5 days of tech gifts: Set-top boxes to cut the cord
So many of us are ready to stop paying a cable bill and switch to a 100 percent digital streaming household. First step is finding the perfect set-top box! I take a look at a few of my favorite set-top box options that could make the perfect holiday gift for the future cord-cutter in your life!
Roku was one of the first set-top boxes way back in the day. It has evolved ALOT since then but has held true to it's simplicity is key design. The menus are super easy to follow and it just works. With that said, it doesn't do gaming or any smarthome functionality. It's designed to handle streaming video and audio. For that, it's a great affordable option. Even the Ultra 4K box is under $100. I also love the headphone jack built into the side of the remote so you can watch TV but listen privately.
There are a lot of Android set-top box options but in my opinion, the Nvidia Shield takes the crown as the most powerful and most versatile! It's a powerhouse designed for more than just streaming Netflix. The $199.99 kit comes with a high-end gaming controller for those Nvidia powered games. The Shield TV is one of the few set-top boxes that is nearly as powerful as a full-blown gaming system. You'll be amazed at how great cames look and play.
Aside from gaming and streaming the Shield TV does overtime as an awesome Plex TV server! Plex TV is an app that allows you to stream your personal collection of movies, tv shows and home videos to any TV in your house. Problem is, you usually need to have it running as a server on a home PC. Since the Shield TV can operate as that server you no longer need Plex software on a PC.
The newest Shield TV box improves on the original by shrinking the size of the box itself and 4K HDR video output. If you're an Android user and want an Android set-top box, Shield TV is the best on the market. Period.
You can't have a conversation about set-top boxes without including the Apple TV. The newest version is 4K HDR compatible. Apple has a way of taking something other companies are already doing and simply doing it better. Apple TV is a perfect example. The menus, the remote and the overall experience is simply awesome. In fact, the menus look even better now with 4K. The list of apps keeps growing including games that are a blast to play with the included touchpad remote (with a motion sensor like the Wii).
If you already use an iPhone, iPad or Mac, you can't go wrong with Apple TV. Your TV Shows, movies and music that you already purchased on your mobile device will pop right up on your Apple TV when you log in. Certainly, Android users would enjoy the Apple TV experience too but it's clearly designed for Apple fans.
Set-top boxes are great but let's not forget that some of the best content available is still free! HD TV signals are whizzing through the air in your town 24/7 and it would be a shame not to tap into that. The Elecwave HD Antenna is a solid option if you are too far away to use a flat-tenna. The Elecwave can be mounted in an attic or on a roof. It is an omni-directional antenna (works in all directions) and claims to grab signals from as far away from 100 miles. At $45 it's a solid deal for an antenna that is a step up from the $20 options you'll find at your local big box.