smart TVs and streaming players that will be sold nationwide, building on Comcast’s existing Flex streaming platform.

What's not so clear is why anyone would buy one of these devices instead of the options we already have from Roku et al. I was underwhelmed by Comcast's XClass TV when I reviewed it in February, as it lags behind other smart TVs on features and app support, and the two cable companies will likely have to start from square one on branding their new venture. (Comcast wisely doesn't put its own name anywhere on the aforementioned smart TV.)

With their cable TV businesses in decline, Comcast and Charter may feel that there's nothing to lose by jumping into the streaming platform wars. Still, both companies are used to operating in comfy regional monopolies or duopolies; having to actually compete on the merits of their products may be a rude awakening.

Having said that, I wish them the best of luck.

PlayOn's Mac app: I've written several times before about a service called PlayOn, which allows you to record and download shows from streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. While these services already have their own offline download features, PlayOn lets you watch programs offline on any device, keep recordings after your subscription has lapsed, access shows after they've moved to another service, or feed videos into a home media server such as Plex. Those use cases aren't for everyone, but they can be useful for a subset of cord-cutters.

Anyway, PlayOn now offers a Mac app for downloading shows, though sadly it's limited to PlayOn's cloud-based service rather than its PC-based recording engine. That means you have to pay for each download (at roughly $0.15 apiece) instead of recording as much as you want for a monthly fee. For the latter option, you'll still need a Windows PC running the separate PlayOn Home software.

More catch-up

Save more money

Once again, it’s time to not pay for Paramount+. If you aren't currently an active Paramount+ subscriber, you can get one month for free with the promo code WALMART30. As always, the deal is valid even with Paramount+’s ad-free tier, and is available even if you’ve subscribed to the service before. Make sure to sign up on the Paramount+ website—not the mobile or TV apps—and cancel one day after sign up to avoid getting auto-billed at the end.

A couple other notable deals:

This is the month in which I finally got my windowing situation in order.

While I love that Windows and MacOS let you juggle a dozen apps at once, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all those open windows, or to waste time reshuffling and resizing them all. Being out of town last week—and not having my usual multi-monitor setup—was the motivation I needed to explore some smarter multitasking methods.

In this week's issue of my Advisorator tech advice newsletter, I wrote about how you can master multitasking Windows and MacOS, both with simple built-in shortcuts and with some powerful add-ons. Sign up for a free trial, and I'll pass along the latest newsletter!

Thanks for reading!

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Until next week,
Jared

Cord Cutter Weekly is a labor of love by tech journalist Jared Newman. Say hi on Twitter, and spread the word that there's a better kind of TV out there. Click here to unsubscribe.